This is a Catawba Valley, NC jug. Late 19th–early 20th century. About 5 gallons in capacity and 16 inches tall. Excellent condition. See the bits of quartz in the clay body? A similar one at auction in 2017 sold for $275.Jugs are one of my favorite styles.
The pottery recession. It was real. It happened. What MudSweatAndTears was selling Southern pottery for in 2006 is now down to about 60% of that mark. Of course that ratio varies depending on how rare or sought after certain pottery may be.
Lower end collectors were hit harder by the economic downturn, so the lower end stuff took a bigger hit. However, the higher end collectors pulled back, too.
The good news is the recession is over, and I expect the value of stoneware to noticeable increase in the near term. In fact it is has already begun. I think that the value of things like this naturally lag behind other economic indicators.
Collecting never stopped being a good investment. Just like gold or any other commodity, it goes up and done in value, but art and history like this never loses its intrinsic value.
Bottom line: If you are thinking about getting back into collecting stoneware, or collecting anything for that matter, you should snap up what you can at current prices. Five years from now you might be able to sell what low end stuff you buy now, and get that rare piece that you’ve always considered prohibitively expensive.
Note: A similar piece to the pictured example recently sold at auction for ~$200. In a few years the same piece could be worth two or three times that value.