Published: November 16, 2004
“It was bittersweet,” commented Jeffery Evans of Green Valley Auctions, after selling an extremely rare hanging wall-cupboard by Joseph Spitler this past weekend, November 12 and 13.
The emotional seesaw came as Evans and his crew had grown quite fond of the hanging cupboard since its discovery and arrival at the offices of the auction house this past Labor Day.
Easing the pain, however, was the fact that the wall cupboard not only established a record price at auction for any piece of Shenandoah Valley furniture, but it also became the most “expensive, important and exciting” piece the auction gallery has ever sold, according to Evans.
Discovered in a closet in the home of the direct descendants of the fraktur artist Jacob Strickler, the cupboard was in absolutely pristine condition having “hung undisturbed for over 150 years with no exposure to sunlight or other damaging elements.” The rare cupboard had been used for many years as a medicine cabinet, and the only alteration was the addition of porcelain knobs sometime in the late Nineteenth Century.
Ironically, the undetected cupboard resided behind closed doors a mere few feet from a tall case clock by Spitler picked from the house by Don Walters in the 1970s. That clock, one of two known, is in the Esmarian collection at the American Folk Art Museum; the other is in the collection of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center.
Eight phone bidders and a host of “wannabe” buyers in the gallery were frothing at the bit as the piece crossed the auction block. It opened for bidding at $125,000 and the race was on, with bids coming fast and furious, advancing in $25,000 increments. It was all action on the floor, with Millie McGehee and Marshall Goodman hammering away at the lot.
At the $500,000 mark, however, bidding narrowed to two telephones, with David Schorsch at the end of one and David Wheatcroft at the end of the other. The pace never slowed until the cupboard hit the $700,000 mark, when the bidding process moved at a slower pace. Still moving in $25,000 jumps, the lot progressed methodically to a record-setting price of $962,500, including premium, going Schorsch’s way.
“It was a good day, a special day for us,” said Schorsch, who, along with his partner Eileen Smalls, purchased the cupboard for a client.
“I regard this as a national treasure,” stated the Woodbury, Conn., dealer. “I think it is something that we will never see the likes of again and I think the price and the excrdf_Descriptionent in the marketplace reflected that.”
A complete review of the auction will appear in a future issue.
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