Published: June 8, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Strawser Auction Group
WOLCOTTVILLE, IND. – Four days, 2,000 lots and one happy auctioneer. Michael Strawser was relieved his marathon May 26-29 sale was over and content with the prices achieved over all categories of American antiques, fine art, glass and majolica.
The sale’s leading category came on the fourth day with its majolica and ceramics section, one of two offerings each year from the auctioneer centered on this material – the other is in the fall. Leading the section and the overall sale was a $23,730 result for a centerpiece compote with a gnarled oak tree trunk-form stem surrounded by a giraffe and stag. The centerpiece was made by George Jones as part of his “Continents” series, a group of compotes with varying animals surrounding a tree trunk-stem. This example represented the largest centerpiece form of that series. Each compote represented a singular continent and the animals appearing under the tree were native to that land. The Bard Graduate Center – which opens “Majolica Mania,” a major exhibition on the material, in September – wrote, “These particular examples may also have appealed to English pride in the British Empire, which was nearing its height in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. Material references to empire, from maps and imported plants to ceramics such as these, were common in British homes at this time.” The 14-inch-high compote came from the 30-year collection of Ann and Robert Fromer, New York collectors who unloaded a sizable consignment in this auction.
Auctioneer Michael Strawser said he had never seen a full set of the Jones “Continent” compotes, though he had sold them individually in the past, including the stag and giraffe example that the Fromers purchased from him.
The Fromers also sold two other examples from the series: America and Europe. Coming in at $10,170 was America’s representation, a compote adorned with an image of two wild-haired buffalo. Selling for $3,955 was the Europe compote, which featured two deer.
Strawser said the price discrepancy is tied to rarity, the “Europe” example being the most common on the market. He said that the same American buyer purchased the stag and giraffe as well as the “America” compote.
Other high flyers from George Jones included a $14,160 result for a “Full Nest” game tureen with double branch handles. The cover is decorated with a mother partridge and her small chicks, while the base features a scene of a mother rabbit and her little bunnies amid ferns and foliate. An example of this form is illustrated on the cover of Karmason’s and Stacke’s 1989 title Majolica: A Complete History And Illustrated Survey. Selling for $5,900 was a Stilton cheese keeper modeled as a white straw bee skip.
At $16,950 was a 16-inch-high model of a hawk perched on a rocky ground base by Hugo Lonitz. The bird’s plumage was finely detailed and the glaze colorations were superb.
Not to be outdone was Minton, whose top results were all teapots. Swimming to $8,260 was a blue-to-green blowfish with a spiked dorsal fin. A branch emerged from the fish’s tail to form a handle and from its mouth, to form the spout. The teapot had provenance to majolica dealer Charles Washburne. Selling for $7,345 was a tortoise teapot with a shell finial on its lid. A tete-a-tete set featured a yellow melon with mushroom cover teapot, a cobalt ground creamer and a turquoise gourd sugar on a large green leaf and blossom tray. The set brought $7,345. Just behind at $7,080 was a yellow lychee-form teapot with a green stem.
“I thought prices were strong with new bidders entering the market,” Strawser said. “Prices were up from our previous auctions.”
Strawser Auction Group will hold a Fiestaware auction June 18 and 19. For information, www.strawserauctions.com or 260-854-2859.
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