Garth’s Sixth Annual Ohio Valley Americana Auction

. May 9, 2012

On May 18, Garth’s Auctions in Delaware, Ohio will host the Sixth Annual Ohio Valley Auction which features an extraordinary combination of all the best Ohio has to offer, alongside Americana and accessories including fine painted and formal furniture, stoneware, fine art, firearms, textiles and more.

Rare Ohio stoneware churn, Summit County, Ohio, 1865-1880. Six-gallon of typical form, decorated in cobalt with an elaborate bird on a branch, holding in its beak a banner reading “Akron, Ohio’ and under the name “D.S. Alexander.’ 18″h.

Started in 2007, the interest in the Ohio Valley session continues to grow as the appreciation of buying local and the importance of Ohio’s material culture spreads. Always a favorite of those Ohio collectors “in the know,” is the folk art of Elijah Pierce (Columbus, Ohio, 1912-1984). Five pieces by the artist will cross the block with four of those being offered by the Columbus Museum of Art to benefit its Acquisition Fund. Of the three carved plaques to sell, one depicts a homestead, animals and figures in the fields (signed and dated 1978, 16.5″high and 33.5″wide, and estimated $4,000-6,000), while the other two depict images of Christ. One is titled The Coming of Christ and is mixed media showing Christ in the clouds with original paint and glitter. Measuring 27.25″high, 18″wide, this plaque was part of the diptych Redemption, shown in the Peale House exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1973 and is estimated at $6,000-9,000. The remaining plaque, The Ascension, measures 38″h. 24.25″wide and is estimated to reach $7,000-10,000. All three plaques are illustrated in Elijah Pierce, Woodcarver by the Columbus Museum of Art. Additionally a carved wooden figure of a woman with a knapsack is being offered from a private collection. The 11” high figure is most likely one of several versions based on a Migration North theme, depicting Pierce’s parents and their travels. For a similar figure, see no. 59 in Elijah Pierce, Woodcarver by the Columbus Museum of Art.

A strong selection of fine art by Ohio artists will command the attention of bidders as well. Works by high profile names such as Tella Kitchen, Alice Schille, Bevlyn Simson, Paul Patton, Clyde Singer, and Albert King will be sold throughout the day. Two paintings by Alice Schille, both portraits being sold by the Columbus Museum of Art, are of a younger woman on a vibrant background and of the artist’s mother in her later years. Measuring 36” x 30” and 30″ x 24″, the portraits are expected to fetch $3,500-4,500 and $1,500-2,500, respectively. One of two works by Tella Kitchen is an oil on canvas tentatively titled, Life Goes On, depicting busy town life in Adelphi, Ohio, while a horse drawn funeral procession passes through the main street and along many town landmarks (22″h. 30″w., estimate $1,000-2,000). A vibrant abstract is one of two works by Bevlyn Simson to be sold. The geometric acrylic on canvas is 39.25″h., 31.25″w. and is signed lower left by the artist, who graduated from the Ohio State University earning both bachelors and masters degrees in Fine Art. Simpson also established an endowment fund at her alma mater and has had multiple major exhibitions of her work.

Four paintings by Albert Francis King (1854-1945) descended in the artist until a real estate purchase left them in the hands of the present consignor. The consignor bought a house and its contents from the estate of the artist’s granddaughter. The new owners nearly just had a charity come in to clean out the place and take what they wanted, but luckily they looked around and found the King paintings and a family photo album showing several images of the granddaughter and the artist. Of the two still lifes and two landscapes to sell, an oil on canvas still life of peaches and grapes will be the most sought after (estimate $2,500-4,500). Each painting has information verso that was added in 1967.

The pottery offered during the one day event will be just as strong as the fine art. A rare Ohio stoneware churn will definitely be a highlight of the sale. The Summit County, six-gallon vessel dates to 1865-1880. Of typical form, the piece is special as it is adorned with elaborate decoration of a bird on a branch, holding in its beak a banner reading “Akron, Ohio” and under the name “D.S. Alexander.” D.S. Alexander likely refers to David Alexander, a farm implements dealer and the older brother of noted businessman , J. Park Alexander (1834-1908). The younger Alexander engaged in a variety of successful business ventures, however is perhaps best known for the development of a stoneware distribution network. He worked with a number of local potters and maintained warehouses in Akron, Detroit, and Chicago. This churn carries an estimate of $15,000-$20,000 and is illustrated in Treichler, A History of Northeast Ohio Stoneware,p. 55, along with a monumental jug retailed from Alexander’s Detroit warehouse. A candidate for the maker of this churn is William McBurney, a potter who came to the Akron area in the early 1860s. Another churn, signed by McBurney and with a similar bird to the present churn, is illustrated in Treichler, p. 57.

The aforementioned churn is part of a larger collection of stoneware and sewer tile consigned by longtime collectors, Jack and Susan Batdorff. Well-respected and passionate about antiques, the Batdorffs are offering choice pieces from a 40-year collection including a rare marked, Thurston and Clemmer stoneware ovoid jug. From Mogadore, Ohio, the mid 19th century piece has an impressed mark and a large brushed cobalt tulip (estimate $600-900). Five other pieces of stoneware, each with bird motifs with be sold. A water jug with impressed label for “S. Hart, Fulton” (New York) and retailer’s mark “J.A. Griffin, Oswego, N.Y.” with a brushed cobalt “3” and pair of lovebirds is estimated at $1,000-1,500 and an American jug, ca.1855-1858, with brushed cobalt swan on a foliate nest. Impressed “J. Reiley & Co., Lansingburgh, 2” (New York), the jug has an applied handle and is pictured on pg. 104 of Pottery Works of New York (estimate $ 700-1,000).

