‘At the Seashore’ by Edward Henry Potthast

monumental vases

NEW YORK – The top lot at Antique Arena Inc.’s September 2 sale turned in a dramatic result. Estimated at a modest $100-$200, At the Seashore, an undated oil on Masonite by American Impressionist Edward Henry Potthast, hammered for $23,000 and sold for $29,440 including buyer’s premium.

The colorful seascape is typical of the work of Potthast (1857-1927), who was known for his carefree beach scenes. But the result at Antique Arena represents the latest curve in its roller-coaster ride at auction. It sold for $71,800 against a $40,000-$60,000 estimate at Swann Galleries in May 2002. Five years later, it was to appear in a May sale at Bonhams with a $50,000-$70,000, but it was withdrawn.

The lot notes for all three attest that the work has been authenticated by Mary Ran and it will appear in the catalogue raisonné she is preparing on the artist.

Wunder Brewing Metal Sign

monumental vases

RENO, Nev. – Antique and vintage beer advertising has its own unique and persistent charms. It was no surprise, then, that a one-sided framed metal sign touting the wonders of Wunder Beer, undated but clearly from ages past, hammered for $3,400 ($4,250 including the buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $1,000-$2,000 in a four-day sale presented by Holabird Western Americana Collections.

The beer sign is bedecked, as these things often are, with the image of a young woman hoisting high a glass of the product. She wears a curious, almost patchwork-like blue and pale pink outfit, but her beribboned red shoes match the color of the lettering of the slogan below her feet: ‘Wunder for Quality.’

Perhaps her winsome presence on the sign was enough to drive bidders to double its high estimate, but the draw could have been the brewery itself. According to records, the Wunder Brewing Co. of San Francisco, California operated between 1898 and 1909 – surviving the 1906 earthquake, only to disappear three years later.

Eric Aho Oil On Linen, ‘Sligo Rains’

monumental vases

CHICAGO – Hindman‘s Fine Art & Design Selections sale on September 11 saw several lots trounce their estimates, none more strongly than Eric Aho’s 2004 oil on linen titled Sligo Rains. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, the work, which measures a generous 40 by 60in, sold for $13,000 ($16,900 including the buyer’s premium).

Aho (b. 1966-) is American, but his father’s parents were Finnish and his mother was, in his words, ‘Boston Irish Catholic, a special world in itself.’ The artist, who creates powerful, semi-abstract landscapes devoid of people, has visited Finland and Ireland. Sligo Rains, a vision of a streaky gray sky hovering over a yellow strip of earth, testifies to that fact.

Gorham Martele Silver Bejeweled Coffee Pot

monumental vases

PLAINVILLE, Conn. – Winter Associates knew it had a likely winner in its September 11 auction. Named Modern Prints & Paintings; Martele w/jewels, the very item cited at the end of the sale title became its top lot.

Dating to 1899, the Art Nouveau silver bejeweled coffee pot by Gorham represents an early example of its coveted and elite Martele line. One important clue was its production number, 3013, but period photos exist to confirm it also.

Entirely hand-raised and hand-hammered, the coffee pot displays the craftsmanship that Gorham Martele became known for. It has an S-shaped spout, a domed repoussé cover, a teardrop-shape finial, chased and raised acanthus leaf decorations and a total of 19 cabochon-cut stones: two opals, three sapphires, eight citrines (four yellow and four orange), three garnets, two tourmalines and an amethyst. The lot notes state that its consigner believes it was a special-order piece for a member of a Philadelphia family. Estimated at $3,500-$7,500, it sold for $21,000 ($26,880 including buyer’s premium).