Published: June 30, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Pook & Pook, Inc.
DOWNINGTOWN, PENN. – On Saturday, June 20, Pook & Pook, Inc., reopened its saleroom, closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to a limited number of in-person bidders for its Americana sale. A small but determined field of about 35 bidders sat socially distanced and held their own against their unseen competitors bidding online and on the phones.
The 487-lot sale, which was 97 percent sold, realized an aggregate total of $942,782, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $473,250/762,250.
The sale had originally been slated to take place on April 17, but the decision was made to delay it until such a time when bidders could examine things in person. “We thought it would behoove us and our consignors to move the sale,” James Pook said after the sale. “We added a few days to preview and had a busy week, all by appointment. It was great to see how strong it was across the board. The sale had been a long time coming so it was nice that it went well, for everyone.”
A framed Chester County, Penn., sampler, worked in 1775 by Martha Thomas, sewed up the top spot, bringing $51,240 from a private collector bidding on the phone in competition with the gallery and numerous online bidders using Bidsquare. The sampler had been illustrated in Schiffer’s Furniture and Its Makers, Chester County, Pennsylvania and had provenance to a Wyomissing, Penn., collection. Pook called it “a real gem, a very quintessential Chester County object.”
Standing tall was a cigar store Indian maiden attributed to the New York City workshop of Samuel Robb, circa late Nineteenth Century, that sold within estimate to a private collector in Maryland bidding on the phone for $24,400. The figure had some condition issues, including a repaired arm and a later surface by Peter Deen.
The fine art category as a whole saw strong results from the beginning, with the first lot of the sale, Sanford Gifford’s (American, 1823-1880) “Indian Summer on the Hudson River” exceeding expectations to close at $20,740 from a private collector. A few lots later, an oil on panel still life of fruit and a fishbowl by James Peale (American, 1749-1831) saw stiff competition and finally settled at $13,420 to a private collector in Florida. Bringing nearly ten times its high estimates, a portrait of Catherine G. Schnable by William Bonnell (American, 1804-1865), went out the door for $10,370.
It would not be a Pook & Pook Americana sale without fraktur, and the sale included nearly 30 examples. The top price of $7,320 was realized for Hannah Bieber’s ink and watercolor fraktur birth certificate from Union County, Penn. All of the remaining fraktur found buyers, ranging in prices from $427 to $5,612.
The sale fielded 11 clocks, eight of which were from Pennsylvania, all finding new homes. Two tall case clocks in particular brought noteworthy results. The pricier of the two – a circa 1790 Chippendale tiger maple brass face example from Bucks County inscribed Solomon Parke Newtown, Bucks County” nearly doubled its high estimate to sound off at $21,960. The other, a slightly later walnut example with painted dial inscribed “Henry Hahn Reading” from Berks County, also saw competition beyond expectations, achieving $12,200. Only one clock failed to sell, an example from New England.
Painted furniture was also well-represented among the top prices. A two-part corner cupboard from Dillsburg, Penn., was aptly described as “vibrantly painted” and retained an original and untouched sponge-decorated surface with yellow doors and moldings that bidders took to $18,300. A Pennsylvania Soap Hollow paint-decorated chest of drawers, signed by John Sala, circa 1855, had characteristic stencil decoration on a red-grained reserve and brought $10,370. Pook was handling for the second time a Pennsylvania child’s sackback Windsor armchair that retained traces of its original painted surface. It had originally crossed Pook’s block when it was sold as part of the Pioneer Americana Collection of Dr and Mrs Donald A. Shelley; it also had provenance to Joe Kindig Jr. All of that combined to achieve the strong result of $11,590. A painted poplar dower chest from Ohio, with provenance to the estate of Pauline Kasserman of Winesburg, Ohio, more than tripled its high estimate to close at $9,760.
The top lot was not the only Chester County sampler in the sale, though it was far and away the highest price achieved for one. Other examples included a silk on linen sampler worked by Mary Haines in 1813 that featured a central house and ribbon border that made $6,100; another silk on linen sampler, dated 1817, had been wrought at West Chester School by “MWH” and finished at $1,952. All three Chester County samplers were from the Wyomissing, Penn., collection.
Six weathervanes were on offer, with two of horse and riders appealing most to buyers. A swell-bodied copper example pranced off for $13,420. A running horse and rider model signed Harris & Co. for J. Harris & Co., of Boston, Mass., 1868-1881, retained traces of original sizing and gilding but sold below estimate, for $8,540. The four other vanes were represented by a cow, an Indian, a rooster and an arrow and sold largely within expectations, bringing prices between $397 and $1,952.
Historical glass flasks in a variety of colors were featured in the sale, led by an amber glass example made in Philadelphia by Kensington Glass Works and featuring Benjamin Franklin and T.W. Dyott, MD, which shattered expectations to end at $15,860. A green glass flask embossed Coffin & Hay of Hammonton, N.J., with eagle and flag decoration sold for $6,100. Another example from Philadelphia’s Kensington Glass Works, this time in pale green glass and depicting General Washington and an eagle, more than doubled its high estimate to achieve $2,440, while a group of three unattributed historical aquamarine glass flasks brought $549 and featured images of George Washington, eagles, a flag and a frigate.
About 20 lots of mocha ware sold halfway through the sale, with a Nineteenth Century marbleized bowl with cover and undertray, nearly doubling its high estimate to finish at $9,150. A Baltimore youth album quilt unfolded to $3,416, the highest price achieved among more than 20 examples on offer.
It would be a mistake to assume that small portable things were only what bidders came to buy. A set of four garden statues of the Four Seasons, dating to the late Nineteenth Century, stood nearly 7 feet tall and more than quadrupled the high estimate to bring $17,080. A Steinway Model B grand piano dating to 1924 reached for a high note and brought it, closing at $9,760 against a $4/6,000 estimate.
Pook & Pook’s next Americana sale will take place on July 10-11 and features the collection of Linda and Dennis Moyer. The collection is focused primarily on Pennsylvania material, most significantly folk art, textile and fraktur. Limited in-room bidding by reservation will be available for that sale as well as preview, by appointment.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Pook & Pook, Inc., is at 463 East Lancaster Avenue. For information, www.pookandpook.com or 610-269-4040.
September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm