An excellent assortment of freshly picked merchandise is the winning formula utilized by auctioneer Timothy Gould to attract a crowd that follows his auctions in a cultlike manner. Predictably, buyers were once again out in force, filling the Maine Sportsman Club, for Gould’s August 28 auction.
Gould and his band of pickers scour the Northeast in search of prime materials for his twice-yearly sales. This year, however, has been especially kind to the auctioneer and a third sale has been scheduled for November. The auctioneer cites his 36 years in the business and fair dealings with “door-knockers” that keeps the merchandise coming in. Additionally, many of his longtime customers are getting to the point that they are downsizing and items from their private collections are starting to come out.
Spirited bidding was seen throughout the day and strong prices were routinely established. Americana may have seen its ebbs and flows in the mainstream marketplace, but when it comes to good stuff, straight from New England homes, look out. Bidding was fierce at times throughout the day.
Gould commented that he was “very pleased” with the auction and was encouraged by the size of the crowd. “There was a real enthusiasm,” he said, “it was almost like the old days.”
With the standing-room-only crowd anxiously awaiting the start, Gould took to the podium and opened the sale quickly with an ovoid stoneware jug marked Augusta that he hammered down at $258, and that was followed by a firkin in blue-gray paint that realized $460. An Eighteenth Century flame stitched wallet was up next, and several in the crowd chased the lot, with it going out at $1,955.
A rare State of Maine militia belt was up next; it garnered a final bid of $1,840. A small Sandwich glass lamp in amethyst followed, and it brought $1,265.
The top lot of the auction came as a surprise to many in the auction hall as two Native American items that had been consigned too late to be advertised were offered. A Sioux beaded and quilted pipe bag and attached tobacco bag attracted the most attention, with telephone bidders from around the country lined up for action. Gould reported calls coming in from Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and California.
Gould opened the lot at $2,000 and a bidder hit it right away, with the telephones jumping in and bidding briskly. In the end, a phone bidder from California claimed the lot at $18,400. A beaded flint bag, cataloged as Sioux, but thought to possibly be Crow, was offered next, and it did well at $8,625, also selling to a telephone bidder. Both lots had been discovered in a home near Portsmouth, N.H.
Other Native American items included two flat weave mats that sold for $2,960, and a lot containing six items ranging from a tomahawk to a woven mat sold at $1,840.
The top piece of Americana came as a wonderfully executed wooden shield paint decorated with an American eagle was offered. In a nice cream-colored paint, it was further decorated with a detailed eagle with American shield on its breast and an “E Pluribus Unum” ribbon in its beak.
Gould asked for $1,000 to open the lot, and got it right away from the rear of the room where Bailey Island dealers Jim and Nancy Glazer were seated. Bidding was quick-paced as several in the gallery got in on the action, with it finally selling to a telephone bidder for $9,487.
A painted storage box in a bright yellow with stenciled red houses and a foliate border was another lot to attract serious attention. Thought to be from New Hampshire, the box measured 2 feet across and was just over 10 inches tall. Bidding on the rare piece was spirited, with it realizing $8,337 from Maine dealers Butch Berdan and Tom Jewett.
Other smalls included a sweet knife box with heart-shaped cutout handle and finished in a vibrant “lipstick” red paint. Found in Mercer, Maine, the piece had classic proportions. Several in the gallery battled for the lot, with it selling at $4,312. A carved folk art wooden squirrel, reminiscent of a chalk figure, was another lot to exceed expectations. With a nice crazed original finish, the lot sold for $2,645.
Two miniature baskets performed well; a tiny swing-handled basket by Rouse Matteson sold at $1,610, while an early double-handled miniature basket with yellow and red paint was bid to $1,840.
A colorful hooked rug with a sawtooth border and a large turkey in the center, surrounded by “Welcome To Turkey Hill,” was another lot to do well. Bids bounced back and forth on the rare rug before selling in the rear of the room for $9,200.
A watercolor attributed to Joseph Davis did well, selling at $2,990, a theorem depicting a basket of fruit brought $1,322, a primitive oil of a lighthouse thought to be Monhegan Island realized $1,150, and a ship painting by Clement Drew went out at $2,070.
Furniture was led by an “exuberantly” paint decorated four-drawer chest attributed to Shaftsbury, Vt., maker Thomas Matteson. With a nice cutout base and wonderful grained drawers, the chest was knocked down at $5,750. A nice open top cupboard in good red paint sold at $4,025, a child’s-size pole screen in original red paint with yellow banding brought $2,990, and a farm table that measured more than 8 feet long with bread-board ends and turned legs sold at $2,645.
What many thought would be the top lot of the auction, a Seventeenth Century personal bible purchased by “The Father of English Pottery,” Enoch Wood, failed to find a buyer, despite a bidder seated in the front row representing The Potteries Museum at Stoke-On-Kent, England, the home of the largest collection of Wood materials. “I was disappointed that it didn’t sell,” stated Gould after the auction, “but we are in touch with them and it may happen yet.”
Gould has scheduled a third auction for the 2010 season for November 20.
Prices include the premium charged. For further information, www.gouldauctions.com or 207-362-6045.