If you are a collector, this is what happens to your remains when you die, right? Actually, this is a Weller Dickens Ware Skull Humidorthat was shown on the Vintage Columbus episode of “Antiques Roadshow.”
“You’ve brought us a very scary and interesting piece of Weller pottery– Weller being one of the many art potteries that operated in the Zanesville, Ohio, area about 30 miles east of here. And you actually have an interesting history being, I guess, a member of the Weller family going back many years.”
“He is a very scary fellow. Just to show people, besides being a skull, he actually has a small skull as the finial on the top. We can see the marking, very simple. It says "Dickens Weller,” and you can see the opening in the top where you could put a sponge to keep the tobacco moist. This one happens to be the rarest of all the humidors. From what I understand, there might be only five or six of these known to exist. And because of the great rarity, not to mention the scariness of it, I would say that this piece would probably sell in the $2,000 to $3,000 range today. He is quite interesting and extremely rare. I don’t think I’d want to meet him in a dark alley. (laughing)“
It was appraised in the Orlando, Hour 3 episode of “Antiques Roadshow” by antiques expert Sebastian Clarke in 2008.
The figure even gives its owner the heebie-jeebies.
“When I was a kid, sometimes you’d run in the house and you’d see it sitting on the table and this man just sitting there would scare you and you’d run out,” he said on the show.
According to Clarke:
“Well, it certainly is a very unusual object. It is an Italian-carved figure of a blackamoor. It was carved in around about 1880, probably in Venice, and it’s of a North African figure. In the 18th and 19th century, there was this obsession with North African figures or what they called blackamoors then. There were these very grand standing figures on either side of doorways, holding fruit cornucopias or torchiers, and from there it spread and there would be side tables, little stands, and in this case, this object.”
Blackamoors figures are depictions of black Africans featured in sculpture, jewelry, and more – usually wearing turbans and covered in gems.
Clarke added: “It is a humidor. So if we take this little fez hat off here, take this off here, I’ll just sort of spin this around. And then if we tilt it all the way down, it’s got, I believe it’s a brass lining. So there would be tobacco or cigars in there.”
“The glass eyes are very, very nicely done. And then also the teeth, as well. Those are actually bone. Which is quite unusual. If we look on the sides, he has an earring in there, which I don’t believe is original. It’s got sort of picture wire in there and it looks like someone probably put it in there at a later date. But I’m sure at some point he did have earrings in there.”
“It’s carved out of a hard wood, probably a poplar or a pine. And it’s been painted or, what we say is ebonized.”
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