Q: We were given a large figural owl by my wife's grandparents. It is about 3 three feet tall and weighs about 40-50 pounds. It appears to be made of fired clay. The base looks like tile used for roofing or old piping. It's marked "Evens & Howard, St. Louis, Mo." We don't intend to sell it, but we're interested in the background of the maker and if it has any value.
A: Evens & Howard Fire Brick Co. was incorporated in 1867, but a brick works had been operating at that location since 1837. Fire bricks were used to line fireplaces, furnaces, fireboxes, ovens, etc. The bricks were made from clay dug from mines in St. Louis and Glencoe, Mo. The clay was weathered for at least six months before it was made into bricks. The company began making sewer pipe in 1858. It also made fire-clay chimney tops, flues, hot air flues, and floor tiles. Evidently the company also made figures like yours. It operated into the 20th century but is no longer in business. The value of your owl is impossible to estimate, since we have never seen another like it.