OWLS HEAD, ME. – A church $5 “white elephant” table sale rdf_Description brought $41,800 at a charity event led by auctioneer Bruce Gamage of Rockland, Me. The on-site event was conducted at the Anderson farm on Saturday, July 22.
Both Eino and Eleanor Anderson of Owls Head had worked at Owls Head Elementary School and left their entire estate in trust for the education of Owls Head residents.
As the story goes – one sensational enough to hit the Associated Press wire – the Andersons purchased the lamp years ago at a church sale for $10. That version of the tale may turn out to be incorrect, as a friend or relative relates the Andersons paid no more than $5.
Collector and connoisseur Robert L. Foster, an auctioneer and appraiser of Newcastle, Me., spotted the lamp in an advertisement, as did many other dealers and collectors across the United States. Foster was determined to add the piece to his collection; the lamp will now be on display at his auction gallery and office in Newcastle.
Fifteen to 20 people from across the country bid on the lamp, eight of them on the phone and out of state. The lot came on the block at 11 am sharp and the action opened at $19,000. Foster waited until everyone had played out his or her hand and, at $34,000, he jumped in against one unidentified bidder in the back of the tent. The hammer fell at $38,000, plus ten percent buyer’s premium, for a grand total of $41,800.
Foster commented that he would have purchased the lamp at double the sale price in order to keep the rare piece in Maine. Its base, in a matte green color, is in pristine condition and was made and signed by Grueby Faience Co of Boston, Mass.
The leaded shade and bronze insert were made and signed by Bigelow and Kennard Co., Boston, Mass. Also stamped on the lamp is “Bigelow Studios.”