Ohio Folk Art Highlights Garth's Annual May Americana Auction “Growth…Improvement…these are key words in today’s antiques economy,” reported Jeff Jeffers, CEO & auctioneer of Garth’s Auctions in Delaware, Ohio, regarding the May Americana sales results.
News-Antique.com - Jun 10,2011 - “Growth…Improvement…these are key words in today’s antiques economy,” reported Jeff Jeffers, CEO & principal auctioneer of Garth’s Auctions in Delaware, Ohio, regarding the results for Garth’s May 20-21 Americana auction (which featured the Fifth Annual Ohio Valley session). Sales for this yearly event have been on the rise each year, drawing impressive crowds. Serendipitously timed near the end of Ohio Decorative Arts Center's "Equal in Goodness: Ohio Decorative Arts 1788 - 1860," a special exhibit sponsored by Garth's and guest-curated by Garth's VP Andrew Richmond, this spring's auction offered an opportunity for the celebration as well as the acquisition of all things Ohio.
The highlight of the Ohio folk art included eleven works by Columbus artist Elijah Pierce, the son of a former slave, whose work ranges from the religious to the secular (showing his interests in politics, sports, and African-American history). However, the religious plaques drew the top bids in this auction. Tremendous interest in lot 10, a 1966 work titled Jesus and the Angels, ensured that the phones were packed and bidding paddles were in the air early in the first session. Measuring 28 1/2"h. x 15"w., the relief carved plaque of Jesus surrounded by clouds and angels and, what appeared to be the 12 disciples, retained the original, vibrant polychrome painted surface and carried an estimate of $18,000-22,000. It sold to a phone bidder for $24,675. Lot 74, another Biblical plaque by Pierce estimated at $8,000-12,000, was inscribed with Psalms 46:1, and also sold to the phones - doubling its mean estimate - for $21,150.
Other categories of folk art showed strong prices throughout the two-day event including weathervanes. Lot 201, a 44” long American copper quill with the original gilding prompted fierce competition and a price of $7,050, while a full-bodied cow vane with a zinc head realized $5,288. Two running horse weathervanes, each with zinc heads, were estimated at $800-1,600 and $600-1,200, respectively, but they exceeded all expectations racing across the block for $3,760 and $3,055. A more unexpected weathervane in the form of a grasshopper was a favorite among the Garth’s staff. It garnered a smaller final price at $764, but it promoted big smiles in the sales room. A sheet metal trade sign from a Kansas haberdashery in the form of a bust of a man wearing a wide brim hat delighted the crowd selling for $2,703 versus an estimate of $600-1,200.
Carved items of all sorts brought robust bids. A beaver-form ice-fishing decoy with moving tail, which in recent weeks traveled to a local elementary school as part of Garth’s educational outreach programs, encouraged interest from young and old alike. But, as Amelia Jeffers noted, “At the end of the day, whether the enthusiasm is in the eyes of a 70 year old chasing a ditty box in the auction, or a 7 year old oohing over an ice fishing lure, their enthusiasm is infectious - and, my favorite part of the job.” The 9 ½” long decoy sold for an outstanding