News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, January 11, 2018
1,000-year-old ceremonial Inca jug found at barn sale

1,000 year old Inca jug

Brooksville native Samantha McGuire purchased an old clay jug from a Blue Hill barn sale 10 or so years ago, and has recently been told by an appraiser that it is a 1,000-year-old Inca burial jug.

Photo courtesy of Samantha McGuire

by Anne Berleant

Sometimes an old clay junk shop jug is just that, but sometimes it ends up being an historical treasure, or so Brooksville native Samantha McGuire recently discovered.

McGuire was visiting family about 10 years ago when she saw a sign for a barn sale across from the Blue Hill Fairgrounds.

“I said ‘what the heck,’ so I stopped,” she recalled. “I was looking around and I noticed this thing set on a beam in the corner. It was covered with cobwebs. It caught my eye.”

After brushing it off, McGuire noticed a bird face was part of the jug’s design and, liking unique things, bought it for two dollars.

“I put it on the floor of my apartment and stuck a plant in it and there it sat,” she said.

Years passed, and McGuire moved from Bangor to Ellsworth and then to Augusta, when the piece struck her anew.

“[Movers] were taking stuff off the truck and I grabbed the jug and thought, ‘What do I have here?’ I never really looked at it,” she said.

From that point, McGuire began a search to discover exactly what she had found in Blue Hill. She consulted with a state archaeologist, she said, sent out photos, had an interested friend take it to Wisconsin to see what he could find out, and then brought it back home to Hallowell.

“I searched and searched and searched, and finally one day I got on the Internet and I found this Thomaston gallery and appraiser,” she said.

Two years later, she was able to bring the jug to Thomaston Place Auction Galleries. “I brought it on a Tuesday and on Wednesday they called me and said, ‘You’ve got something here.’”

McGuire said the appraiser told her the jug was a 1,000-year-old Inca jug used in burial ceremonies. She was also told that its outer surface was indicative of laying on the ocean floor for a while.

“How did this 1,000-year-old jug from Peru end up in Blue Hill?” she wondered, reasoning that it probably came by ship.

The jug is being auctioned off this month by the Thomaston auction gallery, at a starting price of $2,500 she said. “I would love to see that thing in a museum. It’s just in perfect condition.”