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Pottery Pigs Bring Hefty Prices
As the owner of Glass Works Auctions, James Hagenbuch owns the world’s largest collection of pottery pigs. The porcine-shaped stoneware containers were originally designed as whiskey flasks, some with a cork between the hams. Today, they are popular collector items, one selling earlier this year for $21,850. Another at the same auction sold for only $500 due to chips and other factors.
  “The smallest ones were about 6 in. in length and the bigger about 12 in.,” says Hagenbuch. “They were made during a time after the Civil War when whiskey was very popular and heavily used. Most were made of glass, but several pottery shops made them as well.”
  Hagenbuch cites Anna Pottery, Anna, Ill., as one of the more popular sources for flasks. The company made generic pig flasks for sale to the public and also flasks commissioned by distilleries.
  “The commissioned pigs were limited in number and are the more valuable of the two,” says Hagenbuch. “The Kirkpatrick brothers who owned it were eccentrics, but were incredibly skilled workmen.”
  They made elaborate flasks with snakes and other custom designs. For the generic pigs, they often followed a common design called Railroad and River Guides. They’re so accurate that dating them can be done by comparing features on maps. If a bridge isn’t featured, the pig was likely made prior to the year of its construction.
  The quality of the pottery pigs is part of what makes them so valuable. The other aspect is the uniqueness. “Since they were handmade and hand scribed, you’ll never find two that are identical,” explains Hagenbuch.
  The collector is always on the lookout for new additions. However, he will occasionally sell a pottery pig if it’s similar to another in his collection. Increased popularity among folk art and stoneware collectors in recent years has driven up prices, says Hagenbuch.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Glass Works Auctions, P.O. Box 180, East Greenville, Penn. 18041 (ph 215 679-5849; www.glswrk-auction.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6