Published: February 21, 2012
“This is a retail sale&⁉ can’t buy anything,” was the lament of one dealer who competed for some of the 1,067 lots of firearms, bladed weapons, furniture, folk art, ceramics, fine art and art glass offered by Garth’s Auctioneers and Appraisers during its January 6‷ sale. The well-attended auction grossed more than $1.2 million and proved to be one of Garth’s more exciting sales in recent years, according to chief executive officer Jeff Jeffers, thanks to the firearms collection of the late Stephen H. Romanoff of Pittsburgh, Penn., and the Americana collection of Carl and Joyce Mueller of Tallmadge, Ohio.
More than 1,500 bidders were registered in-house, and those online submitted more than 4,200 bids, contributing to nearly 10,000 total absentee bids throughout the weekend.
This sale featured Part II of the Romanoff collection, which garnered bids totaling $479,975. Capitalizing on the early start on Friday to accommodate those traveling to set up at or attend the Ohio Gun Collectors Association show in Wilmington, Ohio, lot 1 set things off with a bang. A Winchester .44 caliber “Yellow Boy” Model 1866 lever-action rifle sold well above its estimate for $7,638. Fifteen of the subsequent 19 lots also sold above the high estimates, presaging an eager crowd.
A particularly nice 1873 Winchester deluxe lever-action, second model example was .44-40 caliber with a 28-inch blued octagonal barrel, set trigger and checkered curly walnut stock. Accompanied by a letter from the Winchester Arms Museum indicating that this rifle was shipped from the warehouse on November 23, 1881, the rifle, which sold for $8,519, was from the estate of John Woods Rich of Woolrich, Penn. †the original owner.
The top lot of the firearms session was a Winchester Model 1897 cartridge board. This “Double-W” version had 226 caps, shells and cartridges affixed to the board. Retaining the factory label, as well as “No. 635” stenciled on verso, the piece pushed beyond the $10/15,000 estimate and sold for $18,800 after a quick battle among several bidders in the gallery.
Two lots tied for the next best price achieved in the category: a rare, cased pair of Belgian pinfire revolvers once belonging to General Benjamin Brice (1809‱892), sold for $9,400 to a bidder in the room who had to fend off several active online and gallery bidders. An ID’d New Haven volcanic lever-action repeating pistol also sold at $9,400.
One Colt (of the 54 Colt revolvers sold) was a rare engraved and cased Model 1855 sidehammer “root” revolver in a rosewood case with accoutrement. The .28 caliber, five-shot piece had walnut grips, which contributed to a sale price of $7,050.
The Saturday Americana session provided firepower of its own, and was 99 percent sold by lot, grossing more than $652,000. A New Bremen, Auglaize County, Ohio, walnut stepback cupboard achieved the top price of the entire auction when it sold for $29,375. Purchased by Ohio dealer David Good from the Ida Heinfield estate in 1978, the two-piece cupboard retained the original aqua glass in the upper doors, the original finish and hardware. A related hanging cupboard with the classic Ohio-German and Ohio-Swiss features such as pintle hinges and a recessed upper shelf sold for $2,468.
Overall, Ohio furniture was a very strong part of the Mueller collection. A Sheraton lady’s writing desk that had been found in Mantua, Portage County, Ohio, was conservatively estimated at $1,5/2,500. Given the luminescent quality of the wood used to create it and that it had been pictured in Hageman’s Ohio Furniture Makers, Volume 2, however, the desk was a heavily contested lot, and went to the Ohio Historical Society for $6,756. Lisa Wood, curator for visual resources and unit manager for history services at OHS, said, “We were very excited to get this writing desk and hope to have it on display at the history center soon. Ohio-made furniture is one of the strengths of the society’s collection. Our object curators are always on the lookout for pieces with this type of provenance and craftsmanship.”
The bidding on a highly unusual classical sewing table, also believed to be from northeastern Ohio, started at $550, but soon surpassed the $800․1,200 estimate to sell at $5,581 to a bidder in the gallery. Another lot illustrated in Hageman’s book was a carved shrank found in Zoar, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The mid-Nineteenth Century cherry, walnut and poplar one-piece was a feast for the eyes with canted and carved pilasters, a paneled door, diamond panels below the door and the original finish. It sold for $9,988.
There were about 25 lots of wonderful early blown glass in the salesrooms, bringing comments from all viewers, Jeffers said. Once catching the light in all corners of the Mueller home, the glass stole the show with 10 percent of the top 35 lots of the sale. “The selection of blown Midwestern and Ohio pans was one of the strongest groups to come on the market in recent memory,” he added. “The color gradient was pretty special as well, and we all know color can drive price.”
A 2½-inch-high Zanesville, Ohio, amber salt with pedestal base and 24 delicately swirled ribs in bowl was among the best pieces, and it sold for $8,695. A golden amber blown glass pan with 20 swirled ribs and a folded rim measured just 8 inches diameter, but sold for a mighty $9,400.
A few surprises materialized as the metalware crossed the block. An oak trammel retaining its original patina and an iron Betty lamp with a heart finial raced to four times its high estimate and sold at $1,763. A patriotic wafer iron with a profile bust of Washington surrounded by the wording “George Washington President of the United States” and laurel leaves was engraved on the exterior “No. 31.” The 28¾-inch-long piece brought $4,348.
Presidential items did well in other categories, too. A plaster bust of Thomas Jefferson †after Jean-Antoin Houdon (French, 1741‱828) †was estimated at $2/4,000, and identified as one of only a small number of plaster versions of Houdon’s bust extant. Among them is an example in the collection at Monticello. The demand was great, with almost the entire Garth’s staff handling phone lines, each with a bidder in pursuit. The bust eventually sold to one of those phone bidders for $6,463.
In the catalog and in the Mueller’s home, the Jefferson bust sat atop a fine curly maple and poplar Pennsylvania Chippendale chest, which sold at $9,400. It was also a good day for Chippendale candlestands. A late Eighteenth Century porringer top example with a grungy old surface was ex-Charles Momchilov (Ohio). It sold for $4,818, while another, less refined example from New England with an exaggerated baluster shaft and snake feet sold for $4,465.
New England furniture fared well, with a Rhode Island highboy selling for $13,858, well above its estimate.
The true sleeper of the auction was a carved wooden folk art figure of a woman with leather arms and torso and a cloth head scarf. According to an accompanying note, it was made for Mrs Walter Miller in Linesville, Penn., by her father, from a bedpost, when she was just 3 years old. It was obviously loved over the years and went to a new home for $11,750. A pair of fine terrestrial and celestial tabletop globes by Merriam and Moore, Troy, N.Y., circa 1860, sold for $8,225, despite some imperfections.
Artwork, including portraits of children and a nice selection of fraktur, were colorful additions to the sale. A watercolor on paper by Reverend Henry Young displayed a couple typical to Young’s work flanking a table, the woman wearing a yellow dress. The condition contributed to its doubling the high estimate and realizing $8,813. A watercolor on paper certificate for an 1806 birth in York County, Penn., was enchanting with vivid flowers and an eagle with shield. It sold for four times the high estimate, going to $3,760. A full-length portrait of a boy dressed in blue with whip and pull wagon attributed to Joseph Whiting Stock (Mass., 1815‱855) started at $2,000 before going to a bidder in the gallery for $7,344.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.garths.com or 740-362-4771.
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