Published: May 14, 2002
By Carol Sims
MANHEIM, PENN. – Conestoga Auction Co., Inc, held an unreserved Americana, Folk Art and Ceramics Auction on May 4. Three auctioneers handled the 940-lot sale: Phil Nissley, Doug Ebersole and Jeff De Hart, taking three shifts of about one-and-one-half hours each, with the sale beginning at 9 am and ending at 6:30 pm.
A full house of about 250 bidders plus about another 118 bidding by phone and left bids made the auction lively. The bidders came from 27 different states. At least one museum was bidding on some of the lots that came from Lancaster County.
“We are privileged to be handling this kind of material,” said Nissley. The sale included more than 130 pieces of spatterware china and design spatter, Leeds soft paste china, 45 pieces of early decorated stoneware, redware, French faience, Canton china, Staffordshire, and Flow Blue china. There were also examples of woodenware, quilts, samplers, hooked rugs, David Ellinger theorems and paintings, 35 Frakturs, baskets, carved folk art canes, tinware and furniture.
The top lots were two fine examples of Pennsylvania craftsmanship. Diminutive in size, they each brought $47,300. One was a miniature chest by Weber (active 1835-1855). It was decorated with yellow paint as a ground, trees and red flowers. It measured 45/8 by 61/2 by 4 inches and was “a fine, fine example” according to Nissley. “Everything was right about this piece,” he continued. A private East Coast collector became the new owner.
The second top lot was a Lancaster County compass box, used as a trinket chest. The decoration was put on with aid of a compass and hand painted. It measured 61/2 by 71/2 by 51/8 inches and was made circa 1800-1840. In excellent condition, the box brought $47,300. A slightly larger dome-top compass box was not in quite as good condition and brought $17,600.
Cobalt blue slip-decorated stoneware included an unsigned water cooler that sold for $11,000, a two-gallon pitcher that brought $2,090 and a three-gallon pitcher that came to $3,550. All were from Pennsylvania and were made circa 1840-1870.
A memorable sale among the spatterware examples was the ten-inch, five-color rainbow spatterware plate that saw some intense bidding and an end price of $18,700.
Fraktur had its highlights too. The prime example was a Samuel Bentz piece that sold for $30,200. A Christian Strenge (Lancaster County) Fraktur sold for $14,300 and a Daniel Peterman (York County) came to $8,250.
A Schwenkfelder folk art watercolor sold for $8,700, while an oil on canvas painting of chicks in a basket by Ben Austrian in 1907 sold for $21,450 to a private collector. It measured 15 by 171/4 inches.
A Pennsylvania walnut schrank had new feet and new corners. It brought $11,000. An early (circa 1770-1780) hanging cupboard with rattail hinges “was a sweetheart,” in Nissley’s words. The mint-condition, soft wood piece had a very old natural finish and brought $14,300.
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