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Auction Report: Cowan’s Spring Fine and Decorative Arts

by Christopher Kent (05/20/09).

With more than 450 lots for sale, the Cowan’s Auctions Spring Fine and Decorative Arts Auction promises on June 6 2009 to be both diverse and exciting.

Starting off the auction in the first top 10 lots, lot # 10 is an unusual and rarely seen Anna Pottery pig flask. The diminutive 2.25-inch by 4.5-inch salt glaze molded stoneware pig contains destination points of the Arkansas railroad, stagecoach, and river routes inscribed in the clay. The flask in anatomically correct, unique small size with an atypical location of the opening of the flask at the top center of the pig’s back. The estimate of this item is $4,000-$6,000 and well worth the estimate for the serious collector. This is a possible bidding-war item and might kick off the auction with some excitement.

Jumping to lot # 305 is a particularly well-done watercolor-on-paper portrait of a young man by the well known 1930s Danish-American illustrator and artist Malthe Hasselriis. This small work, at close inspection, bears great clarity and precise painterly style, plus the sitter is attractive; all pluses to sell this item that has a $300-$600 estimate. Also, as demonstrated by past Cowan sales of paintings and drawings, the market is good and strong.

Timur Akhriev's “Portrait of a Lobsterman”

Timur Akhriev's “Portrait of a Lobsterman”

This fact will also influence the bottom line for lot # 484, the highly collectible works of the Russian-born artist Timur Akhriev. Works by this artist—now living in Tennessee—is rarely seen at auction and usually sell in the high thousands of dollars. The 24-inch by 30-inch painting, “Portrait of a Lobsterman,” is oil on canvas, signed on the lower right and in pristine condition. The estimate, at $4,000-$6,000, is low, considering the popularity and recognition of the artist, plus his strong following in the U.S. It would be a great investment for either the collector or dealer.

Rookwood Faience grates

Rookwood Faience grates

Rookwood Faience panels

Rookwood Faience panels

For the collector of Faience, Rookwood or architectural elements, lot # 454 is a particularly nice addition to the sale. Originally part of the décor of the Mills Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, this pair of circa 1920’s grilles or grates was made by Rookwood. Each grille is molded in two pieces with impressed marks that read, 600A Rookwood, faience/89 A. The dimensions are 42-inches high by 21.5-inches wide. The estimate is good at $600-$800 for the pair. If you like these, lot # 456—also part of the Mills décor and made by Rookwood—has a similar $600-$800 estimate should be added to the purchase.

Lot # 369 consists of a fine example of late-19th century pocket watch making. French and American made, this Patek Phillippe, Duhme and Company of Cincinnati watch is in an 18-karat hunter case and is marked #4599. The movement and dial are marked Duhme and Co., and Case and Cuvette hallmarked. It carries a $3,500-$5,000 estimate.

Lot # 231, a Regency “Metamorphic” Oak Library chair, circa 1815, is an English armchair that doubles into a four-step library steps. Similar examples of this chair appear in Ackerman’s, “Repository of Arts, July 1811,” which included a caption: “This ingenious piece of furniture is made by Morgan and Sanders, Catherine Street, The Strand, London. Considered the best and handsomest article ever yet invented where two complete pieces of furniture are combined into one, an elegant and truly comfortable armchair and a set of library steps.” Estimate on this piece is $1,500-$2,500.

Carved and painted tea shop figure

Carved and painted tea shop figure

Lot #151 is an important carved and polychrome painted tea shop figure. Made in the last quarter of the 19th century, this rare, painted and laminated pine figure depicts a Chinese lady wearing a tunic, trousers and skull cap, holding a vial and standing on a rectangular painted surface. It stands 63 inches tall. These figures that were used as advertising in tea and herb shops and were not mass-produced, unlike cigar store Indians. An identical example appears in Hornungs, “Treasury of American Antiques,” plate 92. The estimate is deservedly $8,00-$10,000 thousand.

Lot # 63 is a Pennsylvania Chippendale Kas from the Hearst Collection. Made circa 1760-1790, probably either in Lancaster or Berks County, and constructed of walnut, the design consists of a broken scrolled pediment with pierced carved tympanum, over arched raised-paneled doors. The lower case has three aligned drawers over two aligned drawers, the whole piece rests on claw and ball feet. Provenance; the sale of William Randolph Hearts, San Simeon, California collection, sold through Gimbels of New York, 1941, bearing original tag. Imagine the piece without the pediment and the claw and ball feet. These are later additions. The original piece would have had a flat top and probably a “dated” bun foot. In pristine condition, the piece would have a $15,000 to $20,000 estimate. In it’s “as is” condition, the estimate is $5,000-$7,000.

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