YORK, Pa. – An important stoneware jar will cross the block at Crocker Farm’s Auction of Fine Antique American Stoneware and Redware Pottery, March 8, at the York County Expo Center Old Main Building.
Made circa 1799-1801 in Manhattan, measuring 10 inches tall, the straight-sided jar is decorated with an extremely rare incised design of a man, highlighted in cobalt. The man, who is depicted with a beard, wears a top hat, cross-hatched pants, and a long-tailed coat, detailed with impressed buttons. The vessel is one of a small number of American stoneware items from this period known with an anthropomorphic decoration.
Stoneware jar decorated with a finely dressed man, humorous slogan, and the name “Bill Remey.” To be sold in Crocker Farm’s March 8th auction at the York PA Fairgrounds.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the jar is the bawdy slogan that extends from the figure’s mouth. Incised in script within a cobalt-brushed speech bubble are the words:
“I have (expletive deleted) my trousers, but that[’s] nothing.”
Whether these humorous words are based on real life, or are simply written in jest is unknown. One’s fascination with the jar grows as the identity of the man is revealed as one “Bill Remey,” whose name is incised and highlighted in cobalt below the figure.
Remey was actually a member of the Remmey family of potters, America’s most prestigious and perhaps most studied potting family. He is listed in the Manhattan, New York City Directories of 1799 through 1801 as a potter who operated a shop on Upper Reed Street.
Prior to these dates, he is listed as a city marshal and tobacconist. Evidence reveals he is the uncle or brother of John Remmey III and Henry Remmey Sr., two potters with whom American stoneware collectors and historians are very familiar. Stoneware produced by John Remmey III, impressed “J. REMMEY/MANUFACTURER/MANHATTAN-WELLS/NEW-YORK,” and often found with incised decoration, ranks among the most well-known and collectible of New York City stoneware.
The jar is the only example of American stoneware to surface bearing the name of Bill Remey. It is unclear whether his name also serves as a signature of the jar’s maker, or simply informs the viewer of who the man on the jar represents.
Anthony Zipp, who, along with his wife, Barbara, and three sons, Brandt, Luke, and Mark, owns and operates Crocker Farm, believes the piece was probably made at the shop of Bill Remey, but probably not by Remey himself.
“We believe the jar was made about Bill, not by him, and probably by someone very familiar with the man. The most obvious maker would be someone at his own shop.”
“We feel that this piece belongs in the top tier of American stoneware items we have sold over the past several years,” Zipp continued. “It has a lot going for it, in terms of age, origin, and obviously the decoration. It also has that folk art appeal that people are really after these days, not just in how the man is depicted, but in the outrageous thing he is saying.”
The Bill Remey jar is lot #1 in a sale of 308 lots of American stoneware and redware to be offered at the sale. A preview will be held from 2-6 p.m. on Friday, March 7, and from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday. The sale begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
For more information, call 410-337-5090, or go online to www.crockerfarm.com.