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Personal Effects

By JERRY SAMPSON

Question: Hi Jerry, I found this little mug at a yard sale last year. It’s marked Harrodsburg Pottery on the bottom. I know that you love Harrodsburg items and wondered if you know anything about it. It’s in good shape with no broken areas or damages. Any idea of the maker or its worth? 

Answer: Why, I sure do know about it. And it leads me to talk about something that I’ve always wanted to talk about. 

This is a piece by Chris Strecker. Chris was a potter, gardener, was passionate about historic preservation and was a business owner. She had worked in pottery for over 41 years. 

Many local readers should remember her business, The Old Harrodsburg Pottery on KY. 68. I can remember the thrill of watching Chris turn pots and the workers dip candles at this studio. 

It was the type of honest, home-like store that you just don’t see much of anymore. Chris operated here for years and later opened her studio, Peace Roots Studio, on Cog Hill Lane, just past Shaker Village. 

She was talented, interesting, educated in her fields, many fields in fact, and was kind and giving. She passed on the 31st of July 2013. She was 69. 

This mug was early in the years of the Old Harrodsburg Pottery history. This was fired in the electric kiln and the lower temperatures kept the colors softer and more muted. 

The gas powered kiln was higher in temps and it strengthened the colors and saturation of the glazes. 

I think this dated to the mid 1980s. What is the value? It’s not much. It’s not a commissioned piece or an experimental piece, it’s not large, and in fact it was a standard piece that was sold in bulk at the pottery. 

To a pottery collector, out of state, it might sell for $5. Because I understand the glaze, the marks, and I remember the pottery, to someone, like me, who knew Chris and collects local items, it might be valued at $20. 

This leads me to talk about loving, using and collecting local pottery. 

Every town has a local pottery of some kind. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m talking about handmade, thrown, locally glazed and fired pottery, not ceramic shop pieces. 

That is another type of animal that we’ll talk about in time. 

I’m talking handmade and heartfelt pottery. It might be good or even great. It could also be crude or inferior. I urge you to support a local pottery in your town. 

You could even focus on a pottery that is no longer in business, Lord knows, there are plenty of them. Look around for something that is local before you buy yet another bowl at a big box retailer, a piece that’s been churned out by the tens of thousands overseas. 

Pottery, like most arts, doesn’t sell for much. Its value lies in the use, enjoyment and the memories that these clay wares bring to the owner. Thanks for a great question and enjoy your little mug.