1849 Bennington Pottery Lion

Value (2005) | $4,000 Auction$8,000 Insurance

GUEST:
Well, it's shown in an old tintype. Somebody in the family's got that. It's been in the family for a long, long time. I grew up with the guy sitting on the top of the piano, but after we were married, when it finally came to me, along with this piano, my wife was afraid to let it stay out. So my kids haven't had a chance to grow up with this the way I did. It's been in a closet for the last 16 years.

APPRAISER:
How far back in your family can you put it?

GUEST:
Uh, at least as far back as my great-grandfather.

APPRAISER:
It's actually pretty special. I'm going to look at the mark first, because the mark is going to explain a lot.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And I'm curious as to have you ever tried to read the mark before? Or did you even know there was a mark on the bottom?

GUEST:
Well, I knew there was a mark, and somebody gave my mother a book about Bennington pottery.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
So we've got some idea that it's more valuable.

APPRAISER:
Well, this mark actually says "Fenton, Lyman and Company." Now, you're correct in that it does come from Bennington. And the Fenton, Lyman Company was, at that point in time, in 1849, a manufacturer of pottery in Bennington. And they made these lead glazed, which they actually called "flint glazed" animals. They made utilitarian wares, like kitchen wares, they made things like picture frames and flasks, and they made these wonderful animals. Now, this on the top here, is actually where they've taken little bits of clay and they've chopped it up. In fact, they call this technique "coleslaw."

GUEST:
Uh-huh. "Coleslaw"?

APPRAISER:
It's really, really fine quality. There is no flaws on this at all. Little tiny, tiny chip on the back corner there.

GUEST:
Yeah, mom told me about that one. Before it came to us, a cat was running around on top of the piano and knocked over a vase and took that little chip out of it.

APPRAISER:
These have always been desirable. If you go back to the 1920s and 1930s and '40s, there were collectors that desired these back at that point in time.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And even more so today. Now, these were made in pairs originally. So, there was a left and a right, if you can believe it, and you just have one of a pair. If this came up at a well-publicized auction, I would expect it to sell in the range of $4,000 to $6,000 conservatively.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And, certainly, to insure it, as much as $7,500 or $8,000 wouldn't be unreasonable.

GUEST:
Ouch. (laughing)

APPRAISER:
So is it going on the piano, or is it going back in the closet?

GUEST:
I'm afraid it's going to go back into the closet.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$4,000 Auction$8,000 Insurance
Event
Bismarck, ND (July 30, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Form
Figurine
Material
Pottery

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