With old friends and fellow collectors filling their Downingtown auction gallery, Pook & Pook, Inc. was buzzing on Friday night as they hosted a cocktail party reception and symposium for the sixth sale of the Collection of Paul and Rita Flack. The Flack Collection is the result of a lifelong passion for antiques, and the items in this sale exhibit the unerring eye of Paul & Rita and their quest for discovering the finest antiques in the country. Speakers Lisa Minardi and Stella Rubin were invited to attend on Friday night and they drew a large crowd of collectors eager to discover more about the outstanding Pennsylvania folk art items on offer. Ms. Minardi set up a pop-up exhibit where guests could ask questions as she shared her expertise on the Pennsylvania German Arts, specifically addressing a handful of outstanding examples of fraktur. Ms. Rubin led a group of guests on a walking tour around the auction gallery, illuminating attendants with her extensive knowledge of the more than twenty quilts featured in the sale.
On Saturday morning, smells of apple cider donuts and fresh apple cider from the local orchard drew crowds in again, offering a cozy respite from chilly autumn air and sprinkling rain showers. Overall, the sale was a great success for the Downingtown auction house, with a 96% sell through rate and a total realized price of $758,010.00. 341 bidders were registered on bidsquare.com, with another 158 bidders registered in-house and through Pook & Pook’s website.
In many ways, the objects on offer spoke for themselves. With rich provenance, outstanding condition, vibrant and charming details, and not to mention the Flack’s name attached to the sale, the auction drew considerable interest. As a result, extraordinary prices were achieved on a number of objects. Perhaps the most promising result of all was in the performance of quilts crossing the block, indicating a potential resurgence in the interest for exceptional textiles. An outstanding Pennsylvania stuffed appliqué quilt, formerly of the Du Pont family collection, was hammered down at $19,520, more than doubling its high estimate. A Pennsylvania Mennonite appliqué pieced Princess feather quilt achieved $3,660, a York County Mennonite patchwork star quilt reached $2,196, and a Pennsylvania patchwork Bowmansville star quilt was sold for $5,612.
One of three top lots of the day was perhaps no surprise to any bidder, achieved by the cover lot of the catalog. The Conrad Gilbert ink and watercolor full-page drawing of a gentleman in a red coat reached $39,040, selling early in the sale in a volley of bidding. Mirroring the Gilbert, with a sale price of $39,040 was another example of noteworthy fraktur, the Oley Township Artist ink and watercolor drawing, with birds, winged angels with trumpets, and two curious looking mermaids. The third lot of the day to achieve $39,040 was the Charles Hoffman watercolor landscape of the Northampton County, another unsurprising result due to the extensive detailing and extraordinary delicacy of Hoffman’s work.
Other pieces of fraktur with outstanding price results were the birth certificate attributed to Anthony Rehm ($17,080), the Francis Portzline birth certificate made for his son ($9,150), and the vorschrift attributed to Johann Adam Eyer ($5,612). The only oil on canvas painting offered in the sale, a landscape depiction of Cedar Spring Farm in Juniata County, almost doubled its high estimate selling to a phone bidder for $19,520.
The sale was not without some surprises; perhaps the biggest of all being achieved by one of the many carved and painted birds in the sale. The charming depiction of a running pheasant was originally listed with a pre-sale estimate of $300-$500, but after a volley between an in-house bidder and a phone bidder, the bird was finally hammered down with a staggering price of $7,930 – more than fifteen times its high estimate. Charming hand-painted wooden birds by recognizable makers also received much attention, with the rare Virginville Carver bird on a pedestal doubling its high estimate at $31,720, and the Wilhelm Schimmel spread-winged eagle achieving $7,320.
Exceptional examples of painted furniture continue to demand high prices at Pook & Pook auctions, with a number of notable pieces crossing the block on Saturday. Early in the sale, a vibrant Lehigh County painted dower chest achieved $18,300, while later in the sale a phone bidder won the Jacob Hoestedler painted pine corner cupboard for the same price of $18,300. A fine Pennsylvania small painted walnut cupboard nearly tripled its high estimate, selling for $7,320.
A number of unique and intriguing smalls also caught the eye of interested bidders, with the remarkably popular Pennsylvania tin witch cookie cutter achieving more than three times its high estimate at $3,416. The item was a favorite during preview for the sale, with many interested guests eager to examine the broomstick-riding sorceress. Metalwork was well-represented in the sale, with a pair of wrought iron tulip hinges quadrupling their high estimate to sell for $2,196 and a Lancaster County wrought iron thumb latch doubling its high estimate to be hammered down at $2,684. A painted sheet iron figural weathervane, depicting a Native American archer also doubled its high estimate at $8,540. A toleware coffee pot in excellent condition sold for $5,368 and a painted table top candle stand, with double arm tin candle sockets reached $3,172.
By Pook & Pook, Inc
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