Three Vibrant Paintings By Maud Lewis Combine For $79,060

May 24, 2024

Three colorfully vibrant paintings by the legendary Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis (1901-70) sold for a combined $79,060, and a 19th-century French Bontems caged singing bird automaton played a sweet tune for $10,030 in Miller & Miller Auctions Ltds online Advertising, Canadiana and Historic Objects Auction held April 13. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and include an 18-percent buyers premium. Maud Lewis has been featured in numerous Miller & Miller auctions in recent months, always with positive results. The market for her work is strong. Of the three of her paintings in this auction, the top performer was a late 1965 or early 1966 mixed media-on-pulpboard (beaverboard) titled Cow in Spring Meadow. It was signed Maud Lewis lower right and bested the $25,000 high estimate by bringing $30,680. The other two paintings signed by Lewis were a mixed media-on-artist board titled Covered Bridge in Winter, which featured blue loops dating it to the second half of 1965 ($25,960), and a mixed media-on-masonite titled Two Deer in Winter, a serial image found only in the 1960s, that realized $22,420. Also sold was a group of six handwritten letters from Maud Lewis to John Kinnear, all from 1966-67 ($9,440). Kinnear was a London, Ontario, artist and friend who worked as an agent for Lewis in the late 1960s. Lewis stated in one of the letters that she had finished decorating some dustpans supplied by Mr. Kinnear. It was signed, Maud Lewis. In a related lot, a framed working pencil sketch-on-paper titled Alberta by A.Y. Jackson (Canadian, 1882-1974), depicting a small village with a church and low hills in the background, supplied by Jackson to John Kinnear, as suggested by Jacksons 1967 letter to Kinnear (also offered in this sale), artist signed lower left but undated, rose to $4,425. The ca. 1885 French Bontems caged singing bird automaton was housed in a bronze cage and stood 18.5 inches tall, with applied scenic Sevres plaques surrounding the base panels. Included was a crank-style winding key. It was mechanically functioning and made $10,030. The auction overall was packed with 414 lots of general store items, art glass, Canadiana, advertising signs, Western collectibles, pottery and stoneware, art, and lamps and lighting. Headlining the event was the Greg Hisey collection. Hiseys Ghost Town Blues in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, was a bed and breakfast where travelers immersed themselves in the past. Working with themes of early Western transportation, veterinary and general store, Hisey collected advertising and furnishings right out of a ghost town.Items sold included late 19th-century automata, rare Canadian political posters and folk art, decorative art glass, silver, bronzes, and early lighting.East met West in this very diverse sale. This was an eclectic auction, and performance varied by category, said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. Petroliana and soda advertising performed well, while niche markets such as veterinary medicine advertising were variable. We found that uncirculated, fresh to the market material performed the best. Collectors are energized by things they havent seen before, and their memories are sharp and long. The goat wagons and historic objects relating to early transportation languished, while key advertising soared past our expectations. A total of 464 online bidders placed a combined total of 7,402 bids, for a gross of $478,785. Internet bidding was facilitated by and the Miller & Miller Auctions website. Of the 414 total lots up for bid, 99 percent of them were sold and 48 percent of the top 50 lots exceeded estimate. A Canadian Gilson, Guelph Dixie Ace Tractors sign from the 1910s, an embossed lithographed single-sided tin sign, sold for $7,670. Gilson Manufacturing was a Wisconsin company that opened a plant in Guelph, Ontario, in 1907. The Dixie Ace tractor was made in Guelph in 1919-20. A wooden veterinary remedies store display cabinet from the 1900s for Dr. Lesures Famous Remedies (Keene, N.H.), the tin lithograph panel depicting a horse in profuse detail peering out of an oval stone opening, one of the holy grails in veterinary patent medicine collecting that came with the original advertising booklet, achieved $4,130, and a ca. 1906 self-framed single-sided tin lithograph sign for the Hickman-Ebert Wagon Company (Owensboro, Ky.), was a highlight. This self-framed tin sign, titled In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, the stunning lithographic image from the golden age of advertising, marked, Chas. W. Shonk Co. Litho, Chicago, commanded $5,900. For additional information, email or visit


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