Exceedingly Rare COWDEN & WILCOX / HARRISBURG, PA Stoneware Jar w/ Elaborate Swan-in-Wreath Decoration

Fall 2021 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 197

Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.  A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2021 Auction Catalog

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Sold!  $17,000. 


Exceedingly Rare Four-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Elaborate Cobalt Swan-in-Wreath Decoration, Stamped "COWDEN & WILCOX / HARRISBURG, PA," circa 1865, cylindrical jar with tooled shoulder, flared rim, and applied lug handles, decorated with a slip-trailed design of a swan featuring a spiraled body with spots throughout, surrounded by a brushed wreath. Cobalt highlights to maker's mark, capacity mark, and handle terminals. This recently-discovered jar features a previously-undocumented Cowden & Wilcox figural design. While swan motifs from this pottery typically feature a brushed bird in outline with realistic wing, this design is slip-trailed and features a highly unusual, folk art rendering of the body involving a continuous spiral embellished with spots. While swirled slip-trailing forming the body can be found in other bird motifs from the Northeastern U.S., most notably the iconic flying eagles of West Troy, such a treatment is otherwise unknown in the Harrisburg potting tradition. The inclusion of a wreath around the swan is also most unusual. Excellent color and crisp design. As few new discoveries in Cowden figural decoration have been made over the last twenty years or so, the emergence of this jar is regarded as one of the most important Harrisburg stoneware finds of recent memory. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, acquired in the Philadelphia area several years ago. Front with a 1 3/4" Y-shaped surface line, a 2 1/2" X-shaped surface line, and a 1 1/2" horizontal surface line, all not visible on interior. A cross-shaped surface line to shoulder on reverse, not visible on interior. A 5 1/2" vertical line to midsection on exterior, faintly visible on interior and probably in-the-firing. Surface lines to underside, not visible on the interior and presumably in-the-firing. A thin, approximately 2 1/4" crack on underside, forming a thin 3" Y at base on reverse. A faint 1" surface line on underside, continuing up base 1 1/2" on front, not visible on interior. Two chips to exterior of rim and two chips to interior of rim. Wear and shallow chipping around inner rim for lid. A minor handle chip. H 14 1/4".



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