A sewer tile study piece and small mystery. Described as a "presentation box" and if so, a highly personal item. It is sweet to consider a hard-working sewer tile worker filling this with gifts for a betrothed, perhaps even containing a ring.
On the other hand, could this be a doorstop? The common lion forms have long been considered doorstops. This piece has the weight which would work…and a handle to lift it out of the way. The piece measures six inches long, 3 inches wide and 7 inches tall, with handle.
The piece is clearly hollow and appears to have been made as a box. The two portions do have a rather elegant and modern curve where they meet. It also has decorative "feet" which consist of 5 circular sculpted forms. The handle is obviously broken (with several repairs.) Might it be possible the piece broke through a fall? Did the same incident which broke the handle create the two halves in such a unusual curved form?
Close inspection shows glaze having seeped into the inside edges where the pieces meet. I believe this WAS made as a box for that reason. It is signed twice. Once inside the cover "WHIT" and inside the lower piece the same. Whit is a name, though not the most common. This also supports the box with handle theory. Still, one would also think a presentation box would be inscribed with incision and decorative work. A simple and common matter for an "end of day" sculptor.
Finally, this might just be an experiment! A whimsical attempt at a utilitarian object.
The piece could be restored to make the handle far less obviously broken, but I love it exactly as it is. When a piece is restored, all I see when I look at it from then on is the repair!
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Antique Sewer Time Sewer Pipe Pottery Presentation Box late 19th / Early 20th century. Collection Jim Linderman