Pook & Pook, Inc., Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Photos courtesy Pook & Pook
The Americana and international sale at Pook & Pook on May 21 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, had a few predictable high prices for works long off the market, some household gear estimated at a few hundred dollars that brought several thousand, and a few lots made abroad that sold well over estimates. The sale brought a total of $1,118,796; 547 of the 566 lots offered sold (96.6%).
Carved and painted cigar-store Indian figure by Thomas Brooks (1828-1895), New York, standing 88" tall with a feathered headdress and on its original plinth, inscribed “Tobacco,” with a early dry surface, sold on the phone for $61,500 (est. $30,000/50,000) to Madison, Connecticut, dealer Allan Katz. Brooks learned his trade from ship and figure carver John Cromwell and opened his shop in 1848 on South Street in New York City. In 1864 he took young Samuel Robb as an apprentice, mentoring New York’s most prolific carver. This figure was probably made before Brooks moved to Chicago in 1879. It was on display at the tobacco shop of George Tucker on Kaighn Avenue in Camden, New Jersey. It was donated in 1928 to the New Jersey educational institution that consigned it. “Its rich patina, classic feathered headdress, untouched condition, and documented history make it special,” said Katz on the phone after the sale.
A cigar-store Indian, 88" tall to the top of the feathered headdress, carved by Thomas Brooks in New York City in the 1870s was fresh to market after nearly 100 years in a New Jersey educational institution. It sold on the phone for $61,500 (includes buyer’s premium) to Madison, Connecticut, dealer Allan Katz.
After the sale Katz called to say that he bought it for a client and was thrilled with its condition and the quality of the carving, which was evident in the dozen excellent photographs posted online.
Brooks was a mentor of Samuel Robb, and when competition became tough in New York, Brooks moved to Chicago to take advantage of the demand for store figures after the Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed so many of them. This figure once stood in front of the tobacco shop of George Tucker on Kaighn Avenue in Camden, New Jersey, so it was probably carved in New York in the 1870s before Brooks and his son moved to Chicago in 1879. The 1882 date Pook printed in the catalog may not be correct.
Philadelphia painted fireman’s parade hat for the Taylor Hose Company, the front with a circular vignette of General and President Zachary Taylor, the top with a bell and eight-point compass star, initialed “S.Y.,” the reverse with large gilt initials “T.H,” all on a rare blue ground, with a red edge and red underside of brim, 6" x 13½" x 14½", sold for $22,140 (est. $8000/12,000). It was consigned by a New Jersey educational institution.
Philadelphia painted fireman’s parade hat for the United States Hose Company, the front with an oval vignette of a seated Liberty, the top with a compass star and inscription “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” and the rear with “US Hose,” all on a black ground, with a red edge and red underside of brim, 5½" x 13½" x 14½", sold for $24,600 (est. $5000/10,000). It came from a New Jersey educational institution that consigned the first 16 lots in the sale of mostly fire-related material. Another parade hat (not shown), from the Northern Liberty Hose Company, with some seam separations sold for $9225 (est. $2000/3000).
Two firemen’s parade hats, also consigned from a New Jersey educational institution, sold way over estimates. One painted with the name of the Taylor Hose Company sold to the trade for $22,140 (est. $8000/12,000), and another with a figure of Liberty and the name of the United States Hose Company brought $24,600 (est. $5000/10,000) from a collector.
Mrs. Moses B. Russell (Clarissa Peters Russell, 1809-1884), miniature watercolor portrait of a boy wearing a red dress, seated on a pillow, with a basket of fruit, 5¼" x 4¼", sold on the phone for $39,360 (est. $5000/10,000). It is pictured in A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America (2014), featuring the collection of Barbara Gordon, where it was described as a portrait of a girl in a red dress and apron. According to portrait miniature specialist Elle Shushan, it is a boy. Her source is the exhibition catalog Is She or Isn’t He? Identifying Gender in Folk Portraits of Children, published in 1995 by Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, which explains that usually girls’ hair was parted in the middle and boys’ hair was parted on the side. Also boys were more often painted in outdoor settings and girls in interior settings when Russell was painting portraits of children.
