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Antiques Considered - March 26, 2014

This stoneware jug was a recent donation to a local charity, which has inquired as to its value.   The rim has a small flake out of it, and one of the glazed slips has burst.  Otherwise the condition is good.  It is marked in blue with a stylized “4” and a drawn dragonfly, the latter being obscure. The jug is 18 inches high.

Stoneware continues to be quite popular on the market, and this jug is a nice example, dating from the last half of the nineteenth century. The slips on the surface are amusingly called “turkey droppings”, and come from excess glazing when fired in the kiln.  Many collectors find them to be assets, resulting in such stoneware often fetching higher prices than those without the droppings.

The one having burst detracts from the price, but the small flake in the rim is not as serious a flaw. The dragonfly was an often-used decoration on nineteenth-century stoneware.  With this piece the dramatic “4” is more significant.  The jug is not likely a Virginia piece, but rather probably from Ohio or elsewhere in the Midwest.
As to the charity selling the jug, a fair retail price would be $300. One without the burst turkey dropping and slight flake could go for $100 more.  Here in Virginia, local being the name of the game, a similar attributable Shenandoah Valley or Alexandria crock could sell for twice as much. Virginia stoneware tends to command the upper end of the market, with that from other locations falling in line.

The rapid rise in price over the last 50 years is quite impressive. In the 1950s, even Shenandoah Valley pieces seldom brought more than $10, and by the 1970s, good pieces still were available for under $100. Those days are history now, and all forms of stoneware are at the upper end of the antiques market.

Happy Antiquing!

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