Published: June 25, 2002
By R. Scudder Smith
CHARLOTTE, VT. — “I was flabbergasted by the great number of inquiries and comments I have received ever since the word went out that I would be handling the sale of the late Bert Savage,” Jim Dickerson, auctioneer, said. He added, “It was evident that Bert was a highly respected and loved person in the business.”
The auction of the inventory of Larch Lodge, Center Strafford, N.H., was sold on Thursday, June 13, at “The Old Lantern” facility. Terms included no reserves and the gallery does not charge a buyer’s premium. “It was the way Bert wanted it,” Nancy Savage said, “and he had it all arranged. He wanted Jim Dickerson to sell it and there were to be no reserves.”
Jeffery Cherry of Cherry Gallery, Pine Plains, N.Y., appraised the collection for the estate and was present for the sale. He noted that the 190 lots “reflected the high standards Bert set for the material he handled.” After the auction he commented that “the pieces did very well and supported the growing interest in rustic and Adirondack furniture and accessories.”
The auction started promptly at 10 am, and, according to Dickerson, “it should be over by 1:30.” He was true to his word. The fist lot was a Keech paddle, one of several sold, depicting “Camping/100 Islands.” It measured 20 inches long and depicted an island, guide boat with two people, a second island with a tent and a woman in red. It was attributed to Alpheus E. Keech, Fishers Landing, N.Y., and sold for $600. Two other Keech paddles followed, selling to a phone bidder for $750.
Before another lot could be offered, a man in gallery suggested that the mike was too loud and that Jim could do just as well without the aid of electronics. The auctioneer asked for a show of hands, and the “no mike” bidder won. Off went the mike and on with the sale.
Among the paintings offered was an oil on canvas of trout, creel, book of flies, rod and reel by a river, signed J. Barnes, 11 by 14 inches sight and in the original frame. It went to a Connecticut collector for $3,300. A mounted hooked rug from Maine, depicting a retriever type dog, circa 1935, 30 by 58 inches, sold for $1,100. This piece was said to have been found in a storage trunk in Greenville, Maine.
A signed Old Hickory, Martinsville desk with drawer and letter holders, excellent original condition, solid oak top, pictured in both the 1928 and 1931 company catalogs, 36 inches wide, sold for $3,300. The signed Old Hickory, Martinsville chair that came with the desk was sold separately, but went to the same buyer for $550.
A pair of goose head andirons, cast-iron, circa 1925, back of geese signed “R.F.H. Clancey/Needham, Mass.,” sold for $725, while a large twig mosaic frame, 18 by 20 inches, found at Sebago Lake, Maine, circa 1920, brought $800.
A mosaic armchair, attributed to Raymond T. Finnan of Troy, N.Y., circa 1910, sold for $4,000; two signed Old Hickory Chair Co. octagonal top tables, 30 inches high, circa 1915, brought $2,100 to a phone bidder; and a canoe model, all wood, attributed to the Rice Lake or Ontario Canoe Companies, circa 1890, four feet long, red painted interior, brought $6,000 from Jeffery Cherry.
Adirondack and canoe dealer Jon Magoun of South Paris, Maine, was the buyer of a four-drawer chest with twig mosaic work on the front and sides. It is inscribed on the back “A. Lemay/St. Aleais (?) 1921,” measures 40 inches high, 45 inches wide and 24 inches deep, and sold for $2,100. “I sold this chest to Bert some time ago and am happy to have it back,” Jon said after the sale. A three-drawer chest of the same attribution, 37 inches high, 38 inches wide, and 19 inches deep, sold to Loy Harrell of Hawks Nest Antiques and Decoys of Hinesburg, Vt.
Cherry got back into the bidding, taking the next three lots. The first was a yellow birch and pine sideboard with yellow birch top, probably from the Old Forge area of the Adirondacks, perhaps Fourth Lake, circa 1910. There are two doors, two drawers and mirror in the top section, three over two drawers over two doors in the lower section. The height was 86 inches and the piece sold for $13,500. With the same provenance was a chest of drawers, stained pine and yellow birch, mirror top with two candle or lamp holders, three drawers, that brought $7,000, while a stained pine and yellow birch commode or chest with towel bar, three drawers and door, went for $6,000. Jeff mentioned that Bert had just gotten these pieces, they had never been offered before, and were to have their first viewing at the Adirondack Show at Blue Mountain Lake.
A pair of paintings by Louis C. Ewer, signed and dated oil on canvas, showing fish and game, possibly from Bangor, Maine, brought $4,250, while a canoe paddle, attributed to A. Keech, showing two flags, sold for $350.
A twig desk attributed to Charles Albert Sumner, bought from the former owner of Birch Point Camps, circa 1925, natural shades of color with five exterior and two interior drawers plus pigeon holes, sold to a New York collector for $12,000. Sumner was born in Leeds, Maine, in 1856 and died in Lewiston, Maine, 1939. The interior drawers had “J.L. Howard/Rumford Me” stenciled on them. This piece is one of six known Sumner desks.
