Published: September 25, 2007
Two years in the works, C. Wayne Shultz’s Americana auction drew a full house and robust prices at the Duncansville Community Center August 24′5.
This biennial auction offers no reserves and charges no buyer’s premium. Likewise, there is no online or phone bidding; bidders must be present to get in on the action. Nearly 700 lots of choice examples of art pottery, quilts, Soap Hollow and painted furniture, redware, country primitives and chalkware were offered.
While the auction was a tad off the first day, stellar offerings the second day made up for it as “things went through the roof,” according to auctioneer/owner C. Wayne Shultz.
“It was a pretty good sale; most of the things were original and things were in good to excellent condition,” he said. “It was a combination of mostly good country furniture with original paint, early quilts with tremendous stitching and unlaundered, and extra good primitives.”
The top lot of the auction was a Soap Hollow chest of drawers that had great original patina and attained $23,000.
The chest came out of a private home where Shultz’s picker was canvassing the area. He did not have the means to take it so he called Shultz, who promptly bought the chest after viewing it.
“It’s never been to the market,” he said. From the same home, he bought and offered a paint decorated child’s carpet rocker with wonderful red paint and yellow pinstriping, probably Soap Hollow, that fetched $600, “which is a good price for a little carpet rocker.”
A single-drawer Soap Hollow nightstand with well worn paint, dated 1851, fetched $6,750. A late Soap Hollow blanket chest, 1892, was small at only 48 inches length but realized $7,000. Shultz said the chest had “wonderful original paint.”
A rare Bedford County, Hopewell Township, Penn., full stock curly maple percussion rifle signed by Jacob Fischel and engraved on the butt, in fine condition, fetched $4,600.
Smalls brought big prices at the auction, including a small hickory basket with original red paint that took $950; a cushion pillow measuring 5 by 7 inches with two doves, from an Amish home, that fetched $375; and an early tole box, green ground with excellent paint and stencil decoration instead of freehand, which brought $1,400. A toleware syrup pitcher, 4 inches, black ground with some paint loss, still took $300.
Ceramics highlights included a 4-inch blue and white spongeware cat, seated, for $950, and a rare stoneware one-quart fruit jar with a tin lid by Kabis of Shirleysburg, Penn. Little is known of the maker; the jar, even without incising, fetched $1,100.
A two-gallon ovoid crock marked Moyer, Harrisburg, Penn., realized $1,600, and a two-gallon decorative pitcher sold for $1,300.
A two-gallon cake crock, J. Swank, Johnstown, Penn., with a small chip, brought $1,400, and a four-gallon blue decorated example of his with tulips fetched $1,000. A rare one-gallon ovoid storage crock with seven different inverted feather decorations, running vertically instead of the more common horizontal pattern, achieved $3,100.
Another stoneware standout was an unsigned one-gallon crock that Shultz attributes to Henry Glazier (active Huntington County, 1830s), whom he said was the only Pennsylvania potter who used a cobalt blue decoration sometimes enhanced with a distinctive marlberry-cranberry color, as seen in this example in the sale. Bidders must have agreed because the crock, a simple storage jar with an interior double line around the shoulder, fetched $1,900.
Redware was led by a John Bell, Waynesboro, Penn., tobacco jar with a lid, 7½ inches high. The jar was double stamped, under the lid and on the bottom. It brought $4,750.
A rare Pennsylvania redware vat or pouring cup with spout, 2½ inches high, in a splotched black and orange glaze was unsigned but still garnered $850.
Chalkware highlights included a Nineteenth Century chalkware rabbit on a base, with restoration to an ear, that took $600; a rabbit on base in good condition sold for $1,100, and a rare seated poodle with good original paint went out at $950.
Shultz is known for his quilts and this auction was no exception.
“The quilts did superb. I always have a good selection of quilts, most of them date 1835 to 1945, and at least half were unlaundered crisp,” he said. “The colors were well coordinated and they had good symmetry. Most of them had good to immaculate quilting, and the prices reflect that.”
A pre-1900 appliqued album quilt, unsigned and undated, was decorated with flowers, birds and a cornucopia design and had a vine border. “What was amazing was it had iron wear and a lot of staining,” Shultz said, but the quilt still achieved $4,000. “Album quilts are getting harder to find and this one had the right color combination and the border was different than most floral quilts have.”
