Pardon the absence. We’ve been busy with family matters — school functions for our two daughters, college applications, college acceptance, scholarship forms, financial aid documents, track, tennis, academic competitions, prom, band, awards nights, graduation, an open house, etc. It’s all good, but between that and doing the everyday things that pay the bills, we were left with less time than we liked to devote to Americana Journal. We’re hoping we’ve turned a corner, and we’ve got some great things to share.
As lifelong Hoosiers, Indiana stoneware is dear to our hearts, so it was a pleasure to discover that the tulip-decorated jar offered today at a Jerry Stichter auction in Greenville, Ohio, had the impressed mark of J.B. Ziegler of Clay County, Indiana.
According to Clay County Indiana Traditional Potters and Their Wares, the catalog for a 1981 exhibit of the same name, in 1853 John B. Ziegler purchased half interest in a pottery outside of Brazil, Indiana. Later that same year he sold out. He turns up again in Nebraska in 1870, but it’s his work in Indiana that’s especially of interest.
Ziegler was one of only a few Indiana potters to use freehand cobalt decorations on his salt-glazed stoneware. The churn sold today had a tulip. The design was a bit light, but other pieces have also had floral designs that were less than bold.
The crock offered today had an impressed block mark. An impressed script mark has also been found on Ziegler’s stoneware. Both examples were illustrated in Indiana Stoneware in Function Follows Form: An Exhibit of Indiana Stoneware 1840-1900, an exhibit produced in 1987 by the Vigo County Historical Society.
Examples of Ziegler’s work seldom come onto the market, possibly because of the short period of production.
A check of my records showed two were sold at a 1993 auction conducted by Jackson & Wickliff at Carmel, Indiana. Bringing $800 apiece were a churn and a jar, both with a floral decoration. Each piece had some damage. The auction was well advertised and heavily attended by Indiana stoneware collectors.
Not so for the auction today. The jar was initially listed in the sale bill as a “Pennsylvania crock w/tulip decoration.” Granted, the mark was hard to read, appearing as “J.B. ZIEGLE_” over a line that, with study, read “CLAY CO___.” The full mark would have read: J.B. ZIEGLER / CLAY CO. IA. (“IA” was the early abbreviation for Indiana.) Minus the knowledgeable crowd of 1993, and having several light cracks, the jar sold for $140. It went to a good collection (not mine), and that’s what the hobby is all about.