$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Treasure: Vintage-style piece product of local potter

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

It looks like it could be, but it isn’t. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of what appraiser Corinne Henzi-Schultz told Gerald McCarroll at a recent appraisal held at DuMouchelles in downtown Detroit.

A fan of estate and garage sales, Gerry and his wife, Sandy, of Grosse Pointe Park, are regulars on the sale circuit on the eastside of Detroit and surrounding suburbs. They’ve been fortunate enough to find many treasures through the years, something that keeps them on the hunt, they say. They recently brought in two pieces of pottery from their travels that they were curious about.

The appraiser singled out the dark green piece of pottery that had a beautiful matte glaze and an appealing organic form. “I thought there was a chance it could be Pewabic even though I wasn’t familiar with the signature on the bottom,” McCarroll admitted to the appraiser. He remembers paying $50 for it.

Henzi-Schultz was quick to pass along the news that the piece, while a good example of pottery in the Arts and Crafts style, definitely wasn’t Pewabic. The glaze wasn’t similar to those usually used on most Pewabic pieces, she said, adding that it looked a bit like Teco pottery, which was also popular at the time. “Unfortunately, it’s also much too heavy to be Pewabic,” she told him, turning over the piece and giving it a closer look.

In fact, the piece isn’t even that old, a fact that came to light when she noticed the signature. Signed “Robar” on the bottom, the piece is the work of Detroit potter Dan Robar. Robar holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State and works as a design sculptor at General Motors, according to his wife, publicist Colleen Robar. He creates Arts and Crafts style vessels from his basement studio in a historic Indian Village home.

A fan of the Arts and Crafts movement, Robar collects Roseville and Weller Potteries from that era as well as works of modern potters, including Marie Woo, Tom Phardel, Maya Grotell and John Glick. He has worked with Detroit-based galleries in the past but recently returned from a stint in China and has yet to re-establish ties with a particular gallery.

The appraiser said that the piece would bring about the $50 McCarroll paid for it if he were to auction it; auction prices are similar to wholesale, she reminded McCarroll. “It really is a very interesting piece with a great glaze, but it’s not particularly old,” she told him. She also told him that the second piece he brought in, a Raku-style form, would bring a similar amount at auction but was also probably a contemporary piece.

McCarroll said he doesn’t mind hearing that pieces aren’t old or even what he originally thought. “It’s OK. I bought them because I like them,” he told her.

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item : Pottery

Owner : Gerald McCarroll, Grosse Pointe Park

Appraised by : Corinne Henzi-Schultz, DuMouchelles

Estimated value : $50 each at auction