Published: December 6, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Kleinfelter’s Auction
MEYERSTOWN, PENN. – Kleinfelter’s Auction hosted its online-only Antique Extravaganza sale on November 19, offering almost 600 lots of salvaged architectural goods, early furniture and decorative arts, fine art, collectibles and books. Of those, all but one lot went to new homes with many lots bought by nearby Pennsylvanian collectors, and the auction’s total was $170,307.
The top lot was also somewhat local; a 1796 German translation of Benjamin Franklin’s (1706-1790) autobiography and The Way To Wealth (1758), published by Benjamin Mayer of Ephrata, Penn., about half an hour south of Meyerstown. Ephrata was an agricultural community known for its “spring waters” that made the borough a resort destination in the Nineteenth Century and was also formerly the main seat of the Mystic Order of the Solitary, an order of the Seventh-Day Dunkers, founded in 1732. Books published by Mayer habitually appear at auction and can be found in archives, but little is known about the man himself, not even a burial record. The book brought $5,412 and went to a Lebanon, Penn., collector.
Only one piece of stoneware passed the four-figure mark, a Cowden & Wilcox stoneware jug that sold for $2,337. Made in Harrisburg, Penn., Cowden & Wilcox is known for its “Man In the Moon” decoration. This 3-gallon jug shows a bunch of three cherries, branches and a vine in the flamboyant style made popular by artist Shem Thomas, who worked with John Cowden after 1859.
The majority of the auction’s top lots were architectural elements salvaged mostly for late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century buildings. The most elaborate of these was also the highest selling, a 40-panel cast iron gate and fence molded to resemble a grape vine. In “very good original condition,” this polychrome gate was “one of the best [Kleinfelter’s had] ever had the pleasure to sell.” The next was two pairs of monumental iron gates from the school of Samuel Yellin (1884-1940), a Ukrainian-born blacksmith who studied and worked in Philadelphia, that each sold for $2,091. Another cast iron fence and gate set from the Nineteenth Century, in good condition, also did well, closing at $1,968.
Doors were also a prominent salvage category. A pair of Nineteenth Century oak doors with their original hardware, cast iron trellis work and glass were the top pair at $2,091. Two more pairs of oak doors followed, both sourced from the same Berks County, Penn., institution, both with stained glass windows and original hardware dating to circa 1920. One pair showed the alpha and omega Greek letters painted onto their glass, and the other was painted with the chi-rho symbol; these went for $1,722 per pair.
Furniture was also spread throughout the lot listings, including a paint-decorated washstand that achieved $1,722. Made circa 1810, the washstand retained all of its original paint and hardware, three drawers with dovetail drawers, convex fronts on both cases and scalloped sides. The decoration showed wear from more than 200 years of use, adding to the charm of the piece.
Prices are quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Kleinfelter’s conducts weekly online auctions through HiBid. For information, 717-272-7078 or www.kleinfelters.com.
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