Published: October 20, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy of Pook & Pook
DOWNINGTOWN, PENN. – Pook & Pook Auctions’ two-day sale on October 9 and 10 offered items coming across the auction block from countrywide collections – from Ohio to Michigan, and from New England to Florida. Alexander Milne Calder’s (American, 1846-1923) “William Penn” is the well-known statue of Penn that sits atop Philadelphia City Hall. Cast in 14 sections, it was completed in 1894 and stands at 37 feet tall. In the October 10 session, a 28-inch, much-scaled down bronze version nevertheless scaled up its $4/6,000 estimate to ring in a final price of $118,750. Deirdre Pook Magarelli, the firm’s vice president, said the buyer, an institution bidding online via Bidsquare, was new to Pook & Pook.
In the firm’s October 9 session, a bidder said “I do” for an Ohio painted poplar dower chest, dated 1840, that similarly outperformed its $4/8,000 estimate to finish at $27,500 to a private collector. Inscribed Elisabeth Luke, the decoration attributed to the Long family of Hardin County, the case featured potted tulips on a red ground with blue panels, 25 by 44 inches. It came from the collection of Edson J. Brown and Ross M. Trump, Medina, Ohio.
These were just two of the top lots in the two-day extravaganza that the firm conducts periodically through the year. “It was a very, very strong sale,” said Ron Pook afterwards. Indeed, the auction totaled $2,234,475 and went 98 percent sold – 855 out of 874 lots offered. Bidders comprised 337 people who registered absentee, live and phone; 1,058 people registered on Bidsquare; and 1,717 people registered on Invaluable.
Session One on October 9 finished up with more than two dozen pieces of fine art and sculptures, including a landscape titled “Winter Interior Woodstock New York” by Emile A. Gruppe. It had a $6/9,000 estimate but finished at $23,180. From a Pennsylvania collection, it was signed lower right, inscribed verso with title and dated 1926 and measured 32 by 40 inches. An auction perennial favorite, Ben Austrian, was also offered in this session, a large painting depicting a mother hen and 11 baby chicks earning $6,250. Another notable fine art highlight was an oil on canvas by Francis Speight (American, 1896-1989) titled “Church Street,” signed lower right, 24 by 28 inches and bearing an exhibition label verso for the North Carolina Museum of Arts 1961. It realized $13,420.
Also among the notable lots crossing the block as the sale kicked off were items from the collection of Edson J. Brown and Ross M. Trump from Ohio. This folky collection included many pieces of furniture, chalkware items, a number of wallpaper boxes and, chiefly, an American carved and painted cigar store Indian chief, circa 1860, attributed to John Cromwell (1805-1873), New York, with raised tomahawk in hand, the other with a dagger clenched against his body. Retaining an old dry surface and, with base, standing 86 inches high, the figure was bid to $17,500 on an $8/12,000 estimate.
The collection contributed a vibrant Soap Hollow, Somerset County, Penn., painted cherry and poplar one-drawer stand, dated 1872. Bid to $7,930, it was initialed P.L. and retaining an untouched red surface with stenciled decoration. At 30 inches high and 22½ inches wide, it is the only signed piece known by this maker. Several of the stencils match a chest of drawers manufactured by John Livingston and illustrated in Charles Muller’s Soap Hollow The Furniture and Its Makers.
Fetching $15,860, also from the Brown/Trump collection, was a Pennsylvania turned and painted treenware canister from the Nineteenth Century. It retained its original sponge decoration with yellow and green fish design and measured 6¾ inches high with a 7-inch diameter. “The folky decoration on the piece makes it among the best pieces of American treenware known,” read the catalog description.
The Brown/Trump collection opening the sale was full of one-of-a-kind items like a bird Ferris wheel with four painted birds riding along and a fifth perched on top. Estimated $3/5,000, the song birds from the late Nineteenth Century, each bird finely carved with its original polychrome decoration, flew to $14,640.
The collection closed out with an assortment of spatterware, led by a yellow and blue rainbow spatter platter, with tulip decoration, 12¼ inches long by 16 inches wide, which went out at $12,200, more than three times its high estimate. That lot was immediately followed by a five-color rainbow spatter teapot, 6¼ inches high, that made $6,710 against a $1/1,500 estimate.
