Early 20th-Century Pewabic Pottery Collection

Value (2013) | $36,500 Auction$52,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I'm way into Pewabic Pottery. It's a Detroit-based pottery started by Mary Chase Perry Stratton.

APPRAISER:
And when did she start potting?

GUEST:
1903, I think. Before that, I think she was doing some china painting. To my knowledge, she was encouraged by one of her benefactors, Mr. Freer, to try to develop a patinated glaze much like a buried, Middle Eastern glaze like in glasses.

APPRAISER:
Like Roman glass.

GUEST:
Exactly.

APPRAISER:
But she started out doing matte glazed pottery, did she not?

GUEST:
Very early, yeah, earlier in matte greens and some overflow pieces.

APPRAISER:
The pottery is still in business, correct?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Well, you have three different pieces of Pewabic here from three different periods. We have a tile, which is a bit later. I call it a tile, anyway. It's an Alice in Wonderland tile. What's the date of this?

GUEST:
I was thinking it was probably the teens, maybe the 1920s.

APPRAISER:
The iridescent piece I would date sometime between 1912 and 1917. It's a good early one. This is pre-1910. This would be maybe 1907, 1908, her earliest germinal work. The Alice in Wonderland tile, we've seen some of these before. They're all hand-cut, but more or less, there's some repetition of theme. This one you bought for how much?

GUEST:
$600 without the frame. I just had the frame made for it.

APPRAISER:
And you saw one similar to this sell recently?

GUEST:
November, December of 2011 in Cincinnati, sold for $2,700.

APPRAISER:
That's a lot of money for this tile. I think it's more likely to be a $1,500 to $2,000 tile.

GUEST:
That's what I was thinking.

APPRAISER:
You still did well with that one. The iridescent piece, you've had that one how long?

GUEST:
March of 2009. I bought that here in Detroit at an auction house.

APPRAISER:
And you paid how much for that?

GUEST:
$525 as an unmarked piece of Pewabic.

APPRAISER:
But you did locate a mark on this piece...

GUEST:
It was pretty clear to me, yes.

APPRAISER:
There's a circular Pewabic mark on this, and this didn't look like this when you bought it.

GUEST:
No, it was covered in, like, brown nicotine smoke. When I knew what it was and I started to wipe it down very carefully with some warm water, it just started to come alive.

APPRAISER:
It's a porous glaze, and that's the sort of thing that cooking grease will adhere to that. But a really good example of their iridescent pottery. I love it when it's organic and gloppy. A piece like this at auction, I would estimate it for between $10,000 and $15,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my, thank you!

APPRAISER:
It's really good, and it could do in excess of that. Finally, the earlier matte piece. Now, these are done by Stratton herself.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
She threw them, she carved them, they're one-of-a-kind pieces of what she was known for early on. This uranium orange glaze is most unusual. I've not seen it before, and I think it really makes it special. This one you paid how much for?

GUEST:
About $225 from an heir of somebody that worked at the pottery.

APPRAISER:
While they're one of a kind, I had one just like this in green about ten years ago, and I sold it privately, not at auction. I sold that one for $22,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my!

APPRAISER:
This one at auction, I'd estimate right now for $25,000 to $35,000 at auction. And in my opinion, and I've got goose bumps here-- it's not my first time around the race track; I've seen a lot of this stuff-- this is the best piece of Pewabic I've ever seen.

GUEST:
Oh my gosh.

APPRAISER:
I think this would be in any museum in America that had American art pottery in it, and while I think the estimate at $25,000 to $35,000 is reasonable, I see no reason why a piece like this couldn't do $50,000 or more. This is a major piece of pottery.

GUEST:
That's amazing.

APPRAISER:
Thank you, thank you.

GUEST:
No, thank you, sir.

APPRAISER:
(chuckling): We are not worthy.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2013)
$36,500 Auction$52,000 Auction
Event
Detroit, MI (June 01, 2013)
Period
20th Century
Form
Tile, Vase
Material
Pottery

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