Julia’s Upcoming Auction Marks The Final Installment Of The Woolworth Collection

January 27, 2011

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Woolworth was one of the most famous names in department stores - both here and in Europe. Since the early 20th Century, the family who started the Woolworth Department Store has owned an immense compound on the shores of beautiful Cobbossee Lake in Monmouth, Maine. The compound eventually expanded to twenty-six buildings - including various living quarters, horse stables, a private bowling alley, etc. Over the years, all the various living quarters were eventually filled with elegant antique furnishings and superb paintings. A few years ago, the family began to downsize their holdings on the lake. And as the homes were sold, the antiques therein were consigned to Julia’s. Recently, the final remnants of the compound were sold and Julia’s was once again called in to handle the balance of their vast antique collection on February 3 and 4. This sale marks the final segment of the renowned Woolworth collection.
Also included in this sale will be a segment of the museum and private collection of Dorothy-Lee Jones. Mrs. Jones is a direct descendant of the famous Revolutionary War General Artemas Ward and both she and her mother during their lifetime had amassed a formidable collection of glass and ceramics (some of which were sold in Julia’s recent glass & lamp auction). Some years ago, Mrs. Jones started a glass museum and research center at her picturesque early American farm in Douglas Hill, Maine and her collection and the regular presentations that took place were well known throughout North America.
On an entirely different note, the auction will also feature a portion of the Barbara Thornsjo collection of antiques, funk & junque. Mrs. Thornsjo, formerly of Albion, Maine, was a passionate and compulsive buyer of folk art, eclectic, and funk. The house was all but bursting at the seams.
Items from the Woolworth collection include numerous important paintings such as an oil on canvas scene by Heywood Hardy showing a group of fox hunters on horseback surrounded by over twenty hounds. They are congregating in front of a tavern in preparation for a hunt. This work is estimated for $10,000 to $20,000. European artwork from other collections is highlighted by Montague Dawson’s nautical scene showing the East Indiaman at full sail sailing right to left angled toward viewer plying through green white tipped waves. From a fine private Massachusetts home, it is expected to sell for $80,000 to $120,000.
Across the pond to America’s shores, Julia’s presents a marvelous grouping of Rockport-Gloucester art. Highlights include a generous and fresh selection of works by Emile Gruppe. Included is a superb oil on canvas winter scene of a stream winding through a sunlit forest. A departure from his usual harbor scenes, it comes with a $10,000 to $15,000 estimate. Other Rockport-Gloucester artists include a wonderful early scene by Anthony Thieme showing two schooners in calm water mooring with the assistance of a man in a rowboat. Recently found in a Maine home, it is expected to fetch $10,000 to $20,000.
From the other side of the country comes a selection of California and other western artists such as John Marshall Gamble’s landscape of a grassy path leading through wildflowers to an outcropping of trees. In soothing earth tones, it comes with an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.
Day II of the auction consists of nearly 800 lots and showcases a variety of folk and nautical art. Of particular note is a rare and important Cushing & White steam locomotive and tender weathervane. Hailing from the late 19th Century, this recent estate discovery, constructed of zinc, copper, and tin is truly a phenomenal and exciting piece with an undisturbed surface. It comes to the block with an estimate of $35,000 to $65,000.
A recent discovery of an unframed oil on panel primitive folk art panorama of Boston area’s Chelsea, Massachusetts shows how much the area has changed since 1827 from rural farmland to its present sprawl. Found in a coal bin in the cellar of a Boston area home, it has descended through the family for its first ever public appearance. This rare opportunity comes with an estimate of $12,500 to $22,500.
For the nautical enthusiast is an outstanding and rare whaling ship’s log for the "Columbus" covering a span beginning in November 1821 and details weather conditions, activities, whales killed, and locations visited ranging from California to Chile to Japan. Consigned by an ancestor of the vessel’s captain, it comes with a presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. Also worthy of note is an outstanding half-plate daguerreotype of Charles Henry Lewis who lived and worked in the Great Lakes region. This hand tinted studio shot shows Lewis in his seaman’s attire holding a telescope. The photo is accompanied by a letter to the supposed subject discussing whaling and other seafaring activities. It comes with a $10,000 to $15,000 estimate.
