Extremely Rare Simeon Bray, Evansville, IN Stoneware Temperance Jug Inscribed "S. L. B./ 1885"

Fall 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 131

Price Realized: $2,880.00

($2,400 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.

Fall 2023 Auction Catalog

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Very Rare Albany-Slip-Glazed Stoneware Temperance Jug with Yellow Slip Decoration, Incised "S. L B / 1885," Simeon L. Bray, Evansville, Indiana, circa 1885, ovoid jug with tapered spout and semi-rounded mouth, the surface embellished with combed, bark-like incising throughout, the handle in the form of a hand-modeled snake biting a sculpted man's head protruding from the front shoulder of the jug. Three hand-modeled animals- a lizard, a turtle, and a snake- are applied to the surface of the jug, also in pursuit of the man. Two smaller snakes are applied at the handle, one partially curled around the handle's base and another slithering along the top of the handle. The jug's entire surface is covered in a reddish-brown Albany slip glaze including yellow-slip spots on the snake and yellow slip highlighting the man's face. The underside is incised with the initialed signature and date, "S. L B / 1885." 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. Head of smaller snake at top of handle is missing. Otherwise excellent condition with minor base wear. H 7 1/8".

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