Purchase Story

Salts, Flasks, Inks, and Targets Keep Heckler’s Auction 159 Interesting

Norman C. Heckler & Company, Woodstock Valley, Connecticut

Photos courtesy Norman C. Heckler & Company

Auction 159, the Norman C. Heckler & Company event that ended on March 28, included not only types of early glass that the organization knows inside and outside—historical flasks, whiskeys, sodas, inks, bitters, and pattern-molded glass—but also an area the auction house hadn’t really handled before—target balls.

“It was a very interesting and diverse sale, to say the least,” Norman C. Heckler stated.

From Mantua Glass Works (1821-29), Mantua, Ohio, this diminutive cylindrical free-blown covered sugar bowl with an applied circular foot, its lid formed from one gather of glass with a flat button-form finial, in grape amethyst, with a sheared rim and pontil scar, is overall 4¾" high and sold for $19,890 (est. $4000/8000). Heckler’s catalog listing states, “A sugar bowl in amber, produced in Ohio with the same form and construction, is pictured in the collection of Richard Loeb, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1947, #60.” Ex-Neil Gest collection, ex-private Delaware collection, ex-The Stradlings, and ex-David Ellis collection. Anthony Picadio collection.

Probably Mantua Glass Works (1821-29), Mantua, Ohio, pattern-molded salt cellar with 16 ribs swirled to the left, double-ogee-form bowl, applied circular foot, golden-yellow color, tooled rim, pontil scar, 2 3/8" high, greatest diameter 2 3/8", sold for $15,210 (est. $6000/12,000). Ex-Ralph Jones collection, ex-John A. Williams collection, ex-George Austin collection, ex-Robert J. Warren collection, and ex-David Ellis collection. Anthony Picadio collection.

Constructed via a three-piece mold, this “Agnew & Brown / Corner Of 27th / & Smallman Sts. / Pittsburgh Pa.” target ball, 1875-1900, sold for $12,870 (est. $12,000/24,000). Made of medium orange-amber glass and embossed with a pigeon, this ball with a ground mouth is 2 5/8" in diameter.

Midwestern, 1815-40, pattern-molded salt cellar with 24 ribs swirled to the left, double-ogee-form bowl with a short stem drawn from the same gather, applied eight-petal foot, claret-red color, tooled rim, pontil scar, 2¼" high, greatest diameter 2½", sold for $9360 (est. $6000/12,000). Ex-George McKearin collection, ex-Will Confer collection, ex-Ross Pigot collection, ex-George Austin collection, ex-Robert J. Warren collection, and ex-David Ellis collection. Anthony Picadio collection.

A New Hampshire piece, 1840-60, this free-blown handled drinking vessel in a chalice form with a bell-shaped bowl, double applied handles, applied heavy stem with medial vernicular collar and applied domed foot with folded rim, medium olive-amber color, tooled rim, and pontil scar sold for $8775 (est. $3000/6000). It is 6" high, its greatest diameter is 3", and its provenance includes the Richard Sheaf collection and the Francis J. Mikalonis collection. Anthony  Picadio collection.

The first 20 lots of the auction featured early American glass from the Anthony Picadio collection. Picadio, a well-known and respected collector, is an advocate of keeping detailed records of provenance whenever possible. His collection includes names such as George McKearin, George Austin, Crawford Wettlaufer, and many others.

In his article “The Importance of Provenance in Glass Collecting” in the August 2016 issue of Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, Picadio states: “We collectors do not usually employ our own personal curators to select objects for our collections, or to provide us with objective expert advice on prospective acquisitions. We are left to our own devices to sort through the available material and choose what we think will enhance our collections.... There are a number of ways we can minimize our personal error rate in making acquisitions for our collections. I have found that one of the best is to acquire objects that have an illustrious provenance.”

One of Picadio’s pattern-molded salt cellars—thought to be from the Mantua Glass Works (1821-29) of Mantua, Ohio—started the auction and sold for an impressive $15,210 (includes buyer’s premium), well above the estimate of $6000/12,000.

