Maud Lewis ‘Lobsterman’ Painting, $40,400

Maud Lewis’s ‘The Lobsterman,’ which was once traded for a jeweled tie tack, hammered for CA$45,000 and sold for CA$55,350, or $40,400 with buyer's premium at Miller & Miller.

NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Maud Lewis (1901-1970) is hailed today as one of Canada’s greatest folk artists, with her works regularly bringing tremendous results at auction. Her naive style, often created with crude materials, has endeared her to generations of art collectors worldwide.

But it wasn’t always so. Living impoverished on the Canadian island-province of Nova Scotia, Lewis toiled in obscurity for years, selling handmade greeting cards and paintings for tiny sums of money – just enough to keep funding her passion.

Only in the mid-1960s did Lewis begin to gain attention after the Canadian print and television media published profiles on her. She would pass away in 1970 just as her fame was growing.

Hundreds of miles to the west, artist John Kinnear saw the early stories on Lewis and befriended the artist, sending her paint and boards to help further her career. In return, Lewis would send finished paintings to Kinnear’s studio in London, a town in the Ontario province of Canada, where he would proudly hang (and often, sell) them.

One painting Kinnear did not sell was The Lobsterman, a delightful work showing a waterfront scene with a pipe-smoking figure holding a bucket of lobsters dockside near a group of traps. Painted in 1967, the work became a favorite of Kinnear’s and occupied a prominent, not-for-sale position in his gallery.

Kinnear was always a natty dresser, favoring flowing long coats and scarves befitting his artistic demeanor. In the early 1970s, he strolled into a nearby jewelry store operated by goldsmith John Ellington. Kinnear immediately spotted a blue sapphire-accented tie tack and struck up a conversation about acquiring it. Realizing his customer’s financial situation despite his proud presentation, Ellington suggested a trade – the tie tack for a painting. Kinnear agreed, stating “any” painting would be a worthy swap.

Ellington walked into Kinnear’s studio to finalize the trade, and immediately pointed to The Lobsterman. “Oh, no, that’s my favorite!” exclaimed Kinnear, but as Ellington reminded him, a deal’s a deal, and he had said “any” painting. Kinnear relented, and the trade was completed.

Fast-forward to 2023, and Maud Lewis is internationally renowned. Having enjoyed the work in his home for decades, John Ellington gauged the market and decided to consign The Lobsterman to auction at Canadian folk art specialists Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. of New Hamburg, Ontario. Co-owner Ethan Miller has sold dozens of Maud Lewis originals, but is floored by the work, immediately calling in Lewis expert Alan Deacon for further evaluation.

They determine that unlike Lewis’ “serial” style of painting – in which she would paint the same figures, structures and landscapes repeatedly – no other known Lewis work has featured The Lobsterman‘s subject matter or style, making it completely unique. When the gavel finally fell on October 14, The Lobsterman would hammer for CA$45,000 and sell for CA$55,350, or $40,400 with buyer’s premium, a princely sum compared to the original tie tack that made the entire experience possible.

1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson Rookie Card, $84,000

Leaf 1948 rookie baseball card for Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, which hammered for $70,000 and sold for $84,000 with buyer’s premium at Weiss Auctions.

LYNBROOK, N.Y. – Authenticated and graded by Professional Sports Authenticator at NM 7, this 1948 Leaf baseball card featuring then-rookie Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers triumphed. It went to an internet bidder, hammering for $70,000 and selling for $84,000 with buyer’s premium at Weiss Auctions on October 25 as part of its Sports Memorabilia, Cards, Autographs and More event. Complete results can be reviewed at LiveAuctioneers.

Long considered one of the top baseball cards of the modern, post-World War II era, the Robinson rookie card is always a top seller whenever an example comes to market. With no known specimens at the GEM MT 10 ranking, 7 at MT 9 and 40 at NM 8, the 77 known cards rated NM 7 means the one auctioned by Weiss belongs to a rare group indeed. Estimated at $60,000-$90,000, furious bidding started at $25,000 and, after two dozen bids, finally stopped at its hammer price.

Two Lots of Mack Truck Builder Photos, $5,355 and $1,386, Respectively

Two lots of Mack Truck builder photos, respectively sold for $5,355 and $1,386 with buyer’s premium at Matthew Bullock Auctioneers.

OTTAWA, Ill. – From the earliest days of American industrial manufacturing, builders of locomotives, automobiles, trucks, aircraft and the like would take proud photographs of newly finished products as they were about to be delivered to the customer. Known as “builder photos,” they were used by manufacturers as an archive of their output, and have since become prized by collectors.

One such collection of builder photos from Mack Truck, a commercial vehicle manufacturer since 1900, surfaced recently at Matthew Bullock Auctioneers on November 4. Separated into two lots, one featuring more than 115 Mack images inscribed with “M. B. M. C.” (for Mack Brothers Manhattan Company, their original corporate name) and the customer’s information. The other, smaller lot featured only brewery trucks as eight original prints.

The larger lot was estimated at $30-$300 and began bidding at $15, followed immediately by a $2,100 bid. From there it continued between bidders until it reached a hammer price of $4,250 and sold for $5,355 with buyer’s premium.

The brewery lot performed similarly, beginning at $15 and immediately receiving a follow-up bid of $475. Bidding proceeded until the hammer fell at $1,100, and the lot sold for $1,386 with buyer’s premium.

John Ledyard, ‘A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean,’ $127,000

BOSTON – Held by the same private New England family since 1792, an incredibly rare copy of John Ledyard’s A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean came to market complete with its map intact at Bonhams Skinner on October 31 as the top-estimated lot in its Fine Books & Rare Manuscripts sale.

Estimated at $50,000-$75,000, the book marched steadily from its low-estimate opening until arriving at a hammer price of $100,000 ($127,000 with buyer’s premium), selling to a floor bidder.

Originally published in 1783, the book was authored by Connecticut native John Ledyard, who served as a Royal Marine in the British Navy aboard the HMS Resolution. The book chronicles the multi-year journey of famed British explorer, cartographer and naval officer James Cook (1728-1779), who documented and mapped large swaths of the Pacific Ocean, Australia and New Zealand. He was the first European to land in Hawaii, and would ultimately meet his fate there in 1779 at the hands of Hawaiian natives. Author Ledyard was with Cook as part of the landing party during which the captain was killed and was a first-hand witness to his death.

The book has three notable elements. First, it records the first American contact with Hawaii, in the form of Ledyard. Second, its map features the word ‘O Why hee,’ which is believed to represent the first time the name ‘Hawaii’ was printed on a map, and third, it was the first book to receive a copyright in the newly formed United States of America.