Appraisal Video: (3:44)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
GUEST: I grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, and my grandfather worked in the Ohr studio. My grandmother was friends with George Ohr's son, Geo. And so, consequently, we had some pottery that was given to them at some point, and it just stayed in the family.
APPRAISER: What did your relative do? What was his occupation?
GUEST: He was a machinist.
APPRAISER: Your grandfather was a machinist.
GUEST: And from what I understand, he worked for George's son, Geo, in doing machine-type stuff.
APPRAISER: That would make sense, because Ohr primarily worked alone. He had some help, but what happened is in 1907, thereabouts, his sons took over the pottery, essentially retired their dad, and turned it into a repair shop.
APPRAISER: I mean, they were involved with the mechanics. So tell me about these pieces that you have here. You got a couple of vases.
GUEST: Yes. This one has some little breaks here, and we had a cleaning lady who probably put it through the dishwasher. In fact, I'm sure she did. And because it was just stuff, you know?
APPRAISER: Important safety tip: no dishwashers for George Ohr pots.
GUEST: No, I know, and... (laughing) It was just not valuable.
APPRAISER: They haven't had much value for most of their life.
GUEST: I know.
APPRAISER: It's not been since the last 25 years or so that they took on some value. So, this little guy here, you like that one a lot, this little jug. I like that one a lot. What's the story?
GUEST: That one's a big deal in my family. The story, from what I what I understand, is that for my grandparents' wedding present, they were given that jug and then a jug that goes with it that is supposed to have a picture of George Ohr in it, and this one has, I think, Josephine in it, his wife.
APPRAISER: The wife in there. Yeah, I looked inside. These are quite rare. There's only a handful of these known. And some of the ones that still exist don't have the little cellophane in there. You look through, it's just hollow.
GUEST: Oh, no. This one's very cool because it has the picture and teen tiny words.
APPRAISER: And this is a photograph of George Ohr's pottery. He called it his pot-Ohr-y. Now, um, for these last two pieces that we're showing here, these are George Ohr bordello tokens.
APPRAISER: Tell me about your history with those.
GUEST: Well, I did not even know about them until I was probably in my 30s. My father had them. I'm sure that my grandmother probably gave them to him because they're inappropriate and... Which is why we have them under lock and key, here in this pill bottle.
APPRAISER: Right. Right 'Cause they have rebuses on them that are very suggestive. Very. We've put a couple of the tamer ones, "I love you dearly" and "Let's go to bed." The rest are inappropriate for public broadcasting.
GUEST: Right, which is why my father didn't let me see these until I was in my 30s. And he gave them to my husband, not to me.
APPRAISER: Aha. George Ohr was rather bawdy, and in addition to being a great potter, he had a very interesting poem he used to inscribe on the sides of some of his pots and it goes like this: "Molly and I were on the beach engaged in nature's folly. The sand was hot upon my back but the sun was hot to Molly."
GUEST: That is great.
APPRAISER: When there's a mark, we know when he made them. There's a very concise marking system. And so, those two, we'd say 1898 to 1902. The other pieces probably about the same time, but with less certainty.
APPRAISER: Let me give you some values on some of these. These bordello tokens. What's interesting is you have the entire set of six of them. There aren't that many sets out there. An auction estimate on these would be between, say, $5,000 and $7,000 for the six of them, which is a lot...
APPRAISER: but well worth it. This little jug, there's only a handful of them known. As I said, most of them are missing the cellophane. My auction estimate on that one would be $2,500 to $3,500, maybe $3,000 to $4,000.
APPRAISER: This blue vase which is bigger and in perfect condition, as opposed to the green one. The form's a little stiff. The glaze isn't great. Auction retail estimate between $15,000 and $20,000. And finally, this green one, and it's an interesting point. In spite of the damage, Ohr's work is so rare that a little bit of damage, if the pieces are there, does not make a world of difference. I would estimate this one again from between $15,000 to $20,000,
APPRAISER: or maybe $17,000 to $22,000 in spite of the repair to the handle.
GUEST: Wow. Really?
GUEST: That surprises me.