This pattern-molded creamer with 16 vertical ribs in brilliant amethyst is from the Pittsburgh district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1790-1820. It features a waisted bulbous form flaring to the rim, an applied solid glass handle, an applied circular base, a tooled rim with pour spout, and a pontil scar and is 4⅛" tall. The exact item is illustrated in American Glass by George S. and Helen McKearin, plate 23, #12, and in The Superb Collection Formed by Mrs. Frederick S. Fish, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, January 1940, #386. It was rediscovered by Anthony Picadio at an auction in Pennsylvania in June 2009, and it sold at Heckler’s auction for $11,700 (est. $4000/8000). Ex-George McKearin collection, ex-Mrs. Frederick S. Fish collection, ex-Minnie Janssen Livingood collection, and ex-Helene Livingood Master collection. Anthony Picadio collection.

This Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1824-25 half-pint “Lafayette” portrait flask with Masonic arch and emblems in brilliant yellow-olive glass sold for $10,530 (est. $6000/12,000).

Possibly Mount Vernon Glass Works, Vernon, New York, 1815-30, this early blown inkwell is cylindrical with 16 heavy vertical ribs of dense olive-amber glass and sold for $7605 (est. $6000/12,000). It stands 1 5/8" high and is 2 5/8" in diameter.

Embossed with a horse and rider, this two-piece mold construction inkwell, possibly New England, 1820-40, sold for $7020 (est. $6000/12,000). Cylindrical and in a dense orange-amber color, this ink has a disk mouth and tubular pontil scar and is 1 3/8" high x 2 3/8" in diameter.

Having 16 ribs swirled to the left, this 2 2/3" high salt with a double-ogee-form bowl, an applied circular foot, and a tooled rim was a beautiful golden yellow and had an extensive provenance—ex-Ralph Jones collection, ex-John A. Williams collection, ex-George Austin collection, ex-Robert J. Warren collection, and ex-David Ellis collection.

“It used to be there were a few knowledgeable collectors acquiring molded pattern glass, and pieces moved between them,” Heckler explained. “Many of these pieces have been shuffled between collectors for a century or more, but a growing number of people have an interest now for blown pattern-molded tableware. High-quality tableware is coming to market at a good time, and prices are reflecting that.”

A claret-colored pattern-molded salt cellar with 24 ribs swirled to the left and an eight-petal foot sold for $9360 (est. $6000/12,000); another salt of deep yellowish green with an applied concave circular foot sold for $7605 (est. $6000/12,000). Both of these had extensive provenances.

“All three of these salts were quite spectacular,” Heckler noted. “The rarest color was the green one.”

The Anthony Picadio collection was not limited to salts, however. A free-blown covered sugar bowl in grape amethyst, which was small in size at just 4¾" high and 3½" in diameter and also from the Mantua Glass Works, sold for $19,890 (est. $4000/8000). The sugar bowl was ex-Neil Gest collection, ex-private Delaware collection, ex-The Stradlings, and ex-David Ellis collection.

Other notables from Picadio’s collection included a New Hampshire olive-amber free-blown handled drinking vessel in a chalice form with a bell-shaped bowl, $8775 (est. $3000/6000), and a pattern-molded creamer with 16 vertical ribs hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1790-1820). In a waisted bulbous form flaring to the rim with an applied solid glass handle, this brilliant amethyst creamer sold for $11,700 (est. $4000/8000).

The next portion of the auction featured early American flasks from a private collection. This grouping was led by an 1824-25 “Lafayette” flask with a bust and Masonic arch portrait. The brilliant yellow-olive glass made this half-pint from the Coventry Glass Works of Coventry, Connecticut, stand out and surely helped it sell for $10,530 (est. $6000/12,000).
Picadio noted the importance of provenance, but a Stoddard, New Hampshire, glasshouse medicine bottle had no provenance listed. Lettered on one side “Howards / Vegetable” and on the other “Cancer And / Canker Syrup,” it sold for $9945 (est. $5000/10,000). “This bottle was an attic find from Vermont,” Heckler stated. “A fresh find, it’s never been in a collector’s hands, until now.”

A portrait flask from the Wheeling Glass Works of Wheeling, West Virginia, lettered “Benjamin Franklin” and “Wheeling Glass Works” sold for $8775 (est. $2500/5000). It was desirable because of its clear light green color and its strong mold impression. “This is also one of the few flasks depicting Benjamin Franklin,” Heckler noted.

Lots 66 through 78 included rare inkwells from the Alan Evanuk collection, though the featured ink—a brilliant orange-amber pattern-molded example having three applied chickens at the edge of the ink’s shoulder and estimated at $25,000/50,000—did not find a new home. “It is a true work of art,” Heckler stated, “but unfortunately it did not sell.”
All of the other Evanuk inks offered did sell, however, with an early blown inkwell, 1815-30, thought to be from the Mount Vernon Glass Works, Vernon, New York, bringing the most when it sold for $7605 (est. $6000/12,000). This cylindrical ink with 16 heavy vertical ribs was a dense olive-amber color and is one of only two known.

The bold embossing of this three-piece mold-constructed target ball reads, “From / J.H. Johnston / Great Western Gun Works / 169 Smithfield Street / Pittsburgh, PA. / Rifles Shotguns / Revolvers Ammunition / Fishing Tackle / Choke Boring Repairing / & C. / Write For Price List.” In medium yellow-amber color, this 1880-1900 target ball sold for $4680 (est. $3000/6000). It is 2⅝" in diameter.

With clasped hands and embossed “Union” lettering, this midwestern eagle historical flask, 1860-70, sold for $5265 (est. $1000/2000). In medium to deep yellow olive, this quart flask has an applied mouth with ring and smooth base.

Possibly Pugh and Teater Manufacturers, Moscow, Ohio, 1822-28, this “Genl Lafayette” eagle portrait pint flask with a bust in a Masonic arch, of greenish-aquamarine glass with a sheared mouth and pontil scar, sold for $4388 (est. $2500/5000).

Probably from the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company of Sandwich, Massachusetts, this 1820-40 bulbous blown three-mold inkwell with a drawn foot in brilliant cornflower blue with a gray tone, tooled flared mouth, and pontil scar sold for $4973 (est. $3000/6000).

Of Evanuk’s blown three-mold inkwells, an example in brilliant clear sapphire glass with a steel-blue tone did very well when it sold for $6435 (est. $3000/6000). Another possible Mount Vernon Glass Works example, this piece had an excellent crisp mold impression. An orange-amber horse-and-rider inkwell made using a two-piece mold, possibly from New England, sold for $7020 (est. $6000/12,000).

The final grouping offered was the target ball collection of Cindy Gaffney, and Norman C. Heckler readily admitted that his knowledge of the genre before handling the collection was “just above novice.”

“I’ve become quite fond of these items and their beautiful colors,” Heckler stated. “And just by the nature of what they are—glass balls meant to be shot at—finding these can be an adventure. Yes, some big groups of target balls might show up—a box that was unused and forgotten [for example]—but most are very rare.”

Case in point: an “Agnew & Brown / Corner of 27th / & Smallman Sts. / Pittsburgh Pa.” orange-amber target ball embossed with a pigeon. Only one other of these target balls is known to exist. The one Heckler offered was from the collection of Ann McMurphy and had an interesting history. “This ball was found in the family home of George W. McMurphy, the owner of a large general store in Springfield, Illinois, and the grandfather of the consignor. His secondary business was raising and selling ‘High Class Fancy Pigeons,’” according to the catalog listing. This target ball sold for $12,870 (est. $12,000/24,000).

A target ball embossed “From / J.H. Johnston / Great Western Gun Works / 169 Smithfield Street / Pittsburgh, PA. / Rifles Shotguns / Revolvers Ammunition / Fishing Tackle / Choke Boring Repairing / & C. / Write For Price List” (yes, that is all written on this one ball) in a medium to deep amethyst color with a strawberry tone sold for $7605 (est. $8000/16,000).

“We were very pleased with the auction, overall,” Heckler stated. “And we are looking forward to offering additional pieces from the Anthony Picadio collection and the Alan Evanuk collection at upcoming Heckler auctions in 2018.”

For more information, call (860) 974-1634 or visit the website (www.hecklerauction.com).

In a medium sea-foam-green color, this 1820-40 blown three-mold inkwell, probably Keene-Marlboro-Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, sold for $4388 (est. $2000/4000). This ink is 2" high x 1 15/16 " in diameter.

Thought to be from the Mount Vernon Glass Works, Vernon, New York, this 1820-40 cylindrical blown three-mold inkwell of brilliant clear sapphire glass with a steel-blue tone sold for $6435 (est. $3000/6000).

The wording on this target ball includes “From / J.H. Johnston / Great Western Gun Works / 169 Smithfield Street / Pittsburgh, PA. / Rifles Shotguns / Revolvers Ammunition / Fishing Tackle / Choke Boring Repairing / & C. / Write For Price List.” Constructed using a three-piece mold, this 1880-1900 target ball of medium to deep amethyst color with a strawberry tone sold for $7605 (est. $8000/16,000).


Originally published in the June 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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