Upcycling 1800’s Style
Among his favorite items in the sale, owner Ron Pook selects an important John Palm Boyer (1833-1901), Brickerville, Lancaster County, painted pine seed chest, ca. 1860, retaining its original faux grain decoration, the case with a fall front lid over fifteen drawers, with a lower row of seven small drawers resting on bootjack feet. This cabinet remains in a remarkable state of preservation and is among the finest known examples of Boyer’s work. “A great decorative item, this seed chest exemplifies the Pennsylvania German love of color and decoration. The drawers are too small to hold enough seed for a farm, so it was probably used to hold garden seed or small household items. It is in great condition,” Ron explains. Donald Herr wrote in Antiques and the Arts Weekly, Sept. 3, 2006, “His pieces are most frequently painted with a sponge and finger decorated brown paint on a mustard-colored base,” and often used cigar boxes for drawers. Interestingly, Herr writes, “Boyer seed chests with desk-lid forms appear to be stylistically related to, but not identical to, at least one seed chest decorated in the Lehnware tradition. Joseph Lehn and John P. Boyer lived within a few miles of each other and likely were familiar with each other’s work.” Of twenty-three Joseph Lehn-related pieces featured, one is a painted poplar seed chest with decoupage decorated crest and sides and a brick red ground. Other Lehn items include a miniature blanket chest, a sugar bucket with lid, rare yellow and blue ground saffron and egg cups, a very rare purple ground lidded saffron cup, an exceptional salmon ground egg cup in pristine condition, and possibly the finest lidded cup known- a pristine saffron cup with salmon ground.
The most coveted makers of wooden boxes hold a special place in the collection. There are two 19th c. Lancaster Weber dresser boxes, one red ground and one blue, each with vibrant floral decoration, houses and trees. Two early 19th c. Lancaster County Compass Artist works are featured. One of very few known examples is a painted poplar slide lid box decorated with red and white pinwheel flowers on a dark blue ground. Another, of more traditional form, is a painted poplar dome lid box intricately and profusely decorated with compass and freehand flowers. An important John Drissel (Lower Milford Township, Bucks County, late 18th/early 19th c.) painted pine slide lid box, the lid inscribed Johannes Stauffer Anno 1797 John Drissel his hand, is decorated with tulips and white wavy lines on a brick red ground.
Highly desirable Pennsylvania German carvings include a Wilhelm Schimmel spread-winged eagle, with original polychrome surface and unusual gilt body, which sits alongside two spirited Peter Brubaker (Lancaster County, 1816-1898) carved and painted horses, one chestnut and one dapple grey. Engaging carved figural groups by George G. Wolfskill (Fivepointville, Lancaster County 1872-1940) include an entire foxhunt. Works by John Reber (Lehigh County, 1857-1938) rarely come on the market, yet here are five of them, including his most ambitious work, an important carved and painted figure of the celebrated Standardbred pacer Dan Patch. Reber captured the majesty of Dan Patch, undefeated holder of the world record for the mile, with a mien of justifiable arrogance. His competition was so hopelessly outclassed that it stopped racing against him altogether.
Metal works by artisans John Long (Sporting Hill, Rapho Township, Lancaster, 1787-1856) and Peter Derr (Tulpenhocken Township, Berks County, 1793-1868) exhibit the best qualities of their type. A rare John Long wrought iron and brass fat lamp, is inscribed Fanny M. Erisman Manufactured By John Long. John Long’s Betty lamps “are considered by many to be among the finest examples of Pennsylvania German smithwork… They exemplify the creativity and the love of form, function and design by the Pennsylvania Germans.” (Donald Herr, AAW, 2006) A Peter Derr iron, brass, and copper fat lamp is impressed P.D 1860, and is one of three Peter Derr works to be offered. A Willoughby Shade (Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, mid-19th c.) punched tin coffee pot is profusely decorated, not only with birds and flowers- a parade of elephants march around its flared base. An exceedingly rare item, a York, Pennsylvania copper saucepan and lid marked by John Lay is possibly the only example known.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence