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Anna Pottery (1859-1910) / Wallace & Cornwall Kirkpatrick
Centennial snake jug

Sale No: 3001, Lot No: 3

Anna Pottery (1859-1910) / Wallace & Cornwall Kirkpatrick
Centennial snake jug
Anna, Illinois, 1876
Albany-slip-glazed stoneware
incised Centennial / 1876 / Kirkpatrick / Anna Pottery / Anna, Ill.
8 3/8″w x 8 5/8″d x 9″h

Property from the Collection of Governor Jim Thompson, Chicago, Illinois

Catalog Note:
Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick founded Anna Pottery in 1859 in Anna, Illinois. While animals, birds and reptiles are recurring themes in the brothers’ work, it is said that their snake jugs, made between 1860 and 1885, are among their most iconic pieces.

Wallace Kirkpatrick was very familiar with snakes, keeping some on display in their studio. According to Ellen Paul Denker, he liked to incorporate snakes, frogs and other reptiles into his jug designs as representations of delirium tremens (hallucinations from alcohol withdrawal). Using these creatures in his designs, Wallace was able to combine his love of snakes with a powerful message about temperance. During this time, alcoholism was a prominent issue in the town. Both of the Kirkpatrick brothers were active participants in the social and political scenes in Anna, often siding with the anti-saloon campaigns. They frequently used their pottery to express their political beliefs.

These pieces are whimsical with a macabre sense of humor, depicting a warning about the evils of drinking. It is said that Wallace would take some of his snakes with him to fairs and expositions to attract people to their pottery pieces on display. There are very few of these snake jugs in existence, most of which now reside in museums or private collections.