Market Shows Strength At Pook & Pook

November 10, 2017

Pook & Pook Inc. in Downingtown, Pa., held an Americana and International catalog sale on Oct. 7. The one-day auction had 536 lots, and 486 sold for $823,025, the hammer total, $1,010,216 including buyer’s premiums. “I thought things with the bells and whistles did well,” said auctioneer Jamie Shearer. It was an accurate assessment, and although various sectors of the market are far from robust, the overall results would indicate the Americana field is a relatively healthy one. An argument could be made that a lot of material is sitting on the sidelines right now with no longer active collectors debating an exit strategy for their things. Nearly a decade removed from a recession, which took its toll on the antiques business, current auction prices in various categories are experiencing an ever slight uptick. Yes, as evident in this sale, some things bought during the overheated late 1990s are not back. Investment buyers never made up the backbone of the marketplace; it is collectors who enjoy and love what they buy and live with it in their homes and offices. As I’ve written before, it will be intriguing to see how if the 250th anniversary of American Independence in 2026 can affect the Americana market. If the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 is indicative of the possibilities, collecting antiques has a chance to again achieve a heightened interest level among Americans.
Among notable items sold in the auction was a small four-inch tall Schimmel carved and painted eaglet, which sold to the trade for $13,420. It had last sold at auction for $14,040 at the legendary Dr. Donald and Esther Shelley sale in 2007 at Pook & Pook, going to David Wheatcroft on behalf of Midwest private collectors. “Several very good things in the sale came from this Midwest collection. All unreserved,” said Shearer.
A well-preserved red toleware bread tray sold for $10,980 to a dealer. It brought $17,775 at the Eugene and Dorothy Elgin sale at Pook & Pook in 2011. A Jacob Maentel watercolor-and-gouache portrait of a gentleman in military dress and dog in lower right sold to a collector in the salesroom for $7,930. In 1999, at the John Gordon sale held by Christie’s, it sold for $4,370. Another Maentel, a portrait of an elderly woman seated in a chair in profile view, ex. Hattie Brunner, failed to sell at $1,200 at the John Gordon sale in 1999 and here brought $1,342. A very nice Lehn saffron cup with blue ground went for $6,710, and a paint-decorated doll chair once sold by David Wheatcroft brought $4,148. A carved lollipop handle style butter print dated “1816,” with tulips, sold for $2,928.
The Soap Hollow, Western Pennsylvania, painted poplar chest of drawers, dated 1871, signed by the maker, “Manufactured By John Sala,” retaining its original untouched red surface with stenciled highlights, the sides with black painted recessed panels with date and initials “LC” with minor wear and one scallop repair to backsplash, sold for $32,500 (est. $15,000-$20,000).
A Dutch cupboard, also by Sala and initialed “LC,” possibly made for the same customer, is illustrated in Charles Muller’s “Soap Hollow: The Furniture and Its Makers,” on pg. 19.
The photos and captions show more that sold and for how much.
An upcoming sale at Pook & Pook that is sure to excite collectors of Pennsylvania decorative arts will be the auction of the lifetime collection of Ruth Bryson set for April of 2018. “The collection will be sold in its entirety,” said Ron Pook. The late Ruth Bryson and her husband, Jack, of Quarryville, Pa., specialized in Lancaster County antiques. For example, they had seven Weber boxes. Stay tuned for more on this auction.
For additional information on this or upcoming sales, call Pook & Pook Inc. at 610-269-4040.


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