LONE JACK, Mo. — A fine selection of antique weathervanes forms part of Soulis’ Sunday, December 10 Mid-Americana Gallery Auction in suburban Kansas City. The offering is led by a copper vane replicating the legendary harness-racing horse St. Julien that is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.
In this well-known model by the New York firm J. W. Fiske, the horse dubbed ‘King of the Trotters’ is shown running at full speed, with his celebrated real-life trainer and driver Orrin A. Hikok at the reins. The design was based on a Currier & Ives print dating to circa 1880, and it was consigned for sale in good original condition from a collector in Denver, Colorado.
A series of figural copper vanes of farm animals include two full-bodied models of dairy cows: one by Cushing & White of Waltham, Massachusetts, and the other attributed to Harris & Sons of Boston. They are estimated at $3,000-$5,000 and $5,000-$7,000, respectively.
In September 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Soulis Auctions posted record prices for the Richard and Valerie Tucker collection of carnival shooting gallery targets. The collection was arguably the finest of its type to come to auction. The firm has found more of the same for the December 10 sale.
The most unusual target is a 4ft 1in tall artwork on sheet metal depicting a lady lion tamer standing face to face with a rampant lion. Made circa 1890, the oversize target is probably of English or Continental European origin and has a clever mechanical action: a successful shot to the bullseye causes the lady’s arm to lower and the lion’s jaw to open, revealing fearsome upper and lower teeth. Its estimate is $5,000-$10,000.
Attributed to Emil Hoffman of Chicago is a ‘Pancho Villa’ cast-iron target estimated at $2,000-$4,000. It was probably made soon after Christmas Day 1912, when Villa escaped from prison and fled to El Paso — his notoriety inspiring a so-called ‘Mexican Head Target’ that appeared in the Hoffman catalog. Its eye openings are backed by a circular iron gong that rings if a shot passes through an eyehole.
A scarce, large, iron whippet target signed C.W. Parker, Abilene, Kansas is estimated at $6,000-$9,000. In the early 1900s these 2ft 3in targets zipped along a rail in pursuit of a similarly-sized rabbit in full stride. This example, made before Parker moved his operations to Leavenworth, Kansas in 1911, has a particularly fine surface described as ‘japanned’.