• Stoneware/Redware
Lot 34


Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000
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 STAMPED "B.C MILBURN / ALEXA", ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA DECORATED STONEWARE WATER COOLER, salt-glazed, "5" gallon capacity mark, cylindrical form with slight shoulder, squared rim, collared neck, vertical open handles, and octagonal-shaped bung hole. Exuberantly bold brushed cobalt floral designs featuring a striking central feathered stem with two leafy branches yielding 15 circular buds to front, reverse depicting an equally profuse design having three feathered stems secured in a conical-shaped base with verdant top branches having 15 circular buds, depicting a chain link ornament to shoulder on each side, and additional cobalt to handle terminals. Benedict Cuthbert Milburn (1805-1867), Wilkes Street pottery, Alexandria, VA. 1841-1873. 16 1/2" H, 9 1/2" D rim.
Published: Hunter (ed.) - Ceramics in America 2013, "'Stone-Ware of excellent quality, Alexandria manufacture' Part II: The Pottery of B.C. Milburn" by Barbara Magid, p. 111, fig. 68. Wilder - Alexandria, Virginia Pottery, 1792-1876, p. 286, figs. BCM119 and BCM119a.
Literature: Wilder - Alexandria, Virginia Pottery, 1792-1876, stamp p. 324, fig. Mk XIV.
Catalogue Note: This is one of three recorded Milburn water coolers and one of only five recorded coolers from Alexandria (see Wilder and Magid).
Benedict Cuthbert Milburn was the third owner of the Wilkes Street pottery located in Alexandria, VA. Born near St. Mary's City, MD, Milburn relocated to Alexandria, VA when he was 17-years-old. Hired by John Swann (the founder of the Wilkes Street pottery) in 1822, the young Milburn began a long, fruitful career in the pottery industry. It is unknown if Milburn maintained employment at Wilkes Street through Hugh Smith's tenure as manager (starting in 1825), however by 1833, documents provide evidence that Benedict officially began leasing the pottery from Hugh Charles Smith (the son of Hugh Smith). Milburn officially purchased the Wilkes Street pottery from Hugh Smith (elder) in 1841. Business flourished under Milburn until the Civil War, when work at the kilns was extinguished. The pottery remained quiet the remainder of the war until 1865, when Milburn's son, Stephen Calvert took up the business. Sadly, Benedict C. Milburn passed away in 1867, at the age of 62. After his death, his sons continued operating the Wilkes Street pottery until 1876, when William Lewis Milburn sold the pottery to the neighboring tannery, permanently closing the door on the Milburn pottery legacy.


Excellent, mostly undamaged condition, having a tight, very faint approximately 7" L hairline extending parallel to lower base and bung hole detached and glued.

Collection of the late Al and Billy Steidel, Alexandria, VA.