Single Owner Collection of Folk Art and Americana Brings Outstanding Results at Antique Helper

(Indianapolis, Indiana) June 22, 2006. After years of gathering folk art and regional furniture, Indianapolis collectors Dr. and Mrs. Greg Woodham decided it was time to sell their impressive collection. Keeping things local, they partnered with Indianapolis-based Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper rather than reaching to a far-away auction house. In making this choice, the Woodhams not only forged an important relationship with an already noteworthy auction company, they also recognized Antique Helper’s highly regarded reputation for offering the very best in the antiques market to a world-wide audience.

This collection, vetted and upgraded through the years to achieve a near museum-quality status, represented not only a lifetime of work and scholarship for the Woodhams, but also an excellent opportunity for the Antique Helper staff to demonstrate their commitment to customer service. Recognizing that this world-class offering would spawn interest from coast to coast, the staff acted quickly to establish an aggressive pre-auction national advertising and media campaign. Photography, detailed catalog descriptions and display of this outstanding collection demonstrated Antique Helper’s thoughtful dedication and professionalism.

Paintings by George Winter, Alonzo Peace, John Elwood Bundy and Walter Sies offered a glimpse of Nineteenth Century America through portrait, landscape and still life. Native American materials ranged from Prehistoric relics, many from noted collections, to carvings and weapons. Of added interest were portraits from McKenney and Hall and a set of 72 Nineteenth Century J.O. Lewis lithographs.

The diverse Folk Art collection included rare and one-of-a-kind offerings crafted by 19th century artisans, together with intricately carved animals and figures, small side pieces, etageres, a dresser, a sideboard and a side-by-side bookcase. Tramp Art collectors were pleased to find a variety of frames and small decorative pieces, including a domed radio cabinet and a 14-drawer gun case.

Furniture buyers had the opportunity to select from a number of large pieces, including two grain painted corner cupboards, both fine examples of 19th Century craftsmanship and decoration, plus Old Hickory/Martinsville and regional pieces with appropriate provenance, a fine decorated blanket box, figured maple work tables and much more.

Word spread swiftly of this once-in-a-lifetime event. Telephone bids flowed in from dealers and collectors as far away as California, Montana and Connecticut while many made plans to travel to Indianapolis in order to view the magnificent collection and take part in the auction. The Thursday evening preview party was packed with people eager to see the collection and prepare for the opportunity to bid on a piece of American History. On auction day, there were nearly 300 registered; add to this number the 765 bidders approved for bidding on eBay live, and you have one heck of an auction.

It was a great day for an auction. Bidders filled the showroom to compete for the cataloged merchandise. A second group of auction goers filled a large tent erected in the Antique Helper parking lot, where more fabulous items were offered the old fashioned way. Bidding started strong and remained healthy on both sides throughout the auction. People were determined not to go home empty-handed. There was a sense of friendly competition throughout the day, one of hard-to-contain enthusiasm; a sense of eagerness continued to sustain the crowd. Despite the volume of the collection and the length of the sale, everyone participating in the day’s events seemed to have a great time.

House Auctioneer DeWayne Butler, who called the bulk of this lengthy auction, guided bidders through the busy day. All prices reflect 10% buyer’s premium for floor bidders, 15% for telephone and absentee bidders and a 22.5% buyer’s premium for all eBay bidders.

Setting the tone for the day, a wonderful Adirondack rocker sold early in the sale for nearly quadruple its high estimate of $1,200, closing at $4,400. The successful floor bidder traveled from New York State to take part in this auction. Soon after, an unusual domed folk art twig radio cabinet with a Philco Cathedral radio surpassed its high estimate of $800, bringing $1,650 from another out of state floor bidder.

Among the larger furniture pieces was a Canadian Folk Art dresser. It had a shaped mirror, the body embellished with chicken decoration, applied carvings and traces of paint and graining. Estimated to bring $800-$1,200, this lovely piece closed at $1,650 to a floor bidder. Smaller furniture lots included an assortment of small stands. A beautiful quarter sawn Mission Oak book case with gallery and mortise and tenon joints surpassed high estimate of $1,200, selling for $2,200 to a local floor bidder. One two-drawer figured maple stand, estimated between $800-$1,200 brought $3,300 from a pair of Ohio floor bidders. Another stand, a three drawer flame mahogany hairy paw-footed piece dating from the first quarter of the 19th Century brought $1,320 from a floor bidder.

But, the true show stopper in the furniture category was a unique two-piece corner cupboard. Crafted in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania during the 19th century, the poplar case piece sported its original 20 panes of glass with black ink bull’s-eye decoration and faux graining. Estimated to bring between $4,500 and $6,500, this hefty piece easily surged past its high estimate, selling for $12,650 to floor bidder from Montana.

Decorative items were in abundance. A large shell art collection was well received. A Victorian shell decorated corner étagère surpassed high estimate of $1,200, bringing $2,200 from an Illinois floor bidder. One show piece was a Joseph Heinrich Arts and Crafts Gorham Chafing Dish, dating from the last quarter of the 19th Century. Crafted of hammered copper, silver mounts and three scrolled legs adorned with realistic rabbit figures, the dish closed at $3,307.50 to an eBay bidder.

For the Western buff, there were a number of wonderful horn pieces. From hat racks to shaving mirrors, any wannabe buckaroo could acquire the look without the lariat. A corner horn shelf étagère with curvilinear form exceeded high estimate of $1,600, bringing $3,575 from a floor bidder. A great bench, crafted from 22 longhorn cattle horns, with upholstered plank bench seat, doubled its high estimate of $2,000, bringing $4,600 from a telephone bidder.

