19th-Century Folk Art Jug
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $50,000 (1998)
$100,000 - $150,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (3:41)
Clocks & Watches, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture
Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts, Partner, Executive Vice President & Chief Auctioneer
GUEST: I acquired this jug eight or nine years ago. I just happened to stop by... I think it was a Shriners garage sale where people had donated items. And this was sitting kind of off to the side with a little bee sting crock. And nobody was paying too much attention to him, and I kind of thought, "This thing is ugly, but it's unique," and so I made him an offer on the two pieces and took it home.
APPRAISER: You did say a yard sale.
APPRAISER: Okay, now I've never been to a yard sale like that before. (both laughing) At any rate, this is truly extraordinary. Number one, it's, I think, a presentation piece. This must have been used at a gathering, a large meeting, a big event. It was meant to be conspicuously placed in the room, and its capacity, which is marked by two Roman numerals up here, is, believe it or not, 20 gallons.
GUEST: That's what I thought that might mean.
APPRAISER: It's huge. Its form is relatively early. I would date this some time after 1860, probably. It certainly is made in the Pennsylvania/Ohio tradition. The use of blue slip glaze here, but then this Albany slip glaze and then the application of these decorative elements along with this amazing sort of coleslaw mustache and beard and eyebrows. These are all things that you'll see in this particular part of the country. These lizards-- and I'll turn this around a bit-- are beautifully figured. The tails, everything about it. And they're symmetrically arranged on the jug with this very dramatic portrait of a man. In addition to that, where the spigot was down here they have this turtle on the surface of the piece. The fact that some might say, "Well, look, it's got a great big chip." I don't think it means any bit of difference whatsoever. And there are some hairline cracks, but overall it's in fantastic condition. It made my heart beat when I saw this. In all my years of working in the auction business I never saw a piece to rival it, and it's a little difficult under these circumstances to estimate the value. So inevitably, I ask myself a question, "What would you pay?" And it's the sort of thing if I were in a position of buying such a piece, I think one would easily say, "Sure, I'll pay..." Well, why don't you fill in the figure? Got any ideas?
GUEST: Oh, I'll tell you what I paid for it.
APPRAISER: All right, let's go there first.
GUEST: The two crocks together, I just made a bid. I said I would give him $50.
GUEST: And that's what I took them home for.
APPRAISER: Very good.
GUEST: The little crock I sold for $52.50. So I've made $2.50, and I've still got this.
APPRAISER: I think it was a wise move. Well, anyway, we had a little confab here amongst several experts that are kind enough to assist me in looking at this piece. And it's a little difficult to come up with a consensus, but I think easily the jug is probably worth in the area of $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh! (gasps)
APPRAISER: It's extraordinary. (laughs)
GUEST: Oh...I'm sorry.
APPRAISER: And I think the top side of the estimate. I don't think that I'm being aggressive with the estimate. I think it's easily worth that kind of money. It's just an extraordinary thing, and I'm so happy I got the chance to appraise it.
GUEST: I'm just...I'm floored.
APPRAISER: (laughs) It's a pretty good buy, I'd say, too.
GUEST: Yeah, I don't have anything in it. (laughs) Gee wiz! (laughter) Yes! (applause) Oh, this is my 15 minutes of fame! (laughter)
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