Published: February 11, 2003
LAMBERTSVILLE, N.J. – Art pottery highlighted ceramics up for bids at Craftsman’s two-day sale January 18-19. Virtually every maker, major and minor, European and American alike, was represented at Saturday’s Main Event and Sunday’s New Collector session (which offered numerous multi-piece lots). In all, 1,000 pieces of pottery found new homes.
Also offered were groups of lighting, metal, art glass and framed art in a catalog event, conducted before full-house crowds at David Rago’s gallery. The event generated just over $1 million with more than 90 percent of the lots sold – an affirmation of the good health of this market.
While estimate-exceeding prices were registered by examples from all major makers, George Ohr, Grueby and Newcomb College seemed to perform with particular energy.
The sale’s top lot, setting a new world auction record, was a remarkable George Ohr 121/2 -inch teapot showing red and pink on amber, which finished at $55,812. Not far behind was a rare, in this size, 121/2-inch Grueby “oak tree landscape” tile designed by Addison LeBoutiller, which also distanced estimates at $43,125. Among the Newcomb, an 11-inch chocolate pot, 1907, decorated with a landscape by Lucia Jordan reached $20,700 – certainly a princely sum for any form other than a vase.
Similar sums were generated by rare pots produced by more obscure but equally coveted makers. Tops among them were a sculptural 43/4-inch Losanti porcelain vase by Mary Louise McLaughlin in glossy white that doubled estimates at $26,437, and a Redlands pottery piece, this a small covered jar carved with swimming sharks, that made a very large $15,525.
“I was, really, somewhat amazed by the success of this sale,” said David Rago afterwards. “With our furniture business now back in Pittsfield, we had the room to really load up on pottery, glass, lighting and metal – and so we did. But looking at our catalog, I had to wonder if the market could actually absorb so much material in a single gulp. But well – gulp! – it could and it did.”
Additional art pottery highlights from the Saturday session included, by George Ohr, nearly 30 examples, many of which finished above estimates. A four-inch vase showing a vivid red/forest green speckled glaze made $35,250; a twisted nine-inch bisque vase, carrying the verse “Mary had a little lamb & Ohr had a little pottery,” realized $23,500; and a bulbous five-inch vase in green, gray and lavender cruised to $16,450.
About ten pieces of Grueby were offered and sold. A nine-inch two-color vase finished over estimate at $6,462, despite minor restoration, and a huge 161/2-inch matte green vase performed as expected at $10,575.
Some 35 examples of Newcomb College were on hand, a highly instructive exhibition as all periods of production were represented. Finishing close behind the chocolate pot mentioned, a 91/2-inch high glaze vase showing stylized artichoke blossoms, 1902, by Olive Webster Dodd bloomed up to $17,625, and a nine-inch full-moon scenic by AF Simpson made a healthy $14,100.
Rookwood, about 35 examples, was typically well received, with many lots exceeding estimates. A group of plaques was led by a 91/4- by 121/2-inch scenic, 1915, by Lenore Asbury that made $9,400, and a 171/4-inch Jewel Porcelain vase by Arthur Conant, 1915, showing peacocks, which realized $12,925.
Prices continue to rise for the very best of Fulper. Among about a dozen examples, a 13 1/4-inch buttressed vase pierced with triangles at the neck and covered in Flemington green doubled estimates at $3,818, and a bulbous 12-inch vase in gunmetal and Chinese blue crystalline flambé finished at the same figure.
More than a dozen examples of Van Briggle were presented and sold, with several finishing well over estimates. A ten- by five-inch vase, 1903, with poppy pods under a green/ pink mottled matte glaze, soared to $6,462, while an 83/4-inch gourd-shaped vase, also 1903, with a frothy turquoise/ purple glaze, reached $2,828.
Also on hand was a large and varied collection, about 30 pieces, of Clifton pottery. The vast majority sold within estimates, with a handful doing even better. At prices ranging roughly from $300 to $1,200, this maker’s ware seems distinctly undervalued according to the gallery.
Other American pottery highlights include a large, gilded John Bennett vase, 1889, showing red hibiscus on cobalt, $5,287; an orange/speckled green Walrath six-inch vase, $4,486; a surpassing Ott & Brewer Belleek vase with gilded nasturtiums, $5,287 and an eight- by nine-inch Hampshire bowl/vase sporting a leathery blue/green glaze that doubled estimates at $2,782.
While there were any number of Tiffany art glass lots on hand, all of which performed well, nearly 50 examples of European art glass and pottery were also offered.
Among the pottery offered, a 51/2-inch Ruskin barrel-shaped vase showing a blue/rose mottled glaze doubled estimates at $2,350; a 151/2-inch Royal Doulton vase etched with goats by Hannah Barlow nearly tripled same at $2,585 and a heavily gilded 53/4-inch Teplitz vase showing a pre-Raphaelite maiden soared to $2,350.
An array of art glass offerings by Galle, La Verre Francais, Daum, D’Argental, Loetz and DeGue was well received. One example was a 20-inch Galle cameo-cut example that distanced estimates at $4,700.
European metal offered was also the object of attention, with Liberty Tudric, pewter, having a good day: an embossed and enameled eight-inch pewter desk clock reach $5,287.
Among American metal and lighting lots, a small Roycroft two-metal box with original lock and key roared to $34,500; a candlestick lamp from this maker reached $2,350 and various Gustav Stickley metal/lighting examples fared largely as expected.
A handful of lighting highlights include a 19-inch Dirk Van Erp table lamp of unusual form that made $11,750; a Handel table lamp, $9,775; a Heintz boudoir lamp that doubled estimates at $2,702, despite missing its silk shade liner; a Tiffany table lamp with leaded dome, $8,225; and a Handel/Hampshire table lamp that realized $3,035, also doubling estimates.
Both the Saturday and Sunday sales offered groups of framed art, largely prints in the Arts and Crafts manner and Persian rugs of varying age. Overall, these performed well and largely as expected.
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