Anna Pottery Pig Bourbon Flask, ca. 1885
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:32)
Decorative Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Vice President of Special Collections
GUEST: I'm a physician, and when I moved to town there was a very wise man who told me, "People are going to want to give you gifts. You need to collect something." So I said, "Well, pigs are a lot like people, so I'll collect pigs." And the next day, he brought me three carved little pigs, and that started it.
APPRAISER: And how long ago was that?
GUEST (laughing): 24 years ago.
APPRAISER: No kidding?
APPRAISER: And how many pigs have you got right now?
GUEST: I have no clue. I have, like, 200 boxes of stuff boxed up in my house, and I have no idea.
APPRAISER: Tell me how you came about this one.
GUEST: My friend Nicky had a junk store. I'd go down to her store to relax and these two friends of mine came in, and then, usually, they're fastidious, and they were covered with filth from the top of their head to the tip of their toe. And they had been tearing down a shed and they found this pig stuck in the wall, and they brought it to Nicky to see if she would buy it from them, and they wanted $200 for it, and Nicky doesn't spend money on anything, so I bought it from them. Then I felt guilty about it, like I'd done a stupid thing, but I liked the pig.
APPRAISER: Well, I don't think you did a stupid thing. This was made by an American pottery called the "Anna Pottery." The Anna Pottery was founded in Anna, Illinois, in 1859. And it was run by a family called the Kirkpatrick family. And they were very talented. They made mostly ordinary utilitarian stuff. They made some unusual things, too, some figures, some jugs with snakes on. Basically, they made folk pottery outside of their utilitarian ware. And they made these little things, which are bourbon flasks. As far as we know, they're the only pottery that made these things. This particular one was probably made in the mid-to-late 1880s. And it's quite typical of what we find in an Anna Pottery pig flask. First of all, it's kind of whimsical to the point of being a little bit, you might say, bawdy. And a lot of the Anna Pottery stuff goes that way. But that was not unusual in late 19th century saloon culture.
GUEST (laughing): Yeah.
APPRAISER: And you can see on the back, there's an incised parallel line, which is a railway line it's depicting. The ICRR is the Illinois Central Railroad. There you see the word "Chicago," also incised near the pig's snout. There's a great-looking face. Most of these were thrown away. They were very inexpensive when they were new. They were not really meant to be kept. These are collected for lots of reasons, and all the different reasons add up to value. First of all, it's a pig, which is why you bought it. There are a lot of pig collectors. It's a piece of American stoneware. It's a bourbon flask. It's folk art. It's bordering on the American Arts and Crafts movement. It has a railroad connection. If this came to market today, I think you'd expect at least $5,000 at auction.
GUEST (laughing): You've got to be... Now I feel fine and Nicky's going to go, "Oh, my goodness, what have I done?"
APPRAISER: I hope Nicky isn't watching. And I think it could go as high as $7,000. (laughing)
GUEST: You've got to be kidding!
APPRAISER: I am not kidding you.
GUEST: I cannot believe that pig is worth that much money.
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