The highlight of the February 13 Discovery Auction at Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper was Pottery, Pottery and more Pottery. While other antiques, collectibles, as well as a nice representation of fine art might have held the spot light for the first few hours of the Sunday afternoon sale, most buyers were holding out, and in some cases, camping out, with high anticipation for the vast selection of art pottery slated for the second half of the auction: a packed house saw more than 100 live bidders, including nearly three dozen new bidders, a group of out of state pottery collectors, as well as a host of enthusiastic absentee, telephone and eBay bidders. As with every Antique Helper auction there was a 10% buyer’s premium for floor bidders and a 15% buyer’s premium for absentee, telephone and eBay bidders.
But there was much to talk about besides pottery. In a sale that included signed serigraphs by Peter Max and Karel Appel, an etching by Salvador Dali and works by Indiana artists Clifton Wheeler and Mae Engron, as well as a broad selection of non-eBay lots, there was plenty of love to go around on this Valentine’s Day Eve sale. With auctioneers from Christy’s of Indiana calling the sale, offerings alternated between eBay lots and non-eBay cataloged lots, and, for the most part, prices remained even-keeled for the first portion of the sale. Among the exceptions to this pattern was the sale of an antique Japanese scroll, circa 18th Century, featuring Samurai warrior Tokugawa Leyasu and his top generals. In need of extensive restoration, this scroll was discovered during World War II in the cornerstone of a destroyed building by an American soldier. After much pre-auction attention, this scroll was estimated to bring between $500 and $1,000, and closed at a cozy $900.
Memorabilia hit the high road, with a handful of fine offerings. A collection of approximately 83 vintage, Turn of the Century pin backs, including an assortment of political, advertising, photographic and Americana (est. $200-$300) closed just above high estimate at $325. Meanwhile, a collection of 26 movie star autographs and fan club photos, some personalized, including the likes of Barbara Stanwick, Errol Flynn, Orson Wells and James Cagney (est. $200-$300) also closed above high estimate at $350, and a lot of signed Elvis Presley 1960 G.I. documents for the transport of his personal property from Germany (est. $1,000-$2,000) left the building to the tune of $1,850.
There were plenty of miscellaneous fine antiques and collectibles to be had, including an enameled bronze figure, “The Mystic,” cast from a model by Erte (1988), closing precicely at high estimate of $2,000, while a Cendedese Corroso art glass female nude statuette (est. $100-$200) closed above high estimate at $275, and an early Victorian silver plate figural bride’s basket with etched clear glass insert by Rogers Smith, New Haven Connecticut, NO 46 (est. $100-$200) closed at $225.
Fine art held its own, with prices typically falling within estimate. A signed color serigraph by Peter Max, ca. 1988 (est. $600-$800) closed at $675, while an etching by Salvador Dali, “Portrait of Sigismund,” closed at low estimate of $300. A 1969 signed color lithograph by Paul Wunderlich (German, b. 1927) closed at high estimate of $400 and an etching by Moroccan artist Guillaume A. Azoulay (est. $200-$400) closed just shy of high estimate at $350. “Awakening of the Trees,” an aquatint by Brown County, Indiana artist Charles William Dahlgreen (1864-1955) went home for $150, just shy of its $200 low estimate. A non-oil on board autumn forest landscape painting (est. $100-$200) by Hoosier Salon artist Francis F. Brown (1891-1971) exceeded high estimate, closing at $300, and a lovely fauvist female portrait by renowned Indiana female painter Lorena Phemister (est. $200-$400) ended within estimate, closing at $350.
A number of glass offerings fared well, including a Fratelli Toso murrina millefiori vase with 2 handles and a Fratelli Toso creamer size pitcher or polychrome murrina, ca. 1915 more than met their expected high estimate of $300, closing at $425. A Loetz Czech threaded and applied art glass vase by Michael Powolny closed just below low estimate of $250, at $225, while another Loetz art glass vase, also by Michael Powolny, ca. 1918 (est. $250-$450) ended nicely at $300, selling to the same floor bidder. An antique Salviati vetro a fili pitcher, dating from the last quarter of the 19th Century (est. $300-$600) sold for a solid $550, while a Webb or Stevens & Williams English Victorian cameo art glass vase, ca. 1890 (est. $1,300) closed at $1,150, plus 15% buyer’s premium, to an absentee bidder.
The pace picked up dramatically when the first piece of art pottery hit the block. A Muncie Art Pottery cobalt hi glaze double handle urn, impressed “Boys Town,” offered in excellent condition with an estimate of $40-$60 swiftly surpassed expectations, closing at an impressive $180; another offering of Muncie pottery, a blue corset form vase (est. $40-$80) also exceeded expectations, closing at $120, and a pair of Muncie art pottery hand turned rose green drip vases (est. $40-$80) ended at $150, despite chips and nicks to the lip of one vase. A pattern was set, as pottery sales, with few exceptions, continued to exceed expectations. Ending prices for AMACO Art Pottery, both eBay and Non-eBay tended to end high, with eBay lots typically realizing prices above, and sometimes more than doubling, high estimate. A green double handle AMACO art pottery vase (est. $40-$80) more than doubled high estimate, ending at $190, while another AMACO green vase, carrying the same estimate, closed at $150, and an AMACO art pottery Deco green/rose triple wing handle vase (est. $40-$80) closed at $130, and a AMACO hand decorated vase (est. $100-$200) closed at $250.
Red Wing, Roseville, Niloak and Marblehead were among the host of other featured pottery, with prices consistently falling within estimate. Among the darlings of the Art Pottery world, Roseville pieces fared extremely well, often closing well above high estimate. A lovely Roseville Mostique pattern wall pocked closed just shy of its low estimate of $200, finding a new home at a still-friendly $190, and two Roseville early Velmoss art pottery vases decorated with leaf fronds in relief, and carrying an estimate of. $200–$300 each both closed at closed at $475. A Marblehead blue cylinder vase (est. $200-$400) closed at $325. Not quite managing estimate was a Marblehead art pottery olive matter green ribbed wall pocket. Offered in excellent condition and expected to bring $800-$1,200, this piece closed at a still impressive $550.
Rookwood pottery began with a flourish and continued at an upbeat pace. A matte green pottery vase, ca. 1905 (est. $250-$500) streaked past high estimate to end at $775, while a Rookwood standard glaze vase decorated in heavy slip with Lily of the Valley by Laura E. Lindeman, ca. 1905 more than doubled its high estimate of $700, closing at a solidly impressive $1,500.
With most attendees staying until the very end, the sale’s energy continued to permeate the crowd as they gathered, wrapped and paid for their purchases. The next auction, including an enticing array of fine art and antiques is scheduled for Sunday, February 27, followed by another Discovery Auction on Saturday March 12 and a Books and Ephemera auction slated to take place on Sunday, March 13.