Cowans American History Auction! Cowan's Auctions drew the second-highest price ever paid for a work by Samuel Walters (British, 1811-1882) when an 1864 oil painting of the Confederate blockade runner CSS Colonel Lamb sold for $126,0
News-Antique.com - Jun 22,2016 - Rare Items Bring Top Dollar in Cowan’s June 10th American History Auction
CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Cowan's Auctions drew the second-highest price ever paid for a work by Samuel Walters (British, 1811-1882) when an 1864 oil painting of the Confederate blockade runner CSS Colonel Lamb sold for $126,000 during the company's American History sale on June 10. The one-day auction totaled $759,500 on about 350 lots. (All prices include the buyer's premium.)
Based in Liverpool, Walters was among the highest regarded marine painters during his lifetime. His works included several American ships, but the Colonel Lamb was the only Confederate vessel he painted. The scene was created the same year the ship was built by Jones, Quiggin & Co. of Liverpool.
"We were happy to see the Walters painting attract such attention," said Wes Cowan, president of the auction house. "The winning bidder was a maritime attorney who was attracted to the painting because of its historical significance relative to international maritime law."
Civil War items saw some of the strongest bidding of the day, with many items selling above estimate. The archive of Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd of the 6th Michigan Cavalry realized $102,000. The prime piece of the grouping was a medal for valor awarded by General George Armstrong Custer and made by Tiffany. In 14k gold with blue enamel, it is among the rarest Civil War decorations. Also in the 23-piece lot was Kidd's sword and a 14k gold GAR badge having a 6th Cavalry hanger, but it was the Tiffany medal buyers most wanted.
"The Kidd archive was extraordinarily rare," Cowan noted. "Custer commissioned Tiffany to make a mere handful of medals, which he awarded to his senior field commanders. A number of people knew Kidd was awarded one, but not until his great-great-grandson contacted us did we know it still existed."
From the same family came a signed 1908 letter from Custer's widow, Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer, addressed to General Kidd and framed with a wooden fragment from the desk on which the South surrendered at Appomattox Court House, a piece of the surrender flag and a swatch of General Custer's trademark red kerchief. The grouping immediately followed the sale of the valor medal, leading Cowan to call it "the icing on the cake." The lot sold for $39,000.
One of the more interesting Civil War items offered was a Confederate church bell captured at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1862 by Union forces under the command of General Benjamin Butler. It sold for $7,200. More than a mere trophy for Northern troops, the bell was confiscated so Confederate forces couldn't smelt it in an effort to create canons and ammunition, a common practice of the South.
The best of the photography, always a favorite category at Cowan's, was a sixth plate daguerreotype of future First Lady Julia Dent Grant and two sons, made for Ulysses S. Grant when he was a captain serving in California. The portrait sold above estimate for $18,000. Discovered last