Exceedingly Rare and Important Loudoun County, VA, Stoneware Ring Flask w/ Incised Federal Eagle and Patriotic Inscriptions, 1827


Spring 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 1

Price Realized: $204,000.00

($170,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  The American ceramics market frequently changes, often dramatically. Additionally, small nuances of color, condition, shape, etc. can mean huge differences in price. If you're interested in having us sell a similar item for you, please contact us here.

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Spring 2023 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important Cobalt-Decorated Stoneware Ring Flask with Incised Federal Eagle Decoration and Patriotic Inscriptions, Inscribed "George Duncan 1827" and "Enoch Dove," Loudoun County, VA, 1827, wheel-thrown, ring-shaped form with two heavily-tooled and applied spouts, the shoulder with incised decoration of a Federal eagle with shield across its chest, followed by the words, "Where liberty dwells there is my country," along with the signature and date, "George Duncan / 1827." Reverse incised with the inscription, "Peace, plenty and independence," followed by name of the flask's presumed owner, "Enoch Dove." The flask is heavily-decorated in brushed cobalt slip with a flowering vine around the edge, including tulips extending onto one side and an eight-pointed star at the shoulder, the reverse with four-petaled blossoms resembling fylfots. Arguably the finest stoneware ring flask produced in the 19th century American South, this work combines decoration, maker, inscription, and form, to produce an object of extraordinary significance to this country's ceramic history. The only documented work signed by Loudoun County, Virginia potter, George Duncan (c. 1778- 1850), this flask is emblazoned with an incised design of a Federal eagle, making it one of a few stoneware pieces produced in the state displaying this iconic American image. The inscriptions further tout the patriotism of the potter, drawing from founding father, Benjamin Franklin, with the words, "Where Liberty dwells there is my country," on the front, and "Peace, plenty and independence" on the reverse, the latter an oft-repeated American slogan frequently seen on English Liverpool pitchers from the period. The name, Enoch Dove, on the reverse, is believed to be a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia on the outskirts of Alexandria during the 1820s, as discovered by researcher, Amy Bertsch. The ring flask form is rare unto itself, but this example is made nearly unique by the application of two spouts instead of one and two distinct chambers on the interior of the vessel allowing it to dispense different liquids in the manner of a gemel jug. The decoration is highly-distinctive, allowing this object to serve as a "rosetta stone" for future attribution of similarly-decorated pieces to this site. Matching cobalt tulip blossoms are found on an unsigned pitcher sold in Crocker Farm's Spring 2022 auction, lot 292. The flask's intriguing eight-pointed star motif at the shoulder is a symbol found in a variety of Virginia decorative arts mediums, including pottery, quilts, fraktur, food safes, and stove plates. Among pottery from the state, it is most frequently found on pieces produced further south at the pottery of John Zigler in Timberville, Rockingham County. The flask's various attributes, remarkable on nearly every quantifiable measure, confirm it as a masterwork of Southern ceramic art. Bold in its convictions about this country, then only fifty-one years old, this object also stands as an important artifact of the American spirit. Literature: For more information on Loudoun County, Virginia, stoneware, see Bertsch "Lost Potters of Loudoun County, VA," Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Volume 40, 2019. Excellent condition with three chips to one spout and some minor in-the-firing crazing. L 10 1/2".

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