Published: July 7, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog photos Courtesy Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
MOUNT CRAWFORD, VA. – The Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates June 26-27 Premier Americana Auction was a highly successful event by any standard and achieved strong prices – along with a few surprises – in multiple categories. The two-day format consisted of 1,146 lots of high-quality material from across the country, much of which was fresh to the market, and, in a number of cases, had descended directly in the families of the original owners. Bidding was intense throughout each day with thousands of registered bidders participating by phone and online in competition with a limited in-gallery and socially-distanced crowd eager to acquire something rare and desirable. Of the nearly 1,150 lots on offer, only two lots were passed from the podium and the sale grossed a total of $1,052,789.
“It was good to have people back,” Will Kimbrough, vice president and head of the Americana, fine and decorative arts department, said, noting in-room bidding was a good complement to the firm’s robust activity from online buyers. “We’ve had a tremendous number of new bidders, particularly for our eclectic and Americana sales. It’s very encouraging.”
Session I on Friday began with a special single-owner collection of nearly 300 lots from an upstate New York private consignor. Assembled over the past 50 years, the collection included a wide range of American furniture, fraktur, folk and fine art, Shaker items, pottery, textiles, advertising and country store, toys and early ceramics.
The remainder of Session I consisted of Shenandoah Valley and other folk pottery, Native American material, baskets, early iron, Bennington pottery and country accessories of all types. The format of offering a large single-owner collection is one Jeffrey S. Evans has utilized in the past and finds to be a successful formula. “It’s an anchor for the sales,” Kimbrough said, noting that diverse collections appeal to buyers who do not have a limited focus as well as to multiple collecting groups.
The top lot for Friday, one of several surprises over the weekend, was a José Formoso Reyes (1902-1980) Nantucket “Friendship” basket purse. Exquisitely crafted with a carved seagull plaque on the lid, it went to a collector online at $8,775, which may be an auction record for the form. Other noteworthy results from Session I included an unusual Midwestern decorated Anti-Temperance figural stoneware jug at $7,605; a labeled Ernest Vogt paint-decorated Civil War snare drum at $7,605; an H.C. Smith cobalt-decorated 5-gallon stoneware jar at $7,605; and a Pennsylvania figural pottery pig flask for $4,972.
Session II on Saturday consisted of the firm’s usual diverse selection of Americana and fine antiques, highlighted by fine American furniture, clocks and folk art from the private collection of Jim and Sheri Swinehart, Cincinnati, Ohio; early firearms and Shenandoah Valley folk art from the private collection of Margie and Gordon Barlow, Augusta Co., Va.; and an important group of California paintings from the Russell and Doris Evitt estate collection, Jackson, Calif. The day included a diverse range of rare objects that generated tremendous presale excitement from collectors and institutions eager to acquire fresh material of the highest quality, some of which retained historical provenance.
The top lot for the sale was achieved on Saturday at $52,650, for an important group of eight Brock Family (Madison Co., Va.) folk art watercolor profile portraits. Descended directly in the family and fresh to the market, the newly discovered group by an as-yet unidentified hand drew much attention during preview and went to a determined mid-Atlantic private collector on the phone bidding against an East Coast institution.
Other noteworthy results from the Saturday session included a George Henry Burgess (1831-1905) panoramic watercolor view of San Francisco, dated 1868, that went to determined West Coast private collector on the phone for $40,950; a luminous Thomas Hill (1829-1908) Yosemite landscape at $29,250; a Cincinnati Stove Works cast iron figural trade sign in original surface at $15,210; and a Revolutionary War flintlock musket with bayonet at $14,040.
Other top performers in Session II on Saturday were a Goldsmith Chandlee (Winchester, Va.) engraved brass surveyor’s compass and case, with historical Woolfolk Family provenance at $15,210; an Illinois River Vorhees-Rig paint-decorated Canada goose field decoy at $12,870; and a New England Chippendale carved cherry miniature desk in outstanding condition at $11,700.
After the sale, company president and auctioneer Jeffrey S. Evans commented, “We were very pleased with the strong interest across the board in this auction. It was good to see bidders back in the building on sale days – socially distanced and wearing masks, of course – and it was particularly encouraging to witness the kind of robust, sustained bidding over the weekend that produced very strong results across all categories of the sale. A key part of that success was the fresh nature of most of the material offered. We worked very hard to secure these consignments – traveling from California to Texas to New York – and were pleased to see the market respond in a positive way to the collections being offered. It was an honor to work with the Swinehart collection and the Evitt collection, for instance, and we certainly hope to continue to attract more like consignments as they come to market.”
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates’ next Premier Americana Auction will be sold in multiple sessions November 13-14 and will feature several collections of early glass and other material from across the country.
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