Bidders go to war over fine Americana at Garth’s
DELAWARE, Ohio —
When awonderful day of family and food is followed by a fantastic day of selling beautiful antiques; being thankful is a given. Garth’s Auctions’ 55th Annual Thanksgiving Americana & Fine Art Auction held Friday, November 28 was a stellar alternative to any Black Friday brick and mortar frenzy.
Garth’s hosted their own shopping frenzy; just with a lot more class.
“I am such a Nervous Nelly the morning of an auction,” Amelia Jeffers of Garth’s explains. “I think I inherited this from Tom Porter (Garth’s former owner), who also got nervous before a big event. I always fear no one will show up.”
Jeffers’ fears were again unfounded as the gallery was packed and great buyers were in attendance. “When I looked over the crowd and saw who was there, I knew it was going to be a good day,” Jeffers adds.
And what a day it was. Numerous strong sales across a wide range of categories were the norm for this auction. Decorated boxes – be it smaller document examples or blanket chests – were in high demand. The sale’s top lot; an American decorated document box, “Was something we missed,” Jeffers states when discussing the difference in the lot’s high estimate of $2,000 to its winning bid of $63,000. Prices include a buyer’s premium.
Made of pine and having a molded lid and base, the box retained its polychrome paint decoration featuring checkered ends and central pinwheels. “As is often the case, the market sees it and the market determines its worth,” Jeffers states discussing the box’s strong final bid.
But in this instance, the auctioneer selling also played a role.
“There was a very good buyer from Pennsylvania looking at the box,” Jeffers remembers. “And after he said hello to me, I saw him greet someone else who was looking at the box. I saw the exchanged looks; the dawning that they might both be after the same thing.”
When it came time for this document box to sell, Jeffers knew the one potential buyer was a confident bidder, “But my perception was the other bidder was not as confident. I sensed his hesitation, and proceeded to sell the box in $1,000 increments up to $50,000.” At that point in the selling, the hesitant bidder asked Jeffers to half that amount; that he wanted the bid to be increased by $500, not $1,000.
“I actually said, ‘Oh come on now, we’ve come this far.’ And then out of nowhere; after all this time – you can imagine the amount of time it took to bid by $1,000 to the $50,000 mark – a new bidder came in at $52,500.”
Jeffers said it was fascinating watching the range of emotions on the faces of the two bidders who had been going back-and-forth vying for the box only to have a new bidder start in at this advanced point in the selling. “You could see their realization that this new bidder was possibly just getting started, so the others were quickly out, and this new bidder got the box.”
Another box that greatly surpassed its estimate of $2,000 to $4,000 when it brought $16,800 was an American carved and decorated slide-lid box, likely from Pennsylvania. Having nailed construction, the box featured elaborate chip-carved decoration, a saw-tooth border, central pinwheel, and original red, black, and cream paint.
Blanket chests were led by two examples from Schoharie County, New York. An example dated 1816, made of pine and having a dovetailed case and bracket feet that wore its original paint decoration and the initials “NR” brought $10,200 (est. $1,500-$2,500). This chest was illustrated in the May 1985 issue of The Magazine Antiques article, “New York-German Painted Chests.”
Another decorated Schoharie County chest, again of pine and dated 1824; again having a dovetailed case and bracket feet and retaining its original paint decoration that featured an eagle and the initials “CM” and the date “1824” fared even better selling for $34,800 (est. $2,500-$4,500).
According to Garth’s catalog, “This chest was made for Margaret Mattice, daughter of Johann Jost II and Sarah Dingley Mattice. She was baptized in 1806, and married to Herman Kinney in 1825.” This chest was also found in the May 1985 issue of The Magazine Antiques article, “New York-German Painted Chests.”
“A well-known dealer from Pennsylvania was there and bid on both chests, and got neither,” Jeffers explains, adding, “The dealer spoke to me after these chests sold saying, ‘Holy cow, you got some great money for those.’ And yes, we sure did.”
Some great money was also spent to take home the Saturday Evening Post cover art by artist George Hughes (Vermont/New York, 1907-1990). The oil on canvas showing a humorous scene of men carrying gas cans, walking from opposite directions, then meeting on a desert road realizing that a gas station was nowhere to be found, stopped at an impressive $44,400 (est. $12,000-$18,000). This image was the cover art for the September 2, 1961 Saturday Evening
Post issue. It had been presented to an executive at the Campbell Soup Company – a major Post advertiser - in the early 1960s, and had descended in the family of that executive.
Folk art also was popular at this Black Friday event. An American whirligig of a Union Civil War soldier in its original paint and tin and having sword-shaped paddles stormed to $16,800 (est. $1,000-$1,500). This late 19th century pine example was pictured in Masterpieces of American Folk Art exhibit produced by the Monmouth, N.J., Museum in 1975.
The eagle carving by well-known folk artist Wilhelm Schimmel (Pennsylvania 1817-1890) fell a bit shy of its low end estimate when it brought $8,400. The Cumberland County, Pa., pine eagle boasted a 15 inch spread wingspan, a crosshatched design, and its original paint.
An early 20th century American painted metal Indian figure made of cut steel sold just over estimate at $15,000. The standing Indian figure wore its original paint and had a
tomahawk in his belt.
“This was one of our strongest Thanksgiving auctions to date,” Jeffers states. “There continues to be a lot of buying opportunities which was evident this day.”
This article originally appeared in the January 18 issue of AntiqueWeek.