Schreckengost Jazz Bowl could be last ever seen at auction

A Schreckengost Jazz Bowl, due to be auctioned in June, is believed to be one of the last extant examples of its kind.

The Jazz Bowl was commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt, as a celebration of her husband's 1931 election as governor of New York.


Schreckengost's Jazz Bowl

Depicting a lively street scene in a colour Schreckengost labelled Egyptian Blue, the distinctive Art Deco bowl evokes the spirit of the New York jazz scene of the 1930s.

Featuring skyscrapers, cocktails, iconic signage and stars, the one-off piece inspired a production line at the Cowan Pottery where Schreckengost worked.

Mrs Roosevelt was evidently impressed with Schreckengost's work, commissioning a further two bowls from the artist and prompting a gallery to order another 50.

It is not known how many of the striking ceramics were produced before the Cowan factory closed at the end of 1931. According to auctioneer, David Rago: "This could be the last of the original Jazz Bowls in private hands."

Approximately 20 known examples are still in existence, with the majority housed in museums. They are certainly of strong interest to private collectors, with the record price of $254,400 set at Sotheby's in 2002.

The work has been given an estimate of $40,000-60,000 ahead of the June 17 sale, but given auction house precedents and the apparent scarcity of extant examples, Paul Fraser Collectibles expects the piece to exceed this estimate.

Despite good interest at the time, Schreckengost's work did not see real recognition until the revitalisation of Art Deco in the 1980s. He went on to hold a varied career as an industrial designer, designing the first truck with a cab-over engine configuration, among many others.

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