The sewer tile from the Batdorffs collection is even more whimsical than the decoration on the stoneware. Of the 45 lots to be sold, many pieces carry the ultimate provenance having once been a part of the Jack E. Adamson collection. Adamson wrote the quintessential book, Illustrated Handbook of Ohio Sewer Pipe Folk Art in 1973. Pieces of note include a 5” high bank in the form of a child’s head ($300-500), a figure of a boy in baseball uniform seated atop a baseball which, while unsigned is by Robert Wilson, Tuscarawas County and was purchased from Robert Wilson’s son ($150-300), and a crow seated on stump incised “EJE”, a molder from Tuscarawas County, possibly Edward J. Ellwood ($1,000-1,500). According to Jack Adamson, Ellwood, prior to his passing, told the author that this is one of only six crows that he made. Other sewer tile figures of animals to sell will include dogs, lions, an owl, eagles, a frog, and a wonderful ground hog.

Fine furniture is a constant in any Garth’s sale. A Classical desk and bookcase from Cincinnati should catch the eye of many a bidder. The 1815-1825, mahogany and poplar piece has a peaked pediment and fully turned columns, over a lower section with a long drawer with writing surface, flanked by carved flowers, all resting on boldly turned legs. This desk-and-bookcase is part of a growing group of classical furniture from the same unidentified Cincinnati shop. The most striking characteristic of this group are the boldly turned legs that often include robust spiral turning and ball feet (estimate $3,500-$4,500). A fine diminutive cupboard from Zoar, Ohio is visually quite stunning. A pair of solid crotch walnut doors are flanked by split columns with a drawer above and below, all resting on blocked feet (estimate $1,500-3,000). At just 38.5″high, it is clearly related to the full-sized, blocked-foot cupboards made in the Zoar cabinetshop, but the present cupboard is distinguished by its unusually high level of refinement and small size. Interestingly, according to Zoar descendant and historian Hilda Morhart, this cupboard was originally gifted by the Society to a young girl named Peterman for her kindness to an elderly woman upon her passing.

From the refined to the sublime, several pieces of painted furniture in the sale will arouse the viewer with vibrant surfaces. An American pine and poplar server in the late classical style with two short drawers over one long drawer over two cupboard doors, all flanked by split columns, and resting on block feet, retains its vibrant, original red over yellow vinegar paint decoration. Minor imperfections should not affect the sale given the reasonable estimate of $3,000-6,000. The server, as well as a New England New mule chest with its original paint decoration ($1,000-1,500) and a decorated two-piece corner cupboard with two 6-pane doors, shaped shelves, and its original, stylized faux mahogany-grain paint ($4,000-8,000), are all from the collection of Paul Jacques Gordon, Jr. of Iowa.

Other items of note will range from firearms to samplers to lithographs. A Griswold and Gunnison .36 caliber revolver has a six-shot cylinder, 7.5″ round barrel with octagonal lug, brass frame, and walnut stock. Retaining a period, probably original, leather holster, the firearm, which is one of 21 lots of weapons in the sale, is estimated at $8,000-12,000. A rare Illinois silk on linen sampler from Greene County, 1840, is adorned with realistic flowering vines surround the narrow sawtooth inner border, an oval cartouche with the maker’s name, Jessy Ann Spenser, and date, as well as rows of alphabets and numbers over pious verses. In the pictorial, leafy shrubs on a green hillock, a pair of butterflies above and on the lawn a large diamond weave basket is filled with flowers ($1,500-$2,500). Research and historical information about Jessy lists her as the 5th child of Stephen Winchell Spencer, a Major in the War of 1812 and Mary Smith, both originally from Addison County, Vermont. The rarity continues with a set of four Currier and Ives large folio hand-colored lithographs of hunting scenes from the American Field Sports series including A Chance for Both Barrels (C# 148), Flush’d (C# 149), On a Point (C# 150), and Retrieving (C# 151). In matching burl veneer frames, the lot is thought to be worth $8,000-12,000.

In a nod to the season, a small selection of baseball themed items are to be sold. One of fifteen canes/walking sticks to be sold, an American stick with a wooden shaft topped with an ivory cueball for the handle and a silver disk engraved with players on a baseball field and the bench is inscribed “Boston Red Sox” ($600-900). A wonderful oil painting of African Americans playing America’s game will also be sold. The folksy depiction shows an afternoon game, with ladies looking on. At 19″ square, it should bring $250-500. A group of five Babe Ruth soda bottles would be a fun addition to a collection. The circa 1920-1940, molded glass bottles are just 4.5” high with tin lids and printed labels with image of Babe Ruth, his name, the number “9”, and the phrase “All American Athlete” (estimate $150-300).

The Preview for the sale will begin Monday, May 14 and continue through May 18. Online bidding will be available through artfact.com. For further information, call Garth’s gallery at 740.362.4771 or visit www.garths.com for the fully illustrated catalog and complete preview hours. Garth’s upcoming auctions include the June 1st Eclectic sale and the July 27-28th auction of Fine Art and Asian & Continental Furniture and Decorative Arts.

Category: Auction News

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