Newcomb College Ceramic Pitcher, ca. 1900
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $5,000 (1998)
$5,000 - $7,500 (2011)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:35)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
GUEST: It's a piece that my great-great-aunt did. It's probably been in the family since she created it. My grandmother is passing out the pieces that she has to each of the grandchildren...
APPRAISER: Uh-huh. So it came pretty much straight through the family. And your great-aunt's name is?
GUEST: Marie de Hoa LeBlanc.
APPRAISER: And she was a student and a decorator at Newcomb College Pottery.
GUEST: Right, she did pottery there. I know she did some painting. Very prolific. Enjoyed what she did. And probably even taught some, too.
APPRAISER: Newcomb was a college that was started to teach women the applied arts to get them out of Victorian parlors and as part of the American work force, very much in response to what happened during the Civil War, when so many of the men were killed off, and women suddenly had to become less coddled and a more effective part of the American work force, which of course, tied into the Women's Liberation Movement and a lot of things that were happening in America at that time. I like this piece for a lot of reasons. There's a lot of Newcomb out there. They were in business for a good 40 years, 50 years of decorating but by and large, the pots, which were all hand-thrown were then carved and painted with flowers or bayou scenes. This is typical of a really early piece of Newcomb and quite rare for that. The decoration on this pot which is not just surface painted but actually incised, etched is of stylized dandelion leaves which is extremely rare. I've never seen this before in a piece of Newcomb pottery. As typical with most Newcomb pieces, it's decorated in the round. There is a little minor damage on the pot. On this handle right here there's some glaze... I call "glaze scaling." It's possible it happened in the firing because heat collects on the edges and will burn the glaze off and maybe that's how that happened. This, I believe are your relative's initials on the bottom—M.H.L.? Marie...
GUEST: Right, Marie de Hoa LeBlanc, right.
APPRAISER: What's also typical of this piece as an early one is the mark on the bottom. It's very hard to see-- a two-line die-stamp mark right over there. It says "Newcomb College Pottery" die-stamped and pressed into the bottom of the piece. But this... That mark was only used for a few years before 1900 and only the earliest pieces will have that. As I said earlier, the type of decoration that's incised, etched flat-rendered work of the dandelion leaves is also typical of these pre-1900 pieces. So, while it may not be the most beautiful piece of Newcomb I've ever seen, it's certainly one of the rarer ones, and it contrasts nicely with the stylized moss and oak tree scenes that are so prevalent. You said you had some idea of the value because you've talked to some Newcomb dealers, and...
GUEST: Somewhat. I've seen some pieces. My husband and I have been to some shops to look at pieces. So I think there's some value to it, but...
APPRAISER: Well, in spite of the scaling on the edge, it would have to be a $4,000 or $5,000 pot.
GEUST: Oh, that's nice.
APPRAISER: Which, for a piece of only two colors, it's really quite a bit, and it's... Thank you for bringing it in. It's great to see this.
GUEST: Oh, thank you, thank you very much.
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