Fans of Old Hickory/Martinsville had plenty of opportunities to add to their collections. A drop leaf/gate leg oak top table brought $1,725 from a Colorado telephone bidder. An Old Hickory lamp table with an oak round top surpassed high estimate of $1,000, bringing $1,955 from a telephone bidder.

A quirky folk art squirrel lamp scurried past its high estimate of $600, bringing $2,310 from California floor bidders. A folk art carved rustic floor lamp decorated with a bird sitting on crisscross limbs was expected to bring $800. It sold for $2,090 to a floor bidder.

Art, including paintings and prints realized high prices throughout the auction. A trio of ship paintings by African American artist Joe Selby all managed to surpass their high estimates, bringing $2,200, $2,400 and $3,500. A Pennsylvania telephone participant was the high bidder at $4,887.50 on an 1872 Isaac Taylor oil painting documenting the rise of his state’s oil industry. A large signed still life with corn by Alfred Montgomery (1857-1927), sold to a telephone bidder from Wisconsin for $14,950.

Early portraits included an 1842 work by H., Alonzo Pease (1820-1881), of seven-year-old Helen Sophia Harris, with Lake Erie and the Vermilion River light house in the background. This artwork, originating from Lorraine County, Ohio, brought $17,600 from an Ohio floor bidder. Painted in the style of Ohio artist, Jasper Miles, a small, 8” x 6” oil on board, ca. 1840-1850, of prominent Virginia-born businessman Jeremiah McCluer (1824-1893), exceeded high estimate of $1,500, bringing $5,225 from the floor. “Fair and Softly,” a large, 1923, 36” x 30” oil on canvas by Saturday Evening Post illustrator W.H.D. Koerner, estimated to bring $8,000-$12,000 sold for $14,950 to an Ohio telephone bidder.

Among the fantastic collection of hand carved pigeons and decoys was a Folk Art carved and painted seagull in flight. The great architectural element was mounted on a pole and base. Found in Newark, Ohio, this exceptional piece managed to soar past its modest estimate of $700, lighting on an ending price of $9,350 from a California floor bidder. Going to an Illinois floor bidder was an Indian chip carved Brandt decoy whose high bid of $1485 easily shot down the high estimate of $400. Going to the same bidder was a pair of chip carved Bluebill decoys with tack eyes, estimated between $400 and $600, and selling for $1,760.

Among the Native American art and artifacts was a Penobscot Indian root club. Carved extensively with geometric patterns and carved facial details, this fine piece sold within estimate to an Illinois floor bidder for $1,100. A Salish Native American Indian Salmon Creel with geometric decoration nearly tripled high estimate of $1000, closing at $2,290 to a New York telephone bidder.

A fine group of collectors of Native American artifacts meticulously examined the bannerstones, pipes, plummets, gorgets, ax heads, pendants and spears before the bidding opened. Though competing to own some of the finest examples of their kind, these bidders displayed a strong sense of camaraderie throughout the auction, congratulating each other on their winnings and admiring their friends’ purchases. One Native American Indian slate Goget, inscribed “Flower’s Farm, five miles east of Galeon, Richland County, presented 1923,” surpassed high estimate of $600, bringing $2310 from a floor bidder. A Native American Double Crescent Bannerstone, found in Knox County, Ohio, (Ex. Turner Collection) leapt past high estimate of $600, sold to local floor bidder for $2530. A notched Butterfly Indian bannerstone, found in Blacks Ford County, Indiana, (Ex. R.H. Bunch Collection) and shown in Knoblock’s Bannerstone Book, page 511, realized $3575 from the same floor bidder. Another Bannerstone, double bit ax type, of green slate, found in Tazewell County, IL, (Ex. Copeland Collection) and depicted in Knoblock’s Bannerstone book, page 328, more than quadrupled its high estimate of $1000, bringing $4,400 from another local bidder.

Most notable in the Native American genre was Dr. Woodham’s impressive collection of original McKenney and Hall and James Otto Lewis (1799-1858) lithographs, including folio plates. Prices were strong in this arena, typically more than doubling high estimates. Among the lithographs from Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall, “Ne-Sou-A-Quoit,” Fox Chief, published in 1827, brought $2,990 from an telephone bidder, while “Aseole” Seminole, published in1842, brought $4,025 from a New York telephone bidder. Another telephone bidder placed the winning bid on McKenney and Hall’s “Keokuk,” Chief of the Sac and Fox, published in 1838, closing at $3,737.50.

But the uncontested star of the auction was a lot of Volumes One through Nine of Lewis’s Aboriginal Portfolio, including a total of 72 Native American Lithographs, published by James Otto Lewis, 1835/36, and containing seven wrappers and the original advertisement. Estimated to bring between $35,000 and $50,000, this rare lot sold well within estimate to a Colorado telephone bidder, ending at $43,125.00.

This was Antique Helper’s Most successful sale to date. Energized by the success of this auction, Antique Helper staff has been busy making preparations for the next sale.

Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper’s Mid-Summer Multi-Estate Auction will take place Saturday July 22nd and Sunday and 23rd, featuring pottery, ten pieces of Old Hickory Furniture, HO scale train cars and engines, cast iron banks, bronzes, Muncie pottery and more. Saturday’s multi-ring auction, will start at 9 AM, and Sunday’s Art and Antiques auction is scheduled to start at 1:00 PM. An online catalog will be available at least ten days before the auction. For more information, please call 317-251-5635 or visit our website at