There was competitive phone bidding for Mrs. Moses B. Russell’s miniature portrait of a very young boy wearing a red dress pictured on the catalog cover. It sold for $39,360 (est. $5000/10,000). It is illustrated in A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America (2014),the catalog of the collection of Barbara Gordon, which toured the country. The essay in A Shared Legacy says it depicts a girl wearing a red dress and a white apron and that it was unusual for Russell to paint full-length figures, as she usually painted children in half length.
George Inness (1825-1894), oil on canvas, 21" x 30", landscape of rolling hills with a castle, signed lower right, in its original giltwood frame, sold for $20,160 (est. $10,000/15,000).
Charles Hofmann (1821-1882), oil on canvas, Daniel B. Lorah’s Farm, Berks County Penna. 1872, 20" x 28", depicting a bustling farm with figures and animals, with the Blue Mountains in the distance, signed in the tree on the left “C. Hofmann painter 1872.” It sold for $12,300 (est. $4000/8000). Another view of this farm was sold at Pook & Pook on April 28, 2018, for $43,920.
Two late 19th-century landscapes of about the same size—one for city clientele and the other for country folks—made a telling comparison. An oil on canvas landscape, 21" x 30", by George Inness, in a period frame, sold for $20,160 (est. $10,000/15,000), and a Charles Hofmann oil on canvas, 20" x 28", Daniel B. Lorah’s Farm, Berks County Penna. 1872, with figures, animals, and the Blue Mountains in the distance, sold for $12,300. Another view of this same farm had sold at Pook & Pook on April 28, 2018, for $43,920. The version that brought $12,300 had been relined, and its craquelure was touched up, according to the condition report.
Two Civil War drawings by Confederate soldier John Jacob Omenhausser, drawn while a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland, each depicting black Union sentinels outside prisoners’ tents, sold together for $5658 (est. $2000/3000).
Ten lots of watercolors painted by Confederate soldier John Jacob Omenhausser when he was a prisoner of war at Point Lookout, Maryland, all but one offered two to a lot, generally sold within their $2000/3000 estimates, except for three lots picturing black sentinels. Of those, two lots brought $5658, and another sold for $4182. A single watercolor depicting a black soldier having been accidentally shot by another sold for $1134 (est. $1000/2000).
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, painted poplar dome-lid box by the Compass Artist, early 19th century, retaining its original red and white floral pinwheel decoration on a blue ground, 8½" x 13¼", from a Berks County, Pennsylvania, collection, sold for $11,070 (est. $12,000/18,000). The paint is a bit faded.
This rare running fox butter print, 41/8" diameter, sold for $2214 (est. $300/400).
Many lots estimated in the low hundreds of dollars sold for thousands. A silk-on-linen sampler dated 1828, estimated at $1000/1500, sold for $9225. A Star of Bethlehem crib quilt estimated at $300/400 sold for $2772. A maple butter print engraved with a running fox sold for $2214 (est. $300/400). Other butter prints also brought more than expected—one with an exuberant tulip decoration sold for $1045 (est. $300/400), and an oval maple butter mold carved with tulips, hearts, and stars, with traces of a date, possibly 1781, on its side, 5½" long, sold for $1722 (est. $400/600).
Large mochaware bowl with earthworm decoration, 4¼" x 12", sold for $5412 (est. $3000/4000).
Much of the mochaware sold within expectations, but some mocha doubled estimates. A large bowl, 12" diameter, with earthworm decoration on blue slip on the outside and earthworm decoration on an orange ground on the interior sold for $5412 (est. $3000/4000). A pitcher with earthworm decoration on blue slip and white wavy lines on dark brown slip sold for $3276 (est. $800/1200). A mug with fan decoration on a rust-colored ground sold for $1764 (est. $400/600).
