Athens, Ohio, 1860s


Unique and extensive incised and cobalt blue decoration. Obverse incised "Molasses", "Govr J. Thompson" and "Athens" around a house with a figure in the doorway. Incised below each handle are unique mythical animals, one a half dog-half dragon and the other a half fish-half dragon, both creatures with forked tongues and devil's tails. The half dog-half dragon is pouncing on a blossom and slender leaf, possibly a magnolia. Reverse with an incised leaf, probably an oak leaf. Handles with cobalt blue highlights.
Height 12.25".
Condition: One T-shaped hairline crack above the incised leaf that runs to one handle. Spout with several chips and one tiny hairline. Handles with a couple of spots of very small glaze fretting. Other small dings and stains commensurate with age. Many of these issues are visible in the1926 Magazine Antiques illustration. UV light examination shows no restorations.

The absence of a condition report does not imply an object is free of defects. All items may have normal signs of age and wear commensurate with their age; these issues will likely not be mentioned in the condition report. Please contact Eldred's before the auction with any condition questions. Questions about condition will not be answered after purchase. Condition reports are provided as a courtesy, and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Important note on frames: Frames are not guaranteed to be in the same condition as they are in the item photograph. Due to handling and shipping, many frames, especially antique ones, are prone to losses. If you have questions about the condition of a frame, please contact us prior to the auction. 

  • Provenance:
    The Collection of Bob & Nancy Skinner.

    The Magazine Antiques, June 1926, cover illustration. Includes a copy of the issue.

    Given the menacing nature of the creatures depicted and the lack of a governor named J. Thompson in Ohio history, it is believed this is not a presentation jug but rather a Civil War-era commentary against Confederate Jacob Thompson (1810-1885) of Mississippi. Thompson served in Congress and then as U.S. Secretary of the Interior before resigning at the outbreak of the Civil War to serve as Inspector General of the Confederate States Army and later in the Confederacy's "Secret Service". He was widely denounced in the north as a traitor and conspirator for his involvement, or rumored involvement, in several devious plots, including the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

    Thompson's home in Oxford, Mississippi was burned down by Union troops in 1864, which could be the reference for the images seen here, with Thompson the figure in the house, the creatures breathing fire to symbolize the soldiers who set the house ablaze, and the half dog-half dragon trampling a magnolia blossom, an emblem of Mississippi.

    We can find no official record of Thompson having run for governor, though he may have been a losing candidate during a Civil War-era election. "Gov.r." used here may have been an intentional derogatory slight or was an accidental misuse of the title by the maker.

    Thompson lived in England and Canada in the years immediately following the Civil War but eventually returned to the United States and settled in Memphis, Tennessee. When he died in 1885, flags in Washington, D.C. were lowered to half-mast in his honor, a recognition that outraged Republicans and Union veterans.

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November 17, 2023 9:30 AM EST
East Dennis, MA, US


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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $49 $5
$50 $99 $10
$100 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $2,999 $100
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $29,999 $1,000
$30,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 + $10,000