help me! antique or ancient?

cc4npgNovember 21, 2011

What IS this? The handle is formed like a tea pot spout, but there is NO hole. It looks ancient to me. Here's the direct link to the photobucket pics...

Here's the html code...

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It's a brown stoneware, chipped and cracked "pot"....unusual shape....likely a dipper of some sort.....guessing early 20th century...
Where did you get it?
Linda c

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 11:33PM
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I found it while going through some stuff someone gave my husband that came from a garage sale. So I have literally no way of finding out its origin. A "dipper" is fitting, but I can find nothing that resembles this and am very curious about it. Yes, it's cracked. Normally, I would call something like this "trash".. lol. But it looked so very old that I was intrigued to find out about it before throwing it out.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:15AM
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Dimensions help please. This is hand or wheel thrown and not mass produced in moulds. It looks old. The glazing is primitive. I don't think it's a dipper, it would be very heavy and unwieldy for that use. I'm guess 19th century and made for a very specific use with the handle meant more to steady it when using it. Our community is just oozing with old stoneware utilitarian pieces because it was a major manufacturer of those goods. The old factory burnt down not too long ago........the fate of so many potteries because of the ancient kilns. I have never seen anything quite like this. The handle is suggestive of some sort of ramekin or storage pot.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:04AM
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Mouth opening 4" inner; 5" outer
Height looks to be about 6 3/4"
Handle is about 4" long and crudely made.. it does not look to be made by any machine
The widest part of the pot looks like somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 1/2"

No, this definitely does not look mass produced. Someone on another site said it looked like an old New England bean pot but honestly I'm going to side with calliope above and say I believe it's older. There are such irregularities even to the roundness of the pot that I might also suggest hand produced instead of wheel, although certainly you can get imperfections from a wheel too. I wish someone had actually seen one of these somewhere before to satisfy my curiosity. Usually I can locate something remotely similar online, but this handle has me stumped. If it were any other type of handle, I would be more inclined to say a more recent bean pot, as in the 20th century... but this?? This reminds me of something you would see even in a museum.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 1:33PM
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Does it look like it was used in a fireplace or some other type of open fire? Just askin'.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 3:05PM
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They were making that brown glazed stoneware into the 20th century.
Its wheel can tell by the inside.....and I'll bet you can feel finger trails in the inside.
The bottom is flat.....was on the wheel, then a glob was put on the wheel and the piece built.....and with a tool much like a pancake turner the piece was removed and set to dry before being fired.
that sort of stoneware is still made to day....hard to say how old.
I still think it's a dipper....something to dip and drink from.Any idea that it might be southern in origin? Possibly an adjunct to an old moonshine jug?
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 3:29PM
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It is NOT a modern piece. Stoneware of the early 20th century was mass produced and not hand-made unless it was 'art' and this certainly doesn't fall into that category. It's utilitarian and has seen its share of use. The stoneware composition is quite crude. The handle looks pulled and integral. It's too small to be a bean pot and that's why I asked for dimensions. It would be quite heavy for its size and although I have seen moulded stoneware pottery ladles, this one would be quite unwieldy, heavy for its size and it would likely have had a lip. The handle being so low onto the pot would even make the center of balance off for dipping and lifting.

It's pretty unique, I've seen a lot of stoneware and it's a first for me.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I have friends who are potters.....and when they first began, they made pieces much like this one....not in form but in glaze quality and method of turning......and in the thickness of the ware.\
It's not mass produced commercial ware...but could certainly be "modern" that I mean 20th century....80 or 90 years old.
Potters, working in a studio often make salt glazed stoneware....not that there a lot of potters working in studios making things the old way, but I have visited a few and longed for some of their wares.
I also have never seen that shape...but have seen a lot of strange dippers!!
But that handle was added for a reason, and I can only think it was for lifting the bowl.....and can also assume the potter was not very skilled!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 5:58PM
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I've added some more pictures so check them out, maybe they'll help.

Lindac: Explain to me what finger tracks would feel like.
calliope: Thank you for your comments!

Yes, this piece is heavy! I'd say every bit of 5#. Fact... it is crudely made... it has an extremely old look... the glazing is not anything like what I've seen, even in antique pieces... there are imperfections everywhere. I am not savvy to glazes or pottery so I'm afraid all I can offer in my experience is what I've seen and this is unlike anything. The location of this piece is Ohio so yes, it's extremely possible it could have come from the south... or from New England for that matter. It could have even come from abroad since this was an area settled by many coming from distant lands. To me, it doesn't look or 'feel' like this century, but again I'm no expert. It looks too large to be a ramekin, but the handle DEFINITELY reminds me of that! I do not believe it has any association with moonshine.

Come on... all I need is that ONE person who has seen something remotely like this. :o) You guys are great. I love the mystery surrounding this!