From land to sea is a rare collection of Civil War letters. This family trove consists of letters between two brothers to their older sister Maria. The Bailey brothers left the family farm in Woolwich, Maine during the fall of 1862 to serve in the 20th Maine during the Civil War. Consisting of 48 letters dating from August 1862 to April 1864 together with early format photos of the principals, the lot is expected to sell in the range of $3,000 to $5,000.
Also historically significant is perhaps the only known complete and intact mid-19th Century brass foundry known to exist. This extraordinary find once belonged to William H. Webb of Warren, Maine, a known entity in the brass world. The lot was discovered in 1966 by an antique dealer from Owls Head, Maine in the hay loft of the William H. Webb Estate farm. Included are tools large and small, patterns, works in progress, day books, and much more. Webb started his career in Boston, coming from a family of silversmiths (as well as being a nephew of Benjamin Franklin). The lot comes with a $75,000 to $125,000 estimate.
The auction continues with a wide variety of furniture and accessories including painted furniture, Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Continental, and early American. One of two fine New England highboys in the sale is a Queen Anne cherry and maple Connecticut example that comes from the private collection of Dorothy-Lee Jones with a $5,000 to $10,000 estimate.
Accessories include several lots of carved Black Forest pieces. An extremely fine carved walnut eagle by Alfred Stahli shows the accomplished artist’s exceptional ability to transform a solid block. The highly detailed full bodied spread eagle is seen clutching its prey, a small mountain goat, atop a rocky outcrop. The piece was once a prized souvenir of a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served in WWII in Europe because it was retrieved by him and his troops when Adolf Hitler's Eagles Nest Retreat was captured in April of 1945 in the Bavarian Alps. It carries an estimate of $9,000 to $12,000. Other Black Forest items include a carved linden wood bench depicting two carved standing bears with glass eyes supporting a central bench with carved and pierced backrest. It comes with a $1,500 to $3,000 estimate.
Other highlights from Day II of this auction include a collection of over 50 lots of silver from the private collection of Dorothy-Lee Jones. In quality and freshness to the market, this sale represents one of the best collections of early Tiffany and English silver Julia’s has had the pleasure of offering.
From a separate collection comes a truly outstanding and rare figural handled, Russian enameled kovsh by Fedor Ruckert. The oval bowl having two bear head handles, each set with red stone eyes, gilt interior, and elaborate enameling across the entire exterior is an unbelievable feat of construction. This piece, originally purchased in Russia and sold in a small Midwest auction in the 1990’s, now comes with an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
The offering of fine metals continues with a collection of coins for the numismatist. Included is a rare 1807 2-1/2 dollar gold piece picturing a woman wearing a cap facing right (while most U.S. coins show a figure facing left). It is expected to bring $8,000 to $10,000. Also making it to the Julia auction block is an unusual find that "made the papers" nearly a decade ago. The present owner was out with his metal detector one day when he came across a 1652 Oak Tree Schilling above a beach near where a Revolutionary War battle took place. The coin was highly oxidized and the owner cleaned the silver surface with baking soda paste, revealing the sharp details beneath. One of those instances that keeps the metal detector manufacturers in business, the coin comes with an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.
The diversity of the sale shifts into overdrive with more selections from the private collection of Dorothy-Lee Jones including a cross section of Oriental porcelain and Victoriana. In addition is a scattering of estate rugs, American Indian objects, and a select grouping of nicely restored early fire engine lamps.
More information on the Julia auction can be obtained by going to their website at www.jamesdjulia.com or calling (207) 453-7125. Free full-color brochures are available, or their lavish, full-color, detailed and illustrated catalogs are available for $40. Previews for the auctions will be Wednesday, February 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and February 3 and 4, from 8 to 10 a.m. with the auction commencing at 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday at their auction facilities on Rt. 201 in Fairfield, Maine.


More Articles