Earthy, simple, and natural, crocks have been around since the 17th century.
They are as practical now as they were back then, just in different ways. My hope with this blog post is to teach you some history of crocks, their potential value, and what to look for when buying them as well as some creative uses antique crocks in your home.
Crocks were popular from the 1700’s-1900’s
They were used as a kitchen staple before the invention of the refrigerator to hold butter, salted meats, and pickled vegetables. Older crocks were made of rich clay deposits, or stoneware, which was a sturdy and economical ceramic that remained water tight. They came in all shapes and sizes, from pint sized jugs all the way up to thirty gallons! Crocks were used for things such as making pickles, turning cabbage into sauerkraut, making fruit preserves, or brining meats. Many of these processes helped people survive the long winters when there were no gardens producing their food.
Crocks are popular with antique collectors today and are fun to look for. Here are some things to remember when hunting for crocks to be sure that you are buying an actual antique:
- A shiny, almost glass-like surface with visible bumps, meaning the crock was salt-glazed.
- Simple decorations which are hand painted on the surface rather than stamped and appear to be underneath the glaze.
- Hand-drawn or stenciled numbers or letters.
- A thick wall.
- A patina looking surface, meaning dull spots and/or dark areas.
The value of crocks is dependent on many factors, including the manufacturer and what design is present on the surface. Below are some things to look for when seeking out antique crocks:
Nearly every city had a stoneware crock manufacturer, so you will find an abundance of makers as you are browsing antique stores. More often than not, crocks will have a maker’s mark somewhere near the bottom or side of the piece. Redwing is the most popular brand of crock so they will fetch a higher price and is marked with a single red wing.
The condition of the crock is also important to it’s value. If there are chips, cracks, or extreme wear, it will bring the value down significantly. Sometimes you will see crazing, which is a crackled appearance on the surface of the crock, but that is actually helpful because it can date the crock and in most cases you will know that it is authentic by the crazing marks. Also, many crocks came with lids. If the crock still has it’s original lid, that will lead to a much higher value.
Crocks are useful and collectible in any size, but the larger ones tend to fetch a higher value, mainly because large crocks are rarer than small ones.
Some of the cobalt designs on crocks are very detailed and beautiful. Usually, the more blue you see, the more you can expect to pay.
Antique Crocks In Your Home
Crocks are practical and ageless, making for simple uses in your home. Here are some ways that you can incorporate crocks into your space:
- use it as a vase and put a big stem of pussy willows or large faux greenery in it
- as a caddy for kitchen utensils, such as wooden spoons next to the stove
- put firewood or kindling in a large one next to the fireplace
- a collection spot for dog toys!
- as shoe storage in the entryway
- as a cute place for holding extra toilet paper or rolled up towels in the bathroom
- use it as a pot on the patio or front step; it is a great vessel to hold a large fern!
Crocks are a useful and fun way to incorporate an old vessel and use it in a new way that fits your lifestyle. Hopefully you will find one, or a few, that speak to you and give them new life in your home! Be inspired!