Exceedingly Rare and Important WM. MOYER / HARRISBURG, PA Stoneware Pedestal Water Cooler

Spring 2022 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 37

Estimate: $30,000-$50,000.A Note About Estimates

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Spring 2022 Auction Catalog

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Sold!  $120,000.


Exceedingly Rare and Important Four-Gallon Stoneware Pedestal-Based Water Cooler with Slip-Trailed Cobalt Floral Decoration, Stamped "WM. MOYER / HARRISBURG PA," circa 1858-1861, ovoid cooler with flared rim, circular bunghole, open loop handles, and attached pedestal base. Decorated with a bold, slip-trailed tulip plant design featuring two blossoms with heavily-shaded petals, the center petal of each blossom including a wavy line, the right blossom embellished with a series of spots. Leaves accented with additional shading along edges and dashed brushwork on their interiors. Two wavy vertical stems, an element found on other early Harrisburg floral designs, flank the left flower. Cobalt highlights to bunghole, handle terminals, maker's mark, and capacity mark. An impressed seal on the reverse depicts the cupola of the original capitol building in Harrisburg. Three original piercings, formed prior to the firing, appear near the base of the pedestal. Featuring a pedestal-based form seen in only a few examples of Central Pennsylvania stoneware, this cooler ranks as the best regional work to come to auction in years. Complementing its refined form is a classical, urn-like shape to the cooler itself, featuring a coved and flared rim and tooled concentric accents to the pedestal, the upper and lower body of the cooler, and the rim. The cooler's highly unusual open handles, again reminiscent of an urn, include impressed rosettes at their terminals, a treatment virtually unknown in Harrisburg stoneware production. Its exquisite slip-trailed decoration draws inspiration from the New York potting tradition and is attributed to Shem Thomas, a potter trained by Thompson Harrington of Lyons, NY. Related slip-trailed floral designs can be found on pieces bearing the maker's mark of John Young & Company, used by partners, John Young and Shem Thomas at their Filbert Street Pottery, circa 1856-1858. Such designs, however, are otherwise unknown in pieces produced during William Moyer's operation of the shop from 1858-1861, and this cooler's decoration can easily be regarded among the finest known on a piece bearing his stamp. The survival of this piece serves as physical evidence that Thomas, who lived in Harrisburg after his pottery was sold, remained a worker at the Filbert Street shop. This cooler and another bearing the mark of John Young & Company offered in this auction are the only Central Pennsylvania pedestal-based coolers that we can recall selling in the last fifteen years or more. The condition of this example is noteworthy, as pedestal-based coolers from any region are often found with damage to the pedestal. Combining exceptional form, maker, and decoration, this cooler is the finest known example of William Moyer stoneware as well as a masterwork of its state's rich stoneware industry. Literature: The import of this cooler is enhanced by its inclusion in Jeanette Lasansky's iconic book, Made of Mud: Stoneware Potteries in Central Pennsylvania, 1834-1929. Illustrated and discussed in Made of Mud, pp. 48-49. The cooler's floral motif is additionally repeated as a decorative treatment on a number of the book's pages. Provenance: From a recently-surfaced Pennsylvania collection. Exceptional condition with a 3 1/2" x 4" X-shaped line to right side of cooler at base, not visible on interior, a 1 5/8" chip to bunghole (possibly in-the-firing), a minor in-the-firing nick to bunghole, and a minor in-the-firing ping to shoulder. H 18 1/4".



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