John Bennett Faience Vase with Bird, ca. 1885

Value (2009) | $4,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

I bought this at a local auction. And my wife loves anything with birds on it, especially pottery. And when I saw this piece, I thought it was very unique. And the signature on it, I actually thought it was a piece of Edwin Bennett pottery out of the Baltimore family. But when I got it home and done some research on it, I realized that it was not the Bennett Pottery of Baltimore, and it took me quite a while to find out exactly what it was. And I had it approximately three years before I was able to track down the actual maker of it.

You said you located some other pieces of John Bennett.

Yes, on the Internet, but the majority of them were in museums.

John is one of a gaggle of Bennetts who were painting birds on the sides of pots during the 19th century. Bennett actually started as a young man painting for Royal Doulton in England, and he introduced the faience line at Royal Doulton in England and then came over to America in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition, where Doulton had a large display. And apparently, Bennett was favored by the locals, and he favored the locals as well, and I consulted my wife, who's an appraiser on the show as well, and she said that it's not clear if Bennett actually went back to England after the Centennial Exposition, or went back and then came here, but in '76 he settled in America in New York City, which is where he did his decorating for much of his career. So starting in 1876, Bennett was decorating in townhouses in Manhattan, first on Lexington Avenue, and in this case on 24th Street. We can see on the bottom. And I had you help me find exactly what this was saying, but this is John Bennett's signature, and it says 24th Street. He was on the river in New York City, but he's known for doing these sort of Asian/Persian shapes with bright-- my wife calls them jewel-- colors, in this case emerald, with faience decoration outlined in black, so the work is very crisp and bright. I also want to point out how beautiful... There's a band of flowers around the top you can barely see, but just a really lovely, striking piece with a most unusual Middle Eastern form in this case. When you bought this at auction, how much did you pay for it?

I paid $40 for it.

How long ago was that?

It was about three years ago.

Because of the bird, which adds a fair amount of value to the piece, at auction, I would expect it to bring somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.



That's a big shock.

Not a bad investment on your $40 purchase. And Bennett seems to be one of the potteries that has remained, um, economy-proof.

That's really surprising. I'm just kind of speechless. I had no idea that it was worth anything like that.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2009)
$4,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)

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