Signed Alabama Stoneware, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $2,500 - $3,500
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:37)
C. Wesley Cowan
Arms & Militaria, Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
GUEST: I got it at a local auction out of Wagner.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for it?
GUEST: I paid $50.
APPRAISER: What attracted you to buy this thing?
GUEST: Well, I was wanting to start doing my kitchen in primitives, and it looked like a good piece to sit in the corner, and when I took it home and cleaned it up, it looked a little more impressive.
APPRAISER: And once you got it home and cleaned it up, what did you discover then?
GUEST: That it had some writing on it and had been signed. It just really attracted me.
APPRAISER: It says, "Made by J.B. Skinner, Sterrett, Alabama." Have you done any research at all about this particular potter?
GUEST: I tried when I first got it, but couldn't find really anything about it at all.
APPRAISER: Well, it is a great example of a piece of regional stoneware from, in this case, Alabama. Stoneware collectors are a really interesting bunch of people. This piece of stoneware to somebody from my state, from Ohio, wouldn't mean a thing. They wouldn't care what was written on here by and large because it's not a piece of Ohio stoneware. The Southern stoneware collectors are very rabid about their own stoneware. This is an example of a piece of stoneware that would get an Alabama collector really going pretty strong. Sterrett is a little town in what's the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains east of present day Birmingham, Alabama. And it was known for producing stoneware. There was no one that I can find yet by the name of J.B. Skinner. It's very unusual to see this incised decoration. This kind of decoration is called sgraffito incising in the trade.
GUEST: How old do you think it is?
APPRAISER: This particular shape is not a particularly early shape. It's probably from the third quarter to maybe last quarter of the 19th century. So, 1870, 1885, something like that would be my best guess. I would think that your $50 investment would pay off to you, in an auction, where there were other examples of Southern stoneware, I would think that this might bring at least $2,500 to $3,500.
APPRAISER: Maybe more if two Sterrett stoneware collectors really tied up into it. It's a really great piece of stoneware because it's signed. If it wasn't signed, it would be worth a few hundred dollars.
GUEST: Yeah. Okay, that's neat.
GUEST: I'm real happy.
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