Published: October 15, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy of Hap Moore
YORK , MAINE – On September 28, Hap Moore’s varied sale included a wide selection of artwork, silver, some important historical ephemera, country and formal furniture, folk art, vintage woodenware, jewelry, a collection of leather fire buckets and military items, along with a selection of etchings, metalwork, pottery and enamelware by the Pearson family of artists: Ralph M. Pearson, his daughter Lorna Belle Pearson Watson and son Ronald Pearson, all of whom contributed to the post-World War II craft revival. Moore’s sale was well-attended, and although internet bidding is not available, there were numerous absentee bids as well as numerous phone bidders.
Ralph Pearson (1883-1958) was a founder of the Chicago Society of Etchers and had a fascinating background that included delivering newspapers as a youngster, building a chain of stationery stores and a less-than-profitable attempt to raise hogs. But he was successful at etching, which he learned at the Art Institute of Chicago, heavily influenced by the work of Joseph Pennell (1857-1926). After moving around several times, he settled in New York where he taught for ten years at the New School for Social Research and founded the Design Workshop. He was a prolific author and his works are in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The sale included two of his etchings, one of which depicted Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, where he lived for several years. It sold for $115, probably a good buy.
Metalwork by Pearson and Watson (b 1925) were also included. A hand crafted bronze pitcher by Watson brought $374, and a lot of her enameled pieces and other metal earned $316. She was a teacher at the University of New Hampshire and made pottery, influenced by Mary and Edwin Scheier, who also taught at the university. Both of Ralph Pearson’s children made jewelry. A box lot of Watson’s sterling silver pieces sold for $288, and a box lot of Ronald Pearson’s went for $593. Also included was a toolbox, filled with Watson’s silversmith tools, which sold for $173.
One of the most unusual pieces in the sale related to the Pearsons was a 27-by-38-inch textile painted by Emma Swope depicting a variety of scenes showing artists at work in Ralph Pearson’s Design Workshop in New York. It realized $546.
Other Twentieth Century paintings, etchings and lithographs were included in the sale. A Charles Woodbury (1864-1920) graphite sketch of two people in a small boat sold for $345, and another, depicting a man in a small boat, reached $288. Woodbury spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine, and was well known for his works along the Atlantic coast. He was president of the Boston Watercolor Society and a member of the National Academy of Design. His works are in numerous museum collections. Doing well and possibly a very good buy at $1,725 was a large box lot of sketch books by Marion Boyd Allen (1862-1941). A small etching by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) reached $201. An oil by George Augusta (1922-2012), “Crowded Beach,” earned $805. Augusta is best known for his portraits of prominent men, including Warren Burger, chief justice of the US Supreme Court, and several notable corporation presidents in Massachusetts.
Books and historical ephemera did well. A 1906 20-volume set of the writings of Henry David Thoreau brought $3,450. A note signed by Abraham Lincoln, mounted with a W.H.W. Bicknell etching of Lincoln and a soldier’s discharge document, went for $6,900. Invitations to George Washington’s 1796 birthday, one engraved and one handwritten, finished at $1,840, and an 1818 four-page letter concerning the rebuilding of the White House after it was burned by the British sold for $575. A 1786 engraved invitation to the opening of the Charles River Bridge fetched $1,265. This bridge was the subject of a lawsuit that eventually reached the Supreme Court. Three invitations to Increase Sumner for 1791-92 events realized $1,265. Much of the ephemera had descended in the politically connected Cary family of Boston, and included a letter stating the family provenance.
Furniture included a Maine hutch table in old red with a 48-inch scrubbed top, which sold for $2,415. A Mount Lebanon #7 Shaker armchair with quilt rail earned $86, and a Sheraton mahogany card table on reeded legs went out for just $115. A circa 1800 step back cupboard with old blue over original old red paint finished at $1,955. A 42-inch slant lid mahogany desk with a fan-carved drop panel and interior drawers, with a historical connection, sold for $2,300. It had been owned by General John Glover, originally of Marblehead, Mass., who supplied the boats used by Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. Glover also owned the schooner Hannah, the first vessel of the Continental navy.
Folk art included a hooked rug with a certain New England subject matter. It depicted a maple sugaring scene with cabin or sap house in wintry woods, two men boiling a large iron bucket of sap over an open fire, trees with sap buckets and more. It seemed like a good buy at $115. A blue and white woven coverlet dated 1846, with birds and floral motifs finished at $259. There were two paint-decorated storage chests. A dome-top one, dated 1854 and initialed C.B., earned $230, and a small dome-top floral decorated storage box went out for just $52. A large, bulbous feather basket, 28 inches tall and with an old red wash, reached $144.
It was a sale that seemed to leave everyone satisfied. Silver buyers had plenty from which to choose, including a large Tiffany coffee pot that had descended the Cary family, which sold for $1,754, a Georg Jenson footed sterling bowl that realized $403 and plenty of box lots with assorted silver items. There were numerous paintings, advertising signs, Asian items, some toys, some military items, including a cased pair of Eighteenth Century flintlock pistols that earned $863 and much more.
After the sale, Hap Moore said he believed the sale went well. “I was pleased with the overall results. Some categories, such as ephemera did really well and there are always surprises. Everything comes from local homes, so we never know what we’ll find. One-of-a-kind items, like the Swope painted textile of Pearson’s workshop, is always fun to find. And there are always buyers who know what they’re looking at.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For additional information, www.hapmoore.com or 207-363-6373.
Editors note: An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate names and information on the Pearson family of artists. It has been corrected.
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