Published: May 9, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Wiederseim Associates
PHOENIXVILLE, PENN. — More than two dozen sand bottles, made in or around McGregor, Iowa, in the late Nineteenth Century by Andrew Clemens (American, 1857-1894) have come to market in the past two decades, with collectors paying high prices for those with complex and/or patriotic imagery. Elements that keep values from skyrocketing include losses or disturbances to the rock sand imagery, so more than 70 online viewers were paying attention when, on April 26, Wiederseim Associates offered a comparatively small — just 4½ inches tall — sand bottle that featured, in the words of Ted Wiederseim, “all the decorative bells and whistles” but lacked a stopper.
“It was very well received and apparently, size does matter,” Wiederseim said, confirming the first Clemens sand bottle he’d ever handled sold to a buyer who he thought was a collector, bidding in the room, for $21,250. He speculated that the bottle, which had a flared lip, might have been an apothecary bottle and might never have had a top. The “decorative bells and whistles” he was talking about included patterned banding at the top and bottom, a wingspread eagle with a 36-star American flag, a masted ship in full sail and the words “Sand from the Pictured Rocks, McGregor, Ia.”
“The consignor is happy; it exceeded his expectations,” Wiederseim commented, noting the bottle and several others of the sale’s top lots had come from a Doylestown, Penn., collection that had been inherited by the seller from his father, who had “been in the antiques business going back to the 1950s and 60s.”
An early Nineteenth Century pine storage box, decorated in old blue paint and featuring an interior with two till boxes, was also from the Doylestown collection. Measuring just 7½ inches high and 14½ inches wide, the box, which Wiederseim said “had a beautiful old surface,” brought $3,125 from a buyer in Pennsylvania. A collection of nearly 120 early keys, the largest measured 7 inches long, was from the same seller and inspired heated bidding. The lot sold to a local buyer for $1,750, underbid by a trade buyer.
“The dolls were probably the best received of everything,” Wiederseim said, referencing a large collection of dolls from a private collection made up more than 60 lots in the sale and attracted interest from several buyers; Wiederseim said there were another 40 examples that would be offered in the firm’s upcoming June sale. More than half of the dolls had been made by Lynne and Michael Roche and were led at $6,250 by a two-doll lot that included a “Mirabelle with Shop” artist doll and her smaller companion, “Cecile,” along with a work box and chair. A limited edition Roche “Marigold Christmas Eve for the Toy Shoppe” sold with window seat, realized $2,500.
“The surprise of the sale came late in the day and was [the result on] a cinnabar box and lamp,” Wiedersiem said. Finishing at an even $20,000 and selling to a buyer in Europe, the box measured 3½ by 12½ by 7¾ inches and dated to the Kien-Lung period 1711-1799) and came out of an estate in Greenville, Del.
“It was also a good day for oyster plates,” Wiederseim said. A local storage locker was the source of 87 examples that were offered in 18 lots; the group earned a combined total of $8,638, with prices ranging from $188 to $1,250 for a set of ten plates by Richard Briggs.
Wiederseim said he was pleased with the results of the sale, in which approximately 95 percent of the 570 lots offered found new homes. He noted the firm’s next sale will take place in late June, the date of which is still pending.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For more information, www.wiederseim.com or 610-827-1910.
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