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Antiques Considered - July 13, 2011

A Northern Neck couple inherited this stoneware crock and jug several years ago.  The crock is marked only by the blue stylized leaf on one side and the five-gallon jug by the large blue  "5" at the top and leaf nearer the bottom.  Each is in excellent condition with no cracks or chips.  The bottoms are unglazed.  The owners do not know the maker's name, nor place of origin.

These pieces date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  Although today we admire them for the artistry involved in making them, originally they served practical purposes.  The crock is a nice example of its genre, with its greatest value being in the blue decoration.  With

it, the piece is worth $250, whereas without such decoration it would be worth $60.

Its purpose was to cure cucumbers in brine for making pickles; indeed it still could be used for that purpose.  A few years ago a lady asked me to find her a good old crock for her pickle-making.  She thought the product would taste better if it came from an antique crock.

The jug is an especially well-modeled piece.  The "5" is its greatest value, followed by the blue leaf.  The shaping of the handle and spout are well-executed, and the bulbous nature of the body is attractive.  In this case, the original purpose was making moonshine or some other home-distilled "remedy" or perhaps even the storage of other less potent liquids.

Given the jug's size, decoration and condition, it is worth $500.   All stoneware, and particularly Virginia pieces from the Shenandoah Valley and Alexandria, have escalated in value dramatically over the last thirty years.  If these two items were marked as being from either of those locations, the prices would be more than double those I have cited.  In evaluating all stoneware, the three most important aspects to consider are the following: 1) condition, whether the piece has chips or cracks 2) imprinted or painted maker's name or not, and 3) the presence of floral or other decoration, usually in various shades of blue.

            Happy Antiquing!

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