DOWNINGTOWN, PENN. – As a snowstorm headed towards the mid-Atlantic, Pook & Pook, Inc, proceeded as scheduled with its January 17-18 Americana and International Auction. The storm did not deter buyers and the sale achieved a total of $1.5 million hammer ($1.9 million including the buyer’s premium), exceeding its aggregate estimates of $426,000/1,493,000, with more than 97 percent of lots selling from the podium.
As is tradition at Pook & Pook, a late Friday afternoon reception with catered sandwiches, fruit, cheese and desserts, with wine and soft drinks, encouraged potential buyers to preview just before the sale got underway at 6 pm. The first 49 lots were from the collection of Jean and Eugene Jacobson of Englewood, N.J.
It was cataloged as Nineteenth Century Chinese export, but according to Ron Pook, it was Late Eighteenth Century and made for the Chinese market. Regardless, the top lot in the sale was this famille rose porcelain vase that saw competition from the United States as well as Asian and the United Kingdom. An institution in the midwestern United States bought it for $329,400 ($1/1,500).
If one was not paying attention, one might have missed the introduction to what was cataloged as a Nineteenth Century Chinese export famille rose porcelain vase, made for the European market, with applied kneeling figures wearing tricorne hats on either side of the vase, and estimated at $1/1,500. James Pook opened bidding on the vase above $20,000, eliciting startled gasps from those in the audience. Once bidding began, most of the action came from the standing phone bank, where nearly a dozen phone lines had been reserved to support the interest that flooded to Pook from around the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. In the end, an unidentified institution in the Midwestern United States bidding on the phone prevailed, winning the lot for $329,400.
When asked about the vase, Ron Pook said it turned out to not have been made for the export market but for the domestic market and was most likely made in the late Eighteenth Century. The European figures symbolize Western culture looking up to the Chinese culture. “We had a lot of interest in it, even weeks ahead,” said Pook.
The Jacobson’s eye for Chinese export was not limited to porcelains. A China trade painting depicting a view of Whampoa Anchorage that was the cover lot for the catalog and estimated at $15/25,000 exceeded expectations when it sold for $34,160 to a private client who had left an absentee bid. A second China trade painting depicting the Hongs at Canton sold within estimate ($12/18,000) to an online bidder for $16,250 while a China trade painting of a naval engagement on the Boca Tigris river fetched $5,856, also within estimate.
A private collector who had never previously bought at Pook & Pook paid $122,000 — the second highest price in the sale — for this historically important appointment of Anthony Wayne to Major General of the Legion of the United State of America. It was dated March 19, 1793 and was prominently signed by President George Washington ($100/150,000).
For the most part, American furniture in the Jacobson collection met or exceeded expectations and highlights included the first lot in the sale – a Pennsylvania Queen Anne walnut dressing table, that a trade buyer in the room took home for $12,200, and a diminutive Queen Anne walnut high chest of drawers from Massachusetts that a phone bidder bought for $19,520. Selling for $13,420 was a New York Federal mahogany triple pedestal dining table in the manner of Duncan Phyfe that had been acquired from Ginsburg & Levy. A Chippendale mahogany drop-leaf table that had descended in the family of Captain James Mugford of Marblehead, Mass., and had been handled by Israel Sack, seemed a good buy when it realized only $5,856. It was purchased by a buyer in the room who beat out a trade buyer in the room.
A collection from New York that comprised more than 100 lots of mostly historical Staffordshire and Liverpool Herculaneum porcelain and some glass followed the Jacobson collection. Notable results were a blue and white Staffordshire platter with portrait medallions of Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Governor George Clinton and George Washington that more than doubled its high expectations when a bidder in the room beat out all competitors to buy it for $20,740. The other surprise in the section came from a lot containing two early Nineteenth Century Liverpool Herculaneum bowls that had transfer busts of George Washington on their interiors, together with two mugs with verses. Despite condition issues and low estimates ($400/700 for the lot), bidders liked what they saw, and competition pushed the lot to close at $10,370, to an online bidder.
A section of fine art provided variety from the decorative arts that had preceded them and included several works from Pennsylvania artists, including Laurence Campbell, Peter Sculthorpe, Richard Evett Bishop, Hobson Pttman and David Brumbach but was headed by a Robert Rauschenberg” print “Signs,” number 75 of an edition of 250 from a Lititz, Penn., estate that more than quadrupled its high estimate and sold to a phone bidder for $23,180.
The final group of lots of the night was property from the collection of William E. and Anne H. Lewis of Columbus, Ohio, that topped out at $11,590 for a mid-Eighteenth Century New England painted pine hutch table that had been estimated at $2/2,500.
The second session got underway at 9 am the following morning, beginning with a Pennsylvania William and Mary spice chest that sold for $58,560. It was followed by a Center County, Penn., fraktur by Johann Conrad Gilbert for Samuel Stober that realized $15,860, more than double its high estimate. It was the highest price achieved for a fraktur, of more than a dozen on offer. Other fraktur of note were a set of four Pennsylvania ink and watercolor fraktur depicting “The Prodigal Son” that received more than 36 bids and more than tripled the highest expectations when the lot sold for $12,200. Surviving in its original painted frame may have provided further enticement for a Northumberland County fraktur birth certificate for Benjamin Reik by Daniel Otto, the “Flat Tulip Artist,” which bidders took to $7,930.