A rare and important quilt made for Elias Poffenberger, signed, presented to him by his aunt Mary Lowman, March 21, 1851, was unlaundered crisp with immaculate quilting, attained $8,500. Shultz had gotten the quilt from retired dealers in Maryland who had purchased it from the contents of a Poffenberger descendant’s home back in 1986 and had it in their collection until several years ago when Shultz acquired it. Two other quilts also known to be done by Loman, also unlaundered, took $4,250 each.
An 1860‷0 appliquéd Pennsylvania or Maryland album quilt, unlaundered with “tremendous” quilting, achieved $14,000. From an antiques show versus a private home as most of the quilts were, this example had a tassle border with an unusual chain link separation between grids. “The colors were vibrant, not even faded,” Shultz said. Another 20 to 22 quilts crossed the block, with most selling for $800 to $3,100.
Painted furniture also found favor with buyers. A paint decorated blanket chest Shultz had spotted on a house call a dozen years ago took $4,000. The owner was not using the chest and had it stored in an attic but felt guilty about selling it since an aunt had given it to her. After years of checking in with her to see if she had changed her mind on selling it, she sold it to Shultz.
“I kept checking back with her once a year; I popped in one day and offered her a price that scared her,” he said.
Two sets of six paint decorated plank bottom chairs had brown ground but desirable original paint did well. One set signed “W.S. Piper, Spring Run, Penn.,” fetched $1,500 and the other set of half-spindleback chairs with morning glories and colorful pinstriping took $1,700.
A pre-1900 folk art desk with Adirondack and tramp art features with drawers and open storage, 27½ by 23 by 8 inches, with two large carved fish near the pediment board, sold for $4,500. Boasting square-cut nail construction, the desk was “a nice piece of folk art,” Shultz proclaimed.
While there were many good prices, there were bargains to be had. A circa 1820″0 watercolor profile of a New England woman holding a small book in one hand and a purse in the other, attributed to Davis in Massachusetts, was a good buy at $1,600. An Empire period marble top table with a rosewood pedestal base in original surface took $550.
Another bargain was a 1790 walnut Chippendale tall case clock, broken arch top and fluted columns down the waist and original scrolled ogee feet that was structurally sound but had been refinished at some time. The clock fetched $3,750, mostly because though the clock had its original works, they needed repair so it had been fitted with new works.
Other star performers among furniture were a splay leg night stand with no drawer and well turned legs that took $2,300, and a dry sink in worn original yellow paint with an overhanging well and two doors on the base that fetched $2,600. A rare late 1800s York County, Penn, miniature semihigh back single-drawer dry sink in grain paint, 18 inches high, achieved $4,750.
A circa 1830 walnut four-board single-drawer farm table in original surface fetched $3,100.
Several corner cupboards were represented in the sale. The first to cross the block was a single cupboard in old mustard paint over original red paint, 6½ feet tall, that was a good buy at $2,000. It was followed by a 9-light door example, about 7 feet high, with old mustard paint at $5,500, and a two-piece cherry, 12-light corner cupboard with original paint that brought $7,500.
Country primitives attracted serious collectors. Highlights included a small plank bottom stool at $900 with great original patina, floral and pinstripe decoration; a New England carpet in a Persian pattern, circa 1900, that brought $1,900; and an unusual hooked rug, 21 by 36 inches, with four hands in the center and florals and hearts in the corners at $1,500.
A double-sided tin advertising sign for Rumely Power Farming Machines, 28 by 17 inches, fetched $2,000. The company opened in 1858 in LaPorte, Ind., and ran under the Rumely name until 1931, making what Shultz called the “Cadillac” of farm machines.
Other offerings included a J. Shafer, Martinsburg/Blair, Penn., coverlet dated 1848 in fine condition that went out at $1,200; a Kashan carpet with a deer and cheetah border, 83 by 53 inches, at $1,400; and a hard to find country store oak ribbon case at $1,300.
Shultz will run his next Americana auction in 2009. For information, 814-832-2582.
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