Published: March 9, 2016
Review And On-Site Photos by Andrea Valluzzo,
Catalog Photos Courtesy Hess Auction Service
MANHEIM, PENN. — Lifetime collections such as Corinne H. Machmer’s decades-long accruing of rare and notable examples of spatter, blown glass, Gaudy Dutch and redware do not come to the auction block as much as they used to. So, when longtime collector and dealer Machmer, 83, decided to downsize and part with her collection, people took notice.
Interest had been building since last fall when Conestoga Auction Company, a division of Hess Auction Service, announced the impending sale during its Harry Hartman sale. The two-day sale kicked off Friday, February 26, with a discovery session, which drew a good-sized crowd and “Connie” herself, who mingled with buyers and reminisced with friends, staying to watch part of the sale. The cataloged part of the sale was Saturday and featured the top-drawer items.
“I’m passing my friends along to other people,” Connie said of her collection when interviewed during Friday’s session, noting she held no items back and had “no regrets.” She started as a collector in the 1950s and many of the items crossing the block in the sale had not been on the market in many years. She was also a well-known dealer with a local shop and had exhibited at many Pennsylvania shows.
“We had a phenomenal auction. It was a really fun sale to sell,” said company president John Hess, a few days after the auction wrapped up. “It seemed like there was a lot of enthusiasm for what we had to offer, both in the audience and online. Overall, it was one of the strongest sales that I’ve witnessed in a while,” he said, noting the sale performed above estimate.
The auction house secured the collection based on its longstanding relationship with Connie, who bought here as a collector over the years. “When it was time for her to sell the collection, she came back here and we were honored to have it,” said vice president Phil Nissley.
Machmer had dozens of books on virtually every genre of antique collecting that interested her and they were first up across the block, sold at reasonable prices in group lots, about a handful of books per lot. A smattering of china pieces were mixed in the session to keep things lively.
Bringing the biggest price of the auction, however, was a diminutive trinket chest, a Weber example in pine with fine paint decoration, hailing from Fivepointville, Lancaster County, Penn., that sold midway through Saturday’s session. The circa 1820–40 box with a mustard yellow ground surface depicted stylized tulips and pine trees and had a beaded carved lid. Measuring 2 1⁄8 by 3 7⁄8 by 2 1⁄4 inches, it achieved $22,420. The bidding action was in the gallery and on the phones and the box went to a successful phone bidder.
Early on Saturday, the first of several choice examples of amethyst glass crossed the block — a vertical rib blown glass cruet with applied loop handle having a foliate terminal and its original stopper. Standing 7 1⁄4 inches tall, it fetched $8,260 and was followed by a deep amethyst blown flint glass whale oil lamp, New England, circa 1840–60, having a double-wick burner and labeled William J. Elsholz Collection, 9 1⁄2 inches tall. It made $2,655. Another standout was a small, blown amethyst glass footed bowl having a 5 7⁄8-inch-diameter, a broken pontil and a comet tail that went for $5,900.
The crowd Saturday was almost at capacity and collectors seemed to edge out dealers in acquiring items, Hess said. “The dealers got a few pieces but generally they were outbid by collectors.”
Other fine colored glass examples found favor with buyers, including an unusual dark purple salt in the form of a boat, signed “Pittsburgh” on the stern, Stourbridge Flint Glass Works, circa 1828–35, at $7,136 and a unique blue pressed glass rectangular salt, signed “Providence” on the base for the Rhode Island glassmaker, circa 1831–33, $4,720.
Spatter was a favorite of Connie’s and was well represented in the sale. A rare green china dome top pepper pot with a blue, yellow and black peafowl on a branch, 4 1⁄2 inches tall, made $3,422, followed shortly across the block by a scarce red spatter peafowl ironstone china loving cup, 5 1⁄2 inches tall, that attained $6,136. The piece had decoration on both outside walls of the cup featuring a blue, green and red peafowl on a branch, while two salamanders and a frog were painted on the inside of the cup.
Nearly a dozen charming Nineteenth Century watercolor and fraktur pieces were represented in the sale, led by a watercolor drawing of a stylized tulip and flowering plant with folky but striking colors and an almost-geometric design, which realized $4,366. A watercolor and cutwork fraktur attributed to Wilhelm Antonius Faber, circa 1800, featuring an orange, yellow and green bird on floral branches, brought $3,186.
A highlight among redware was a pair of Stahl pottery vases with incised and raised flora decoration, open scrolled handles and signed on the bottom “Made by I.&S. Stahl 1-22 1940,” 5 inches tall, at $1,888.
Other standouts included a rare John Leinbach, Reamstown, Lancaster County, Penn., Chippendale tall case clock in cherry, circa 1792–98, having some condition issues, selling for $8,850; and a fine and early Nineteenth Century Moravian quilled paper box in oval form with an interior painted scene of a cottage set in a grassy landscape, $2,596.
Concluding the sale was a grouping of nearly 60 lots of Native American artifacts and arts, including turquoise jewelry, Eskimo carvings, San Ildefonso jars, Pubelo pottery bowls and coiled baskets. Leading this category was a vintage Hopi cotton wood root carving of a kachina with polychrome painted surface, 11 1⁄2 inches tall. It earned $5,310 from an Internet bidder. The underbidder in the gallery told John Hess after the sale the piece was “a righteous example.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
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