It seems that every single cool person online has a kitchen stacked with intriguing antique stoneware crocks, pots, jars, and other kitchenware. This has most definitely sparked an interest among the writers here at VIP Art Fair, so we’ve decided to take a deeper dive into the stoneware crocks specifically and see what’s all the fuss about.

Antique stoneware has always been of interest to the current public discovering it, especially to people who like to thrift their kitchenware and go the more affordable, yet highly interesting route of equipping their kitchen. Stoneware crocks aren’t, however, just some antique, vintage kitchenware to display and never use; these items have been popular because of their functionality and variety of use; from storing butter, veggies, and meat in the old days (when not every household had a fridge), to ensuring that those pickled veggies are super pickled in the old-school airtight containers.

Whatever their purpose may have been, they’ve definitely helped a lot of people get food on the table and take care of their families. This makes the antique stoneware crocks a big part of American history. In the following paragraphs we’re going to help you identify this iconic kitchenware, recommend some interesting where-to-buy places, and of course, talk about the price tag. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Antique Stoneware Crocks 101 – Everything You Need To Know

What Is a Stoneware Crock?

A stoneware crock is kitchenware pottery used for its functionality in preserving foods. Any clay or pottery with less than a two percent waterproof rating is considered to be stoneware as well. A stoneware crock is, therefore, considered waterproof, air-tight, and long-lasting, making it ideal for food preservation and storage. Antique stoneware crocks come in different shapes and sizes, as well as colors and textures. Nevertheless, the most prevalent crocks are those colored gray or brown, or to be more specific, feature a gray or brown salt glaze. These can also feature cobalt blue decorations, which gives them a more recognizable, distinctive appearance.

The History of Stoneware Crocks

People have been using earthenware pots, crocks, jars, and other kitchenware for thousands of years. However, the stoneware crocks as we know them nowadays have been first uden in France, in the late 18th, and early 19th centuries. From there, the use of stoneware crocks spread across Europe, England, and Germany mainly, only to reach the United States through the Revolutionary War.

As a result, a vast stoneware crock production was sparked in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Other New England states, as well as Ohio, also joined the stoneware craze in the late 19th century, which became a national must-have for every household by the early 20th century.

Historically, stoneware crocks have almost always been used for food preservation and storage. Because people didn’t really have refrigeration back in the day, they would use stoneware crocks to store easily melted foods like butter and jelly, as well as grains, salted meats, and pickled vegetables. What made the stoneware crocks so good at food preservation is the very salt glaze used to basically seal the crocks and make them waterproof and air-tight. A secure lid also protected the food from insects and rodents, as well as pets and children.

Who Were Popular Crock Makers?

As the stoneware craze spread across the States in the late 19th and early 20th century, the number of different stoneware makers increased as well. Some of the oldest and biggest names in the stoneware game include;

  • Red Wing Stoneware – this business has been making stoneware crocks ever since the late 1970s. Their stoneware crocks were known for the stamps on the side wall, which became a common practice after 1896. Red Wing Stoneware, especially the early kind, is pretty rare and sometimes hard to identify. Nevertheless, cobalt blue decorations, like a butterfly or a bird, are known signs of Red Wing Stoneware. If you’re unsure that the stoneware you bought or own is Red Wing, make sure to check out the Red Wing Collectors website and check with their expert team.
  • Western Stoneware Company – this company was comprised of seven other smaller ones in 1906, including Weir Poterry Co., Macomb Potter Co., Macomb Stoneware Co., Clinton Stoneware Co., Culbertson Stoneware Co., Monmouth Pottery Co., and Fort Dodge Stoneware. The company produced many lines of stoneware and pottery, including utilitarian wares such as stoneware crocks, but also art pottery, flower pots, etc. The company uses a maple leaf logo that was initially used by the Monmouth Co. The logo also reads Plant 1, 2, to 7, depending on the plant/company that produced it.
  • Robinson-Ransbottom – this was initially a pottery company started by Frank Ransbottom and his brother in 1900. By 1916, Ronsbottom Pottery became the largest producer of stoneware jars in the States. About four years later, the company merged with Robinson Clay Products Co., and the product line expanded to garden ware and art pottery, as well as functional goods. The company ceased all operations in 2005. Their products are well recognized by the RPR logo and are best known for the blue crown mark.

How To Identify Antique Stoneware Crocks?

In order to get your money’s value when purchasing antique stoneware, it is essential to know what to look for when identifying the pieces. Generally, you’ll be looking for a logo or a maker’s mark. If you can read it, you’re good to go, because your research will be much easier. By reading and analyzing the logo, you can find out a lot of information, from the age to the value of the stoneware crock.  Here are some other tips and info to look for when identifying the maker, the age, and the value of an antique stoneware crock;

  • If you can’t find the logo or the maker’s mark, make sure to turn the piece and look for the information at the bottom of the crock. There should be some, if not all, of the following information; the logo of the maker or the maker’s company, letters and numbers indicating where or when it was made, symbols, or even the name of the manufacturer/maker. Master artists will even sign the crock at the very bottom as well.
  • If you cannot find the manufacturer’s mark/logo on the bottom of the crock, try observing the side walls of the crock. Some manufacturers and artists use the side wall to impress their name or logo, rather than the bottom.
  • The style, font, and size of the logo or the manufacturer’s farm can help you identify the company/manufacturer that made it. If you need help, make sure to check out the logos and symbols of the aforementioned popular stoneware crock makers.
  • You should be able to find a number on the crock; for example, 3. This indicates the size of the crock (for example, 3 gallons/quarts). This info can later be valuable when determining the value of the crock as well.