Christian Alsdorff (active 1789-1821), ink and watercolor fraktur bookplate for Elisabeth Schaffer, 5¾" x 3¼", dated 1791, with two standing figures above script, accompanied by its original German script songbook, sold for $9840 (est. $3000/5000).
Some fraktur sold above estimates. A fraktur dated 1773 with hearts surrounded by tightly packed flowers sold for $8190 (est. $2000/3000), and a bookplate by David Kulp for Barbara Meyer, dated 1805, went for $8610 (est. $4000/6000).
Philadelphia mahogany breakfront bookcase, circa 1800, 102½" high x 110" wide, sold for $4920 (est. $3000/5000). With the cost and scarcity of wood today, it seemed like a bargain. As part of the collection of Joseph Wiederspohn of Camden, New Jersey, it was sold at Northeast Auctions in 1997.
Walnut and mahogany furniture was a bargain. A mahogany breakfront bookcase made in Philadelphia circa 1800, 102½" high x 110" wide, sold for $4920 (est. $3000/5000). At Northeast Auctions on March 1, 1997, it had sold for $17,825. A painted pine cupboard made about the same time, blue with a red interior, sold to the trade in the room for $5412 (est. $4000/6000). Two well-proportioned easy chairs found buyers willing to pay more than the conservative estimates. A Chippendale walnut wing armchair, circa 1780, sold on the phone for $3690 (est. $1500/2500), and a New England Queen Anne mahogany easy chair sold for $8610 (est. $2000/4000) to an absentee bidder.
For more information, call (610) 269-4040, or check the website (www.pookandpook.com).
Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890), large carved and painted rooster, retaining its original untouched polychrome surface, 8½" high, sold for $15,990 (est. $7000/9000). It came from Barbara Gordon’s collection, which toured the country in the exhibition A Shared Legacy, accompanied by a catalog.
Ink and watercolor fraktur drawing, 19th century, Our Saviour on the Cross Betwixt Two Thives [sic], inscribed on the backboard “A.B. Biseler,” 9½" x 7½", sold for $4920 (est. $800/1200).
Silk-on-linen sampler, dated 1828, “Margaret Walters work,” 20" x 17", sold for $9225 (est. $1000/1500).
Maine carved and painted kingfisher with a fish in its beak on a smoke-decorated base, 10¾" high, the fish lacking dorsal fins, sold for $10,455 (est. $4000/7000). A Maine carved and painted flicker (not shown), 19th century, retaining its original untouched polychrome surface, standing on a smoke-decorated base, 9½" high, sold for $7995 (est. $3000/5000).
Pewter creamer, 4¼" high, by Philadelphia maker Cornelius Bradford, sold on Bidsquare for $3780 (est. $400/600). A late 18th-century Pennsylvania pewter basin (not shown), bearing the touch of Philadelphia pewterer William Will, 15/8" x 63/8", in good condition, sold for $3276 (est. $1000/1500). It is a depressed market for American pewter.
Chester County Chippendale cherry tall-case clock, circa 1770, the broken-arch bonnet enclosing eight-day works, with the brass face signed “B[enjamin] Chandlee / Nottingham,” 102" high, sold for $23,940 (est. $8000/13,000). It had descended in the Chandlee family until it was purchased by a New Jersey collector in 2005.
Maine painted pine one-drawer stand, circa 1835, with shaped backsplash and a single drawer, retaining its original floral decoration on a yellow ground, 33" x 18¼" x 15¾", sold on the phone for $7380 (est. $5000/8000). Only a handful of examples are known from this unidentified Maine cabinetmaker and decorator. One is in the collection of the Maine State Museum, and another was sold at Skinner on August 8, 2015, for $116,850. This example was purchased at a Maine house sale approximately 30 years ago.
Four Meissen painted porcelain portrait plates with reticulated borders, 9¼" diameter, sold for $32,760 (est. $2000/3000).
New England Queen Anne bonnet-top high chest, circa 1760, with fan-carved drawers, 86½" x 37¼", sold for $9840 (est. $4000/6000).
Originally published in the August 2021 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2021 Maine Antique Digest