Published: August 14, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy Devin Moisan Auctioneers, Inc.
DOVER, N.H. – On July 24, Devin Moisan sold nearly 500 lots that included a broad selection of Americana, much of it in old paint, two collections of New England redware, a variety of trade signs, several pieces of American art pottery that did quite well, some paintings, silver, hooked rugs, Mission furniture, early lighting and more. Moisan does not use internet bidding, so there was a large crowd on hand as the sale started. Prices were generally strong, with some surprises – both on the high side and the low side.
The sale included a consignment from Carmine Locastro, a collector and dealer from Concord N.H. Included was a collection of redware. Justin Thomas, who collects redware and regularly writes about it and other ceramics on his website – www.earlyamericanceramics.com – said that prices varied, with most being reasonable. Thomas bought two good pieces, including an early Nineteenth Century mug with a glaze that he describes as “brilliant.” It came up late in the sale and Thomas paid less than $60 for it. He also bought an Essex County, Mass., jug. “This is one of the best glazed late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century jugs that I have seen from Essex County,” he said. “I’ve never seen such a vibrant use of green glaze from this area before. It sold for $850, which I also thought was a fair price. There was another Essex County jug, early Nineteenth Century, which was the highest priced piece of redware at $1,840.” Many of the other pieces in the collection were sold in lots with multiple pieces.
Moisan’s sales often include American art pottery, and this sale had several pieces of Rookwood along with Hampshire pottery. Prices, especially for the Hampshire, were strong, causing one dealer to comment, “I’m either going to raise my prices when I get home or consign it all to Devin’s next sale.” A Hampshire matte green table lamp with a Handel shade realized $1,035, a tall vase with a matte blue and charcoal glaze brought $633, and a matte green vase with molded tulip decoration earned the same price. Both went to the same phone bidder. A 9½-inch Rookwood vase with vellum glaze depicting a summer lake scene by Frederick Rothenbusch reached $1,115, and another vase, 9¼ inches tall, with a vellum glaze and a winter scene by Lenore Asbury earned $1,006.
From the same general time period, there were some Mission oak pieces, topped by an L.&J.G. Stickley settle, style #281, which brought $1,380. The upholstered cushion was in fine condition. A tall Stickley magazine stand, style #46, sold for $1,035. Moving on a few years, an Edwin and Mary Scheier blue glazed and sgraffito decorated studio pottery table lamp, “Last Supper,” reached $805.
It’s been a good month for collectors of trade signs. A recent auction at The Cobbs had several, and this sale had about 20. One was an exceptional black painted and gilt sign from Portsmouth, N.H., which advertised three businesses, a lead company, a fire insurance agency and a Fairbanks scale agency. It was in fine condition but displaying it properly in a shop or home would be difficult – it was more than 10 feet long. Still, it brought one of the highest prices for the signs, $863. A somewhat worn, painted cast metal sign for an oculist, in the form of a pair of eyeglasses, brought $575, and a well-done oval black and white double-sided sign for a bakery went out for $863.
A group of early lighting included some unusual tin and glass lanterns. A punched tin and blown-molded whale oil lantern with four bull’s-eye panels seemed reasonable, finishing at $403. Another example of a punched tin and beveled glass lantern, in the form of a pyramid, earned $259. A selection of tin wall sconces rounded out the group.
Paintings provided the sale’s highest prices, while others seemed to be bargains. An unsigned Nineteenth Century British School view of a three-masted American merchant ship, John G. Coster, flying an American flag ended up at $6,900. It sold to a dealer in the room. The ship probably belonged to New York City merchants Henry and John G. Coster doing business as Coster and Brother. The internet indicates that a logbook for an 1845-46 voyage the ship made from New York to Hong Kong is known.
Also doing well, selling for $7,475, was an unidentified Nineteenth Century German School painting depicting a farmer walking with his cattle and sheep. At the other end of the spectrum were some early American portraits. An unusual double portrait of a husband and wife, 45 inches wide, brought just $547, and a pair of portraits cataloged as Horace Bundy (1814-1883) depicting Mr and Mrs Abel Brown, dated Springfield, November 1845, realized $575.
Folk art included a well-weathered whale and some hooked rugs, one of which depicted a very folky bull, or perhaps a cow, with a pair of horns standing straight up from its head and a very long, curved tail. It would look great in a country farmhouse. But there may not have been a farmer in the audience as it sold for only $173. Another rug with an unusual motif sold for $345. It was brightly colored with a yellow background and a blue border surrounding two flower pots each with a single red flower, and between the flower pots was a large, brownish heart.
The three-dimensional whale, in old worn white paint, may have been a trade sign as it had old hooks for hanging and it sold for $1,115. Perhaps fitting the folk art category was a Nineteenth Century painted and stenciled salesman’s sample sleigh with old plush upholstery. It went for $863.
After the sale, Moisan said it went well. “We usually do well with art pottery, and the Hampshire was strong this time. Hooked rugs and the American portraits were soft but other paintings did well. The German painting of the farmer was a surprise – but that’s what makes an auction. I don’t know who the artist was and neither did the buyer. The redware had some good pieces and it just worked out that we had two collections for the same sale. All in all, it was a good one. Our next sale will probably be in October and I’m planning on doing about six to eight sales a year.”
All prices include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.moisan-inc.com or 603-953-0022.
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