Photo courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The William Crolius incised and cobalt blue decorated heart-shaped inkstand on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the past 22 years has recently been made a promised and partial gift to the institution. Purchased by Pennsylvania collector David Bronstein, D.O., in 1991 at Sotheby’s, the inkstand is inscribed on the base, “New York July 12 1773 / William Crolius.” It measures 5" long x 5½" wide x 2 1/8" in height and has its original removable pounce and inkpot.
“I’ve had my eye on this piece for a very, very long time,” stated Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the inkstand is currently on display in Gallery 704. “This piece is iconic. We were so very grateful to have had it on loan, and it is truly one of the most significant acquisitions we’ve made in ceramics.”
“This piece belongs in New York City, and what better place than the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said Dr. Bronstein.
In 1979 the inkstand had sold at Sotheby’s for $16,500 (includes buyer’s premium)—then an auction record price for American stoneware, to Barry Cohen, who sold it in 1983 to Jerry Banta (both now deceased). Banta was the consignor in 1991 when it sold for a new record—$148,500. The current record sale achieved at auction for American stoneware is the price paid for a jug by Absalom Stedman, which sold for $402,900 on May 5, 2012, at Pook & Pook.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest