Published: May 4, 2004
By R. Scudder Smith, photos by Nancy Vozar, R. Scudder Smith and William Bunch Auctions
While three antiques shows were all vying for attention in Philadelphia, a short drive away in Chadds Ford auctioneer Bill Bunch was gearing up for his important sale of Americana and folk art set for Tuesday, April 20. “We planned the sale to coincide with the shows and had two full days of previews to allow the dealers in Philadelphia a chance to come out and look things over,” Bill said.
By the time the sale started at 11 am Tuesday, more than 300 phone bids were placed, left bids totaled just over 500, 400 bidding numbers were issued, and cars in the parking lot represented people from Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The sale comprised 554 lots, 630 objects, representing the complete inventory of Raccoon Creek Antiques of Bridgeport, N.J. George Allen and Gordon Wyckoff, owners of Raccoon Creek, are closing their shop and moving to Oley, Penn., where they are restoring a house and plan to open a new shop in the spring of 2005. In addition to the inventory, selected rdf_Descriptions from their personal collections were added to the auction.
“We have always been looking for just the right stone house in Pennsylvania and we have found it,” George said. He mentioned that he received a phone call from Jan Whitlock informing him about a house that had come on the market in Oley and that it was advertised in Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “It was a holiday weekend and we had not received our paper as yet, but when we did see it we called immediately and bought the place in a matter of days,” he continued.
“It has become a huge but rewarding project,” Gordon said, “but we are excited about it and looking forward to moving into the house by the end of this year. Both George and I have been collecting things for many years and we will be joining the two collections to furnish the house.”
Improvements to the property include a 130-foot-long stone wall, eight feet tall, which was under construction for two and one half months; seven working fireplaces, now all operable, and workers have been pointing the outside of the house for the past four months. Special attention has been given to the new kitchen that will have all of the appliances hidden behind doors and large glass doors facing the water, overlooking Manatawny Creek.
Selling the inventory, rather than holding on to it until the new shop was ready, seemed the best move and William Bunch Auctions & Appraisals was selected to do the job. “We have known Bill for many years and felt he would do well for us,” George said.
Bill Bunch runs weekly sales, always on Tuesdays, at his facility at One Hillman Drive, less than half a mile south of Route 1. “Our weekly sales are made up of all kinds of things, but we generally run about four catalog sales per year, and this will be one of them,” Bill said. He added, “It has been great working with George and Gordon. They did the lion’s share of the catalog and planned the set-up in the gallery.”
Bill Bunch, dressed in a dark suit with a colorful flower-dec-orated tie that one of his staff members had brought back to him from Hawaii, called the entire sale that ended close to 6:30 pm. He stressed the point that there were no reserves or minimums, and that everything was to be sold. A buyer’s premium of 15 percent was applied to the hammer bid if paid by Mastercard or Visa, 13 percent was applied with payment by cash or good check.
The sale started with a New York State butter churn with cobalt brushed willow tree, 153/4 inches tall, which sold for the high estimate at $1,500. None of the prices quoted in this review include the buyer’s premium. A Fenton stoneware ovoid jug, 1790-1810, Boston, incised fish, drilled for lamp, 151/2 inches tall, brought $1,100, and a heart-shaped box, wallpapered, circa 1850, five inches long, sold for $800.
Gordon Wyckoff has been a collector of baskets for the past 35 years, thus accounting for the examples always displayed at shows and the quantity included in this sale. An oak miniature buttocks basket with great patina, circa 1920, three inches high, sold for $475; an oak splint gathering basket with old white painted surface, New Jersey, 16 by 15 inches, sold for $425; and a Eastern Shore example in oak and black ash, circa 1910, six inches high, brought $575.
An African American male stuffed rag doll in original clothes, circa 1890, 17 inches high, sold within estimate at $750; a mahogany presentation tray with tole type decoration, Pennsylvania, dated April 26, 1824, 181/2 inches wide, also went within estimate at $1,350, while a miniature wallpapered box with geometric paper, Pennsylvania, 21/2 inches in diameter, sold over the high estimate of $400 at $1,050.
A tiger maple and cherry wood country Sheraton single drawer stand, Pennsylvania, circa 1830-50, sold in the middle of the estimate at $1,100; a stoneware pitcher, Bristol glazed cobalt enhanced coggle wheel and incised decoration, Joseph Hysek, 1906, 101/4 inches high, went over the high estimate of $500, selling for $800; and a revolving folk art table in the original red wash, elaborate pierced work fret top and finial adornments, Jogn Scholl, circa 1860, 293/4 inches high, 231/4 inches in diameter, went for $1,400, in the middle of the estimate.
One of the larger pieces of furniture in the sale was a New Hampshire lift-top Chippendale chest with six drawers, original snipe hinges, in paint, circa 1790, 53 inches high, 371/2 inches wide, 18 inches deep, sold for $4,500, just under the low estimate. A New England horse and rider weathervane, copper and zinc with the original chrome yellow primer surface, circa 1890, 30 inches long, went over the high estimate of $6,000, selling for $7,750. A parade hat, carved from a single piece of walnut with smoke and star stencil decoration, circa 1880, New England, sold over estimate at $2,600.
The low estimate of $1,200 was met by a grain decorated single-drawer pine chest, lift lid, New England, circa 1830-40, 24 inches wide, 18 inches high, 16 inches deep; a Chester County pine bench table in the original red/brown paint with scrubbed top, full drawer, 451/2- by 37-inch top, sold within estimate at $1,400; and a fraktur, hand decorated on printed form, attributed to Martin Brechal, whimsical decoration, 131/4 by 83/4 inches, sold for $1,100.
An apothecary cupboard with 12 drawers, dovetailed, painted mustard surface, nailed case, originally built-in, 32 inches wide, 16 inches tall, 11 inches deep, sold for $1,000 over the high estimate at $1,600, and a 17 by 271/2 charcoal drawing of an Amish farmhouse, Lancaster County, boy and dog in the yard, horse and buggy, grained ogee frame, mid-Nineteenth Century, brought $1,100, within estimate.
A bidder in house won out over a phone bidder for a needlework sampler by Martha Jane Bowker, 1824, Burlington County, N.J., blue silk vine with berry border, family tree, 23 by 271/2 inches, for $4,750. The low estimate was $8,000. Lot 180, the “White Dove” sampler by Mary Barnard, 1793, who lived on Great Street in Deerfield, 131/2 by 10 inches, sold for $10,500, just over the high estimate. Mary’s uncle owned Barnards’ Tavern that is still in operation today. A New York State appliqué and stuffed quilt, bird and urn design, 71 by 73 inches, sold to a left bid for $3,000, the high estimate.
A New Jersey single step-back Dutch pine cupboard in old finish, dovetailed case, original ball feet, nine-light door above two drawers above two doors, 81 inches tall, 41 inches wide, sold for $4,000, the high estimate, to a left bid; a carved and polychromed bird stand with three carved birds, Lancaster County, circa 1890, sold to a Connecticut collector for $4,500; and an Eighteenth Century winnowing basket, rosehead nails, probably New England, 20 inches in diameter, 31/2 inches high, brought $1,550 against a high estimate of $1,000.
A Polaha carving of an owl on a turtle’s back, 15 inches tall, porcelain button eyes, Berks County, sold for $3,200, while a fraktur, attributed to Frederich Kuster, hand drawn and decorated with birds and flowers, 73/4 by 11/2 inches sight, brought $1,450. A Mary redware and slip decorated plate, 111/2 inches in diameter, New Jersey or New York, sold for $1,600; a large mocha pitcher with two-color seaweed tulip decoration, nine inches high, brought $2,900; a set of four red spatterware plates with peafowl decoration, circa 1860, 71/2 inches in diameter, sold for $1,700; and a large wooden sign “Compassville Cash Store,” picture frame edge, 6 feet 2 inches by 18 inches, went over the high estimate of $700, selling for $1,100.
Two phones did battle over an oval three-fingered box with dry red painted surface, 113/4 inches long, 91/4 inches wide and 4 inches high, with the winner paying $5,000 against a high estimate of $3,000. A miniature mortar and pestle from Maine, yellow paint, 21/4 inches high, sold within estimate at $1,300; a Shaker Enfield shoemaker’s workstand, Nineteenth Century, old refinish, 41 inches long, went for $2,300; a Nineteenth Century carved and decorated wooden snake went over the high estimate selling for $900; and a watercolor, 7 by 11 inches, attributed to Jacob Maentel, frontal view of a woman, circa 1820-30, brought $5,750.
The sale grossed just over $500,000, without premium, and “it was slightly higher than the sight we had set prior to the sale,” George Allen said. He noted the “sale went well, surpassed our estimate, and Bill could not have done a better job.” Both owners added, “We are very happy.”
The Wednesday after the auction Bill Bunch observed, “The sale seemed to be very well received and all of us at the auction house are pleased with the outcome.” The sale was well advertised and it attracted a good audience through left bids, the phones and those in the gallery.
The gallery, by the way, is very comfortable, and on May 21 the firm will be celebrating its second anniversary at this location.
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