Antique stoneware crocks once played an integral role in kitchens by allowing foods like butter to be stored and pickled vegetables to be made in watertight containers before the invention of refrigeration. Today, antique crocks are a decorative collector's item loved by many.
With a few tips, you can identify your antique crock to learn more about its history and value. Most antique stoneware will have some clues on it to help you identify where and when it was made or who made it. You'll need this information to understand how much your crock is worth. However, this information also makes collecting the pieces more enjoyable.
According to antiques appraiser Dr. Lori Verderame"stoneware" is the term used to describe any clay with a less than two percent waterproof rating. Because of this vague definition, stoneware can be made from a variety of clays and come in many colors or textures. However, antique stoneware was typically colored with a brown or gray salt glaze featuring blue decorations.
Antique crocks were made by hand, so the design on the crock should be rather crude, or something that could easily be made by hand. Most potters, even bigger pottery companies, "signed" their work using some type of maker's mark. If you can find and read the maker's mark, you'll have a better chance of identifying the age and value of your crock. Aside from the maker's mark, a maker's signature, and the painted design, you might see other markings on your crock.
Most stoneware was imported from Europe until the end of the American Revolution, aroundand most of this came from Germany or England. In the early s, American potters started making their own stoneware crocks. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were the first states to start making stoneware. The manufacturing process of crocks and maker marks offer clues to a crock's authenticity.
Since antique crocks are so collectible, there are many reproductions on the market. Before you make your purchase, be sure to examine its characteristics. There are far too many antique crock makers to list them all, and each is most popular in the area where it was made. These are some of the biggest names in antique crocks for collectors.
Red Wing Stoneware began making crocks in the late s.Crocks are one of the hardest produced antiques to identify. Earlier crocks were made by hand, and rarely if ever marked with an official stamp, name, symbol, or signature. Instead, potters would hand paint their works with decorations featuring designs in cobalt blue. There are some manufacturers that stuck with specific patterns during their early years of production; others would only start marking their wares as technology and techniques improved.
Today this can make identifying a piece rather difficult for those of us who are not experts. Even then trying to read and understand these marks can be a challenge all of its own. To help alleviate some of these hassles, we will be going over some of the more popular methods that were used to mark crocks, how to find and identify them, as well as a few of the most recognizable marks. Another way is to look for signs, or the lack there of, that would indicate when the crock could have been potentially made.
Antique Crock Markings
Here is a quick reference guide for you to use, when you are trying to narrow down the age of your crock, look for one or more of the following indicators:. As crocks were handcrafted by skilled potters, what a lot of manufacturers and potters did, was they would finish the crocks with their own hand painted patterns and images, prior to salt-glazing their wares.
These images, while not technically company logos, were used to help identify one company from another. Companies like Red Wing Stoneware, used several different hand drawn images, from leaves, to flowers, birds and butterflies, as well a swirling patterns and lines. Should you be hoping to identify a crock by the cobalt blue painting alone, you would first need to familiarize yourself with each of the different manufactures and their chosen decorations.
A number can be found on most crocks. These numbers would either be painted or stamped on, or impressed into the crock. While different manufactures may have used different art styles and fonts, these numbers are not necessarily a direct indication of who made the crock.
Each manufacturer did have a preference of placing or impressing the number, so yes the style of number and implementation can also be used to help further identify a crock. They were used to indicate the size or volume of the crock.
The units of measurement were not just limited to gallons however, as some crocks were also measured in quarts.
Feel for any imperfections, handcrafted crocks are highly unlikely to be perfectly symmetrical and smooth. Look for any signs of flattening that may have occurred, while the crock was being handled prior to being placed in the kiln.
Check for any little humps or indentations that may be present.
Also inspect the walls of the crock, check to see if there are any differences in the walls thickness along the same height line. Every little imperfection you find, could be an indication that the crock was potentially handcrafted. While the glaze may have left the surface relatively smooth with a shiny almost glass-like finish, small lumps could still develop as the glaze cured.
These lumps may not be highly visible, but they can still be felt when touched. Look for anything that could have been deliberately put in there, a name sa symbol, a signature or even just a random combination of letters or numbers.
As you can see in the image above, sometimes the marks put on a crock can be hard to read, either due to wear and tear, or because the mark was not clearly made to begin with. There are a few methods you could use to try and read these marks more clearly.
Step 1 First, try using different lighting from different angles. Alternatively try taking the crock outside to use the direct sunlight, or see if back lighting the mark could help reveal more details. Step 2 If lighting alone is not enough to help you read the mark, try making a rubbing of it. Instead take a piece of charcoal and rub it over a piece of paper that is being pressed against the mark.
The charcoal will mark the paper where there is a solid surface beneath it, and not where there are any voids. From individual artists, to established companies, there are several crocks that are being sought after by many avid collectors. Here are three examples of such companies and a few of their markings to look out for.
Prior tothey used a rich tan salt-glaze and hand painted their decorations in cobalt blue paint. Most of their early wares have a side wall stamp containing their company details. These stamps were made using metal stamps that were impressed into the outside wall of their crocks.Antique stoneware crocks are an intriguing slice of Americana.
Estate sale shoppers love to discover these sturdy containers that were a mainstay of kitchens from the s through the early 20th century. Earthenware pots, crocks, and jars have a long and colorful history. Stoneware crocks appear to have originally come from France. Through the American Revolutionary War, England and Germany were the main importers of stoneware crocks.
Eventually, cost and market competition spurred American potters to fire up their kilns. Several New England states, along with Ohio, jumped on the stoneware bandwagon circa the late 19th century. By the early 20th century, many American households owned stoneware crocks.
Stoneware describes a clay that has a waterproof rating of under two percent. Because the definition is so vague, stoneware can be sourced from numerous clays and can appear in diverse colors and textures. Antique stoneware crocks generally feature a gray or brown salt glaze with cobalt blue decorations.
