Pook & Pook, Inc. Sets Record for Sgrafitto Redware at Auction On Friday, January 11th, 2008, Downingtown, Pennsylvania auction house, Pook & Pook, Inc. set a new auction record of $351,000 for an exceptional sgrafitto plate attributed to potter George Hubener.
News-Antique.com - Jan 21,2008 - Among the tens of thousands of pieces of redware created in the mid-Atlantic region during the late 18th to mid 19th centuries, a limited number of them bear the slip decoration now desired by collectors and even fewer are found with the rarest sgrafitto decoration. Potters were generally creating plates, loaf dishes, crocks, and jars for primarily utilitarian purposes. As such, it is no great surprise that American pieces with these ornate, originally European, sgrafitto designs, command the highest dollar from redware collectors.
Proving the point, on Friday, January 11th, 2008, Downingtown, Pennsylvania auction house, Pook & Pook, Inc. set a new auction record of $351,000(includes the 17% buyers’ premium) for an exceptional sgrafitto plate attributed to George Hubener, one of the most renowned of the identified potters. Early in the day at lot 143, the Montgomery County, Limerick Township, Pennsylvania sgraffito redware dish dated 1785 crossed the auction block. Descended in the family of pioneer collector, Arthur Sussel, the plate was adorned with a three tulip vine and floral pinwheels. The 12 1/4" dia. plate also had an inscribed border, which was translated for Pook & Pook by retired Lutheran minister and Pennsylvania-German historian, Rev. Frederick S. Weiser, to read "If it weren't for the boys and the roosters, then cradles and hen houses would be empty". The wonderfully bawdy verse was just a bonus to the vibrant surface with a yellow and green glaze over the deep toned earthenware body, and the pristine condition as the plate had only sustained only a few small flakes over its 222 years.
Estimated at $50,000-70,000, Pook & Pook auctioneer, Kellie Seltzer, opened up bidding in the saleroom at $40,000 and guided a lone phone bidder and multiple bidders in the salesroom through 31 bid increments to end at a final hammer price of $300,000. American folk art dealer, David Wheatcroft of Westborough, Massachusetts, who was bidding in the room, was the eventual winner to the hushed exclamations of the audience. The sales price of the Hubener plate more than triples the previous auction record for a sgrafitto plate, which had lasted only nine months and was also held by Pook & Pook. In April 2007, Pook & Pook handled the landmark Americana collection of Dr. and Mrs. Donald A. Shelley. It was the Shelleys’ Bucks County, Pennsylvania earthenware charger attributed to Isaac Stout, bearing the date 1790 and central decoration with a leaping stag, flanked by tree, flowering vine, and fence which then sold to a collector in the salesroom for $111,150. When asked post-auction about the results and Wheatcroft’s monumental purchase, a collector from Pennsylvania stated “Things have sure changed. Ten and twenty years ago, no one would have dreamed of 6-figure redware sales. The big collectors and dealers keep pushing the spending ceiling for the truly amazing pieces higher and higher”.
In a refreshing turnaround to the current fluctuating economic trends in the antiques market, the Pook & Pook sale offered a broad range of very strong prices. The