North Carolina Moravian Flask, ca. 1815
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $25,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:22)
C. Wesley Cowan
Arms & Militaria, Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
APPRAISER: So tell me about this great little bottle that you brought in.
GUEST: Well, it was my grandmother's, and they called it a doll. She said that it was her great-grandmother's doll. My great-great-great-grandmother lived in North Carolina. But at some point, they traveled out to Missouri and then came back to North Carolina. And that's really all the history I have on the doll.
APPRAISER: And where in North Carolina were they from?
APPRAISER: That's a great little heirloom, and what do you do with it now?
GUEST: Dust it. That's about it.
APPRAISER: Yeah, and the story is that your grandmother used this as a toy?
GUEST: She played with it, she played with it. And we don't know why there's a hole in the head. I don't know if there used to be another type of hair coming out or what, but she's got a hole in her head.
APPRAISER: Yeah, she certainly does. Well, when you told me that your family was from Winston-Salem, that was one of the clues to help me identify this little flask.
GUEST: Okay... oh, you're k...
APPRAISER: And this is a very rare bottle. It was made by Moravian potters.
APPRAISER: In Salem, North Carolina. Salem was the center of Southern pottery making. The industry began there in the mid-18th century. But this style of bottle was made in the first couple decades of the 19th century. This was probably made 1810 to 1830.
GUEST: Wow, wow.
APPRAISER: Whether they were used for spirits or whatever, but the hole is where a cork was. So it was not a doll.
GUEST: Oh... (laughs) Okay.
APPRAISER: It was actually used to store liquid in. The Moravian potters of Salem-- or what's commonly known today as Old Salem-- made a number of forms like this. They made a squirrel holding a nut, a fish, a turtle.
APPRAISER: The doll is probably the one you see more often than anything. The necklace somebody added.
GUEST: Yes, I think my grandmother did that. She was very handy.
APPRAISER: Okay, so she wanted to dress her doll up. And although it's really hard to see when you look at her crossed hands, she's holding a little bouquet of flowers. Now, one thing I should also tell you about this, when you look at the side, do you see the mark here? The vertical mark here?
APPRAISER: This was made in a mold, in a pressed mold. So the clay was put together, then they pushed the mold together to make it. It was not a hand-thrown bottle, it was a mold-made flask. These are very collectible and very desirable. Have you ever had anybody look at it and say, "Hey, I'd like to buy that from you."
APPRAISER: This flask would sell at auction for between $15,000 and $25,000.
GUEST: That's amazing. So I'll keep on dusting it. Maybe I'll put it away so it doesn't get dusty. That's wonderful, that's wonderful.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.