Late 19th-Century Folk Art Puzzle Jug
Appraised Value: $1,000 - $1,500
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:19)
Arms & Militaria, Science & Technology
Gary Piattoni, Inc.
GUEST: It is my grandmother's piece. The story she was told was that it was brought over from Germany by a tailor by the last name of Meyers, and... he had a tailor shop in Chicago, and he exhibited this at the Columbian Exposition of 1893. He eventually moved to Belvidere, where my grandmother lives, and he passed away, and the rest of the people at the shop kept it. And when that shop went out of business, she approached the owner to buy it. My grandmother paid five dollars for it.
APPRAISER: Oh, interesting. So it was actually on display at the shop?
GUEST: Yes, at both shops-- the Chicago and the Belvidere.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a neat piece, and it's what's called in the trade a "puzzle jug" or a "puzzle bottle." And the reason it's called a puzzle jug is because people would always ask, "How did they do that?" And it's a real puzzle. And, you know, the answer is, it's very similar to how they make the ship in the bottle. The individual pieces were all prefabricated by the artisan beforehand and then very, very carefully assembled inside the jug with very delicate long and thin instruments. And what's unique about this jug is the subject matter. I mean, we often see religious scenes, Masonic scenes, but rarely is it like this tailor shop. It's really a unique kind of scene. It was probably actually made in this country. He was probably from Germany. What most people don't know about the Columbian Exposition is that not only was it a place to see wonders from all over the world, but it also had exhibits of local craftspeople in all categories-- in the decorative arts and in furniture, often awarding prizes for, you know, the best pieces. Most likely, it was exhibited in an area for craft work, and he probably used it as an opportunity to advertise his shop. Here we can see it's got a little paper label that discusses... it was a shop in Chicago circa 1893 owned by Mr. Meyers. So it ties... not only a Chicago connection, but a great example of American folk art. And because it's unusual and because of the subject matter, it kind of elevates it above your normal puzzle jug, and I'd put its value, conservatively, somewhere in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. It's a great piece and it's unique, and I just love it and I'm excited that you brought it in.
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