Now that you’re able to identify the general information about antique stoneware crocks, there’s one thing left; identifying the age of the crock. Here’s how you’ll do this;

  • Bear in mind that American stoneware and pottery makers didn’t use salt glaze on crocks until 1775. If your crock isn’t glazed, then it’s probably really old and super antique.
  • Crocks that don’t have a logo or maker’s mark on the bottom are made before the 1810s, and vice versa.
  • Crocks that feature words like ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd.’ are made after the year 1861, and vice versa.
  • Crocks that feature the words ‘Made in (specific country)’, are probably made in the 1900s, and vice versa.
  • Crocks made in Japan feature the word ‘Nippon (meaning Japan)’, and were often made prior to the 1920s.
  • Crocks that have a cylinder shape are often dated to the 1860s; before these years, they weren’t popular or mainstream, as in the cylinder shape.
  • Crocks that feature a sticker on top of the glaze are mostly likely from the late 1800s.

Antique Stoneware Crocks  – Price Guide and Where to Buy?

Regardless of whether you’re looking for the stoneware crocks at your local garage sales and thrift shops, or online, there’s a lot to choose from. At one point, these stoneware crocks were a household essential, so we’re sure many of them do end up sold or on sale at one point. Here are some of the best places to shop for these stoneware crocks, as well as the respective prices you can expect;

Doc’s Crocks

Antique Stoneware Crock Identification - Doc's Crocks

First and foremost, we recommend you check out Doc’s Crocks, the antique stoneware shop of all antique stoneware shops. This place offers the best, highest quality, and condition antique stoneware crocks, jugs, jars, and so much more, all sourced from across the States. Doc’s Crocks specializes in antique stoneware, blue-decorated stoneware, salt-glazed stoneware, as well as other vintage pieces. They’re currently offering 20% off on all blue and white stoneware, so make sure to check them out. When it comes to their price tags, you can expect the prices to range between cca USD 85, and USD 1000, depending on the type, condition, and age of the crock.


Antique Stoneware Crock Identification - Etsy

Etsy offers an array of different antique stoneware crocks, from the best and most popular manufacturers.  You can expect to come across some rare crock specimens, like the L Lehman & Co. one, which is currently on sale for USD 650, or you can look for the more traditional and affordable examples, like the Red Wing Stoneware crock jug, that is currently on sale for USD 150. The good thing about Etsy is that the offer and the price tags are for everyone’s budget. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can surely find excellent pieces for around USD 100 and up. If you’re looking for high-end pieces, then you can expect to pay up to USD 1,500, for rare, excellent condition, truly antique crocks.

Ruby Lane

Antique Stoneware Crock Identification - Ruby Lane

Ruby Lane, an online antique shop, offers an excellent selection of truly antique stoneware crocks. The prices vary from relatively affordable, to high-end, and you can expect every piece to be in excellent condition and delivered to you in the best possible way to preserve the piece. Here, you can find stoneware crocks from Europe; antique pieces from 1900s Germany, for example, for an excellent price of USD 75. The price tags do reach multiple digits; for example, a rare antique stoneware crock from the 19th century is currently being sold for USD 1,200, but you can expect to pay between USD 300 and USD 700 for truly antique specimens as well.


Antique Stoneware Crock Identification - Chairish

Another excellent online antique shop is Chairish, and here, you can find all kinds of antique stoneware crocks for great prices. The items are often on sale, so you can get an even better deal than you expected. All of the items sold on Chairish are in excellent condition, truly antique pieces, dating back as far as the late 18th, or early 19th century. The prices do range between USD 65 for an antique stoneware butter crock, to USD 3,500, for an antique Japanese stoneware crock jug from the 18th century. There is, basically, something for everyone, and for every kind of budget, so make sure to check Chairish out.


Antique Stoneware Crock Identification - 1stDibs

If you’re looking for a more high-end antique shopping experience, then we recommend you check out 1stDibs; an excellent online antique/auction shop that will surely provide you with everything antique you may need. They have an exceptional collection of rare and beautiful antique stoneware crocks, but the price tags are definitely on the pricier side.

Sure, you can find pieces at around USD 150 per piece (smaller pottery crock pots), but the price tags definitely go into several digits. For example, you can expect to pay up to USD 2,500, for rare, highly decorated, excellent-condition antique stoneware crocks. The average price tags range between USD 700 and USD 1000, so there should be something on the more affordable side even if you’re willing to cash out the big buck.

Final Thoughts

Even though their functionality may not be appreciated today (since we have all the imaginable utensils and gadgets to help us out), we can still utilize antique stoneware crocks in our day-to-day lives. By using them to display our kitchen utensils, or even as flower pots, we can at least appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that went into making them.

These crocks carry the history, and stories of people before us, as well as their intelligence and resilience to grow and thrive despite the lack of fridges and other accessibilities we nowadays have and take for granted. Hopefully, our brief guide will help you out in finding the perfect antique crock you’ve been looking for. We wish you good luck and happy shopping!

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