Last football season I got a call from #1000SSS asking me to inspect a few photos of a certain piece of crockery that turned up in Ohio. Based on the pics it appeared to be an early, somewhat haggard replica of the Little Brown Jug. The photos were pretty interesting but I needed to get a closer look to make any proclamations about what we were dealing with.
Fast forward to this spring. The owners put the piece up for sale and it was purchased by Ken Magee, a local collector and the owner of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia. A few weeks ago I got that closer look:
Diane Diller, the ex-wife of the man who has held the jug for over 40 years, says that her husband Steve came into possession of the jug in 1969 when he attended high school in Pandora, Ohio, a small town 15 miles west of Findlay. In her words:
The late John Michaels, who was the custodian at Pandora Gilboa High School at the time, was cleaning the auditorium. Mr. Michaels found the jug behind the auditorium curtain. Steve Diller, who was a junior, happened to be in the area at the time and was asked if he wanted to take the jug home. He did, and has had it ever since. Over the years, Steve has asked around Pandora to see if anyone knew its origin. No one had any idea where it came from or how it found its way to Pandora High School.
So what is this thing? Is it an uber fan of the jug rivalry who, like those in the Jug Brotherhood, wanted a replica jug of his own? Here’s Magee at his downtown store flashing his pipes and his new prize:
- The last year and score on the jug is 1941, right near the end of the Minnesota dynasty from 1934 to 1942. That period was certainly a Golden (Gopher) Age for Minnesota fans. While we tend to view the love of the jug rivalry through maize and blue goggles, I wonder if this was actually created by a Gopher backer.
- You’ll notice this jug has two score columns, one on either side of the jug, which was the formation right up until around 1941 (I believe it was in ‘42 when it was repainted with the current configuration of 4 columns). Here’s a shot that I believe dates to 1941:
- Adding to that Gopher fan theory, based on the markings beneath the paint that’s absolutely a 5 gallon Red Wing stoneware jug, created in Red Wing, Minnesota, just like the original. For the most part this person knew what they were doing, starting the canvas:
- They knew what they were doing…save for one major issue. A key reason I believe this was solely a replica created by a fan (and not something that could have been used a copy by the teams or one of the jugs in play during the missing jug incident in the early 1930s): The Ms on the jug are on the wrong “sides” of the jug. I’ve never seen a photo, replica or otherwise, where the handle was positioned this way. On Pandora jug (left below) you can see the crock handle directly above the Minnesota M. On the real jug (right) and on any other copy I’ve seen, the handle sits between the sides with the Ms:
- One more little clue. The bottom of the jug has these markings: 250 K.C.F. No idea what that means.
All that said, for its apparent age (dating likely to the early 1940s) this is an incredibly cool and unique piece of Gopher-Wolverine memorabilia.
If you know anything about this jug, by all means, shoot me a note! Want to see the jug for yourself? Visit Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia downtown.
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