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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams To Auction Early American Pottery Moravian Pottery Owl Bottle

Bonhams offers a rare Moravian pottery owl bottle, circa 1800-1820, to highlight their January 2012 American Furniture and Decorative Arts auction. This newly discovered and important example of an early American press molded animal bottle is one of only five known to exist.

Brooke Sivo, Bonhams Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts states, “Pottery animal bottles, especially from this region, are highly sought after, so when they surface they tend to do very well. There were only four known bottles in the owl form and this is the fifth example, making this form one of the rarest animal shapes. We anticipate not only private interest but also interest from American museums and institutions because of its extreme rarity.”

European descendents introduced Old World ceramic traditions to the North Carolina backcountry, specifically Salem, and this lot is a prime illustration of Moravian craft. In the form of a standing owl, this example has a wonderful tortoise slip glaze surface; the specific type of surface glazing that was inspired by 18th century English pottery makers—sometimes referred to as Whieldonware.

The Moravian potters produced press molded animal bottles in the early 19th century for everyday use, such as dry spice storage. Two variations of owl bottles were made but their molds have never been located. Presently, a touring exhibition of Moravian animal bottles titled “Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware” is traveling to various museums around the country building interest in these rare examples of early American pottery.

This rare owl bottle will be auctioned in Bonhams American Furniture and Decorative Arts sale January 19, 2012 in New York, and is expected to draw between $60,000-80,000.

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