Two decorative arts highlights of note in the first session were a New Hampshire painted pine hanging wall box, dated 1830, going out at $12,200, and a Pennsylvania walnut watch hutch, circa 1800, that made $9,760. Both were from the Brown/Trump collection. The wall box retained its original floral and bird decoration on a yellow sponged ground, with black and yellow striping, the back dated and initialed BW, and was 21 by 14 inches. An example by the same hand is in the collection of Cogswell Grant. The watch hutch featured broken arch crest and line and circle inlays, retaining an old warm surface and standing 8¼ inches high.
The opening night of the auction also included the continuation of the sale of a selection of mocha coming from a Pennsylvania collection so big it couldn’t all fit in a single sale. Pook & Pook’s previous Americana auction featured examples of mocha, and the items that crossed the block on the sale’s opening evening were from the same collection. The prized piece among them was a large mocha presentation cup, with dotted and swag bands and cartouche, inscribed W. Rogers Boiler Maker Moorfields Bristol. With height of 7-3/8 inches, it fetched $7,320.
Session Two on October 10 began with the collection of Ann G. Sickles and featured samplers, led by a Harrisburg, Penn., silk-on-gauze example dated 1819, wrought by Elizabeth Over at the Mrs Leah Meguier School. Illustrating a central panel and a tomb, inscribed Charlotte Weeping, with bowed figure, tree, urn and bushes, with a trailing vine border, all with a border with 18 panels, with children playing, bees, an ark, a dove, a songbird, strawberries and birds, the 15½-by-16½-inch sampler left the gallery at $20,740.
Among the collections crossing the block on the second day was the collection of Mr and Mrs George P. Bissell Jr. The pair spent their lives amassing a collection full of heart, warmth and character, as well as more than a few important pieces. One of these was a Philadelphia Chippendale mahogany dining chair, circa 1770, with a cabochon and tassel carved crest, above a pierced splat and slip seat, resting in a seat frame with carved central floret, supported by cabriole legs terminating in ball and claw feet. The carving was attributed to an unidentified maker dubbed the “spikey leaf carver,” and the chair was propelled by strong bidding to a final price of $103,700 against a $15/25,000 estimate. “People say brown furniture is not doing well. We were very happy with that,” said Ron Pook, adding that it sold privately. Also from the Bissell collection, a pair of Philadelphia Queen Anne transitional mahogany dining chairs, circa 1765, similarly blew away their $4/7,000 estimate to finish at $52,500. Each featured a cabochon carved crest rail, shell carved seat rail, knees and cabriole legs, terminating in pad feet.
Two Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890) carved birds were offered from the Bissells, and it was the second example, an unusual painted eagle on a nest-a rare form for Schimmel with very few known similar examples known-that brought the top price, selling for $34,160.
From the Bissells’ silver collection, a New York silver tankard, circa 1740, bearing the touch of Adrien Bancker also sold for $34,160, a more than twofold premium above its $15,000 high expectation. The 7-inch-high tankard’s flat lid had a spiraling thumbpiece and engraved front rim, the handle was initialed VP (conjoined)/IH, stamped with makers mark on body and either side of handle.
Fifteen tall case clocks were up for auction, one of which was a Philadelphia William and Mary walnut tall case clock by Peter Stretch, Philadelphia (1670-1746) and from a Rhode Island collection. Selling for $26,840 to a museum, the 98½-inch-high clock featured a sarcophagus bonnet enclosing a 30-hour works. With brass face, the engraving on the dial and the single hand movement dated this clock as one of Stretch’s earliest, probably 1703-1720.
There were many more items, including an American whirligig of a soldier that took $20,000, at 26 inches high, commanding attention and bearing long, sweeping paddles and an intimidatingly stern expression behind his bushy, black mustache. “It had great provenance,” said Ron Pook, “from a New Jersey estate and once part of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller collection.” Another cigar store Indian was offered, this one a countertop Indian maiden attributed to Samuel Robb, circa 1900, which garnered $17,080, as well as more artwork, including a China Trade mid-Nineteenth Century oil on canvas of the Hongs at Canton at $29,200 and an Ogden Minton Pleissner (American, 1905-1983), watercolor landscape, with a fishing expedition traveling upriver, that went out at $18,750.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.pookandpook.com or 610-269-4040.
May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm