On Friday, May 15th Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers hosted the Early American Auction of furniture & decorative accessories including the 9th Annual Ohio Valley session. On a beautiful Ohio spring day when it’s tough to be inside, Garth’s historic barn held a packed house and the phone lines and internet were all abuzz. Bidders were willing to give up the sunshine for a chance to bid on a fine selection of Americana.
Richard “Jeff” Jeffers, CEO of Garth’s noted, “Friday’s auction saw a large, interested, and attentive crowd with strong bidding on material like the Ohio pottery, in which we see interest every spring during the Ohio Valley session. There was also active bidding in many other categories....we have seen more momentum behind bidding in the sale room throughout 2015. Furniture is climbing in value. It is refreshing to see, not only country and painted furniture, but also the rather formal American furniture doing well too; this market has certainly seen its challenges over the years and it's encouraging that it seems to have found an increasing trajectory.”
The top lot of the day was a nod to the outdoors! An oil on canvas river landscape after Cornelius Ver Bryck (New York, 1813-1844) was from the collection of Judith & James Miller, Alexandria, VA. The painting featured a river at sunset with a mother child child walking hand in hand along the riverbank. Signed in the lower right, "T.C. - from an outline by C. Ver Bryck" and estimated at $600-1,200, it sold to a phone bidder for an outstanding $46,800. Fine Art continued to see strong results throughout the day. An oil on wood panel still life depicting a finely detailed fruit on glass compote was attributed to Severin Roesen (Pennsylvania, 1815-1872). It also sold to a phone bidder for $10,500 against a presale estimate of $4,000-8,000. An oil on canvas Spring landscape by Wilson Henry Irvine (Connecticut/Illinois, 1869-1936) depicted trees by a stream and sold for $4,800.
Americana collectors have long prized jacquard coverlets. Woven of bright colors, jacquard coverlets were, and remain, popular because of their complex patterns, often including trees, buildings, birds, and even trains and steamboats. One of the most popular patterns was the American eagle. Such an example from the Collection of Margaret Brusher (MIchigan) sold for $3,240 as lot 459 with a central field of eagles. Each eagle was surrounded by 26 stars - perhaps to commemorate Michigan’s statehood as it was the 26th state to enter the Union. This specific coverlet was definitely used in a commemorative fashion more than a century later by a car maker. In the mid-1970s, Chevrolet produced a number of special Bicentennial edition cars, including the 1976 Bicentennial Chevette. Margaret Brusher's husband, Fred, was an executive at General Motors at the time, and convinced the designers to use this eagle coverlet as inspiration for the upholstery in the Bicentennial Chevette. The car was ultimately produced with red paint and the interior upholstered in an eagle fabric with trim in white vinyl. Although this fabric was only used in 1976, the Chevrolet produced the popular Chevette until 1987. Ironically, the car sold for just a few hundred dollars more than the coverlet.
Four applique quilts also sold from the Brusher Collection including a Spanish-American War Quilt which hammered for $3,840 against a presale estimate of $400-800. The quilt design consisted of a large eight-point center star and U.S. flags on a green background. The quilt was embroidered, “War was declared April 22 1898" in red, marking the start of Spanish-American War. The three other floral examples realized $1,680, $1,020 and $1,020.
The Ohio Pottery collection of the late Jim Murphy garnered quite a bit of attention prior to the sale. Mr. Murphy’s had amassed an excellent collection, including some rare and important examples. Highlights included a Westhafer and Lambright stoneware jug from Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The ovoid jug, which kicked off the auction, stood 18.5” high and with cobalt blue decoration sold for $2,640. A Globe Pottery churn from Crooksville, Ohio was dated 1902 and was reminiscent of the seated mastiffs attributed to the Crooksville area. The 20.25" high piece sold for $960.
Of the early 20th century art pottery offered, two Ohio vases signed by artist Albert Cusick sold for $2,760, more than doubling the high estimate. Each adorned with squeeze-bag decoration (one with butterflies and one with stylized flowers), only one was marked "Athen," probably for Avon Faience Pottery or Craven Pottery. Rounding out Mr. Murphy’s collection were three American encaustic architectural tiles from Zanesville, Ohio and New York. The blue-glazed porcelain tile depicted a portrait of a gentleman and a large redware tile had a relief-molded classical woman, while the third was an oval portrait tile labeled by Charles T. Harris and his Celadon Terra-Cotta Co. Ltd., New York. The trio crossed the block for $1,680. A Vance-Avon Faience pottery vase, also with squeeze-bag decoration realized $1,560.
