Extremely Rare / Important Redware Flowerpot, "ABS. BIXLER TO HIS WIFE SARAH 1824," Lancaster Co, PA

Fall 2022 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 165

Estimate: $15,000-$25,000.A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2022 Auction Catalog

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Sold!  $13,000.


Extremely Rare and Important Cobalt-Decorated Redware Flowerpot with Applied Bird-on-Flower Decoration, Impressed "ABS. BIXLER. TO HIS WIFE. SARAH 1824.," Absalom Bixler, Earl Township, Lancaster County, PA, circa 1850, wide, flaring pot with semi-rounded rim, decorated on the front and reverse with an applied clay figure of a bird perched on a flowering branch with leaves. Further decorated on each side with an applied clay flower blossom. Impressed around the rim, "ABS. BIXLER. TO HIS WIFE. SARAH 1824." Applied decoration with rare cobalt slip decoration, including slip-trailed spots forming a flower at the end of the branches. Surface covered in a clear lead glaze. This flowerpot is part of a small group made by Bixler in the mid 19th century to commemorate the courting of his wife, Sarah, in 1824. Two clays were involved in its production: a white clay to produce the bird and branch and a typical iron-rich, "redware" clay to produce the pot and the cat. The bird, when fired under a clear lead glaze, assumes a bright-yellow color. The cobalt decoration to the branch and leaves achieves a greenish coloration when glazed and fired over this light clay. This clever method of decoration, rarely seen in American redware, allows the bird designs to stand out to the viewer. Bixler's bird-decorated flowerpots represent iconic examples of Pennsylvania-German folk art and are rarely made available for sale. The "mate" to this flowerpot, of roughly the same size and form, bearing the same applied decorations and inscription, but with different clay/slip treatment, resides in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Literature: Featured on the cover of The Magazine Antiques, September 1982. Provenance: From a recently surfaced CA collection. Two flakes to one bird's head. Same bird's tail with old yellowish paint, although tail appears largely intact. A large flake to head of other bird. Some additional minor chips to applied decoration. A small chip to underside at edge. A small flake to interior base. H 5 5/8" ; Diam. 7 3/4".



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