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IMPORTANT SIGNED REUBEN S. COFFMAN, ROCKINGHAM CO., SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA STONEWARE PRESENTATION HARVEST JUG, salt-glazed, ovoid form with two ringed mouth spouts, retains one cylindrical handle terminal. Incised "Lizzie Burns / Oct the 25th 1877" below one spout and "Made / by / R.S. Coffman" below one handle. Reuben Samuel Coffman (1836-1900), probably working at John D. Heatwole's (1826-1907), Dry River Pottery (active circa 1850-1890). Together with a framed copy of a photograph featuring Lizzie seated beside her only child, Mary, and a black memorial/remembrance card for Elizabeth Burns. Three pieces total. Dated 1877. 9 7/8" HOA.
Published: Comstock - The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region, p. 389, fig. 7.28.
Catalogue Note: Only a few pieces of pottery signed by Reuben Coffman have been recorded and this is the only harvest jug ever recorded from the Coffman family. In general, harvest jugs are exceedingly rare in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Reuben was the son of Andrew Coffman and brother-in-law of potters John D. Heatwole and Lindsey Morris. Him and his brother Daniel were recorded as potters in the 1860 Rockingham Co. census living with John D. Heatwole on Dry River. By 1870, Reuben is living independently with his young family in Franklin (Mt. Crawford) but only ten years later, he has returned to the Dry River area; his occupation remaining as potter over the decades.
This rare piece was made for Elizabeth (Lizzie) Garber Burns who was born in 1830 to Jacob and Lydia Garber of Shenandoah Co., Virginia. Sometime between 1850 and 1860, she married Jacob Burns who resided near Clover Hill in Rockingham County. Both Lizzie and Reuben lived in close proximity to one another, possibly neighbors, presenting a conceivable reason Reuben would have potted this jug for her. Lizzie died at the age of 79 in 1910, just a month shy of her 80th birthday, and is buried at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren located near Bridgewater, VA.
Undamaged, except for the loss of its horizontal strap handle.
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From the estate of Wilbur Layman, Harrisonburg, VA.