Important Pottery Discovery Rings In Case’s July 19 Auction

June 30, 2014 in Editorials

An exceptionally rare Southern pottery ring bottle discovered at a local appraisal fair is expected to draw museum and collector interest alike at the Summer Case Antiques Auction, to be held Saturday, July 19 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville.

“I could hardly believe my eyes when a couple walked in with this bottle,” said company president John Case, who identified it while serving as an appraiser at the event, which benefited the Alcoa Kiwanis Club in Maryville. Case described the bottle as “one of the most important Tennessee pottery forms that has surfaced so far.”

The copper oxide and lead glazed earthenware bottle was made in the shape of a ring, which allowed it to hang easily from a saddle. Although a utilitarian form, it is the most elaborately decorated Southern ring bottle ever discovered, and the only such form made by Christopher Haun. Haun is remembered not just as an excellent potter, but for his role in Tennessee’s Civil War history. He was part of a group of Union sympathizers executed for burning the Confederate-controlled Lick Creek Bridge in Greene County in 1861. Haun’s pottery regularly sells for high prices, and this ring jug is estimated at $16,000-$18,000. Although Southern pottery is a staple at Case, the summer sale will offer even more than usual, including a rare stamped Maryville Pottery jug, a William Grindstaff stamped jar, a redware preserving jar attributed to the Cain pottery, a pitcher and jug by D.L. Smith, a Middle Tennessee sine wave rundlet, a Charles Monroe (West Tennessee) pottery bowl, and jars by Harmon, Lafever, and Decker.

The auction is packed with more than 800 lots of art and antiques from Southern estates and private collections. Other regional decorative arts and folk art highlights include two sugar chests, one from the Brentwood, Tenn., plantation “Mooreland”, plus an East Tennessee cherry Jackson Press and walnut corner cupboard, a brightly colored house sampler from the Maury family of Williamson County, Southern baskets, a Tennessee album quilt, and a pair of hand carved black ventriloquist’s dummies once used in a Tennessee traveling minstrel show.

A stunning six-piece coin silver tea service made by Charles Burnett of Alexandria, Va., from the estate of the late Dick Doughty of Greeneville is one of nine silver tea services in the auction. There is also coin silver from Tennessee (makers Samuel Bell and John Campbell), Kentucky and South Carolina (mulberry pattern) and a collection of Kirk “Repousse” hollowware.

One of the most heart-rending lots in this auction is an archive of Civil War letters to and from Brown Parkinson of Tennessee 8th Infantry, written shortly before his death. The descriptive letters paint a graphic picture of the war’s toll on this Middle Tennessee unit and the families they left behind. There is also a tintype of a Jonesborough Union Soldier, along with a collection of Civil War battle maps related to Knoxville, Franklin, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and Currier and Ives Tennessee Civil War prints. Other Southern documents include archives relating to Tennessee Governor Parson Brownlow, and documents signed by Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Sam Houston, John Sevier, and Gen. James Winchester. There are about two dozen historic firearms in the sale, including a Civil War brass frame revolver (possibly Griswold), nine Colt Army, Navy and pocket revolvers, and a Sharps Model 1859 Carbine.

Leading the art category is a haunting, circa 1900 marine scene by influential American artist Albert Pinkham Ryder. A bronze sculpture, “The Star,” by important American female sculptor Harriet Frishmuth, fresh from a Tennessee estate, is expected to be another key lot, along with a sharecropping scene by William Aiken Walker, a signed Tennessee portrait miniature of “Mrs. Baker” by John Wood Dodge, and an original drawing by French Impressionist master Camille Pissarro, depicting his mother. Art and Military collectors alike are expected to compete for a portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee by Cornelius Hankins. A small spring landscape by Hankins is also for sale, along with two landscapes and a portrait by Lloyd Branson.

A group of 20th century art from the collection of Stephen and Lisa Steiner Small of Belle Meade includes several pieces by Southern artists: a trompe l’oeil “Punch and Judy” scene and a “Humpty Dumpty” scene by Nashvillian Werner Wildner, surrealist paintings by Tennesseans Paul Lancaster and Bill Sawyer, two Red Grooms signed lithographs, a small reclining nude sculpture by Alan LeQuire, a Circus Parade scene by Kentucky memory painter Helen LaFrance, an urban landscape and scene of two New Orleans Preservation Hall jazz musicians by Noel Rockmore, an abstract by Kentucky artist Henry Faulkner, and a carved limestone figure by folk sculptor Tim Lewis of Kentucky.

Tennessee’s Milligan College has commissioned Case to sell several pieces from their collection of Chinese antiques, including a rare officer’s coat, badge and leggings; Asian antiques from other consignors will also be offered including porcelain and jade. Rounding out the sale are a George Nakashima dining table and other mid-century furniture, European furniture and porcelain (including Sevres and Worcester), art glass, oriental rugs, antique dolls and toys including a large collection of pre-WWII trains, and vintage advertising.

The auction takes place at the company’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, on Saturday, July 19 at 9 a.m. EST. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, July 18 from noon to 6 p.m. EST or by appointment. The catalog for the auction, with price estimates, photos, and descriptions, for items in the order in which they will be sold can be viewed online at For more information, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email