Eighteen lots later another twig desk with the same attribution, darker finish, circa 1924, came up and sold to the same bidder for $16,000. When asked why he had purchased both desks, he replied, “I bought the first one just in case I was not able to get the second one, which I like better.” One of these desks has an auction record of selling for $25,000 in a heated battle. The armchair that came with the desk went the same direction for $2,400.
Another Keech paddle, inscribed “A Shore Dinner/1000 Lakes,” sold for $850, while a hooked rug, abstract floral pattern, 67 by 30 inches, mounted, circa 1930, brought $1,700.
Fred Balling of The Fishing Room, Cornwall Bridge, Conn., bought a pastel on paper of a salmon, circa 1890, probably original frame, 17 by 34 sight, for $1,200, and an interesting cupboard decorated with leather leaves and fruit, circa 1860, found in Dover, N.H., sold for $5,500. It measured 72 inches high and could be used either as a wall cupboard or a corner cupboard.
“I have been trying to buy this set of furniture for years from Bert,” dealer Jim Glazer said, “but the price had always been too high.” He ended up paying $6,000 for a three-piece set with leather upholstery, sofa dated 1934, in the original finish. It is said to be by Charles “Chuck” Wood from Hermitage, Penn., who moved into a new home in 1928 and needed to furnish it.
A pair of Southern rockers with root or burl detail, mosaic seats, circa 1930, probably from Virginia, went for $4,000, and a three-piece set signed by the Rustic Hickory Co., La Porte, Ind., circa 1925, including a side chair, settee, and rocker, from the Raquette Lake Girls Camp, Raquette Lake, N.Y., sold for $4,400 to Julia Wasserman, State Representative from Connecticut. “I am very pleased to acquire these pieces as I spent a good number of years, both as a camper and later as a counselor, at the camp,” Julia said.
A sign that came from a house in the center of Ogunquit, just off Main Street, read “Rest Knoll Cottage” and sold for $1,100, while a tall root chair, circa 1890, solid seats with cutouts, Lower Hudson River Valley, brought $3,500.
“Day’s Catch,” an American oil on canvas, circa 1890, trout, pike or pickerel and white perch with creel, 14 by 24 sight, went for $2,350; a lot of 20 birch bark frames of various sizes, 2,800; and a root and burl planter from upstate New York, circa 1910, sold for $850. At the time a larch and ash splint magazine or log holder was sold, one bidder was in the room while another was outside either having a smoke or taking in some fresh air. Jim Dickerson called the bids “inside” and “outside,” with “inside” coming out on top for $575 after Jim called “outside” out.
A Vermont rustic table from Camp Allenwood, Lake Champlain, South Burlington, Vt., circa 1930, peeled pole free form design base, sold for $700, and a pyro small mouth bass on board, circa 1920, 11 by 22 inches, was bought back by Fred Balling for $50. An assembled set of eight hickory side chairs, open weave backs and seats, sold for $475 each, and if those were not pleasing them another set of eight side chairs, Indiana hickory, attributed to the Rustic Hickory Co., La Porte, Ind., circa 1920, went out at $225 each.
A pair of blue painted Indian clubs went for only $60; a carved and painted wood deer with real antlers, circa 1940, sold for $1,550; and a moose carving signed Denis Dube, made in Canada, circa 1970, brought $850. Few people left before the sale was over when the last lot, a small metal figure of a deer, left the block for $32.50.
After the sale Dickerson said, “I am very happy with the results and things went just about as we figured they would. The lots did what they should have and they were bought, for the most part, by people who really love this kind of thing.” He noted that presale interest came from all over the country with calls from Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Montana, Connecticut, New York and South Burlington.
Jim runs four to six auctions a year and when last heard from he was on his way to Florida to check out a consignment. “We have people who drive extra hours to come to our sales because they hate the buyer’s premium,” he said, adding “we have no intention of ever using it.” Over the years he does not recall any major grouping of objects he has lost because of not having the premium and sales have included a Goddard-Townsend lowboy that was found in a retirement home in Shelburne, and a pair of Old Master paintings, Italian landscapes, that were stored in a shed for 40 years.
“Bert never told me I was to have his sale if something happened,” Jim said, and it was late November when Nancy Savage called with the information. “It all ran smoothly and I am very pleased not only with the end results, but with the way Jim handled the sale,” Nancy said. Based on the value of the inventory, “prices were just fine.”
Will Nancy Savage continue in the business and keep Larch Lodge a major player in the rustic field? “I am not sure what the future holds for me at this point,” she said, indicating that she is leaving her options open. “There is a possibility that I might do something in the field of sporting and dog art, but right now I need a vacation to sort things out,” she said.
Bert Savage was at the head of his class in his area of expertise, and a man of high standards. It is without question that the successful buyers at his sale will boast a Bert Savage provenance for years to come.
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