|By Elizabeth Johnson
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Midwest stoneware continues to hold its own in the antiques market, as proven by a recent one-owner, eight-session auction that took place between May 3 and May 13. Webcast on Proxibid, with the live sales hosted by Sohn & Associates, Evansville, the event included six cataloged sessions featuring more than 2,300 lots, plus two days of uncataloged offerings.
The items were from the estate of Dr. Stan Epperson, who died in 2007. A veterinarian who at one time worked for Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden in Evansville, Epperson was also an avid collector. His tastes were varied, and his acquisitions included everything from advertising to cash registers to Indian artifacts. According to auctioneer Trent Sohn, “He bought a ton of stuff. When he wanted something, he would step out and buy it.”
Stoneware, sold on May 5 and 6, was consistently sought after. The top lot was a 3-gallon Jack Daniel advertising jug made by Uhl Pottery Works, Evansville, Ind. The beehive jug had the oval ink stamp used by Uhl during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as “Jack Daniel, Old No. 7, Lynchburg, Tenn.” The piece sold for $5,000 (no buyer’s premium). Sohn noted, “It’s the first one that we’ve ever had come through here.”
A second Uhl Pottery Works advertising jug, a 5-gallon beehive example promoting Old Style Distillery Co. of Bowling Green, Ky., realized $700. A plain Uhl Pottery Works 10-gallon beehive jug, oval mark, having double handles and a bung hole, sold for $275; 20-gallon crock, $250; and a 15-gallon crock was $260.
An Uhl Pottery Co., Evansville, Ind., 3-gallon jug with the company’s short-lived square ink stamp realized $200. A 4-gallon brown-over-white churn having an oval ink stamp, “McHenry’s Improved Churn, Mfd. By Uhl Pottery Co., Evansville, Ind.,” brought $350.
Later advertising pieces made by Uhl included two unmarked blue-over-white shoulder jugs for Dillsboro Sanitarium, Dillsboro, Ind. Picturing a crane or heron, a 2-gallon example sold for $700, while a 5-gallon jug was $550.
After moving to Huntingburg, Ind., in 1908, Uhl adopted its Acorn Wares logo. The company went out of business in the mid 1940s. Items of note from this period included an unusually tall, slim crock with lid, said to be five gallons, although is know for having made a 7-gallon example, at $825; 10-gallon double-handle jug with bung hole, $425; similar 10-gallon jug without the bung hole, $260; and a 30-gallon crock, missing one bail handle, was $380.
A number of pieces were offered from Uhl’s line of garden ware and novelties. The largest turtle made by the company, 13-inches long, sold for $1,700. Sohn remarked, “Don (his father) was real happy with what the pottery turtle did … Those are a pretty rare find.” The largest frog Uhl produced, also 13-inches long, brought $850.
Other hard-to-find Uhl pieces included a No. 173 elephant ashtray in a reddish glaze, base-marked, at $625. Two World War II-era piggy banks, Cents 4 Defense, each bearing Hitler’s likeness on the rear, both marked Botay, were $400 each. One bank was lettered Harding Field, the other was labeled for U.S. Naval Air Station, So. Weymouth, Mass.
Kitchen items produced by Uhl included a green Polar Bear water cooler with lid that brought $560; unmarked 5-gallon “Ice Water” dispenser having blue bands, with lid, $270; and a 3-quart blue Lincoln pitcher, the largest size the company made, with incised round mark, sold for $475.
A set of six smooth-sided mixing bowls in blue, numbers 7 through 12, realized $550; while three matching bowls, numbers 4 through 6 to complete the set, brought $105.
Uhl’s line of miniature items has always been popular with collectors, the company’s Christmas jugs especially so. A miniature demijohn jug in brown, ink-stamped “Christmas Cheer From Uhl Pottery Co. 1933” flanked by Santas, was bid to $450; miniature shoulder jug, ink-stamped “A Merry Christmas” in a squiggly border, brown over white, $340; and three brown-over white shoulder jugs, Uhl Acorn Wares, ink-stamped “Christmas Cheer 1930,” sold for $220 each.
Miniature items without a Christmas theme included a basketball on a pedestal embossed “Sturgis, Ky.,” brown glaze, at $350; Uhl Acorn Wares shoulder jug, “Badger Bottle Co., Milwaukee, Wisc.,” brown over white, crazed, $275; and an unmarked Uhl pitcher in green, ink-stamped “Audubon Memorial Park, Henderson, Ky.,” realized $150.
Although Uhl items constituted a significant portion of Epperson’s stoneware collection, other Indiana potteries were also represented. A Clark & Bros., Cannelton, Ind., 8-gallon salt-glazed jug, with double handles and a bung hole, impressed oval mark, was hammered to $1,000, while a 3-gallon crock was $300; Cannelton Stoneware Co. 5-gallon crock, brown glaze with yellow stencil, $450; and a 5-gallon jug ink-stamped “Clark Bro’s. Pottery Works,” made $350.
A salt-glazed crock with ear handles, unmarked but possibly the work of the Stuckey family, Martin County, Ind., near what is now Loogootee, was bid to $1,025.
Miniature scratch jugs with an Indiana connection represented a number of locales. One of the few from outside the southern portion of the state, incised “Compliments of Charles H. Sudhoff, Richmond, Ind.,” realized $220. Other inscriptions included “Compliments of J. Freihaut, 8th & Powell Sts. Evansville, Ind.,” $200; “Compliments of Griffin & Sharp, Ft. Branch, Ind.,” $200; “Compliments of O’Neil & Jenkins Fancy Grocers, Oakland City, Ind.,” chips on the bottom, $190; and a miniature scratch jug reading “Compliments of G. Ringler Dealer in Staple & Fancy Groceries, Jasper, Ind.,” brought $160.
If Uhl stoneware was the heart of Epperson’s collection, Red Wing was its soul. A wide-ranging selection of items from the Minnesota pottery was offered, including a Christmas tree stand in the shape of an inverted funnel, Red Wing Union Stoneware Co., white glaze with “Christmas Tree Holder” stamped in blue ink, that sold for $900.
A set of six Red Wing bowls, blue and orange sponge, realized $325; spongeband pitcher, ink-stamped “Compliments of Bach & Bahls Co., Round Lake, Minn.,” $300; quart “Stone Mason Fruit Jar, Union Stoneware Co., Red Wing, Minn.,” $280; beater jar, ink-stamped “Eggs, Cream, Salad Dressing/We Trade with Bach & Bahls, Round Lake, Minn.,” $190; and a Cherry Band pitcher in diffused blue and white, “Compliments of L. Dickmann & Son General Store, Sheboygan, Wis.,” was bid to $170.
Utilitarian items from the pottery saw strong bidding. A 50-gallon crock stamped with a 4-inch wing, drain hole near the base, complete with petal lid, sold for $1,850. The crock had a fairly deep factory indentation on the side and a glaze-over bubble. A 30-gallon crock with bail handles and petal lid, Union Stoneware Co., 6-inch wing, 1915 patent date, was hammered to $850; and a 20-gallon crock with petal lid, Red Wing Potteries, sold for $525.
Items of note from other manufacturers included a salt-glazed advertising jug, “Aug. Krogman, Distiller, Tell City, Ind.,” at $1,100; miniature advertising scratch jug, “George Ellis Fancy and Staple Groceries, Henderson, Ky.,” $700; and a large ring jug in blue-and-white sponging realized $590.
“We were happy with the way prices overall held up,” Sohn said about the stoneware as a whole. “Some of the utilitarian stuff, there were some bargains, I think. Overall, I thought the prices were pretty good considering the current economic condition.”
Contact: (812) 467-0227