Bidders worked themselves into a bit of a lather over this “Soap Hollow” 1871 dated Somerset County, Penn., painted pine chest of drawers. It achieved $36,600 ($25/35,000).
Offerings of painted furniture were plentiful in the sale, which saw several strong results throughout. A Pennsylvania painted poplar two-part Dutch cupboard from Berks County, circa 1830, was in its original flame-grained surface. Estimated at $8/12,000, it brought $19,520. A painted dresser box by Joseph Lehn exceeded expectations and brought $3,660, as did a Juniata County, Penn., painted settee similar to one in the collection of Dr Donald Shelley that came to rest at $14,640. The highest price for painted furniture was $36,600, which was realized for a Somerset County, Penn., chest of drawers that had been illustrated in Muller’s Soap Hollow The Furniture and Its Makers and previously handled by Olde Hope Antiques.
The top-selling lot in the second session was a framed manuscript appointing Anthony Wayne to Major General of the Legion of the United States of America, dated March 19, 1793, that brought $122,000, within estimate. “It was bought over the phone by a private collector in the Midwest, someone new to us,” Ron Pook confirmed after the sale.
Eleven tall case clocks and one French mantel clock comprised the selection of time pieces in the sale. The selection was led by a Lancaster County, Penn., Federal tall case clock by Martin Shreiner with unusual stepped-waist case that sold for $29,280 to a private collector on the phone. New England clocks were in the minority at the sale but an example with distinctive paterae and corner fan inlay and double-peaked cornice signed by Luther Goddard of Shrewsbury, Mass., closed at $10,980, more than double its low estimate. Goddard was a silversmith, clock and watch maker who was a cousin to Simon Willard.
Of the textile offerings, quilts were more abundant than samplers. Leading the sampler selection was a New Jersey silk on linen house sampler wrought by Rachel Austin of Burlington County in 1831 that realized $1,586. The highest price paid for a quilt was $813, for a Lancaster County, Penn., Amish “sunshine and shadow” example with vibrant purple borders that had been estimated at $400/700.
The market for decorative “smalls” – ceramics, glass and objects made from metal or wood – made up a large portion of the sale. A deep sapphire blue glass flask marked Union Co. Kensington featured Columbia and eagle decoration that had been cataloged as “exceedingly rare” saw a particularly strong result, bringing $19,520 against an estimate of $2/4,000. Another item denoted as “rare” that did well was a dated 1848 tin coffeepot made by Peter Derr of Berks County and with punched decoration by Derr’s brother in law, Jacob Shade. The estimate of $4/8,000 seems, in retrospect, to have been conservative, with the pot bringing $15,860. A carved and painted two-horse team by Lancaster County, Penn., artist Peter Brubacker (1816-1898) were coaxed past its high estimate to settle at $10,980, only slightly more than the $10,370 realized by a painted wood and metal sign for the Brackinville Inn of Delaware.
The cover lot was this large (29½ by 44 inches) China Trade oil on canvas view of Whampoa Anchorage, that went for $34,160 to a private buyer who won it on an absentee bid ($15/25,000).
Ceramics offered in the second session provided a marked contrast to the primarily European offerings sold in the first session. Redware and stoneware are perennial favorites with buyers at Pook & Pook; this sale was no different. Bringing $9,760 against an estimate of $3/5,000 was a Snyder County, Penn., redware reticulated footed bowl inscribed “Antony Noll 1858.” Topping offerings of cobalt-decorated stoneware was a 3-gallon jug by Cowden & Wilcox of Harrisburg, Penn., that featured a cobalt “man in the moon” decoration that more than doubled its high estimate to realize $8,540. A crock, also by Cowden & Wilcox that featured the same decoration also exceeded expectations when it sold for $5,612.
Tiffany is a name that continues to resonate with buyers. The sale featured a Tiffany Studios turtle-back table lamp with air-root design base that sold at the low estimate, for $12,200. The two Tiffany flatware services in the sale – both in the Chrysanthemum pattern – outpaced expectations. The first, a 173-piece service for 18, tripled its high estimate to finish at $12,500 while the second lot, a smaller 52-piece service, realized $8,125 against an estimate of $1,2/1,800.
When we caught up with Ron Pook after the sale, he was busy securing a very large single-owner collection from a “Well-known Pennsylvania Collector.” He expected it would sell in April, alongside Pook & Pook’s next various owners Americana and International sale, which is currently scheduled for April 18. The name of the collector will be identified so watch future issues for upcoming details as they become available.
All prices quoted include buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For additional information, www.pookandpook.com or 610-269-4040.
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Review and Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Pook & Pook, Inc.
Antiques and The Arts Weekly