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Antiques Considered - June 5, 2013

These two pieces of stoneware recently came out of a Northern Neck family’s basement.  The owners do not know how long they have been there, or where they originated.  The crock is unmarked, save for the blue flowers.  It has two chips on the rim.  The jug bears the inscription, “UNFERMENTED COMMUNION WINE” and below it the winemaker’s name and location, “A. HALE  CLAREMONT N.H.”  It also has a slight chip on the rim.  Neither one has any cracks.     

Both of these are good examples of stoneware.  The crock is a nice piece, but not particularly rare.  The blue coloring is not vibrant, and the chip, although small, does devalue the piece.  It is probably OF Virginia origin, most likely from the Shenandoah Valley or Alexandria, and dates from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

The jug is an especially interesting piece of stoneware.  The New Hampshire labeling is interesting, but the designation for communion wine is unusual.  As with the crock, the chip devalues the overall worth, but less in this case because of the rarity of the impressed data.  This is also a nineteenth-century piece, and probably would be of greater value locally in New Hampshire, given the abiding interest in regional antiques.

The crock is worth $75 as is, and the jug is worth $150.  Of course, each would be higher in value without the chips.  American stoneware continues to outpace its European counterparts, which, again, is an example of regionalism.  As a child I often accompanied my parents on forays into the Shenandoah Valley where crocks and jugs were readily available for under $5.  The market has soared; books have been written about stoneware, and collectors’ societies and clubs have been formed.  To date, no sign indicates a lessening of the demand for quality pieces.

Henry Lane Hull and his wife, Lisa, own Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc. at P.O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579.Their home phone is: 804.580.3301. Their cell is:  804.580.0514. Their email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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