Very Rare Multi-Glazed Redware Pitcher Incised "Bell," Richard Franklin Bell, Strasburg, VA

July 19, 2014 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 68

Price Realized: $4,887.50
($4,250 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium).

July 19, 2014 Auction Catalog

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Exceptional Shenandoah Valley Multi-Glazed Redware Cream Pitcher, Incised "Bell," S. Bell & Sons, Strasburg, VA, probably Richard Franklin "Polk" Bell, circa 1890, finely-potted, ovoid pitcher with narrow base, ovoid body, and flared collar, the surface decorated with splashes of green and brown over a crea-colored slip ground. Hand-incised with the signarture, "Bell", on the underside in large letters. While others may exist, this pitcher is the first multi-glazed cream pitcher we have seen bearing an incised Bell signature. The distinctive penmanship indicates almost certainly that the maker of this pitcher was Richard Franklin "Polk" Bell (1845-1908), the oldest son of Samuel Bell. An extremely rare molded redware classical figural, sold in our July 17, 2010 auction, bears an "R.F. Bell" signature in what appears to be the same hand. Richard Franklin Bell was perhaps the most influential potter of Samuel's sons, highly active during the "Solomon Bell" and "S. Bell & Sons" manufacturing periods. According to H.E. Comstock's The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Regions, Richard become the family patriarch following Samuels' death in 1891, and many Strasburg residents began referring to the pottery as "Polk Bell's Pottery" from that time on (Comstock, p. 371). A small number of punch-decorated figural items by R.F Bell rank among the better examples of Shenandoah Valley folk sculpture in existence. This newly-discovered pitcher is one of the finest examples of this popular Shenandoah Valley form to come to auction in years. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, recently discovered in Virginia. Excellent condition with a contact mark to handle, minimal glaze wear, and some light staining to collar. H 7".


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

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