Pennsylvania Stoneware Crocks, ca. 1880

Value (2010) | $13,000 Auction$16,000 Auction

I'm originally from Southwestern Pennsylvania. I was born and raised in New Geneva, and my mother's family was from this village also. So I grew up around this area with all these pieces. They were very familiar to us. This particular piece I purchased from a local farm owner, had it for sale. This piece I purchased at the estate auction of a very dear friend of ours, also right on the edge of the village. And that was in September 1979.

So, what did you pay... how much was this?

I believe this one was about $825.

Okay, and then this one here?

A little bit less, but I also purchased it that fall of 1979.

Okay, these two pieces were made circa 1880. When I first saw these, I said, "Well, I've never seen stoneware jars, or crocks, this big." They're normally about, you know, two gallon, three gallon. 12 gallons were really pushing it, and major. But these are 20 gallons. And it's written right on it. New Geneva, Pennsylvania, was a very famous pottery town. Several potteries operated there in the 1870s and '80s. One reason is they found a local clay deposit near the river there.

Yes, the Monongahela River.

Exactly. The process of making these, they had to put a huge lump of clay on the wheel. They had kick wheels, they kicked the wheel to go. Now, a piece this big would have taken two men-- one man to kick the wheel and the other to put his hands inside and turn this. It took an incredibly athletic man to do that. And both of these are really, really heavy. Well, it took about 17 hours for these to fire in the kiln. Then it took about three days to cool because they were pretty hot.

Wow, yes.

And then after they were cool, they were put on huge, 80-foot ferry boats and shipped down the river, or sold locally. Now, this one here is marked "R.T. Williams." Richard Williams, he was a potter. "Manufactured New Geneva, PA." Well-known potter. Now, this one here is all stencil. The free-hand decoration is rarer and more desirable by collectors. This is mostly stenciled except for the "20" here and then this piece across here. The value on this is about $6,000.

Okay, that's good.

And this is probably worth in the range of $7,000 to $10,000, this one piece.

That's wonderful, wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Leslie Keno Art Advisory
Waccabuc, NY
Appraised value (2010)
$13,000 Auction$16,000 Auction
San Diego, CA (June 12, 2010)
19th Century
Container, Jar

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