Esherick, Nakashima designs highlight Freeman’s event Oct. 28

Nakashima designs

Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) ‘Thunder Table’ for the Hedgerow Theatre, Paoli, Pennsylvania, 1929. Estimate: $150,000-$250,000. Freeman’s image

PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s renowned Pennsylvania Sale is set to return on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The auction is a tribute to Pennsylvania’s long-standing legacy as a major artistic region.  Exemplary 20th-century furniture by George Nakashima will be made available, along with work by Wharton Esherick directly from the Hedgerow Theatre Collection. Additionally, several folk portraits by Jacob Maentel offer a rare glimpse into early 19th-century Pennsylvania. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

In 1923, Wharton Esherick began designing furniture for the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. These pieces became an invaluable way for Esherick to refine techniques on his way to being considered the dean of American craftsmen.

The 12-lot collection includes the important “Thunder Table” ($150,000-$250,000).  This trestle table (above) was designed for the theater’s 1929 production of Thunder on the Left and marks a distinct evolution from his earlier table designs.

Also included in this section is the only surviving Esherick staircase from the Hedgerow Theatre (Lot 140, $20,000-$30,000). Esherick made staircases only for a select few clients.

As Freeman’s works to build a global appreciation of Pennsylvania craft and design, one of the house’s proven areas of accomplishment is the sale of works by George Nakashima.

This sale features many works by the master woodworker including the English oak burl “Slab 1” coffee table (Lot 157, $40,000-$60,000). The piece exemplifies Nakashima’s mission to work with, instead of around, the imperfections of wood.

Nakashima designs

George Nakashima (1905-1990) English oak burl ‘Slab I’ coffee table, New Hope, Pa., 1961.
Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. Freeman’s image

The sale will also feature “Minguren III” desk or table (Lot 164 $40,000-$60,000) made of American black walnut and rosewood. Nakashima collectors will also take notice of a triple chest of drawers (Lot 145, $30,000-$50,000).

Beyond Nakashima, decorative art enthusiasts will enjoy a diverse selection throughout the catalog, including a painted and decorated dower chest made for Eva Beier attributed to John Bieber (Lot 43, $30,000-$50,000).

Nakashima designs

Painted and decorated dower chest attributed to John Bieber (1763-1825), Berks County, Pa., inscribed and dated, ‘Eva Beier 1786.’ Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Freeman’s image

A family portrait, attributed to Jacob Maentel (Lot 46, $80,000-$120,000), shows John Michael Kitzmiller, the owner of Kitzmiller’s Mill, along with his wife and four children.

Nakashima designs

Mary Ann and John Michael Kitzmiller family portrait attributed to Jacob Maentel (1778-1863). Estimate: $80,000-$120,000. Freeman’s image  

Jacob Maentel spent many years in the early 19th century painting portraits across Pennsylvania. These works now offer collectors a unique opportunity to see life in the state during that era. The Pennsylvania Sale will offer six portraits attributed to Maentel.

Rounding out the sale’s top lots is a relic of the American Revolution. As the war drew to its end,

Benjamin Franklin wrote to Thomas Barclay informing him of his important new role abroad. The letter is both written and signed by Franklin (Lot 4, $25,000-$40,000).

Nakashima designs

Signed letter from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Barclay, 1783. Estimate: $25,000-$40,000. Freeman’s image

For details contact Tim Andreadis, the head of Freeman’s Pennsylvania Sale, at


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