Session I on July 2 featured the Americana collection of the late Ted and Alvina Breckel of Winnetka, Illinois and Oley, Pennsylvania. The Breckels had filled their Pennsylvania stone farmhouse with the best in folk art and Americana and were much beloved by the collectors and dealers with whom they had established long-lasting relationships. Their collection was highly anticipated, with strong pre-sale bidder interest from around the country, and the sale day results did not disappoint. With extremely heavy bidding from start to finish, the vast majority of lots in the collection met or exceeded expectations, and, in some cases, greatly exceeded expectations.
Top lot for the day was an outstanding mid-19th century paint-decorated pine trinket box attributed to Jonas or Jacob Weber in exceptional condition. The iconic form, with vibrant polychrome decoration against a black ground, sparked significant pre-sale interest, with no less than five phone bidders lined up in competition for the object. Ultimately, it was an East Coast dealer on the phone bidding on behalf a client who prevailed, pushing the final price to $43,875.
Other highlights from the Breckel Collection included a Ben Austrian oil on canvas farmyard scene with hen and chicks, which realized $28,080; the surprise of the day, a cobalt-decorated stoneware political jug attributed to the Fulper Brothers of New Jersey, which sold for $21,060; a molded-copper full-body rooster weathervane attributed to J. W. Fiske & Co, which rose to $12,870; and an Anna Pottery figural stoneware pig flask, which finished at $9,360.
Session II on July 3 featured property from the private collection of Dr. James and Sheri Swinehart of Cincinnati, Ohio; selections from the private collection of Diane and Dr. Robert Marsh of Lawrenceville, Georgia; a Virginia private collection; property from the collections of Fred and Lorraine Ayers of Layton, New Jersey; James Dunn of Springfield, Vermont; and Lynne and the late Philip Blaker of Austin; and property deaccessioned by the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia.
The day’s offerings consisted of the firm’s usual fine selection of Virginia and other Southern material; 18th and 19th century formal and country furniture; American folk, fine, and decorative arts; folk pottery; Native American material; Civil War and other historical objects; antique firearms; and an excellent selection of mochaware.
Top lot of the day, from a Texas private collection, was an important Shenandoah Valley paint-decorated yellow pine diminutive blanket chest (shown at top of page) attributed to the Stirewalt family of New Market, Virginia. The box captivated numerous collectors and dealers, and, after heavy bidding on the phone and floor, ultimately sold to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation at $76,050, where it will be installed as part of that institution’s world-class collection of Southern furniture and decorative arts.
Other noteworthy results from the July 3 session included a fine Shenandoah Valley tiger maple pie safe, which sold for $26,910; a first octavo edition set of Audubon’s Birds of America, which flew away with $25,740 despite the absence of the fourth volume; a Southwest Virginia Federal inlaid cherry tall case clock, attributed to the Rife-Whipple group, which realized $23,400; and a mid-19th century carved and gilt eagle wall plaque of exceptional quality, which garnered $14,040.
After the auction, company president and principal auctioneer Jeffrey S. Evans commented, “This sale, the strongest of its type for us in the past five years, generated robust interest across the board, from bidders near and far. The Breckel collection was a big draw, and the caliber of the material offered across all categories was very appealing to a broad swath of collectors. Levels of online participation in our auctions continue to expand dramatically for us – a real indication that there is increased market demand for a diverse range of Americana and folk art. The overall excitement and strong sales results reflect the freshness and high quality of the merchandise offered.” Evans added, “Looking forward, we will be featuring an important collection of American folk art in our November Premier Americana sale, so we are excited about the fall line-up at JSE & Associates.”
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