Published: May 4, 2021
By Greg Smith
DOWNINGTOWN, PENN.- “It’s a funny story,” began Jamie Shearer of Pook & Pook Auctions as he recounted the discovery of a stamp on the back of a Pennsylvania blanket chest belonging to a group of similar examples referred to as “Glen Rock” chests. The chests are known for their exuberant paint decoration that includes dual floral motif panels to the front, dual floral motifs to the top, star decorations to the side panels and brightly painted applied split balusters decorated with floral stencils.
Pook & Pook offered a vibrant example from this group in its April 23 sale from the collection of Bud and Judy Newman, which sold for $34,440 to a Pennsylvania collector.
“I looked at another one on my way up to give our proposal to the Newmans,” Shearer said. “It was a twin. There’s about a dozen of these known, so to see two in a matter of hours was mind blowing. When we looked at it, we didn’t see a stamp, but the collector called us up after and said he found one. It was stamped for William Heindel of Jefferson, Penn.”
Heindel is listed as a Jefferson resident in an 1880 census, but unlisted in an 1860 census. His profession was listed as a furnituremaker and undertaker and he was invariably involved in the production of coffins.
“Those two professions intertwine, it was typical,” Shearer said, “Especially in a small town like Jefferson.”
As chance would have it, Shearer’s father lives close to Jefferson and the auctioneer described the town as “small, with not many people in it. Now it’s a small town that made a splash on the big stage.”
Jefferson and Glen Rock are within ten miles of each other as the crow flies.
“The stamp we discovered was the only signed example that we know of,” Shearer said, relating that it will stay in that person’s private collection. “To finally be able to put a name to it is a big deal for the folk art and Americana community. This is a very recognizable chest – and it only took 150 years.”
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