Extremely Rare Green-Glazed Redware Vase Inscribed "Ann Miller," attrib. Thomas Vickers, Chester County, PA

Spring 2022 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 3

Price Realized: $8,400.00

($7,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

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Auction Highlight:  Spring 2022 Auction | Pennsylvania Redware

Spring 2022 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare Copper-Glazed Presentation Redware Vase with Sgraffito Decoration, Inscribed "Ann Miller / Born A.D. 1796," attributed to Thomas Vickers, Downingtown, Chester County, PA, 1796, ovoid vase with footed base, the surface coated in a bright-green, lead-and-copper glaze and incised with the inscription, "Ann Miller / Born A.D. 1796," flanked by a sgraffito plant design. This vase, evidently made to commemorate the birth of Ann Miller, is one of a small group of copper-glazed presentation vessels attributed to Quaker potter, Thomas Vickers (1757-1829). Among these are a bowl, inscribed "Rachel Heston / 1806," at Winterthur and a jar, inscribed "Caith Harlan / 1807" in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Predating these works by a decade and made when the country was only twenty years ago, this vase in the earliest example of dated Vickers family pottery that we are aware of. Its vase form is exceptionally rare for the period and region, typically found in the work of other American potting traditions several decades later. Adding import to this lot is the fascinating history of its maker and his son. Vickers (1757-1829) was a staunch abolitionist, an early agent of the Underground Railroad, and original member (along with Benjamin Franklin) of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, founded in Philadelphia in 1777 and the first anti-slavery society in America. His son and partner, John (1780-1860), also an Underground Railroad agent, harbored enslaved fugitives in his house, even hiding children in his own redware jars wagoned from location to location. Interestingly, John Vickers met with the father of the American alkaline-glazed stoneware tradition, Abner Landrum, during the latter's trip to Philadelphia (see Steen, "Summertime in Old Edgefield District,"pp. 74-75). Combining decorative appeal with American history (both social and art), this vase is among the most noteworthy examples of 18th century redware that we have ever offered. Literature: For more information on the Vickers's involvement in the Underground Railroad, see Papson and Calarco, Secret Lives of the Undeground Railroad in New York City; see also Snodgrass, The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations. Provenance: From a recently-surfaced CA collection. The mouth of the vase appears to be ground and smoothed. An additional chip to mouth. Heavy chipping to foot. Wear to sgraffito decoration. Minor wear to incised inscription. A small in-the-firing ping to front. H 7 1/2".




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