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Antiques Considered - April 11, 2012

A Northern Neck family, with Piedmont area connections, has owned this stoneware crock for many generations.  It is a shade of gray-tan, and is in perfect condition, with no cracks or chips.  It bears no markings, but from measuring, the family has concluded it holds two gallons.  The shape of the lip on the top with the indentation below shows signs of the crock possibly once having a lid.


This crock does seem to exhibit traits common to Shenandoah Valley stoneware.  It has a good shape, particularly around the top, and the color is excellent.  Unfortunately, being unsigned we only can speculate as to whether it is of Valley origin, although the family's historical connections there give credence to the claim.

Crocks in good condition have a hierarchy of values.  The best ones have extensive painted blue decoration in the form of flowers and other designs, and are signed by the makers, either in the form of an impressed stamp or painted signature.  The next level has less painting, and no maker's mark.  From there we come down to objects such as this one with good shape, but no signature or painted design.

The high level ones bring hundreds, and even thousands of dollars.  The middle range ones usually are under $500.  Ones similar to this specimen are worth under $100.  When I was a child antiques shops in the Valley sold old crocks for $2 to $5, but that was long ago.  Today they are much in demand by collectors, and are the subjects of many books.  In Virginia the ones made in the nineteenth century at Strasburg by the Bell family, who were Come-heres from Maryland, along with ones from the Alexandria potteries, are the most popular.  Crocks are among that class of rapidly appreciating antiques on today's market.

Happy Antiquing!

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