Published: March 15, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
MOUNT CRAWFORD, VA. – A few consignments – including dolls from the Eleanor V. Lakin Collection and several book collections that came in near the deadline for Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates Winter Americana auctions – swelled the sales to a total of 2,404 lots, offered over four days March 2-5. While the firm rarely discloses auction totals, the sell-through rate for the entire sale was extremely high, with more than 98 percent of lots trading successfully. According to a press release issued by the house, bidding was intense throughout each day with more than 3,000 registered bidders participating in house, on the phones and online. It was also reported to be the strongest Winter Americana Auction for the firm to date.
Evans was selling more of the Americana collection of Barbara M. and the late Charlie Hunter, whose collection anchored the auction house’s mid-November 2021 sales. Nearly 200 lots from the Staunton, Va., collection were on offer, across all four days of sale, and many of the top lots had their provenance. Such was the case with the top lot, a rare Baird Coca-Cola “Chicago era” advertising store clock that sold to a phone bidder from Canada for $17,010. According to Will Kimbrough, head of Americana and fine art, and one of the firm’s auctioneers, the originality of the clock “won the day.” A rare form in itself, most of the ones that come up for sale have varying degrees of restoration, but this example, which was published in Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide and had additional provenance to the Encino, Calif., collection of Robert and Gail Rentzer. “It’s the Coke clock to have,” Kimbrough said.
Another Coca-Cola piece – a circa 1896 countertop syrup dispenser made by the Wheeling Pottery Co., also from the Hunter Collection, sold just over the low estimate but high enough to rank among the sale’s top lots. It brought $5,164 from a trade buyer who was bidding in the room.
Flags “ruled the day” on the last session of the auction. While the bulk of the flags from the Hunter’s collection had largely been dispersed late last year, more than 30 examples were offered in this session and two of the flags flew high enough to bring high enough prices to place high on the leaderboard. Sharing the sale’s top price at $17,010, was an 11-star silk Confederate Civil War flag in a vernacular “First National” style with pale blue canton that measured just 3¾ by 5¼ inches. Of even smaller size at 1¾ by 4 inches, a similar format Confederate Civil War silk flag, called a “Bible Flag” because it could fit in a bible, was raised to $12,150.
“I bought the majority of the flags, and I am thrilled to be their new owner,” York County, Penn., flag dealer Jeff Bridgman said, confirming he was an active participant in the sale. “I had sold him some of these years ago. Charlie was a great guy; so is Jeffrey Evans and his staff. I can’t say enough about their professionalism, general, good nature and forthrightness, something not always easily found in the auction world. They were the perfect auction house to handle Charlie’s exceptional material.”
Toys and decorative arts were a highlight on the second day of the auctions and were led at $14,580 for a folk art painted cloth child’s doll attributed to Izannah Walker (Rhode Island, 1817-1888). The 17-inch doll was accompanied by an exhibition label that read “My name is / ‘Sally Abby’ / I was made in Fall River, Mass / About 1855 / Loaned by / Mrs. Chas. S. Furber.” It was the top lot of nearly 300 lots of dolls, doll clothing, doll houses or doll furniture from the Boonsboro, Md., collection of Eleanor V. Lakin. Also driving interest in the doll was its exhibition history at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in 1988 and its appearance in Eleanor Lakin’s 2013 tome, Folk Art For Children: Handmade in America 1760-1940. A private collector in Utah will be giving the doll a new home.
Two German Steiff mohair teddy bears, one blonde, the other brown, from the Hunter Collection achieved $6,683 from a buyer in Colorado. According to Kimbrough, the larger of the two – one measured 16½ inches, the other 26 inches – was “a rare and early example.”
“I was auctioneering that part – it was close to the end of the sale and after days, we were all exhausted and the crowd had thinned. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought those would go for so much,” Kimbrough said, referring to a pair of American figural cast iron goose andirons from the Hunter Collection, which flew to $10,935 from an estimate of just $80-$120. “It was definitely the surprise of the weekend.”
Another lot that provided a revelatory result was $9,113 for a circa 1800 Pennsylvania pine blanket or dower chest that had been in the collection of Cincinnati, Ohio, collectors Dr James and Sheri Swinehart and featured later paint decoration in the Berks County style by Peter Deen.
A small – 8 by 5-7/9 inch – Staffordshire medallion portrait series transfer printed ceramic vegetable dish had some minor areas of repair and restoration but still topped the category for ceramics and sold to a private collector in the Midwest for $10,328. The dish featured a central view of Summer Hill, Kent (England), with portrait medallions of Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, DeWitt Clinton and George Washington to the top, and a view depicting “Entrance of the Canal into the Hudson at Albany” printed below, and with marks for Andrew Stevenson, Cobridge, England. Offered on the second day of the auction, it bested the top lot of silver, a Gorham and possibly other makers coin silver and sterling flatware service, extensive at 252-pieces, that bidders came to the table for and bid to $7,898. The service had provenance to the collection of the late Theodore “Ted” and Alvina Breckel of Oley, Penn., and Winnetka, Ill.
The first day of the auctions headlined books and were led at $7,290 from a private California collector for an extensive archive from the Pettigrew family of Botetourt County, Valley of Virginia, with an uncounted lot of early manuscripts dating from the late 1840s to 1860s.
Another book lot that Kimbrough thought was particularly fine was a 17-volume set of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writings, late Nineteenth Century, which were distinguished by her autograph in the first volume, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Estimated at $500/800, the set had been in the collection of Joseph and June Hennage and was being deaccessioned by Colonial Williamsburg. It found a new home with an online trade buyer for $6,075. Another lot of books from Colonial Williamsburg was a 20-volume set of the writings of Thomas Jefferson that an online trade buyer took to $3,645.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates’ next sales are decorative arts April 21-23 and Americana June 23-25.
For information, 540-434-3939 or www.jeffreysevans.com.
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