Here is a link that might be useful: Old Pot Pictures-New pics!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Finger tracks are the ridges shown clearly in photo # 13...places showing where the potter formed the clay with his/her fingers.
Ohio was one of the Meccas for chances are if it was found in Ohio it was made there.
this is most likely a one of a kind piece.....the potter made it for a specific use. He may have made a dozen or only subsequent tries he may have modified the design...
It's poorly and very amateurally ( is that a word") made....definitely not by a master's too thick, the clay shows need of refining, the glaze is glopped on the sides and the bottom...
The thing about hand made pottery...even very early pots were often very well made....this pot is not. And there were lots of little potters making whatever they made and firing it however they could...\. The clay is impure....needed working and washing, the glaze is crudely applied and the pot itself appears to be heavy and not well formed.
Very likely there is not another example of a pot like this....
So enjoy and imagine what kind of a person made it.....and what they had in mind for a use for it

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 9:04PM
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I think the error of that sort of reasoning is to assume all pottery is artistically oriented. To be functional it just had to be .......functional. Even though pottery was a high art by the time people were trekking into the NW territories, crock ware was was just another container like a barrel or a basket. It only had to hold 'stuff'. The glazing and wall thickness and the very rough clay could have just as likely been because nobody cared what they looked like. Neither do I think the wall thickness had anything to do with the potter's skill. Crockery, as opposed to dinnerware or art pottery, are supposed to have thick walls. Even my little salt crocks have walls thicker than that. It is a bit unusual to see glazing remnants on the bottom of this type of ware and also, for what it's worth, that very dark brownware is not typical of Ohio pottery. I suspect it may be Eastern.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 10:21PM
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In hand thrown ware....the thickness of the pot does have to do with the potters skill. Thick walls took longer to dry and were more apt to have faults become apparent during the firing.
This definitely was utilitarian ware....made for a particular use not just for pretty. But in even the most primitive and most utilitarian ware, potters and basket makers took a certain pride in their work.....think of those very early ovoid wheel turned jugs with their graceful shape and lovely handles.....think of the pottery of the anasazi and the very utilitarian water jugs, and the care taken to make them thin walled and graceful....without a wheel! The skill of the potter was evident.
I see a fair amount of this brown glaze....perhaps it's made in Minnesota?...Or Missouri?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 9:35AM
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Why would it be made with the lip unglazed and the bottom entirely glazed? It was fired upside down. Does it have a problem standing upright on it's own because it's side-heavy/unsteady?
Is it a test piece to see how fast a particular clay would dry at a given thickness? And to test how well the handle would bond to the body? If I had gotten in a load of a new unfamiliar clay, I would need to test its characteristics for these points.
Pottery was my favorite shop class segment in 8th grade.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 12:48PM
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calliope's not at all unusual to see antique crockery with walls that thick and not a lot of attention was paid to the aesthetics of utensils meant for heavy use. They were merely containers for the most part. The handle is likely 'pulled' and is integral to the pot, instead of stuck on after the fact. One clue is how unrefined it looks and it's also why the pot is not as symmetrical as it could be, as opposed to poor craftmanship. One poster had asked about whether it might have been used around heat, and that could also explain why the handle was made as it was. An old Monkey Ward catalogue I have shows a one pint crockery milk scalder with a long side handle, other than it had cylindrical sides. Could be something as simple as that. At this point, only the shadow knows. ;-)

Again........the very dark brown glaze is more common to old pieces from the Eastern States. It is also not usual to see bottom glazing in a piece like this. It's a novel little piece and I think I'd hang on to this one, even in its rather decrepit state, until you could nail the age. If you live in Ohio, maybe try to make it to the Pottery Festival in Perry/Muskingum county. Buffs from all over the country come to it, and you would find any one of a number of experts on aging it and maybe nailing who made it.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 4:39PM
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It looks like the handle was meant to make it possible to scoop or skim something, with the jug parallel to the ground.

I've seen that heavy brown glaze on Korean earthenware, so don't assume it's local.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 6:38PM
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Geesh... ok, so aside of the Pottery Festival, where in the world could I take this to have someone actually determine all of our questions? Dayton and Columbus are the closest large cities. With it being cracked, I'm so afraid I'm gonna move it the wrong way and it'll break. However, it was in the bottom of a box when I found it so maybe it's not as fragile as I think. I think I'll wrap it in bubble wrap just in case. You ALL have made very good points, which is why I'm more confused than ever! LOL!!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 6:48PM
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I think Casey is onto something... maybe the piece is meant to have the opening down, but I can't explain why the other surface is not glazed. Either it is a lid of some sort, or at least it's meant to have a lid or other second piece for sure.

