BUFORD, GA. – Slotin Folk Art Auction will hold its third stand-alone pottery sale on Saturday, February 12. The 371 lots range from traditional tobacco-spit-glazed pots by extended families of makers such as the Meaders and Hewells, who handed down the craft tradition through multiple generations, to works by emerging and established studio potters. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The Deep South has long been a hotbed of pottery-making, especially among self-taught or family-taught potters, but this sale greatly expands the selection beyond Georgia and the Carolinas to include potters from more than a dozen states, including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia.
The interest among bidders and buyers extends way beyond the region. “We’re selling from Florida to Pennsylvania,” co-owner Steve Slotin said. “In the last sale, a lot of pottery went to New York City and New York state, and California collectors are getting into it, too. It goes almost from one end of the country to the other.”
Folk pottery is gaining admirers in Europe as well, as evidenced by advance bids for the February 12 sale from Belgium, France, Italy and Hungary as well as the UK.
The sale was born out of necessity rather than a certainty that it would take off. Pottery was gradually being squeezed out of Slotin’s Spring and Fall Self-Taught Art Masterpiece sales as the quality of folk art in those auctions grew stronger and stronger. Knowing many pottery lovers who are intense in their collection-building pursuits, Steve and his partner in life and folk art, Amy Slotin, decided to seek and accept even more consignments to test whether there was enough demand to add pottery to Slotin’s yearly calendar of sales.
The answer has been an unqualified yes. The broader selection offers something for everyone. “By offering 350 lots,” Steve Slotin said, “I’m able to show A to Z on Southern folk and Southern art pottery.”
Highlights of the February 12 sale include a deep representation of what could be termed the First Family of Folk Pottery, with 57 lots by the extended Meaders clan, including pieces by Lanier, Arie, Cheever, Edwin, Flossie, Reggie, David, Anita, A.G., John, Cleater with Billie, Clete, Clete Jr., Jessie and Whelchel Meaders. Standouts among the Meaders lots include a circa-1960s Rock Tooth Politician jug by Lanier, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, and a 1998 rooster by Edwin decorated with green drips on his signature cobalt blue form, estimated at $800-$1,200.
More than 200 face jugs, imbued with expressions from frightful to fantastical, are on offer, led by a signed, undated Michael and Melvin Crocker (M&M Crocker) Indian Prince face jug with an open-mouthed rattlesnake sculpted on top. It is estimated at $500-$800.
Pots by makers who straddle the line between studio and folk pottery, such as Texan Carl Block, will be represented. Block is known for glazing his face jugs, roosters and other forms with bursts of vibrant Southwestern and Mexican colors. Of note is a Three-eye, Two-face Devil face jug made in 2003 and estimated at $300-$500.
The sale lineup also includes historic pots such as a blue and red floor vase from North Carolina’s first art pottery studio, Pisgah Forest Pottery. It is estimated at $1,000-$2,000. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement of the early 20th century, Pisgah Forest’s self-taught founder Walter B. Stephen (1876-1961) explored Oriental glazes and forms and pioneered the South’s first crystalline glazes, among other innovations.
A side benefit of Slotin Folk Art’s move into standalone pottery auctions has been that they were designed to be online only because pottery collectors have exhibited comfort with virtual buying and selling for years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit only a month after the initial auction in February 2020, Slotin was able to quickly switch its April 2020 Self-Taught Art Masterpiece Sale, traditionally conducted in front of an audience at the auction house’s Buford, Georgia’s sales hall, to online only. Every Slotin Auction since has been conducted online.
“It was kind of a blessing that we tried it for the first pottery sale and that it worked out so well,” Amy Slotin said. “It gave us the confidence that our auctions can go forward even in these weird times.”
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/