Published: August 25, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Blanchard’s Auction Service
POTSDAM, N.Y. – Blanchard’s Auction Service’s 594-lot Annual Premier Adirondack Auction on August 16 went white glove as a new generation of Adirondack homeowners sought to fill their homes with the natural aesthetic. The whole sale would gross $335,000.
Auctioneer Kip Blanchard said that his estate auction business is largely tied to the Adirondack real estate market, which has been booming since April.
“Since April, many properties in the Adirondacks have changed hands,” he said, “the real estate market took off. Everything we sell is fresh to the market and comes out of homes, so when homes are selling, we’re moving along. The consignors we sell for live in the city or Florida where the Adirondack style won’t fit. That drives the market for us.”
Blanchard said three main Adirondack camps made up the majority of his sale, with a further 20 other consignors padding in material.
The auction was headlined by a James Hope (1818-1892) oil on canvas painting depicting Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen, N.Y., that sold for $14,950 to an Adirondack collector on Lake George. After serving in the Civil War, Hope spent the last 20 years of his life in Watkins Glen and produced a whole body of work on the area. The 15¼-by-19¾-inch painting came from a home in Putnam County, N.Y. Blanchard said it was far and away the best painting in the sale and it attracted the most interest.
Other paintings that faired well include an oil on canvas lake scene from contemporary artist Gary Casagrain, which doubled estimate to sell for $8,050. The artist runs Casagrain Galleries in Tupper Lake, N.Y., where the 16-by-28-inch painting was originally purchased.
The Rustic Furniture Show at Blue Mountain Lake draws thousands of visitors to the area every September, and consigned to this sale was an Ausable River scene painted by contemporary artist Barney Bellinger used in the advertising for the 2019 show. The 15½-by-19½-inch oil on board was in the special event exhibit at Paul Nigra Center For Creative Arts and it sold for $2,875.
Blanchard said, “There’s as much interest today in the quality contemporary furniture as in the antique furniture.”
Bellinger, both a fine and furniture artist who works out of Mayfield, N.Y., had other contributions in the top results, including an Adirondack sofa table with big leaf maple top, canoe paddle stretcher and mosaic skirt, with a central painting of a lean-to at Cedar Lakes. It sold for $8,625. An Adirondack boat house mirror from the artist, made in 2002, featured mosaic twigwork, antler hooks and fly rod columns and brought $5,100. Bellinger consigned some works while others were provided from an Ohio collector.
“There are a number of people who collect Bellinger’s work,” Blanchard continued. “They chase anything of his. He’s still working today, but he makes things on a limited scale. The things that do turn up on the secondary market – whenever I think they sell for a lot of money, the next year they sell for more.”
The sale’s top furniture lot at $11,500 was a rustic Adirondack-style secretary by Dwayne Thompson, a contemporary maker from Clayton, Ga. It was originally purchased at the Adirondack Store in Lake Placid, N.Y., and is going back to the area with a Lake Placid collector. The secretary featured mosaic twig trim, white birch panels and two doors with hand painted elk scenes.
At $3,162 was a root base center table from Nineteenth Century maker Lee Fountain. “That’s true Adirondack,” Blanchard said, “1880s to 1890s, something that was made in the mountains and spent its life in the mountains.” The example came out of a home in Blue Mountain Lake.
A three-piece wicker porch set by Gustav Stickley recovered in William Morris fabric was a draw as it sold between estimate for $6,325. The consignor was told that the set came from Stickley Farms in New Jersey. It sold to a California buyer.
Rising to $5,463 was an Old Hickory three-seat sofa with original weaving that came out of a house in Saratoga. “It was just quality,” Blanchard said, “and in spectacular condition. It was a 9½ out of 10. It’s a rare model to begin with, but the condition was so good.”
The largest surprise for Blanchard was a consignment of items from Great Camp Kwenogamac in Long Lake, N.Y., many of them by the camp’s creator, Arpad G. Gerster, who was a late Nineteenth Century pioneer in aseptic and antiseptic surgery. The pieces were consigned directly from the present owners of the camp, meaning they were created at the property and never left. Leading the group at $3,163, over triple estimate, were two pyrographic wood carvings by Gerster, dated 1898. An original copper etching by the artist executed in 1893 featured a scene near the Fulton Chain Station and sold for $2,530.
While Blanchard has sold a few of Gerster’s belongings since 2011, almost none of the artist’s work has been offered at auction, making pricing them difficult. Still, the auctioneer said he was happy with the results as both The Adirondack Experience museum and several other bidders were pushing that market upward.
Of the 15 lots sold that related to Gerster, the lowest was an etching for $288, while his other artworks sold mainly between $500 and $1,000. Ten armorial shields from Camp Kwenogamac went out at $2,185. A Grueby Pottery 6-inch “candle stick” tile from the camp sold for $2,530.
Folks who follow Blanchard’s annual Adirondack sale may remember two years ago when the auctioneer sold a pair of Charles Rohlfs rocking chairs and a dining table originally commissioned for Camp Ziegler on Loon Lake. The same consignor offered up another example by the maker from the same commission in a card chair with card suit cut outs around the skirt. It was branded and dated 1907 and sold for $4,200. Camp Ziegler was a significant commission for Rohlfs and much of it was lost when the building at the camp burned to the ground in the 1970s. Surviving examples are those that were sold off before the camp burned. Blanchard said the consignor lived on Loon Lake about a quarter of a mile away from where Camp Ziegler stood.
A collection of items from the Paris Manufacturing Company in Maine was consigned by a collector local to where the company resided. The 17 offerings included sleighs, child’s wagons, toboggans and pull carts. Leading the group at $575 was a child’s farm wagon, circa the 1890s, in original red paint. A “Paris Coaster” wagon with wooden wheels and stenciled sides went out at $316.
This was the first year where Blanchard did not have in-person bidding, but the auctioneer said his bidders were more than adaptable and even liked bidding online. The auction house held a week-long preview for the sale where folks could inspect.
The sale produced an auction house record of 1,300 registrations. Blanchard said that folks stuck around through the end of the sale, noting that more than 700 people were still watching and following the auction online hours into it.
For additional information, www.blanchardsauctionservice.com or 315-265-5070.
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