Published: July 11, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos By Laura Beach, Photos Courtesy Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
MOUNT CRAWFORD, VA. — Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates’ scholarly interest in ceramics, glass, the arts of the South and, most lately, textiles, ensures that the hardworking auction house in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley always has as much to say as it has to sell.
True to form was the company’s June 18 Americana auction spotlighting the arts of Virginia and the South. The session realized roughly $800,000 including buyer’s premium, while yielding much to see and study. More than 3,500 registered bidders, many online, competed for consignments from nearly 140 sources. Three major purchases went to institutions, said auctioneer Jeff Evans, noting that the mostly unreserved auction was a true gauge of the current market.
At $87,750, the sale’s top lot was a Virginia walnut sideboard table with a serpentine top, reeded legs and distinctive cross-stretcher base. A very rare form — a nearly identical example in cherry belongs to the Virginia Historical Society and descended in the Coles family of Albemarle County, Va. — the table had until recently been on view at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello but was deaccessioned by the institution because it is not, as far as we know, directly linked to either Jefferson or his former home. Nevertheless, it is possible that the piece was made by a craftsman who worked for Jefferson and other local landowning families, said buyer Sumpter Priddy III, an Alexandria, Va., dealer and scholar.
Reached by phone after the sale, Priddy told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “The Coles were great friends of Jefferson. More to the point, a couple of artisans who worked for Jefferson had ties to other families in the area. Albemarle County was a very civilized place circa 1775–1785, when this table was made. I’d known the table for years from Monticello and had always liked it.”
Co-organizer of “Safes of the Valley” at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in 2014 and 2015, Jeff Evans is an authority on tin-paneled case piece furniture and frequently has examples to sell. Perhaps the most interesting one this round was an unusual safe resembling, in shape, a Southern hunt board. Possibly from South Carolina, it brought $28,080 ($3/5,000) and featured tins decorated with stars, moons and what appear to be palmettos. A Tennessee safe attributed to John Wolfe of Sullivan County sold for $3,276. Shenandoah Valley of Virginia safes brought $8,775 and $2,457, while a southeast Virginia walnut corner cupboard with punched-tin panels garnered $7,605.
Also of note was a desirable set of 12 Federal shield back chairs, $30,420, of carved mahogany and yellow pine secondary wood. The jury was still out on whether they were made in Charleston, S.C., or New York. Of Kentucky interest was a four-drawer cherry chest, $12,870, with distinctive trailing vine and dot and dash inlays.
The current rage for all things Alexander Hamilton no doubt contributed to general interest in Evans’ cover lot, a 12-by-10¼-inch portrait on panel of Hamilton that sold for $26,910 to an institution. Dating to circa 1794–1806 and fresh to the market, the profile portrait is thought to be the work of the Anglo American itinerant painter William J. Weaver (circa 1759–1817), who appears to have made the Hamilton images as keepsakes for Hamilton friends and allies.
Weaver is ripe for further study, as is New Market, Va., portrait miniaturist Silon Amos Henkel. Two Henkel miniatures on paper, one signed and dated 1831, fetched $3,803. Evans & Associates say they are part of a part of a relatively large group of profile portraits mostly executed in the Valley of Virginia during the second quarter of the Nineteenth Century.
Also of Shenandoah Valley interest was an 1809 watercolor and ink on paper birth fraktur, $25,740, by Jacob Crop (Cropth) for Daniel Wiessler (Whisler). It is one of five known fraktur by the artist, two of which are signed.
Jeff and Beverly Evans’ keen interest in ceramics and glass has lately been enhanced by the addition of associate Brenda Hornsby Heindl, a potter whose favorite medium is stoneware and a Winterthur graduate who worked at both MESDA and Colonial Williamsburg. One of Heindl’s projects has been cataloging pieces from the collection of George and Mickey Deike, who published their trove in Feathers and Foliage: The Life and Times of the Pearlware Peafowl in 2005. As it has in past sales, Evans & Co. offered selections from the Deike collection. Examples this round included a Chinoiserie coffee pot and cover, $702.
Closer to home, a rare Nineteenth Century Shenandoah Valley of Virginia glazed redware butter tub stamped “S. Bell & Son” of Strasburg, Va., made $5,558. A recently discovered one-quart stoneware crock stamped “E. SUTER. / Harrisonburg” achieved $5,558. Among other items of regional interest were four folk art carved canes, $4,680, by Colonel Gabriel Thomas Barbee (1814–1908) and a tooled leather key basket, $4,973, possibly by S.S. Cottrell and Co. of Richmond, Va.
“The envelope is the x-factor,” Jeff Evans, who generally includes some Civil War material in his sales, said of a notable lot, $16,380, bearing witness to Robert E. Lee’s warm regard for a Virginia officer, Colonel Samuel Richards Johnston, in his employ. The documents included two signed letters, one retaining its original wartime franked envelope; a signed and inscribed CDV of Lee; and a quarter-plate tintype of Johnston. The property descended in the family of Dr William Miller Duncan of Staunton, Va.
Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates hosts its next cataloged Americana sale featuring material from Virginia and the South on November 12.
For additional information, www.jeffreysevans.com or 504-434-3939.
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