A strong grouping of decorative smalls was well received including an advertising sign from Richmond, Indiana dating to the second half-19th century. Single-sided with original paint, the sign was decorated with a small hand-painted landscape with stenciled lettering for "Richmond Champion, Wayne Agr'l. Co. Richmond, Ind.". At 8.5" high and 65" wide, the vibrant red sign was one of two signs from the Margaret Brusher (Michigan) and sold for $3,360 (estimate $600-800). The other sign was an Ohio tin beer sign, late 19th-early 20th century. Advertising for Wagner's Lager Beer of Sidney, Ohio, the sign retained its original gold paint on a black ground, with a central driver and horse-drawn chariot. At 33.5" high, it was estimated at $200-400, but sold for $4,320.
An American decorated treenware jar had vinegar sponge decoration in shades of mustard and red driving it to a price of $1,800 against a presale estimate of $250-450. Also selling for $1,800, was a Virginia stoneware crock impressed with the label "J. Keister & Co., Strasburg, Va." A Morley & Company majolica spaniel doorstop or chimney ornament from Wellsville, Ohio had a lovely polychrome glaze and sold for $2,640. A Globe Pottery yellowware “Jumbo” elephant figure was stamped twice on the underside. Thanks to good details and a Rockingham glaze on the base and tree trunk, it sold for $2,520 despite a hairline on the front.
American formal furniture performed well throughout the day. A Queen Anne cherry high chest of drawers, attributed to Wethersfield, Connecticut, dated to the mid 18th century and was comprised of a flat top upper section above 11 drawers, two with central shell carvings, a scrolled apron, and cabriole legs ending in pad feet. Despite imperfections, the piece sold for $4,200 (Ex Margaret Brusher (Michigan)). An American Chippendale walnut and poplar chest of drawers with ball and claw feet brought $2,760 (Estimate of $1,000-2,000). An American Federal mirror, attributed to Albany, New York, with a reverse-painted tablet and a large floral finial, sold to a phone bidder for $3,960 (Estimate $800-1,200. Ex Tina Baumstone, New York). An early 19th century New England open-top cupboard with an exterior of old blue-green paint and an interior of reddish-brown hammered at $2,280, more than doubling its estimate. A decorated Ohio miniature curly maple and poplar chest of drawers from Carroll or Harrison County, ca. 1830, sold for $1,920.
Additional pieces of interest included a Caribbean sofa which descended in the Axel Holst family, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The sofa sold to an internet buyer for $1,875, more than doubling its presale estimate. A Civil War flute belonging to Bryon Holton, 117th New York, KIA, was made of rosewood and nickel silver and sat in its original case. The flute also sold to an internet buyer for $1,250. Two half plate daguerreotypes of US Representative Peter Wilson Strader and his family by James Presley Ball sold for $2,400. The daguerreotypes from Cincinnati, Ohio, ca. 1855 featured Peter W. Strader, his wife, Cornelia Frances Hubbard Strader, their eldest son, Jacob, and their second son, William M.; in the other portrait is Cornelia's niece, Fanny Smith, and two of the Straders' daughters, Julia and Mary. In one leather case with Ball's stamp, the portraits were also and accompanied by 19th-century handwritten identifications.
The last 42 lots of the sale were comprised of fine examples of historical ephemera and autographs. A Continental Army appointment from Massachusetts-Bay Colony named Samuel Parish a lieutenant of an unnamed company under the command of Abner Crane "for the Devence of the New England States." Signed by John Avery and others, it sold for $1,000. Approximately 16 of those ephemera lots featured material about Elmer Ellsworth (1837-1861). Ellsworth was an ambitious young man whose rise to prominence was cut short on May 24, 1861 when he became the first Union soldier killed in the Civil War. Several Ellsworth’s items drew the crowd’s attention. The first being a partially printed, two-sided document, dated Chicago, Illinois, May 31, 1859. One side was addressed to Illinois Governor William H. Bissell, announcing that Ellsworth has helped organize the cadet attachment; the other side, a bond for the use of necessary arms and equipment. Signed by Ellsworth twice, the documents sold for $2,640. A group of ephemera related to Col. Ellsworth and his Zouaves brought $2,760, while an autograph of Col. Ellsworth, provided by his father and dated June, 16, 1873 realized $1,250.
Prices realized list for this auction may be found at www.garths.com. Garth’s is accepting quality items for its 2015 fall auctions. For a complimentary and confidential evaluation of your item(s), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-362-4771. For more information, visit www.garths.com, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.