Published: May 8, 2007
On May 1, Doyle New York held an auction of American furniture where a Johannes Spitler decorated chest attracted intense interest from prominent dealers and collectors. The chest sold, after some fierce competitive bidding, for $288,000. There were 12 telephone bidders in addition to bidders on the salesroom floor and absentee bidders.
Bidding began very strongly and rapidly, with the bidders in the salesroom dropping out at about $20,000. Telephone bidding continued until about $60,000, when the bidding pool narrowed down to two determined telephone bidders. One of these executed his final bid at $235,000, leaving the other bidder with the successful closing bid of $240,000 hammer, total $288,000 with buyer’s premium.
Massachusetts dealer David Wheatcroft was the top bidder against David Schorsch from Connecticut. “Johannes Spitler has been the record holder at auction for the last 20 years,” Wheatcroft explained. “The chest is painted in the geometric shapes that are one of Spitler’s distinctive styles.”
In a painted diamond on the front of the chest “John S P” and “1797” are clearly visible. “This [chest] is quite rare,” Schorch said, “there are only about 20 of them known.” Wheatcroft also said that “most of Spitler’s pieces are in museums now. There are no clocks or chests in private hands anymore.”
“We purchased this for inventory,” he continued. “It is a wonderful example of Spitler, whose styles are so different. He had the curvilinear style, more Pennsylvania, with hearts and birds, but this chest is in another, more rigorously geometric, style.” Johannes Spitler (1774‱837) was a German American furniture decorator active in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Doyle’s sale also saw the Brigadier General Jotham Moulton American dog head pommel silver-hilted cuttoe, attributed to Ephraim Brasher, achieve $54,000. A complete review on the sale will appear in a future issue.
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