Post-auction press release, Americana & International Auction at Pook & Pook, May 21, 2021
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
The May 21st Americana and International auction continued a season of very strong results for Pook & Pook Inc. It was a beautiful spring day and the first event at which face masks were not requisite for all. Seeing old familiar faces brought visible smiles. The air of festivity fueled some spirited bidding.
First on the block was a collection of 15 antique historical firefighting items and Americana from the vaults of a New Jersey museum. The top lot of the sale was lot 1, an important cigar store Indian by Thomas Brooks of New York. Standing at 88”, this beautifully carved and polychromed sculpture towered over the sales room. Purported to have been made in 1882, it was in a wonderful state of preservation and retained its original plinth. After a lively bidding war, the statue commanded $63,000. Other spectacular prices for the New Jersey collection included two Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, painted fireman’s parade hats. Lot 2, from the Taylor Hose Company, decorated with a vignette of General and President Zachary Taylor, brought $22,680. Lot 9, from the United States Hose Company, with a vignette of a seated Liberty and inscribed United We Stand, Divided We Fall, sold for $25,200. The action was really heating up. Lot 15 was called for assistance. An early fire pump wagon, circa 1747, purportedly made in England for a Philadelphia volunteer fire company, rolled in with a cool $8,820.
Folk art continued to perform very strongly, with many pieces greatly exceeding their estimated value. The second star of the day was lot 235, an exquisite miniature watercolor portrait by Mrs. Moses B. Russell. After intensive bidding, the boy with riveting blue eyes was hammered down for $40,320. Lot 412, a Wilhelm Schimmel rooster, rare for its large size, sold for $16,380, followed by lot 413, a vibrant red Schimmel squirrel bringing $12,600. Interest took flight for two Maine carved and painted 19th century birds, as lot 504, a wonderful kingfisher realized $10,710, and lot 505, a flicker, brought $8,190. Two very special fraktur bookplate lots sold well above estimate with lot 133, a Johann Adam Eyer, Berks County ink and watercolor book plate, with its original story book, selling for $4,788, and lot 134, a Christian Alsdorf ink and watercolor book plate with its original German scrip song book bringing $10,080.
Painted furniture was in high demand. Lot 362, a Pennsylvania painted pine drysink with an old pale green surface over the original red, and an irresistible original blue interior, crossed the auction block at $6,930. Lot 416, a diminutive 19th c Pennsylvania painted pine bucket bench with an old red surface inspired spirited bidding, selling for $5,292.
Pook & Pook continued to feature exceptional tall case clocks. Lot 434, a Chester County Chippendale cherry tall case clock, circa 1770, signed B. Benjamin Chandlee, Nottingham, and descended in the Chandlee family, brought $23,940.
American artists were widely represented, with works from Charles Hoffman, Ben Austrian, Russell and Xanthus Smith, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, and the Philadelphia Ten. Of particular note was lot 550, a Wilhelm Gottfried Bauer oil on canvas family portrait hammered down for $8,820, and a rare collection of Civil War drawings. Confederate soldier John Jacob Omerhausser, an Austrian immigrant candy maker, was a prisoner of war at Point Lookout, Maryland who whiled away the time by drawing everything around him. Oberhausser detailed many aspects of daily life for the prisoners as well as interactions with the Black soldiers assigned to guard them. Sold in pairs, and originally bartered for food and art supplies, they were in high demand, with lots 185 and 190 each bringing $5,796.
Pook & Pook’s sterling reputation remained untarnished. Amongst eight lots of Georg Jensen, a blossom pattern covered vegetable dish, lot 517, proved particularly desirable, selling for $6,300. Lot 525, an exceptional pair of miniature 18th century Dutch silver sconces lit up the room, reaching a closing bid of $10,710.
The surprise item of the day was lot 551, a set of four Meissen painted porcelain portrait plates which sold for $32,760, over fifteen times the low estimate.
Overall, the sale exceeded high estimate, with competitive bidding from the audience, phone, and online buyers. There was strong interest throughout the sale and across categories. The sell-through rate was 97%, with 36% of lots selling above high estimate! To learn more about consigning with Pook & Pook, please email photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (610) 269-4040 to speak with an appraiser. Pook & Pook’s next auction is The Estate of Joyce Bowes Collis coming up on June 24th & 25th.