• Stoneware/Redware
Lot 11


Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000
Sold for
Sold Price includes BP

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $10
$200 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$30,000 $2,500
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

IMPORTANT DAVID JARBOUR ATTRIBUTED, STAMPED "H. SMITH & CO.", ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA DECORATED STONEWARE LARGE JAR, salt-glazed, approximately ten-gallon capacity, elongated ovoid form with rounded rim, incised shoulder ring, and applied arched tab handles. Magnificent brushed cobalt decorations including one side featuring an elaborate sunflower with bull's eye center having a bold central stem with several leafy-branch offshoots, many extending partially around side, and reverse having an open bud tulip-like flower encompassing the stamp with approximately 80 three-leaf sprig "turkey foot" ornaments in diagonal rows from top to bottom, additional cobalt band below neck and applied to handle terminals, each side stamped on shoulder. Made for Hugh Smith (1769-1856), Wilkes Street pottery, Alexandria, VA. 1825-1830. 20 3/4" H, 9" D rim, 10 1/4" D base.
Published: Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 2021-2022, vols. 42-43, "...my friend David Jarboe...": The Unfinished Portrait of an Alexandria Potter, by Angelika R. Kuettner, fig. 17. Hunter (ed.) - Ceramics in America 2012, "'Stoneware of excellent quality, Alexandria manufacture' Part I: The Pottery of John Swann," by Barbara H. Magid, p. 134, fig. 35. Wilder - Alexandria, Virginia Pottery: 1792-1876, front cover and p. 123, figs. HS039, a, b, c, and d.
Literature: For a detailed introduction to Jarbour see the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 2021-2022, vols. 42-43, "'...my friend David Jarboe...': The Unfinished Portrait of an Alexandria Potter" by Angelika R. Kuettner. Hunter (ed.) - Ceramics in America 2012, "'Stoneware of excellent quality, Alexandria manufacture' Part I: The Pottery of John Swann" by Barbara H. Magid, pp. 133-134, 138-139. Wilder - Alexandria, Virginia Pottery: 1792-1876, pp. 36-37; stamp p. 319, fig. Mk V. Myers - The Potters' Art: Salt-Glazed Stoneware of Nineteenth-Century Alexandria, p. 23. 
Catalogue Note: The present jar is one of the most highly developed examples of stoneware by an identified African American potter recorded thus far. Its superb construction and grand decoration fully demonstrate David Jarbour's ability as a master potter working on the same level as David Drake. Combined with its stellar provenance and publication history, the appearance of the present jar on the market offers a rare opportunity to acquire a significant example of American folk art by a noted African American artisan.
David Jarbour was born enslaved in the late 1780s or early 1790s. The first public reference of him (listed as David Jarboe) appears in the 1816 Alexandria census, where he was recorded on the same line as Zenas Kinsey; a member of a well-known Quaker family that assisted many in Alexandria's African-American community, both enslaved and free. Jarbour purchased his freedom from Kinsey in December 1820 for $300. It is unknown exactly how Jarbour learned the pottery trade, but a possible source was Lewis Plum (active 1797-1821), a potter who witnessed and signed Jarbour's manumission record. In 1820, there were two extant potteries in Alexandria, one owned by Plum, the other located on Wilkes Street and owned by John Swann, a former student of Plum. In 1824, court records show Jarbour as a complainant in the Insolvent Debtors suit against Swann, whose pottery business was severely suffering at that time. It is suspected that Jarbour appears on the list as an unpaid employee of Swann, perhaps the first evidence Jarbour was working in the pottery industry. Hugh Smith purchased the failing Wilkes Street Pottery from Swann in 1825. Wilder reveals in his book Alexandria, Virginia Pottery, 1792-1876, that the 1826 and 1827 city tax records list David Jarbour's name below Smith, where he was first recorded as a "black potter working for Hugh Smith & Co." In her publication The Potters' Art: Salt-Glazed Stoneware of Nineteenth-Century Alexandria, Suzita Cecil Myers, states that "two free black potters, David Tarbor [sic] and Michael Morris" are employed at the Wilkes Street Pottery until 1834 and that by 1841, Tarbor [sic] had returned. This research helps place Jarbour in time and place, but it wasn't until 1977, when MESDA acquired a signed D. Jarbour jar that his talent as a potter was revealed. The decorative elements featured on the current piece and those found on the signed jar in the MESDA collection were assuredly decorated by the same hand. Angelika Kuettner, in her article "...my friend David Jarboe...": The Unfinished Portrait of an Alexandria Potter, draws comparisons between the only known signed Jarbour piece housed in the MESDA collection and other attributed Wilkes Street pottery decorated vessels having a similar inscribed "D" to the base. According to Kuettner, these examples provide evidence that Jarbour was both a potter and decorator. Hopefully, future discoveries of additional initialed or signed stoneware vessels will help to further the understanding of David Jarbour and his influence on Alexandria pottery.
The current piece is double stamped "H. SMITH & Co." Hugh Smith was a successful china merchant who immigrated to Alexandria in 1795. As previously mentioned, in 1825, Hugh made a notable career change and purchased the failing Wilkes Street pottery from John Swann, who had established the business ten years earlier. Often partnering with relatives, Hugh Smith more than tripled the property assessment for the business on Wilkes Street within one year. Smith, never an artisan himself, hired a number of potters throughout his ownership, many of which were African Americans. David Jarbour, Thomas Valentine, and Michael Morris are presently the only three identified African-American potters working at Wilkes Street. The exuberant cobalt decorations applied to wares during Smith's tenure at the pottery are the most decorative stoneware ever produced at the site, and perhaps the entire South. By 1841, Smith sold the Wilkes Street pottery to potter Benedict C. Milburn.
This exquisite jar was passed down through five generations of the Dulany-Morrison family residing at Old Welbourne, Bluemont, Loudoun County, VA and Welbourne, a large estate and plantation located in Middleburg, Loudoun County, VA. First acquired by John Peyton Dulany (1787-1878) circa 1830, the piece was then bestowed to his son, Richard Henry Dulany (1820-1906). Richard Henry founded the Piedmont Fox Hounds (1840), one of America's oldest fox-hunting organizations, and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, the oldest horse show in the U.S. Each remains active today. During the Civil War, Dulany served as a C.S.A. officer, first as a captain in the 6th Virginia Cavalry and then as a colonel in the 7th Virginia Cavalry. He lost the use of his left arm after being badly wounded at the Battle of Kernstown. The jar continued to be handed down through his descendants until 1977 when John Palmer, president of Middleburg Bank and a noted stoneware collector/dealer, discovered the piece at the Welbourne estate.


Excellent, mostly undamaged condition, except having a tight Y-shaped hairline extending partially up one side from base. Manufacturing flaws including some scattered exfoliation/glaze bubbles to cobalt decorations and a few kiln kisses, as made.

Collection of the late Al and Billy Steidel, Alexandria, VA.
Ex-collection of Clyde and Frances McClaskey, Fairfax, VA.
John Palmer Antiques, Purcellville, VA.
Descended in the Dulany-Morrison family, Loudoun Co., VA (see catalogue note).