Published: October 23, 2007
Dubbed a “Furniture, Art & Accessories” sale by auction house principal and auctioneer Ron Pook, the September 28 and 29 event at Pook & Pook might have been better termed an Accessories, Paintings & Furniture auction. Led by an extremely rare whimsical stoneware sculpted stag, and followed by a plethora of other desirable Pennsylvania accessories and paintings, furniture routinely took a back seat to the smalls.
The auction included an impressive list of estates and consignors, including items from the descendants of pioneer collector Titus Geesey, the West Virginia collection of Thornton Perry, from numerous Philadelphia families, including the Morris, Griscom and Ketchum clans, as well as three educational institutions.
The sale got of to a quick start on Friday evening with a selection of Oriental carpets. Leading the grouping was a room-size Serapi, circa 1910, with a central medallion surrounded by an ivory field with blue and red corners. The lot, estimated at $6/9,000, sold after active bidding for $10,530.
Numerous bargains were to be had among the rugs, with a 4-by-6-foot Malayer throw rug selling well below estimates at $117, and a 3-by-5-foot Turkish prayer rug brought only $176.
A selection of bronzes and garden ornaments were offered next, with a Beatrice Fenton bronze fountain figure of a boy with a fish selling at more than double estimates, bringing $16,380.
It did not take long for some of the prime Pennsylvania accessories to cross the auction block and as the first was offered, auctioneer Ron Pook momentarily paused to reflect on what he believed was the “best Conestoga wagon box” that he had ever seen. The elaborately decorated box had wonderfully executed hinges with the ends curving upward and terminating in tulips. The central hammered iron medallion, to which the hinged clasp for the latch was attached, was decorated with three pierced hearts and tulip design on the outer edges.
Retaining the old blue paint and a lower wrought iron band, also decorated with pierced hearts, the box was cataloged as “probably the finest Conestoga wagon box extant.” Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling well above the $8/12,000 presale estimates at $28,080.
The top lot of the auction came as a highly unusual stoneware folk art figure of a stag decorated with spots of cobalt was offered. Appearing as the cover lot, the handsome hand molded form was in virtually mint condition with the recumbent stag resting on a shallow platform with his front legs stretched forward. His large eight-point antlers were still intact. Thought to have been made in western Pennsylvania, circa 1875, the figure had a nice overall tan surface and measured 14½ inches long from the tip of his paddle-form tail to the front of his outstretched hoof and 11½ inches tall to the top of his antlers.
With a carved open mouth and a full set of teeth, the figure was termed by auctioneer Ron Pook as “expressive.” Bidders on the lot also became expressive as they pushed the price to $111,150.
A Virginia redware covered sugar bowl with molded bird finial on the top and applied floral decoration on the base was another lot to attract attention. Glazed in typical Shenandoah Valley splotchy greens and browns over a tan body, the piece was stamped under the base and also on the bottom side of the cover by Anthony Baecher, Winchester, Va. From the Geesey collection, the rare bowl sold well above the $10/15,000 presale estimates, bringing $44,460.
A large Bucks County redware bowl with scalloped rim was decorated with yellow and green slip with tulips extending around the border and a group of daises in the center. Another lot to handily exceed estimates, the bowl hammered down at $32,760.
A rare stoneware hip flask with cobalt decorated front and sides tripled the high estimate, bringing $18,720, while a rare stoneware bottle in the form of a fish decorated with cobalt highlights sold at $5,616.
A couple pieces of delft proved to be sleepers, with a two-handled posset pot and cover decorated with the initials “A.S.” and dated 1653 also soaring past estimates. Also listing a Geesey provenance, the rare pot sold for $42,120. A late Seventeenth Century delft three-part fuddling cup also attracted attention, with it bringing $11,760. In stark contrast, a salt glaze Staffordshire pitcher with molded decoration brought only $936.
Other Pennsylvania smalls that brought large prices included a Chippendale spice box made of walnut with elaborate inlay decoration. The chest, measuring 22 inches high and 16½ inches wide, was circa 1765 and sat on a bracket base with single door under a moldered cornice top. With a vine and berry inlay and eight-point star in the center medallion, the rare spice chest sold for $64,350.
A Peter Derr copper and iron Betty lamp, stamped “P.D. 1835” did well, selling at $4,680, while a brass example by the same maker hammered down at $5,148. A Pennsylvania watercolor fraktur on paper depicting potted flowers and birds doubled estimates as it sold at $3,510, and a David Ellinger theorem depicting a cat in a basket brought $1,952.
A good selection of clocks was highlighted by the Griscom family Philadelphia Queen Anne curly maple tall case clock, circa 1740. The flattop example, with an eight-day works and engraved brass face, sat on a bracket base. The clock had descended within the family and it sold above the $40/60,000 estimates at $81,900.
A Boston Federal mahogany tall case clock signed “Aaron Willard” with arched bonnet top and pierced fretwork topped with brass finials sold at $23,400. A Massachusetts Federal mahogany dwarf clock with an arched bonnet, signed “John Bailey Jr, Hanover,” handily exceeded the $15/20,000 estimates, bringing $44,460.
An E. Howard No. 60 wall regulator sold at $37,440, while an Ithaca No. 0 calendar clock sold at $6,435.
Several Pennsylvania dower chests were among the offerings, with a Lancaster County example decorated by the “compass artist” exceeding estimates. The bun foot blanket box was decorated with an overall blue paint with tombstone painted panels filled with red and white flowers. Estimated at $15/25,000, the chest was bid to $39,750.
A Lehigh County dower chest with two lower drawers was decorated with two large stylized hearts with colorful pinwheels inside, against an overall brown grain decorated painted surface. Offered late in the auction and conservatively estimated at $6/8,000, the lot left the auction block after competitive bidding at $25,740. A brightly painted dower chest in an orange paint with triple panels across the front decorated with unicorns and lions also did well, selling at $22,230.
Other furniture in the sale included a rare Queen Anne pine and oak tavern table with Windsor- style turned legs and stretchers. Thought to have been made in the Delaware area, the table retained the original blue-gray paint on the base and had a scrubbed top. Tripling estimates, the table sold after spirited bidding for $32,760.
A wonderfully paint decorated grained Bucks County tall chest, although rather squat in form and with only four deep drawers, had a black swirled decoration with “cat’s eyes” on top of salmon paint. Thought to have been from the Deep River School, the chest sold for $28,080.
A Connecticut Queen Anne secretary desk in maple with a broken arch pediment bonnet top had unusually configured raised panel doors. The circa 1770 piece shot past the $6/9,000 estimates, bringing $22,230.
Other items to attract attention included a large fully carved spread-winged eagle that measured nearly 4 feet from wingtip to wingtip, and more than 3 feet tall. The carving, in its original ebonized surface, depicted the bird grasping a circular plinth with its well carved talons. Selling between estimates, the lot brought $44,460.
Among the textiles offered, a Baltimore album quilt sold for $15,210, while a silk on linen sampler from Massachusetts dated 1811 realized $14,040.
Prices include the buyer’s premium. For information, 610-269-4040 or www.pookandpook.com.
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