Extremely Rare Temperance Jug attrib. Simeon L. Bray, Evansville, Indiana w/ Snake, Lizard, and Monkey Decorations

Summer 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 106

Price Realized: $16,800.00

($14,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

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Summer 2023 Auction Catalog

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Extremely Rare Cobalt-and-Albany-Slip-Decorated Stoneware Temperance Jug with Applied Snake, Lizard, and Monkey Decorations, attributed to Simeon L. Bray, Evansville, Indiana, circa 1885, ovoid jug with tapered spout and combed, bark-like incising throughout, the handle in the form of a hand-modeled snake biting the arm of an applied figure of a monkey, whose head disappears into the neck of the jug. A second snake applied atop the handle bites the monkey's second arm. Two smaller snakes and a lizard are applied to the body of the jug, pursuing the monkey. Surface covered in a salt glaze with heavy cobalt highlights to the snakes and lizard, iron-oxide highlights throughout the jug's surface and animals, additionally overglazed with daubs of chocolate-brown Albany slip. The Bray brothers, Simeon, J. Wallace, and William, were all potters raised in Anna, Illinois, and appear as children living there in the 1860 census. The itinerance of the three potter-brothers is evidenced in census and city directories of the period. Simeon, the oldest of the three, is listed in the 1870 census as a "Turner in pottery" working in Anna, where he presumably adopted the temperance jug form in his production at Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatricks' Anna Pottery. Ten years later, Simeon appears as a potter in Evansville, Indiana, along with his brother, William; William is also shown working in Mound City, Illinois, the same year. Wallace Bray is listed in the 1880 census as a "clay artist" working in Metropolis, Illinois, assumedly at Metropolis Pottery, and in the 1890 Paducah, Kentucky, city directory as a potter. In all, less than ten Bray family temperance jugs have been documented, making them significantly rarer than the Kirkpatrick examples on which they are based. This example is noteworthy in its size, believed to the largest-capacity Bray example known, and, more importantly, in its glaze, being the only documented example with cobalt decoration. Provenance: Crocker Farm, Inc., March 24, 2018, lot 5. This jug survives in rarely-found excellent, essentially as-made condition. Temperance jugs, because of their delicate applied work, typically succumbed to losses in the firing or from use. H 7 1/2".

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