Martin Bros tobacco jars land at $35,000 with Morphy Auctions

Morphy Auctions' Fine & Decorative Arts sale will be led by two highly collectible Martin Bros tobacco jars on March 8 in Pennsylvania.

The birds are 'intentionally grotesque' and serve little practical purpose, but are nonetheless collectible for their charm

Described as "intentionally grotesque and extremely desirable", the left-hand stoneware bird (1907) is valued at $25,000-30,000, while the cocked-head example on the right is estimated at $20,000-30,000.

"Martin Brothers birds have an avid following among ceramics and tobacciana collectors, both here and in the United Kingdom," said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. "To have one of these rare birds in our sale would be exciting enough, but to have two of them to offer to bidders is a very nice bonus."

Standing around nine inches tall, the jars are also known as Wally Birds, named after their maker, Wallace Martin.

It is said the Martin Brothers were more concerned with the humorous look of the jars than their practicality, with a contemporary noting they are "hardly suitable for purpose; they are not at all airtight and only the smallest hand could ever be inserted in them."

Nonetheless, the charming birds remain firm collector favourites. Following will be dozens of figural humidors, spanning character heads and animals to black Americana.

See our online store for some fantastic collectibles for sale.

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