Published: June 25, 2002
A $180,000 Van Erp Lamp Illuminates New Jersey Arts and Crafts Auction
LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. -The Craftsman and David Rago organizations conducted a recent auction at Rago’s gallery featuring more than 1,100 diverse lots offering a bird’s-eye view of the Arts & Crafts market.
Saturday’s event focused on rare pieces while Sunday greeted entry and middle level collectors with more affordable examples. Altogether, the sale generated more than $2.2 million with nearly 90 percent of the lots sold. Of these, some 16 percent were sold via eBay Live Auctions/Collector – the large majority drawn from Sunday’s offerings. All prices cited include the buyer’s premium.
Beyond the $180,000 D’Arcy Gaw for Dirk Van Erp lamp, other high flyers included a brooding tall-case clock by Charles Rohlfs ($63,250); a rare 5 by 6-inch Van Erp “curtained” red copper vase ($36,000); a squat but graceful Redlands pottery vessel showing swimming sharks ($32,625 and likely a world record for this maker); a Charles Rohlfs double pedestal desk with chair (1902, $28,750); and a 9-inch two color Grueby vase that cruised over estimate to $26,450.
After the sale, auctioneer and Craftsman partner David Rago said, “This was our largest and I think best sale ever. The merchandise was terrific, right across the board, and at all price points. Certainly we had our surprises, both up and down, but that’s expected at any auction. The market remains very strong and a lot of people walked away smiling – including me, John and Jerry.” (Rago was referring to partners John Fontain and Jerry Cohen).
The about 240 pottery lots offered showcased equally producers both mainstream and obscure, American and foreign, while being notably deep in Rookwood, George Ohr, Van Briggle, Grueby and Fulper. Prices realized were often as breathtaking as the pots.
Ohr (24 lots) was simply red hot, with numerous examples exceeding estimates. A 4¾ -inch handled vessel showing mottled pink and green doubled estimates at $31,625; a marvelous 6½ -inch vase with a crimped rim in a gunmetal and speckled green glaze did likewise at $28,750; and a graceful tapering 6-inch vase with inbody twist and a fine mottled lavender, green and blue glaze made $26,175.
Grueby (26 lots) was also well received. A 7½ -inch two color jardiniere reached $18,400; a small 5½ -inch vase with floriform rim showing green buds against a striking purple/blue ground soared to a large $17,250; and two rare six-inch tiles from the Dreamwold Mansion in Scituate, Mass. doubled estimates in making $12,565 and $10,350 respectively. Still another tile, this showing a sterling mount, made $6,900 while a 22-inch two-color vase realized $13,800 despite restoration.
Top lots among the Van Briggle (25 lots) were a stunning two-color vase in lustered copper/eggplant (1904) that made $14,950 and a 9¾ -inch vase (1903) embossed with poppies in a mottled red/sheer chartreuse glaze that realized $12,650.
While a couple of major Rookwood lots were brought in, many of the about 40 offerings exceeded estimates. Tops among these were a 9½ -inch iris glaze vase by OG Reed (1900) presented first at the Pan American Exposition ($9,775) and a 7½ -inch banded Scenic Vellum by Shirayamadani (1911) showing flying geese that realized $8,625.
Not surprising here, the Fulper was often about as good as it gets. Leaders among about 20 examples were an 11½ -inch paneled floriform vase carrying a superb mirrored Cats Eye flambe glaze which surpassed estimates at $4,025 and a classic 12¾ -inch Cattail vase which did likewise at the same sum. Two mushroom lamps, one a believable marriage, did well at $17,400 and $10,925 respectively.
High flyers among other makers were a tiny 4½ -inch Marblehead vase by Hannah Tutt showing stylized fruit trees whose rare colors and fine composure brought it to $20,800; and a 6½ -inch Newcomb College hi-glaze pot depicting sailboats and reflections which (despite a hairline) made $12,650.
Smaller groups of Tiffany, Pewabic, Merrimac, Teco, NDSM and Dedham (some nice volcanic experimentals among them, one of which made $5,750) performed well, and often better than expected.
Furniture performance was more uneven, though in the main suggested that interest remains strong. While the vast majority of lots sold within and occasionally above estimates, others – including several important ones – failed to find new homes.
John Fontaine speculated, “Well, its possible that 350 pieces of wood are simply too many for the market to absorb in a single weekend. Then again, I got the strong feeling that some people were holding their fire on Saturday and pointing towards Sunday’s middle level furniture – with some real opportunities being missed as a result. Overall, it was a good day – the furniture market’s alive and well.”
Among the about 90 Gustav Stickley and L&JG Stickley examples offered were found numerous performances that matched or exceeded expectations. An early and rare Gustav Stickley server realized $40,250; a five-drawer chest made $9,200; a Harvey Ellis-designed mahogany bookcase realized $8,050; and a 59-inch six-drawer dresser finished over estimates at $6,900.
Other respectable Gustav performances were delivered by two two-door bookcases which finished near high estimates at $6,325 and $5,750; a 42-inch two-drawer library table that vaulted estimates at $4,312 and a Harvey Ellis-designed inlaid sidechair that made $3,737.
Among the L&JG Stickley, a massive yet strikingly simple circular dining table with shaped plank legs and through tenons made $12,650 and several two-door china cabinets made $9,200, $6,325 and $5,462 – two finishing over estimates. Also from this maker, a fine sideboard did well at $6,325.
Of nine Charles Rohlfs pieces offered (and beyond the top scoring tall-case clock and desk/chair set) a fine chalet desk circa, 1900, soared to $8,625 and a lamp table showing cutout legs made $8,050.
Limbert was mostly well received with a marvelously angular (and remarkably modern feeling) 60-inch trapezoidal server leading about eight examples at $10,925.
Metal and Lighting
An elegant Roycroft hammered copper lamp with a leaded shade designed by Dard Hunter made $27,600 while a Hunter-designed fernery showing a pierced nickel silver band at its rim made $14,950. Matching that sum was a small and beautifully patinated Roycroft hammered and hinged copper box with overlay of nickel silver squares.
Among the Gustav offerings, a log holder of riveted and wrought iron straps doubled estimates at $16,100, while a Newell post lamp with its original yellow glass shade lit up at $5,175. Various outdoor lantern and sconce lots from this maker also performed largely as expected, as did a group of about 12 vase and lamp examples from Heintz Metal Arts.
Another top metal lot (and terrific example of the more esoteric and unexpected offerings that add considerable spice to Craftsman sales) was a dramatic 24 by 17¾ -inch repousse copper wall plaque by Hans Jauchen that finished over estimate at $11,500.
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