Folk art miniature portraits fetch astonishing price

This pair of American School Mason family folk art miniature portraits topped the auction highlights, selling for $64,350. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

MT. CRAWFORD, Va. – Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates’ Nov. 10-11 Americana and Fine Antiques Auction was a successful event, generating strong prices in multiple categories. The two-day format consisted of 1,167 lots of high-quality material, much of which was fresh to the market, and in several cases had descended directly in the families of the original owners. Bidding was intense throughout both days, with strong institutional interest and over 3,000 registered bidders participating in house and online. Absentee and Internet bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

Session I on Friday started the weekend off with a bang. The 299-lot offering featured an excellent selection of high-grade coins and currency, antiquarian maps, books and manuscripts, as well as early American firearms and accessories. The select grouping offered in the Friday session generated significant presale interest and produced strong results. The top lot from Friday was a Didier Robert de Vaugondy Atlas Universal (below), published in 1757 and nearly complete, which garnered $11,115. All prices include the 17 percent buyer’s premium.

‘Didier Robert de Vaugondy Atlas Universal,’ nearly complete. Price realized: $11,115. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

Other noteworthy results from Friday’s session include a Thomas Jefferson signed 1781 Rockingham Co., Virginia, land grant at $4,095 (Lot 212); a Patrick Henry signed letter at $3,159 (Lot 213); and a New Market, Shenandoah Co., Virginia, Henkel family manuscript archive at $4,387 (Lot 220), the latter going to a Shenandoah Valley institution interested in augmenting its manuscript holdings.

Session II on Saturday consisted of the firm’s usual diverse selection of Americana and fine antiques and produced strong results, with several categories demonstrating signs of vigor in what can be an unpredictable market. Several surprises occurred Saturday as well, most notably a fine pair of American School folk art miniature portraits (top) of a mother and daughter with their pets, one a gray cat and the other a white dove. Discovered in western Pennsylvania, the sitters are believed to be members of the Mason family of Ohio and New York. Mary Jane Mason, the daughter, would go on to work as a de facto editor for Samuel Langhorne Clemens during the author’s famous journey to Europe and the Holy Land on board the Quaker City. The weekend’s top lot at $64,350 (Lot 1305), the pair of portraits was purchased, after heated bidding, by a New York City collector.

Native American stone point/blade from the Gusler collection. Price realized: $12,870. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

Other noteworthy results from the Saturday session include an impressive Native American stone point/blade (above) from the Wallace Gusler collection, ex-Gilbert Dilley, at $12,870 (Lot 1124); and a rare and important American “AJ” blown and cut glass tumbler with Andrew Jackson sulphide portrait at $11,700 (Lot 1642).

Important American ‘AJ’ sulphide blown and cut glass tumbler. Price realized: $11,700. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

Furniture highlights were by a Baltimore Federal inlaid mahogany serpentine-front huntboard/sideboard table at $10,530 (below), and a Virginia Chippendale carved mahogany open armchair at $9,360.

Baltimore Federal inlaid mahogany huntboard/sideboard table. Price realized: $10,530. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

“This sale generated robust interest across the board, from bidders near and far. Our in-house crowd was strong resulting in over 170 bid numbers being issued to real bodies, and we saw a large percentage of items walk out the door on sale day,” said Jeffrey S. Evans, company president and auctioneer. “The overall excitement and strong sales results reflect the freshness and high quality of the merchandise offered. In addition, the auction was 98 percent unreserved, so the results are a true and honest gauge of the current market.” he added.

For more information contact Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates via email at or call 540-434-3939.