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- Published on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 05:00
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Members of a family in the lower Northern Neck have had this stoneware crock for many years. It bears no mark of origin, and sadly has a large chip on the rim and a severe crack running the length of one side. They question whether it could be from one of the Shenandoah or Alexandria potteries. The blue flowers are vibrant, and they go completely around the upper part of the crock.
This piece dates from the 1870's, and is a nice example of the stoneware of that period. Unfortunately, the cip, and even more the crack, seriously deplete its value. Perfect, it would be worth $250, but as is , it is largely a decorative piece, unless it could be fitted to make a lamp out of it, and its value is well less than $100. Even with the chip and crack if the piece bore the imprint of Solomon or Jonathan Bell from the Valley, or one of Milburns or another of the Alexandria potters, the value would be significantly higher. That much stated, the crock has good lines and good decoration.
Whether it is of Virginia origin is problematical. Without the impressed mark or the painted signature, the piece is not directly attributable. The color and style of the blue floral paints are in keeping with the motif used by Virginia potters. If the owner said that his family bought the crock for $2 in an antique shop in Woodstock or New Market, Virginia in 1950, the probability of it being a Valley piece would be much greater. In those days stoneware had not caught the public eye, and the present rush to collect it had not dawned, but as the time and place of acquisition are unknown, we only can speculate.
The two most important aspects of value for stoneware pieces, be they crocks, jugs, bowls or other items, are condition and maker. In this case the condition is not good due to the chip and crack, and the maker always will remain a mystery, thus basically it remains a decorative item.
Henry Lane Hull
Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, Va 22579