Sara Ayers Catawba Pottery, ca. 1970
Appraised Value: $2,900 - $3,900
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:46)
APPRAISER: What's the universal Indian question? What tribe are you?
APPRAISER: Catawbas are from where?
GUEST: Rock Hill, South Carolina.
APPRAISER: So what did you bring today?
GUEST: Some pottery from Sara Ayers. She is a master potter.
APPRAISER: Is she Catawba?
GUEST: Yes, sir.
APPRAISER: How did you get them?
GUEST: Online purchases.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for the big one?
GUEST: Three hundred and six dollars.
APPRAISER: Okay, what did you pay for the little pots?
GUEST: Probably $100 to $150.
APPRAISER: Well, Sara Ayers, she was born in 1919. She died about 2002. So did you know her?
GUEST: Yes, sir, as a little girl.
APPRAISER: Did she know your family?
GUEST: Yes, sir.
APPRAISER: There are pictures of Catawba people taken around the turn of the century, 1910, and they've got pots, and they're for sale. It's an old, old tradition. She revived pottery in the tribe. And she added things like these heads on the sides and the designs. These are not glazed pots. They're burnished, natural clay. She fired them in a pit in the backyard. They were coiled. They weren't turned on a wheel. These were built up of little coils of clay and then smoothed off. So a big pot like that took a long time to do. If you look at the back, it's got a lot of color. And that color is the natural color of the clay and the fire hitting it. And those are the most desirable of her pots, the ones that have those colors and have a lot of it. The whole thing is covered with this incising. It took a long time to do that and to keep it even and to give it this all-over effect. Of all the Catawba potters, she was the queen. Nobody excelled like she did and has before or since. The big pot is signed and dated. Without that, we'd have a lot lower price.
APPRAISER: The two smaller ones are unsigned.
APPRAISER: I think they're probably hers. They're in her style. Several have come on the market lately that are almost identical that were signed. Same color. Unsigned pots like this, the taller one would probably sell for around $200 at auction. The shorter one, about the same. And it's got some chips on it. But I think it's okay. It's a nice piece, it's got some nice color to it. But this big piece, it's a real masterpiece. If this came up at auction today, I would expect that pot to sell for probably $2,500 to $3,500.
APPRAISER: So you did a pretty good buy for 300 and some-odd dollars.
GUEST: Yes, sir. Mm-hmm, I'm happy.
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