Albany, NY Stoneware Presentation Water Cooler

October 31, 2009 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 23

Price Realized: $26,450.00
($23,000 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium).

October 31, 2009 Auction Catalog

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Exceptional Stoneware Presentation Cooler with Incised Fish and Floral Decorations, Inscribed "Doct.. Jonn.. Sherwood / Fairfield.. / 1817," attributed to Jonah and Calvin Boynton, Albany, NY, three-gallon, narrow-bodied cooler with keg-shaped form, tooled bands, and circular bung hole at base. Decorated across upper portion with a finely-incised and cobalt-highlighted floral motif, consisting of a heavily-incised, star-shaped blossom flanked by vines bearing leaves and two different multi-petaled flowers. Midsection decorated with the meticulously-incised, block letter inscription "Doct.. Jonn.. Sherwood. / Fairfield.. / 1817." The date 1817 is flanked by two pike-shaped fish with tall fins and heavily-incised bodies. Tooled bands and bung hole brushed with cobalt. This cooler closely relates to a signed "BOYNTON" example with incised decoration and the date 1817, sold by Crocker Farm, Inc., on March 21, 2009. Similarities verify the Fairfield cooler was made at the same pottery. Adding to its significance is the fact that it served as the personal drinking fountain of an instrumental figure at the Fairfield College of Physicians and Surgeons (commonly referred to as Fairfield Medical College), which was an early 19th century medical school in New York State. Officially founded in 1812, the Fairfield Medical College was the eleventh medical school established in the United States and the first west of the Hudson River. Only surviving until 1841, when the new medical school in Albany became the preferred institution for studying medicine in the region, Fairfield graduated over 600 doctors throughout its brief existence. Dr. Jonathan Sherwood was a practicing physician in Fairfield and a founding member of the board of trustees at Fairfield Medical College. Additionally, he served as the school's registrar and received an official medical degree from Fairfield in 1818. Evidence of Sherwood's impact on the school survive to this day in the form of letters and a pamphlet that he authored. Several letters that he wrote to Dr. Lyman Spalding, Fairfield Medical College's first president, are published in Dr. Lyman Spalding: the originator of the United States pharmacopoeia... by Dr. James Alfred Spalding. Most letters concern guest lecturers, ordering books, enrolling students and the like, but one letter published on page 232 of Spalding's book illustrates the greater concerns of Sherwood and his contemporaries. Sherwood wrote in great detail of the United States military's campaign in Canada and the subsequent death of General Pike along with 200 American troops when the British detonated hidden underground munitions. Additionally, Sherwood authored, as registrar, the pamphlet, "Ordinances of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, of the Western District, of the State of New-York." This cooler surfaced twenty years ago in the Fairfield area of Herkimer County, New York, located approximately 25 miles from Utica, and has never been offered for public sale. One of the most important recent discoveries in American stoneware. Large flake to underside of flange extending across rim, with 1" chip visible on top surface of flange. Minor base chips, some of which occurred in the firing. Approximately 8" in-the-firing horizontal separation line at midsection, which does not extend through to the interior, and likely occurred because the cooler was thrown on the potter's wheel in two sections. H 15 3/4".


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Bidding is now closed.
(Our next auction takes place March 24, 2018.)

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