Antique crocks have a distinctive appearance. Each stoneware crock displays a shiny-looking surface that results from the salt glazing process. Under the glassy finish, the crock features hand-drawn or stenciled letters and numbers. Hand-painted embellishments include flowers, animals, and specific motifs or patterns.
An artisan was responsible for hand-making each antique crock. Artisans often painted floral designs on early crocks. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies, animals, and trees were also popular motifs. A hand-painted cobalt blue design is a common decorative element. Very old crocks feature etched designs filled in with a blue-toned substance. Although simple lines and patterns are common in early-era pieces, early s crocks have just a touch of art deco styling. These effects might give the crock more decorative value.
Next, the artisan formed the salt glaze. During the high-temperature firing sequence, he tossed salt into the kiln to create the glazing effect on the crock. Although the glaze is generally colorless, coloring the salt produced a glaze with a colorful effect.
Blue, brown, and purple were common color options. Antique stoneware crocks have enjoyed many varied uses. In fact, this utilitarian crockery has taken up residence in countless American kitchens over the generations. Antique stoneware crocks often stored foods and beverages. Examples included salted meats, butter, jelly, grain, and pickled vegetables.
Crocks also contained the household soda and beer inventory. Even without a finish glaze, these durable and affordable vessels were watertight. Stoneware crocks were also pressed into service for the lacto-fermentation of foods.
Crock owners would place vegetables like cabbage or cucumbers into the crock. After a defined period of time, the crock would yield a bounty of pickled vegetables, such as sauerkraut or pickles.Unique characteristics of this antique stoneware included:. An antique 's value varies based on the piece's age, design elements, size, and maker. This piece has a quarter-sized chip and a few spider cracks.
He founded a branch of the family business in Binghamton, New York, in and ran it until It had no cracks, repairs, or chips.
Identifying Antique Stoneware and Finding Comparable Prices
A 4-gallon stoneware crock, this piece is from Pittston, Pennsylvania, and marked with the name Evan Jones. The artwork depicts a bird on a stump in blue. However, it was still structurally sound. It also had several small chips on the inside of the rim. Jones and Evan B.
It is unclear if this was a father and son duo or brothers. The two most common marks on Jones's stoneware are "Evan R. This rare Kodak find appeals to photography aficionados as well as stoneware collectors. This 5-gallon stoneware jug once held photographic chemicals.
It is marked "Eastman Kodak Co. Ina similar Kodak jug of the same dimensions had cracks that were professionally repaired. A gallon jug with two handles and a spigot at the bottom, this piece is 25 inches tall.
It is decorated with a raised emblem of Santa Claus, which may be an unidentified maker's mark. An item of this size is very rare.
Inthere were no items like it for sale on eBay. A West Troy Pottery piece of stoneware, this two-gallon jug has a single handle and blue floral decoration. There was a chip on the mouth but no cracks or repairs.
This inch, 4-gallon West Troy jug with a handle features a whimsical hand-painted blue design. It had no chips, cracks, or repairs and was in excellent condition.
This set of three crocks with handles and blue decor was in excellent condition with no cracks, chips, or repairs. The largest piece was 11 inches tall. It is rare to find matching or similar crocks in a set, which may net you a higher price than selling each piece separately.Circa Measuring Circa This Circa : 19th century American script decorated redware is scarce, and finding a named loaf pan will make even an advanced collector smile.
Circa s: Southwestern Pennsylvania freehand and stencil blue decorated stoneware pitchers are hard to come by. This example is sure to please.
Circa :This jar is decorated on all four sides and probably hails from Baltimore, Maryland, oyster capital of the east coast. Circa : Tanware flowerpots are highly coveted, and this one has an expertly decorated triple-headed flower rising on its field which makes the already tall flowerpot seem even taller. Circa : The flowerpot with attached saucer is a desirable tanware form and this example, fully decorated all around, does not disappoint.
Circa : Profusely decorated, this petite 7" tanware pitcher features two skillfully wrought fuschia blooms, a striped handle, and a gracefully canted spout. Circa David Meadersson of Georgia folk art potters Reggie and Flossie Meaders, grandson of pioneer folk art potter Cheever Meaders, and nephew of master folk art potter Lanier Meaders, is known to have made several gutsy stoneware face jugs that include his own teeth, and we believe this is one of them. Circa Anita Meaders began making pottery in the early s with her husband David Meaders in Lula, Georgia, continiuing a Meaders family tradition begun in Circa : Measuring Circa s : This exuberantly decorated storage jar includes a circular maker's mark surrounding a central patriotic star.
Circa s : This churn is super well potted and beautifully decorated to boot, showing why wares from Fowler's kiln were so popular. Circa s : Dark and crisp cobalt freehand and stencil decoration covers this 15" R. T Williams four gallon storage jar.
Circa s : Here is a nice example of a two gallon storage jar potted by the Greensboro, Pennsylvania firm of Williams and Reppert. One Gallon : This crock is 10" tall with a blue freehand stripe painted under the rim and a nice A.
Conrad New Geneva stencil. Circa s : Standing 12" high, with 5 blue freehand stripes and well done stencil decoration, this is a nice clean crock. Circa : The large size of this handsome jar and its dark cobalt hand painted floral decoration will make it stand out. Circa This is a super clean four gallon blue decorated stoneware crock with freehand tulip decoration.VA West Virginia PITT Pittsburgh Matchup HOUST Houston STL Saint Louis Matchup PACIF Pacific WYOM Wyoming Matchup WISGB Wisconsin-Green Bay MIZZU Missouri Matchup APPST Appalachian State AKRON Akron Matchup UT.
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Value of Antique Crocks (Full Stoneware Price Guide)
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