Published: July 17, 2007
An exceptionally rare, painted Wythe County, Va., blanket chest, crafted around 1800 and in a remarkable state of preservation, sold for $99,000 in a sale of Southern furniture, pottery and folk art held May 12 by Case Antiques. The sale was held at the Knoxville Convention & Exhibition Center.
The chest was the top lot in the sale. It boasted three painted panels, with dahlia flower and urn designs, plus two decorated circles on the top. This “dahlia” chest belongs to the earliest and most intricately decorated chests from the Wythe County group and descended through the Dutton family.
“I thought the chest would be a strong draw, and it was,” said John Case of Case Antiques. “Strong, fresh-to-the-market merchandise will always do well.” Case said new records were set for rare forms of Southern furniture and pottery. “The surprise was also seeing how well some of the art pieces performed,” he observed.
The sale drew a little over 200 registered online bidders. “While online bidding was a small minority in terms of total sales, it was an important factor in driving healthy bidding on the floor,” Case said. “Absentee and phone bidders factored heavily into the day’s gross. It was a spirited sale, from start to finish.”
A fine and highly decorated redware pitcher attributed to the Cain pottery family of Sullivan County, Tenn., achieved $22,550. It was an auction record for a “Great Road” pottery form. The example exhibited elaborate use of manganese and yellow slip to decorate the exterior body of the pitcher; manganese ran in the interior. There were also inscribed sine waves around the midsection.
A classical bronze console table by Oscar Bruno Bach (1884‱957) rose to $29,700, a new auction record for a table by Bach. The signed piece had a matching bronze mirror with classical scenes.
A desk and bookcase attributed to Jesse Needham of Randolph County, N.C., changed hands for $18,700. The beautifully appointed piece was the earliest dated piece from the Needham school and featured carved pinwheel candle drawers, desk interior shaped drawers, fluted document drawers, pitched pediment with dentil molding and relief carved floral decorations.
An historic oil on canvas Western landscape of Zion Canyon National Park in Utah by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh (1853‱935) sold for $11,000, a record auction price for a Dellenbaugh landscape. The artist spent the summer of 1903 painting Zion Canyon and the resulting paintings were exhibited at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair.
A rare North Carolina stoneware jar, stamped “N H Dixon” (for Nathaniel H. Dixon [1827‱863] of Chatham County, N.C.), realized $13,200, a record auction price for the potter. Also, a Middle Tennessee two-handle jar, signed in script “G W Dunn” (George Washington Dunn) made $3,190; and a miniature jug by the potter Charles Decker, found in Washington County, Tenn., brought $2,750.
Several pieces attributed to Greene County, Tenn., potter C.A. Haun were offered. A redware jug considered to be one of the finest surviving examples of his work realized $13,200, while another, unsigned, Haun jar sold for $7,425. Christopher A. Haun (1821‱861), was a Union sympathizer during the Civil War, and was one of the most accomplished potters in Tennessee history. He was captured by Confederate forces and hanged in 1861.
A pair of pottery pieces by Jesse Vestal (1828‱904) did well. One was a scarce stoneware jar, signed in script by the potter in 1880. It sailed past the high estimate of $2,800 to command $5,170. The other was a Virginia stoneware pitcher, also signed and dated 1865 in script. The example is the only known signed Jesse Vestal pitcher. It made a respectable $4,840.
Rounding out the top lots, a circa 1835 framed portrait of President Andrew Jackson by an unknown artist fetched $15,400; an East Tennessee long rifle, marked “E Bull” (for Elisha Bull) on the barrel, hit the mark at $9,900; a very early East Tennessee tin safe, with tiger maple drawer fronts, realized $10,450; an East Tennessee tin safe, with candle and arch tins, reached $5,770; and the earliest known Tennessee theorem, dated 1840, from Jonesborough, went for $2,090.
Prices quoted include a ten percent buyer’s premium.
Case Antiques is a relative newcomer in the auction world, having conducted its first sale in 2006. For information, www.caseantiques.com or 865-558-3033.
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