Published: October 18, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Ledbetter Auctions
GIBSONVILLE, N.C. – Ledbetter Auctions conducted its Folk Art Quarterly Event on October 8, in-person and online, with a selection of self-taught art and folk pottery from a major Kentucky collector. The auction also included objects consigned by some of the biggest folk art collectors in the field, amounting to more than 600 lots, breaking two world records and totaling about $243,000.
The highest price achieved and first record broken in the sale wasby a 13-inch-tall carved head by Shields Landon Jones (1901-1997), a self-taught artist and musician from Franklin County, West Virginia. Jones was one of 13 children and spent his free time hunting and on creative pursuits. He worked as a laborer and carpenter for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for 40 years and retired in 1967. Jones returned to his youthful artistic pursuits in his early seventies, taking his creations to county and local fairs for sale. In 1972, his work was discovered by Herbert Waide Hemphill Jr, cofounder of the Museum of Folk Art (New York City), and Jones’ art can now be found in many prominent American institutions. This head carving was cited as early in his career, marked “1985” on the bottom surface. The previous record was $12,000 for a single Jones head, and this example sold to a collector for $23,125.
Another carving occupied the second highest lot, an Adam and Eve scene with the Tree of Knowledge and serpent, as Eve gives Adam the apple of their downfall. Carved by Edgar Tolson (1904-1984), a Kentucky Appalachian carver and former Baptist preacher, it is one of his many scenes of this subject but extremely rare due to its painted surface. Ledbetter had never seen its like at a public sale. Tolson’s work was first documented by an Americorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) cooperative and was soon displayed at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in 1968; he has since become one of the region’s most celebrated folk artists. The group sold above its estimate for $17,500.
One of the most expensive paintings sold and the second record broken during the auction was by Benny Carter (1943-2014), a self-trained North Carolina artist. Carter began painting to relieve his depression after a layoff at his longtime job at a metalwork factory, and this work, “The Old Home Place,” was made early in his career. The image was painted on artist board with oil-based house paint and sold for $9,063. The previous highest price paid for a Carter painting was $7,000.
Minnie Adkins (b 1934) represented female folk artists in the top lots, joining Tolson in the Kentucky Appalachian artist category. Encouraged by her father, Adkins took up whittling as a child, which was then considered an unusual hobby for a girl. She also only started selling her work in later life at local galleries and was noticed by collector Larry Hackley. Her work was included in the Kentucky Folk Art Center in 1985, and she later co-founded the Kentucky artist-focused fair A Day In The Country with her husband. Adkins is known for her carved and painted animals, and Ledbetter sold a large folk art horse with her signature for $4,375.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Ledbetter’s next auction will be of an Important North Carolina Pottery Collection on November 5. For additional information, www.ledbetterauctions.com or 336-524-1077.
November 22, 2022
November 22, 2022
November 22, 2022
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm