Auctions: Broad offerings promise strong events

Posted: September 29, 2012

Highlighted by the collection of the late Douglassville antiques dealer Robert J. "Bob" Merritt, Pook and Pook's two-day sale next weekend of period furniture, fine art, and accessories promises to be one of the Downingtown auction company's strongest. Preceding it this weekend is another autumn auction highlight: Frank and Frank's semiannual sale in South Jersey of decoys, art, and sporting collectibles.

Auctioneer Ron Pook, in a foreword to the 250-page auction catalog (also accessible at www.pookandpook.com), recalled that he had been visiting the sprawling emporium operated by Merritt, who died Dec. 31 at the age of 82, for more than 50 years. "From my podium, if I saw Bob and the late Phil Bradley [an equally prominent Southeastern Pennsylvania dealer], I knew I was in clover that day."

The collection's 232 lots that will open the first session, beginning at 6 p.m. next Friday at the gallery at 463 E. Lancaster Ave., reflect a breadth of interests that would make the day of any auctioneer. Pook recalled local and imported antiques that ranged from the insignificant to valuable tall case clocks, such as the eight to be offered next Friday, notably a circa 1790 Massachusetts Federal clock with a presale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.

Other interests reflected in the collection include the eight carved walking sticks, notably a stick with a bird and hand grip made by Schtockschnitzler Simmons with a presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000; and jailhouse carvings, such as an early 20th-century diorama of a bar scene in a mahogany display case ($2,000 to $4,000).

The paintings that attracted Merritt's interest will bring the top prices in the collection. They include 21 works by Ben Austrian with four expected to bring five-figure prices, notably an oil on canvas of 16 chicks that opens the session ($10,000 to $20,000) and another done in 1920 of a hen with 13 chicks titled Motherhood and annotated "one of my best paintings" ($15,000 to $20,000).

The painting with the top presale estimate is a bird's-eye view of the buildings and surroundings of the Berks County Almshouse, depicted by a number of artists over the years. This version, an oil on tin done in 1879 by the German-American Charles C. Hofmann (1821-1882), has a presale estimate of $50,000 to $80,000.

Other collection highlights: a circa 1815 Pennsylvania painted pine blanket chest ($2,000 to $3,000); a circa 1800 Lehigh County poplar dower chest ($5,000 to $10,000); a Willoughby Shade Berks Wigglework coffee pot ($4,000 to $8,000); and a Reading redware wall pocket with a mask decoration ($8,000 to $12,000).

Also in the session: a Walter E. Baum winter street scene ($8,000 to $12,000); a George W. Sotter oil on board winter scene ($12,000 to $18,000); an oil on canvas portrait of a group of rabbits by Mary Russell Smith ($20,000 to $30,000); and two French oils, a portrait by Marcel Dyf (1899-1985) of his wife ($16,000 to $20,000) and a landscape with a peasant woman gathering hay by Leon Augustin Lhermitte ($15,000 to $25,000).

The second session, beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 6, opens with a 38-lot single-owner collection of antique and vintage firearms with presale estimates ranging from $200 to $300 for a 1951 Beretta semiautomatic pistol to $8,000 to $10,000 for a Conrad J. Purdy double barrel express rifle.

Furniture includes a circa 1770 New York Chippendale mahogany card table ($10,000 to $20,000); a circa 1800 Berks County painted pine dower chest ($10,000 to $15,000); a circa 1740 Pennsylvania Queen Anne walnut secretary ($20,000 to $30,000); a circa 1770 Delaware Valley Chippendale walnut armchair from the Delaware Museum of Natural History ($20,000 to $30,000); and two 18th-century Lancaster walnut schranks (or Schraenke) ($8,000 to $12,000 and $12,000 to $18,000) that are among 16 lots of furniture being sold off by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The session also features items from the Heritage Center of Lancaster County; properties descended in the Dodge family, notably a circa 1785 Chinese export rose Mandarin palette hunt bowl ($4,000 to $6,000); and another 145 lots, from the estate of Joan B. Lehner, that include furniture, iron toys, and American Indian pottery.

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Friday and 8 a.m. to sale time Oct. 6. For further information call 610-269-4040.

Decoys in South Jersey. The Frank and Frank sale, beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Eagleswood firehouse on Railroad Avenue in West Creek, will offer more than 440 lots, mostly of duck decoys, by more than 120 artisans. Many are from south and central New Jersey, where, by some accounts, decoys got their start in the mid-19th century.

Among well-known names in the sale are Hurley Conklin, R. Madison Mitchell, and the three generations of Shourds of the Seaville-Tuckerton area: Harry V. Shourds of Tuckerton, his father Harry M. Shourds, and grandfather, also Harry V. Almost all the decoys have three-figure presale estimates, according to the auction catalog, also accessible online at www.frankandfrankdecoys.com.

One of the lots expected to bring more is a black duck by Harry M. Shourds ($4,000 to $6,000). Another four of the lots are by Bob White of Tullytown: a pair of Barrow's goldeneyes and a pair of mallards (each lot $1,500 to $2,500) and a rare widgeon hen ($2,500 to $3,500). Another two are by Henry Keyes Chadwick (1865-1958) of the Martha's Vineyard area: a pair of red heads ($6,000 to $9,000) and a black duck in pristine condition ($8,000 to $12,000).

Two decoys are expected to bring five-figure prices: a ruddy duck made by John Williams (1858-1937) of Cedar Island, Va. ($22,000 to $28,000), and a rare mallard drake made by John Lott Dorsett (1830-1910) of Point Pleasant, N.J., home of the Wildfowler Decoy Co. ($20,000 to $25,000). One of the 16 Wildfowler decoys in the sale, a pair of special mallards, also has a four-figure presale estimate of $1,500 to $2,500.

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to sale time Sunday at the sale site, just off Route 539 near Tuckerton. For further information, call 732-938-2988.


Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.

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