Published: May 5, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Freeman’s
PHILADELPHIA – Freeman’s offered up 160 lots on day one of its two-day American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts sale April 28-29. The combined sales would produce $975,000, with the sale’s first day accounting for $886,645.
“We are delighted with the results from our online auctions of American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts,” remarked head of department Lynda Cain, “Fresh-to-market works from early collections and estates achieved strong prices after aggressive competition from bidders both online and on the phone. Period furniture, silver and historical objects did especially well – a testament to the strength of the market and a suggestion that there is a heightened desire for American-made objects in these trying times.”
The first day of the sale saw 75 phone bidders and nearly 5,000 registered internet bidders. The offerings that day sold 87 percent by lot.
The sale’s top lot was found in a Chippendale carved walnut tall case clock with works by Reading, Penn., maker Daniel Rose (1749-1827), that sold between estimate for $62,500. The clock dated to 1790. Its strongest attribute was undoubtedly the masterfully carved bonnet, which featured a central open-work urn with flowers cartouche flanked by pineapple carved finials on a tympanum carved with leafy vines and punchwork. The fine carving continued down the columns. The clock had descended in the Reading, Penn., Zieber family. Freeman’s said this was one of the highest results from the clockmaker at auction.
Selling for $50,000, at the top end of its estimate, was the Clement Hungerford Pollen Collection of Native American clothing and accessory items. It included a Blackfoot beaded hide war shirt, two pairs of beaded hide leggings, toy baby carrier and beaded hide mocassins, arm bands and woman’s belt; a Cree loom woven quill-worked hide gun case and an Ojibwe beaded hide guncase; a Plains beaded hide jacket, leather chaps and beaded suede gauntlets; a painted bow with arrows; and some natural history items.
The collection also included a large photograph collection that Freeman’s called the largest and earliest album documents of pre- and early statehood Wyoming, Pollen’s sketchbook with watercolors and typed manuscripts, surveying tools and ephemera. Born in England in 1869, Clement Hungerford Pollen followed his brother Arthur to Northwest Canada in 1897, where he settled in the Kootenay River area of British Columbia. He developed relationships with the Native people of the Ktunaxa Nation, who inhabited the area. In the early 1900s, Pollen was hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway to work on the Kootenay Central branch in its design, construction and management. He would go on to serve Canada in the first World War as a Major in the 54th Battalion.
In textiles, rising well above its $12,000 high estimate was a circa 1755 Boston, canvaswork picture of a courting scene, 10¼ by 15¾ inches, that caught $35,000. It came with a handwritten note from Mrs John Webb, dated 1869, that stated his aunt Sarah Allen worked the embroidery “on the dark day of 1780.” It had descended in the Webb family to the consignor.
In paintings, an oil on canvas portrait of American politician Henry Clay, 27 by 22 inches, rose to $32,500. Though previous owners had attributed the work to that of Matthew Harris Jouett (1788-1827), Freeman’s believes it more closely resembles that of John Neagle (1796-1865). An original signed war recruitment watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), titled “I need You Now!,” sold for $25,000. The circa 1950 illustration features Uncle Sam and was likely created for recruiting posters during the Korean War era.
An $18,750 result was found for a painted tinware and zinc Liberty Cap parade pole finial. An inscription on it read “From the staff of which the Rebel Flag was carried on April 19th 1861 in Baltimore Md. in the attack on the Mass 6th,” referring to the Pratt Street Riot that followed five days after the surrender of Fort Sumpter. When The 6th Massachusetts Infantry arrived in Baltimore to change cars, a crowd formed a blockade that forced the train cars to return to a previous station and required the troops to walk through the streets to Pratt Street. The National Park Service’s account of the riot reads, “The two cars returned to the President Street Station and the soldiers disembarked to the howls and jeers of the mob. The troops then marched back down Pratt Street, led by a man carrying a rebel flag, and followed by the mob. At Gay Street some of the mob began tearing up paving stones and throwing them at the soldiers. Other men were seen brandishing pistols and muskets. Someone fired a shot…The riot resulted in the first casualty list of the war. Eight rioters, one innocent bystander and three soldiers were killed, twenty four soldiers and an unknown number of civilians wounded.”
Another notable result came in the form of a group of ten ink and watercolor on paper mounted on linen Masonic charts dated 1891 by George M. Silsbee (1840-1900). The group sold for $15,000 above a $1,500 estimate. The charts had descended in four generations in the family of Silbee’s sister to the consignor.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For more information, www.freemansauction.com or 215-563-9275.
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