Americana, Folk Art & Textiles Auction
It’s not unusual for Garth’s Auctioneers and Appraisers to begin each year with an Americana sale, and the 2020 version on January 18 and 19 in Columbus, Ohio, offered a solid selection of paint, brown furniture, folk art, and smalls. But there was something else. A mix of textiles the second day added an extra punch to the proceedings.
“We had some really wonderful objects, and we were pleased with the auction,” said Jeff Jeffers, Garth’s CEO and principal auctioneer. “We were over estimate a significant number of times.”
The top lot of the sale was a paint-decorated blanket chest from Schoharie County, New York, that sold with buyer’s premium for $7800 (est. $4000/6000). In pine with original paint, it had a spray of multicolor flowers at the center of the decoration offset by a wide, bold border of yellow and orange leaves, all on a blue ground. The 19½" x 42¼" blanket chest dated to the early 19th century.
Paint didn’t dominate the auction, but it was well represented. Furniture included a 79" x 44" single-door wall cupboard attributed to the Shakers, in pine with vibrant blue paint, that sold for $3720 (est. $3000/6000). From the first half of the 19th century, it had four panels on the door and a shelved interior. The color was striking. “Find another blue like that,” Jeffers said.
A one-piece pine apothecary from Connecticut, first half of the 19th century, was in a subtle red paint, but interest remained strong. Having a stepback design, the piece featured an open top with shelves over a fold-out work surface over 36 drawers, all on cutout feet. The 77½" x 40¾" apothecary sold for $5750 (est. $2500/4500).
Also of note was a Long Island, New York, kas in gumwood with a red wash and ebonized feet, 83½" x 69", that sold for $5880 (est. $8000/10,000). Dating to the 18th century, it had a pronounced cornice, paneled upper section, and diamond panels flanking three drawers in the base, all on boldly turned legs. Jeffers noted that the distinctive form of the kas is one that doesn’t appeal to all buyers because of design and size limitations. “It’s a little bit about lifestyle that people are not using these big pieces of furniture,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s a form that’s a little bit out of fashion. I think it came off the trophy list of a lot of people. But this was a scarce example. It was early and had wonderful architecture with the big feet, the drawers, and the cornice that seemed to reach out forever.”
Brown furniture was led by a Massachusetts tavern table in figured maple and maple, the oval top over a base with turned legs. Measuring 26¾" x 30½" x 23" and dating to 1730-40, it realized $4200 (est. $3000/6000).
The best of the painted smalls was an American game board from the late 19th century, found in New England, that sold for $4680 (est. $1500/3000).The design had a red and cream checkerboard surrounded by a fanciful green border within an applied frame. The single-board piece measured 18" x 19½".
Folk art included a full-bodied cow weathervane by Harris & Co., Boston, late 19th century, 23" x 35", the copper form accented with a cast zinc head having iron horns, that sold for $5040 (est. $3500/7000). A three-dimensional mortar and pestle trade sign in copper, second half of the 19th century, 21" high, brought $3600 (est. $1500/2500).
Textiles in the sale ran the gamut from samplers to sewing notions. A crazy quilt from the late 19th or early 20th century featuring a variety of animals and birds, some stuffed, brought $2400 (est. $900/1200).
Jeffers said “color and folksiness” contributed to the desirability of the quilts. “They both just kind of sang a little bit. You wanted to look at them. I know that sounds kind of overstated, but they were really sweet quilts, and you had good proportional balance in the elements.”
Topping the samplers was an English example in silk on linen, having an alphabet in a pyramid, a verse, birds, and “Eliza Gravner / Aged 12 Years / Halvergate School.” The 16¼" square work sold for $2750 (est. $400/800). A sampler believed to be American, silk on linen, having an alphabet, verse, and house surrounded by trees, deer, a horse, and a cat, stitched by Mary Sutton in 1823, 20" x 19½", brought $1680 (est. $600/800).
“Samplers, like stoneware, have remained reasonably strong over the last two or three years,” said Jeffers. “For samplers, it’s my sense that part of their buoyancy or consistency in the marketplace today is that buyers are looking for the credible and authentic, and they’ll take credible and authentic in a later object if it’s pretty clear and there’s not guesswork.”
American hooked rugs included a Waldoboro-type rug, late 19th century, the paneled design depicting a dog flanked by a geometric pattern flanked by flowers in an urn, 16½" x 73", that sold for $1500 (est. $600/800), and a hooked rug showing a seated tabby cat surrounded by a wreath of flowers on an earth-tone ground within a colorful border, late 19th or early 20th century, 32" x 52", that realized $1375 (est. $250/500).
“I thought the hooked rugs were better than what we’ve had in a while, and I thought prices showed that. Prices were where they should be or a little strong,” said Jeffers. However, when it comes to “good, better, best,” the market for hooked rugs has changed, he noted, with a larger divide between the value of the most desirable hooked rugs and everything else. “My observation is the difference between the very best and those that are great has widened. The very best has held a little bit, and those that are great have dropped.”
Sewing notions included a variety of figural pincushions. A group of 20 consisting of velvet apples, pears, and strawberries (some rosin filled), a few carrots, other vegetables, and silk-covered apples realized $1875 (est. $100/300). Another similar grouping sold for $1620 (est. $100/300), and four pieces, a banana, eggplant, watermelon, and ear of corn, velvet with applied trim and some glass “seeds,” 20th century, went for $420 (est. $100/150).
There were also oddities that weren’t among the top-sellers but were notable nonetheless. Among them was a canvas dog coat in a patriotic design, including “USA” and a large star, all in a red, white, and blue pattern using a motif of stars and stripes. Further accented by red and white stars, metal buttons, and faux jewels, the piece dated to the first half of the 20th century and sold for $276 (est. $100/150).
Jeffers was pleased with the textiles. “I think the good textiles—samplers, quilts, or otherwise—have shown bounceback over the last couple of years. People are understanding the value of color again regarding textiles,” he said.
For more information, phone Garth’s at (740) 362-4771 or visit (www.garths.com).
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest -
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