Lot 505
  • 505

Rare small sgraffito glazed red earthenware plate with tulip design, Philip Mumbouer (c. 1750-1834) and Nicholas Mumbouer (1789-1828) Haycock Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1810-1825

20,000 - 30,000 USD
23,750 USD
bidding is closed


  • Glazed red earthenware
Together with a small slipware plate with four tulips, artist unidentified, c.1785-1800, glazed red earthenware; a small slipware plate with three wavy stripes, Willoughby Smith (1839-1905), c. 1865-1880, glazed red earthenware, the underside,stamped: W SMITH WOMELSDORF.  3 pieces.


The first:
Harry B. Hartman, Marietta, Pennsylvania, 1972

The second:
James and Nancy Glazer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1975

The third:
Philip Cowan, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, 1970


American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 139, figs. 100A-C

Catalogue Note

Smaller earthenware plates, formed on the wheel or by sheet-drape molding, were a common product of most rural Pennsylvania potteries during the first half of the nineteenth century. Simple, undecorated glazed examples, as well as the more ornately decorated versions, were used for serving food at the table and for domestic ornament. Surviving household inventories in southeastern Pennsylvania record multiple "smaller earthen dishes" in the "dresser" or "cupboard" of a kitchen or parlor, and price lists and inventories for potteries operating in the region document the manufacture of plates with diameters measuring between seven and nine inches and ranging in price from 3 to 18 cents.1These three examples demonstrate the variety of decorative styles and techniques employed by Pennsylvania German potters in making these smaller domestic forms.

The attribution of the sgraffito-decorated example to Philip and Nicholas Mumbouer (or Mumbower) is based upon similarities in its decoration and execution to a signed example in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.2 The Mumbouer family of potters was influential in the stylistic development of earthenware in Bucks County and the surrounding areas of Pennsylvania throughout the nineteenth century, and their operations served as the training ground for a number of the region's best-known potters. Willoughby Smith apprenticed as a potter during the late 1850s in the Schwenkfelder community near Pennsburg and later entered into partnership, with potter Joseph Freeg, in an early pottery in Wolmersdorf, Berks County, where they operated under the name "Freeg and Smith" until 1879. After purchasing full interest in the business in 1879, Smith carried on the large-scale production of a range of utilitarian forms, specializing in small decorated plates and flowerpots. His slipwork often consists of simple trailed patterns of wavy lines and dots or crisscrossed lines in two or three colors. -J.L.L.

1 "Redware Forms," "Inventories for Households," and "Potterie Manuscript Documents and Prices," Frances Lichten Files, American Department, PMA. A drape mold with a diameter of 8 1/4  in. is in the PMA collection.
2 Garvan, Collection, p. 183, figs. 61, 62.