Published: July 6, 2021
By Madelia Hickman Ring
DOWNINGTOWN, PENN. — “She had been on the scene for decades. Everyone knew her, even if she hadn’t been very active more recently,” James Pook told Antiques and The Arts Weekly after a busy weekend following Pook & Pook’s June 24-25 sale of the estate of Joyce Bowes Collis. The Lancaster, Penn., dealer’s collection, which boiled down to 774 lots of American painted furniture, ceramics, portraits, glass and needleworks, also featured early English and European furniture, paintings and Chinese export, to name just a few categories.
With only three lots passing from the podium, the sale was more than 99 percent sold and totaled $1,212,780, easily topping the $815,000 high estimate for the collection.
“There was a lot of interest and categories were strong across the board,” Pook said. “The furniture held up very well and did just fine, which is good to see. We had a good number of phone bidders with exceptional online activity, particularly on Bidsquare.”
The lot with one of the highest estimates of either day ended up bringing the highest result of any session. A sgraffito decorated redware charger, dated 1790 and attributed to George Hubener, sold to “a major redware collector in Pennsylvania” for $36,900. The piece, which had provenance to James and Nancy Glazer, was decorated with a large heart issuing tulips under an allover yellow and green glaze. Pook thought that it could have made six figures, but a “pretty significant repair” kept the price low.
Bringing the second highest price of $34,440 fairly early on the second day of sales was a Lancaster County, Penn., walnut architectural schrank that had provenance to the late Pennsylvania folk art dealer Chris Machmer. Pook had sold a related example in 2013 and said, “these days, that’s a very good price.” A trade buyer had the winning bid.
Embroideries in the sale were largely English or European and several examples claimed high places on the leaderboard. Leading these was a Charles II silk and metallic thread embroidery depicting royal figures in a landscape with allegorical female figures, plants and animals rounding out the composition. It measured 22 by 26 inches in the frame and had been estimated at $6/9,000 but saw considerable competition and finished at $29,520.
“There’s been quite a few of these that have come up in the last few years and we’ve seen an uptick in prices,” Pook said. “It takes quite a bit to get one close to $30,000 and that was a very special piece. We’ve never had one quite that large before.” He confirmed that it sold to an international buyer, “but not one from England.”
Of similar vintage, a Charles II stumpwork casket, dated 1653, had an interior with vibrantly colored drawers and achieved $15,990, more than five times its high estimate.
An Eighteenth Century English or Irish silk on linen sampler described as “elaborate” had been made by Jane Frame and depicted a Georgian manor house with animals on the lawn flanked by birds, figures and flowers. A trade buyer took it to $27,060.
Bowes Collis had been particularly known for her eye for mochaware so it was appropriate that the first day of sale begin with a sizeable selection of pieces. A mochaware pitcher that was cataloged as “exceptional” kicked off the sale and set a high bar early on, achieving $13,530 against an estimate of $4/7,000.
“I’m very pleased with how it did,” Pook said. “There has been a lot of mocha on the market in the last few years and to get a piece that brings five figures takes a lot. Overall, I thought the mocha did very well.”
American furniture was in plentiful supply with several notable results. Topping the category and selling for $18,450 was a painted hard pine corner cupboard attributed to Sussex County, Del. Made by Ralph Brothers circa 1800, the piece had a later blue surface and attracted considerable interest. A private collector from the south beat out a buyer in the room.
Two Berks County, Penn., painted dower chests sold within estimates. One that retained its original blue surface with ivory panels, potted tulips and heart corners, sold to a buyer in Maryland for $15,990. The other, this with its original red surface, closed at $13,530.
Two pieces of painted furniture each exceeded expectations and finished at $11,070. The first was a Nineteenth Century painted poplar jelly cupboard from Pennsylvania that retained its original yellow and red sgraffito decoration and had been signed on the back “John H. Hantz.” The other was a painted pine apothecary cabinet from New England, also Nineteenth Century, that had its original decoration, labeled drawers and floral swags on a green ground.
Brightly colored spatterware in every form imaginable kicked off the second day of sales and was led by a red and green rainbow covered serving dish that nearly doubled its high estimate and closed at $4,428.
Bowes Collis may have liked paintings of birds. Fine art was led – on the first day – by a painting of exotic birds by Jeanne Davies that flew past its $400/600 estimate and finished at $6,150. On the second day, an Eighteenth Century English school portrait of a girl holding a bird brought $15,990 from a Pennsylvania collector, nearly eight times its high estimate.
Pook & Pook’s next Americana and International sale is scheduled for October 1-2.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For additional information, www.pookandpook.com or 610-269-4040.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm