"D-Lish-Us Gum" vending machine, 1¢, cast iron with a porcelain-on-steel nameplate, $7300.
Turtle made by Uhl Pottery Company, marked on base, the largest size produced, $1700.
Stoneware Christmas tree holder marked "Red Wing Union Stoneware Co., Red Wing, Minn., Patent Applied For" and "Christmas Tree Holder," $900.
Wheel-type nutmeg grater, 7" long, $100.
Woodmanse weathervane stickpin, embossed "Woodmanse Mfg. Co./ Freeport. Ill. U.S.A." on the back, $165.
Sohn & Associates, Evansville, Indiana
by Don Johnson
Photos courtesy Sohn & Associates
Note: The only buyer's premium was 15% for Internet buyers. Since there was no way to know which items sold on line, all prices are without buyer's premium.
The numbers were impressive: one owner, eight sessions, 2325 catalog lots. Described simply as "An American Collection," property from the estate of Dr. Stan Epperson (1953-2007) was offered by Sohn & Associates in Evansville, Indiana, at sales held May 3-13.
A veterinarian, Epperson had a private practice and worked for more than 20 years for Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Evansville. "He never forgot a client's name or a pet's name," one veterinarian was quoted as saying in Epperson's obituary.
That passion spilled over into Epperson's free time. He was a fervent collector, especially when it came to midwestern stoneware and Evansville memorabilia.
"He bought a ton of stuff," said auctioneer Trent Sohn.
Surprisingly, the top lot of the auction had nothing to do with ceramics or southern Indiana. A "D-Lish-Us Gum" 1¢ vending machine, cast iron with a porcelain-on-steel nameplate, sold for $7300.
The heart of the collection, and what drew the most attention of bidders, was the stoneware. Epperson had an affinity for Uhl and Red Wing pottery. Nothing was more eagerly anticipated than a Jack Daniel advertising jug made by Uhl. The three-gallon beehive jug had an oval "Uhl Pottery Works, Evansville, Indiana" ink stamp (the company later moved to Huntingburg, Indiana) over "Jack Daniel/ Old No. 7/ Lynchburg, Tenn." in a rectangular border. It sold for $5000.
The scarcity of the jug was unquestioned. "It's the first one that we've ever had come through here," said Sohn, whose company handles its fair share of Uhl.
Other Uhl highlights included an Uhl Pottery Works five-gallon jug advertising "Old Style Distillery Co./ Distillers/ Wholesale & Retail Liquor Dealers/ William Turner, Manager/ Bowling Green, Kentucky" that sold at $700.
After the move to Huntingburg, the firm, then known as Uhl Pottery Company, adopted its Acorn Wares logo. Among the larger of the Acorn Wares pieces was a 30-gallon crock that sold for $380. Advertising from this era included jugs made for the Dillsboro Sanitarium in southern Indiana. The pieces had a blue glaze above the shoulder and a blue ink stamp showing a crane or heron. A two-gallon example realized $700, while a five-gallon jug made $500. Uhl's novelties also remain popular, with the company's largest turtle (13" long) selling for $1700 and the largest frog (also 13" long) making $850.
The decline in the market for Uhl can be seen in many areas, especially miniature Christmas jugs, where even the hardest-to-find pieces have slipped in value. A miniature demijohn jug ink-stamped "Christmas Cheer From Uhl Pottery Company 1933," the lettering flanked by Santas, sold for $450. The mark was easy to see, unlike marks on many of the 1933 Christmas jugs that have lettering somewhat obscured by the brown glaze. Attributed to Uhl, a miniature brown-over-white shoulder jug marked "A Merry Christmas" in a decorative border realized $340.
Other desirable pieces of Uhl included several "Cents 4 Defense" piggy banks produced during World War II for Botay, a Kansas City perfumer. The banks typically had a caricature of Adolf Hitler drawn on the pig's rump. Selling for $400 each were a pig lettered "Harding Field" and one marked "U.S. Naval Air Station, So. Weymouth, Mass."
Of the Red Wing lots, a 50-gallon crock made by Red Wing Pottery took the top bid at $1850. It had a 4" wing mark and a drain hole. A stoneware Christmas tree holder, marked "Red Wing Union Stoneware Co.," realized $900.
Other midwestern stoneware included an eight-gallon salt-glazed water cooler with the impressed mark of Clark Bros., Cannelton, Indiana, that sold for $1000, and a five-gallon crock, "Cannelton Stoneware Co., Cannelton, Ind.," with a yellow stencil on an Albany glaze, that brought $450.
"We were happy with the way prices overall held up," said Sohn. "Some of the utilitarian stuff, there were some bargains, I think. Overall, I thought the prices were pretty good considering the current economic condition."
For more information, phone Sohn & Associates at (800) 357-4031 or visit the Web site (www.sohnandassociates.com).
"Jack Daniel/ Old No. 7/ Lynchburg, Tenn.," marked "Uhl Pottery Works, Evansville, Indiana," three-gallon jug, $5000.
Fifty-gallon crock, Red Wing Potteries, Red Wing, Minnesota, with 4" wing mark and a drain hole, factory indentation on the side, glazed-over bubble on the side, with petal lid, $1850.
Clark Bros., Cannelton, Indiana, eight-gallon water cooler, salt-glazed, impressed mark, $1000.
Brass tape measure in the form of a hat, the top embossed "Most Hats Cover the Head This Covers the Feet," $140.
Mills Extraordinary 25¢ floor-model slot machine, $2500.