Travelers to Garth’s November 25-26 Thanksgiving Weekend Auction Are Treated to the Scenic Route Garth’s 51st Annual Thanksgiving Americana Auction will give bidders a chance to travel home, not only with rare, beautiful and interesting pieces - but, bits of history from the Widder collection.
Most collectors of antiques and art become students of the objects they accumulate. But for some, the hobby transcends a casual connection to attractive or interesting pieces, to become a way of life. When Dr. James and Susan Widder of Cincinnati, Ohio, decided to forgo the Danish Modern trend that so many others had embraced, they turned to a local antiques dealer and friend, who introduced them to the world of Americana. The introduction would inspire a five decade quest that has provided a lifetime of memorable discoveries. Browsing the colorful catalog that features their collection scheduled to sell during session one of the two-day auction November 25-26 at Garth’s Auctions in Delaware, Ohio, one is reminded of the insightful words of Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Those passionate collectors who can identify with the Widders will most assuredly agree that the journey, indeed, makes all the difference. When their collection hits the block during Garth’s 51st Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Americana Auction, bidders will have a chance to travel home not only with rare, beautiful and interesting pieces - but, bits of history. “Jim and Susan collected as much for the story of an object as the object itself,” comments Garth’s C.E.O., Jeff Jeffers. “Not to detract from their wonderful eye - because, anyone who walked into their home could recognize their skillful assemblage of folksy form and color. But, they also appreciate good, clean provenance. And, when an object piqued their interest, they had the tenacity to track down it’s story. You have to respect and admire that.”
With 548 lots from the Widders selling on Friday and another 615 lots from various consignors on Saturday, Thanksgiving weekend will find Garth’s saleroom alive with the vibrant color of the collections and the enthusiasm of the buyers – from neophytes to aficionados - feeling the camaraderie of the holiday and admiring the assemblage of lifetimes of collecting.
It is especially nice that 80% of the furniture in the auction comprise quality painted surfaces with good provenance. Leading off the sale is a mid-19th century decorated blanket chest by Jacob Blatt (1801-1878) and/or his brother Heinrich(Bern [now Centre] Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania), who often used the paint treatment utilized on this piece, which seems to have been inspired by kaleidoscope designs. This design source is discussed in Sumpter Priddy’s, American Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts, 1790-1840 where this chest is discussed and illustrated on pp. 89-90. The chest is conservatively estimated at $5,000-9,000. A decorated stepback white and yellow pine cupboard, attributed to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, retains its original grain-painted decoration. The provenance lists Don Walters (Massachusetts) and Deanne Levison (Georgia). The latter penned a letter which accompanies the cupboard stating it was found in the Shenandoah Valley and relates to similar Southern cupboards that are made as one piece rather than the more typical two pieces(estimate $4,000-8,000).