Published: November 10, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Hartzell’s Auction Gallery
BANGOR, PENN. – More than 550 lots of artwork and sterling silver, Americana and folk art, clocks and furniture, pottery and glass, rugs, Orientalia and more were up for bid at Hartzell’s Auction Gallery’s October 30 auction. Five hours after the sale’s start, it was an antique rug that ruled the day as Hartzell’s president and owner Raymond D. Hartzell gaveled a finely woven, turn-of-the-century (1890-1910) antique handmade Persian Kashan or Tabriz rug past its $5/10,000 estimate to land at $17,110 on its way to a private Washington, DC, collection. Measuring 9 feet 5 inches by 6 feet 5 inches, the rug was just one of the notable lots crossing the block in what was titled the firm’s “exceptional fall sale.”
Asked what was exceptional about it, John Hartzell, vice president of sales and operations, replied, “I’ve always tried to figure out how to come up with a title for a sale, because our sales are never about just one thing, they’re filled with a multitude of antiques. So, it is fall, and it was a very good sale for us – an exceptional fall auction. We had a good mix of everything from Asian arts to Outsider art – and all in between.”
Hartzell’s is celebrating 75 years as a family-owned business, having since 1943 conducted thousands of successful sales and priding itself on having a diversified knowledge of the auction and appraisal business. This sale totaled about $220,000 with registered bidders online and in-house coming in at 1,650. With absentee and phone lines, there were another 1,200 vying for lots.
One of the special features of this sale was a selection of so-called curio canes from a lifetime, single-owner collection from New Jersey. The category takes the utilitarian walking stick into the realm of decorative object, most novel, some bizarre. The gentleman’s collection comprised about 225 canes, according to John Hartzell, about 60 of which were sold in this auction, dispersed among 10-15 buyers, both dealers and collectors. More examples will be featured in the firm’s January auction.
A total of 21 bids pushed a carved bone “Pepperbox” curio cane to a final price of $9,840. Commemorating the 1889 Eiffel Tower in Paris, the cane was carved in high relief with a silver collar fashioned as a belt and buckle. It was inscribed “Marque de Fabrique, Brevete S.G.D.G.” and marked “P.T.” for P. Touchard, its inventor. The 35¼-inch-long cane was meant to be lethal as well as decorative, with a six-shot “pepperbox” revolver incorporated into the malacca shaft with an engraved four-sided barrel and stiletto. The cane was featured on the cover of The Gun Report, February 1999, described as “possibly the finest known specimen known of a pepperbox cane pistol.”
A narwhal nautical cane, circa 1860, took $4,900, the 37-1/3-inch-long example having been made from the animal’s tusk. Well done and patinated, it featured a wooden cap at the end with a silver collar separating handle and shaft.
Carved with a Turk’s Knot and with a round shield of abalone and dark bayleen inlay, an American sperm whale tooth cane, circa 1840s, had an eight-sided column on its upper shaft and measured 33 inches long. It was bid to $2,460, while a 35-inch-long antique gun cane in as-found condition with metal shaft and silver band, marked “Day’s Patent” featured a pull knob to set triggers and sold for $1,970.
There were other canes among the day’s top sellers, too, including another nautical carved whale bone example, also bringing $1,970; a carved bone globe compass cane, its bone knob carved as a globe with hinged top that lifts to reveal compass under a glass window, fetching $1,725; and a Nineteenth Century carved bone cane, circa 1890, with an expressive “rabbit” face top set with amber eyes that earned $1,480.
There was even a nifty lot giving the aspiring cane collector an attractive way to store and display 120 walking sticks in the form of a handmade walnut cane display case, with glass panels, hinged doors, brass hardware and casters on the bottom. Estimated $800-$1,200 and measuring 48 by 38 by 28½ inches, the case finished at $1,920.
A top fine art highlight in the sale was an autumnal scene by Jasper Francis Cropsey (American, 1823-1900), the important landscape artist of the Hudson River School. Changing hands at $6,450, its subject was overgrown ruins rendered in autumnal colors. The oil on canvas measured 10 by 13 inches, was signed on the bottom right “Cropsey 1881” and presented in a gilt frame. “The Cropsey was a bit of a surprise,” said John Hartzell. “I thought maybe it’ll bring $2/3,000, and instead it brought more than $6,000.”
An Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century market scene, unsigned, and presented in a gold gilt frame, 28 by 23 inches, came in at $4,000, attracting 41 bids, and a Sterling Strauser oil on board, a magnificent floral bouquet rendered with thick paint palette and wispy design, signed and dated ’69 lower left, 48 by 36 inches, left the gallery at $1,850.
Among decorative items offered in the sale, a rare Daum Nancy art glass winter scene vase at $5,845 stood 16 inches high, the large French cameo presenting hues of yellow, orange and white on a mottled background and signed Daum Nancy on the base.
Also, a carved Black Forest hall tree, 93 inches high, depicting a mama bear and her three cubs climbed to its high estimate, grabbing $4,900, and a five-piece Gorham sterling tea set, all hand chased – coffee pot, teapot, sugar, creamer and tray – total weight 103 troy ounces, made $2,480.
Each fetching $2,700 were a pair of signed early Twentieth Century watercolors signed by Japanese artist K. Seki, one of a peaceful creek scene and the other a river and water wheel mill, and an interesting and rare Charles Lindbergh lot comprising the storied aviator’s personalized sterling silver cigarette caddy with “CL” monogram on front and an enameled pilot picture – embossed “Spirit Of St Louis” plane on back. Accompanied with a hand painted photo, the lot was believed to be Lindbergh’s personal cigarette case, according to the auction house and it went to a New York collector.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The gallery conducts gallery sales every other Monday.
For information, 610-588-5831 or www.hartzellsauction.com.
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