Rare Small-Sized Bray Brothers Stoneware Temperance Jug, Illinois, Kentucky or Indiana, c1880-90

Fall 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 132

Price Realized: $1,560.00

($1,300 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, attributed to Simeon, J. Wallace, or William Bray, IN, IL, or KY origin, circa 1880-1890, semi-ovoid jug with tall neck and semi-squared spout, the surface profusely-decorated in a rustic manner with applied and sculpted sawed limbs and incised bark. Body decorated with hand-modeled applied figural decorations in the style of the Kirkpatrick brothers of Anna, Illinois, including a snake-form handle with smaller snake above, a lizard, and turtle, facing a central molded man's bust with hat, protruding from the front of the jug. As with related jugs evocative of the Temperance Movement, the figure is depicted as helpless, trapped inside the jug with only his head exposed, while the animals move forward in an attempt to devour him. A molded and applied figure of a goose on nest appears below. Surface covered in a chocolate-to-reddish-brown Albany slip glaze. The applied figures include impressed eyes, various incised details, and scaling produced with two different sizes of coggle wheels. A related jug featuring the same molded man was sold as lot 115 in Crocker Farm's July 18, 2015 auction. 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. The goose seen on this jug is a previously-undocumented figure for this form. Restoration to lower half of small snake, the turtle's head, and the goose's head extending partway into the neck, as well as restoration to a flake on the goose's breast. (Restoration like this is common for this form.) Minor unrestored chips. H 7 3/4".

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