Published: January 17, 2023
Review by Rick Russack, Photos Courtesy Garth’s
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Garth’s first sale of 2023 got the year off to a good start. The sale featured more than 80 lots from the collection of Dr Howard A. Tin, a psychologist from Springfield, Ill. The collection, emphasizing color and surface, had been assembled over a 40-year period and featured several windmill weights, folk art architectural house and church models, along with Illinois furniture and other folk art. The balance of the 370-lot sale included spatterware, stoneware, animal paintings, decoys from a single collection and more. The sale was live, with strong phone, absentee and online participation; only 11 lots were passed.
Garth’s was founded by Garth Oberlander in the 1950s and is now owned by Richard “Jeff” Jeffers. With annual sales approaching $10 million, the company will run more than 20 sales in 2023. A departure from many auctions these days is the fact that Garth’s online descriptions include thorough condition reports.
The sale’s top ten lots were indicative of the variety of merchandise offered. Only two of those top ten lots were at all similar to one another. Leading the sale was a folksy seagull decoy that had been in the collection of well-known decoy authorities Gene and Linda Kangas. Gulls were not targets of hunters but were considered “confidence” decoys, used to persuade airborne flocks of ducks that it was safe to land. Selling for $6,000, the decoy had a well-weathered surface with mostly original paint, scratch carved eyes and wire legs, which were probably original.
Some of the other decoys in the sale also had at one time been in the Kangas collection, including a pair of Louisiana mallard decoys labeled “Trahan, Lake Charles, LA,” most likely for Nick Trahan (1900-1967). The pair brought $3,720. In all, there were more than 20 working decoys, including three Canada geese, showing how different carvers interpreted the bird, and an unsigned, folksy Virginia merganser that realized $688. It had a handwritten label attached that read “D. Jester, Chincoteague, Vir.,” indicating that Kangas had identified it as having been made by Doug Jester (1876-1971). There were also decorative bird carvings, including a Mark McNair preening dowitcher which earned $500, and an unsigned carving of an owl that sold for $688.
Dr Tin’s collection included an unusual collection within the collection. There were a half dozen handmade architectural models of homes and churches. The most elaborate was a colorful model of a three-story brick home comprising 4,500 individual pieces. It was 28 inches tall, with a white picket fence, flag pole with an American flag, a shingled roof, several doors, several windows — some of which opened — architectural details and chimneys. With red and yellow bricks, it had an old label that read, “This House was built for Charles E. Smith Jr by his grandfather __ Smith in the year 1908-9. Contains about 4,500 pieces.” It sold for $1,560. A well-done wooden model of St Joseph’s church in Lancaster, Penn., 25 inches tall with original painted brickwork, lattice work windows, a picket fence and a removeable steeple sold for $2,760. A seaside-style raised house with wraparound porch, balconies and multiple windows with lace curtains on a brick painted base sold for $375.
Dr Tin also had a collection of iron windmill weights and an outstanding large cast iron horse with a well-dressed woman riding side-saddle. It was 43 inches long, embossed on the saddle-blanket “Cincinnati Stoveworks” and marked on the back “R. Cin. Iron Fdy., Cin. O. – 1909.” A banner around the horse’s neck read “Trademark.” Jeffers said he thought it might have been a store display. Incorporated circa 1879, Cincinnati Stove Works was a leading manufacturer of cooking stoves and various types of stove hollowware. The firm regularly advertised using this figure of a lady on horseback as its logo. It was the first lot sold, getting the day off to a good start, earning $2,875. There were seven windmill weights, most in original paint. Two were salesman’s sample horse weights, each 12 inches long, each with a cast label, “Dempster, Beatrice, Nebr.” One earned $438 and the other $240. Of the full-size weights, collectors responded well to a large horse, more than 18 inches tall, made by the same company. It earned $938. From a different consignor, but continuing the windmill theme, was a signed sampler dated 1825, which included a windmill, and sold for $281.
The selection of furniture included pieces from Tin’s collection and others. Perhaps the most unusual was a small drop-leaf Sheraton four-drawer work table. In addition to the unusual form, inscribed into the top drawer was a game board with original red and yellow paint. Of curly maple, with four turned legs, it sold for $5,700. Found near New Salem, Ill., a circa 1880 large pine apothecary chest with 56 numbered and divided drawers, original pulls and old tan over grey and black paint reached $2,625. A Nineteenth Century well-figured curly maple chest with four graduated drawers and original surface went out for $2,160. A refinished cherry sugar chest, possibly Kentucky-made, dating to the second half of the Nineteenth Century brought $2,280.
The sale included some unusual pieces of folk art. A heavily carved and inlaid countertop spice or apothecary chest from the collection of Dr Tin had 18 drawers and sold for $1,875. It was 37 inches high and the crest was carved with castle-like turrets and towers. Each of the drawers was inland with marquetry patterns, and it had applied Greek key pattern molding. Dated to the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, it retained an old, alligatored finish. A mid-Twentieth Century carving of a lamb resting on a book, more than 12 inches long, earned $570, while a life-like circa 1900 carved and painted cow sold for $250.
Finishing among the top ten items was a Navajo third phase chief’s blanket, which went out for $3,375. The late Nineteenth Century woolen blanket had a stepped pattern with red, brown and faded indigo bands. It was one of a number of Native American objects in the sale. An 18-inch Northwest Coast totem pole with three carved figures and a dark patina reached $750. Three small signed Southwest pottery pieces were sold together with a large unsigned pot. One was signed Candelaria Gachupin (Zia, circa 1920-1997); another by Marie Zieu Chino (Acoma, 1907-1982), and the other was signed Sarah Garcia (Acoma, 1928-2015).
A few days after the sale, Jeffers commented, “I think we’re going to have a good 2023. I saw a lot of enthusiasm and excitement surrounding this sale and that’s encouraging. The collectors out there today recognize exceptional objects and go after them. Our job is to find the quality merchandise that our customers want, and I think we have stuff coming up they’ll like. Our March American sale will have some good stuff. There’s no question that the market, and our marketing efforts, are changing. So many bidders are using the internet bidding platforms, and we’re seeing new bidders with each sale. We have to be ready to accommodate those new bidders.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.garths.com or 740-362-4771.
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