But also, I'm not visualizing this in kitchen use. People had to do so many tasks in the past that we don't have to do today... fireplace as someone said, bed warming, or - not to spoil anyone's day - some sort of health application. Midwifery? Animal husbandry? Milking? Something for blacksmithing or glue mixing, or candle snuffing... Some other farming use?

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Or is it a base for something?

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Karin's suggestions make sense.
OP, of your two choices, Dayton & Columbus, take it to Cbus. I was going to nudge you toward Zanesville, but most of the antique stores I've seen there are of the old roadside mom 'n pop variety. Not that they wouldn't be knowledgeable, but maybe a better bet is in the city.

I was born and raised in the country, less than an hour from some of the great Ohio pottery factories (Zanesville area).

My relative has an old family farm, on the back of the property is a very old abandoned well, near that are remnants of the foundations of an old cabin. They have found pieces of broken dark brown glaze pottery much like the glaze on yours. Clearing that parcel they lucked out and unearthed a few old pieces still intact. My upper 80's uncle said it was common to pitch broken or cracked pottery down the well, or into the 'holler', when it was no longer functional. I've found small fragments of pieces with the dark brown glaze in a stream bed after a heavy rain while walking property next to our family farm. I have a box of half a dozen old jugs and vessels he collected from local auctions. One of them is intact and is a dark chocolate glaze quite similar to yours.

As fas as what it is, I don't know. But I would venture given your location between Dayton & Columbus it came from the pottery area of SE Ohio. My PC is giving me fits, I'll try to take a pic later if you like.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 8:27AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I will have to see if I can locate a place in Columbus. I have never had anything looked at so I'm not sure who or what to even search for. Thanks a bunch!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 9:39AM
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There are several pottery museums in Muskingum/Perry county. I'd suggest you might want to email them your photographs. One is at the Zane Grey Museum on route 40 East. You can Google the address. You might do the same to the National Ceramic Museum and Heritage Center also outside of Zanesville. (Ohio Ceramic center)

Yes.......even the mom and pop antique stores in the area are pretty knowledgeable about ceramics. It's an understatement to say that most folk around here can spot a 'good' piece even if they're not into collecting it. It's just been such a part of life in these parts and a major employer up until the last few decades. The art center here in Z'ville has a nice collection of local pottery as well. I'm thinking one of the pottery museums might be better equipped to identify an esoteric piece like you have there. Contact these places by phone or email and if they can't help you, they surely can tell you who can.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:25PM
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Thank you calliope. I appreciate your specific referrals! I've never had anything like this so I had no idea who to even call. I'm very anxious to find out what they say, even if it isn't worth any money, I just want the history behind it if possible. I will do my best to write back with my findings.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 2:25PM
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You might email this person a picture of your piece.

Here is a link that might be useful: Antique stomeware

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 3:56PM
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I put this question to a local potter who is very knowledgeable and she had this to say about the glaze:

"I think it's US made, probably Ohio as they suggest. The glaze is a basic slip glaze (ie a local low-fire clay slip which melts to form a temmoku-type glaze when fired to a higher temp.) I think it's 'once-fired' ie, the surface slip/glaze is applied to the finished piece and then fired straight to full temp without an intervening bisque firing. Hence the blobs of glaze on the foot - it's hard to clean the base when the piece is bone dry."

She also thought it was probably a dipper, but I'm still holding out for a more exciting purpose :-)

For you other clay junkies, here is a link to her work, including one piece that I happily own, the wood-fired jug.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Some of Gillian's work

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 7:37PM
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Wow!! Love her work!!
Nice to find someone else who agrees with me on what it is and where it was likely made. LOL!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 10:45PM
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I'm still contacting people to see what this is, how old, etc. It may take me a little while.. some places are closed for winter.. but I will update when I have any news. :o)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 1:38PM
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I had a similar pot! I found out it is a chinese medicine pot, to steam herbs etc in. It looks sort of like a teapot, but with no spout, yes? A medicine pot.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 7:21AM
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OK..I did 4 google image searches, and found nothing that looked like it..LoL
But, years ago, I found one in a dump heap and brought it home to use on my woodstove to put water in. I had no idea what it was either, but it fit my need, and was odd, which is what I like. Then, while cleaning my neighbor's house, I saw one EXACTLY like it on a shelf. What are the odds? Anyway, she had very very bad arthritis, and had purchased the pot at a Chinese shop to steam healing herbs. It is brown glaze, VERY heavy and crudely made, a handle with no spout, narrower top and wider base with a lip around the top. I believe it may have once had a lid.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 7:49AM
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That is interesting - I did some image searches too and found the general idea, although many that I found also had a spout (or vent?). It certainly provides a new avenue for exploration. Missing a lid would explain the lip. Neat that you found this thread!

Karin L

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 12:59PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Have been following this and it is a fun discussion.

Love the work of your friend, Gillian, Karin-especially the jugbirds!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 2:07PM
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