Overbeck Pottery, ca. 1935

Value (2005) | $6,000 Auction$7,500 Auction

I had an aunt that collected the Overbeck, and then she decided that she wanted to commission the center guy there, and so she had it made up, and that's how I got it.

We've got a newspaper article here that talks a little bit about Mr. Curry. This was a piece that your aunt had the Overbeck sisters do specifically for her. Who's Mr. Curry?

Well, he's a runaway slave, and he came from Fountain City, Indiana. And everybody knew Wade Curry. He was quite a character, and he was very helpful to anybody and everybody that came along. As I understand it, he was the first slave to be buried from a white church. It was a Quaker community, and of course, the Quakers helped the Underground Railroad.

Right, and Mr. Curry was one of the messengers with the Underground Railroad.

He was a messenger, and everybody just loved him. And so she decided that everybody needed to remember him.

Just a little history about the Overbecks. They lived in Cambridge City, Indiana. There were six sisters. There are a couple of interesting styles here, because the sisters did a variety of things. Some of the sisters were very well trained, and pieces like the small vase with the houses were done by Elizabeth and Mary Frances. Some of the other sisters did the little grotesque pieces like Mr. Curry. And they're called grotesque characters, because generally, they're out of proportion, and sometimes the more grotesque they are, the more valuable they are. We've got a praying mantis. We have a Southern belle, a Colonial gentleman, and we have this very interesting bowl with a flower frog that goes inside the bowl that sort of fall into the grotesque category. And then we go back to the vase with the houses on it, which is a little bit finer, probably a little bit earlier. You've had these for a long time, and you probably have some sense of what they're worth?

Not one iota.

Okay, well, the praying mantis is really rather unusual. I think he probably-- even though he's very small-- might be $400 to $500. The Southern belle and the Southern gentleman-he has a little damage-- but they're may be in the $300 to $400 range each. The bowl with the flower frog, which is quite unusual, I think combined value of those two pieces-- they do go together-- is probably $1,000 to $1,500. Mr. Curry, who is one of the more unusual pieces because he is a commissioned piece done from a living person-- I've only seen a couple like that ever-- I suspect he's worth close to a thousand dollars himself, maybe more in a good market. So that gets us down to the little guy with houses. This piece is probably worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 to $4,000, maybe a bit more on a good day. If all these were sold at auction, they would bring roughly somewhere between $6,000 and $7,500.

That's a lot of money.

Overbeck's very collectible right now. They've been some symposiums done. The Indianapolis Art Museum is doing a big show on Overbeck, so there's a lot of interest from the collector's standpoint.

Well, that's great. I just didn't have any idea in the world what any one of the pieces were worth.

Appraisal Details

Humler & Nolan
Cincinnati, OH
Appraised value (2005)
$6,000 Auction$7,500 Auction
Houston, TX (July 16, 2005)
20th Century
Bowl, Figurine

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