Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, photos courtesy of Forsythes’ Auctions
CINCINNATI, OHIO – Two days after the Forsythes’ Auctions on January 2, Frank Forsythe spoke the words everyone in this business wants to hear: “The antiques market has improved a lot overall, the start of the Americana in particular.
About 100 motivated bidders came up for the sale, which focused on early Americana and Country Store items and took place at the Holiday Inn in the Eastgate suburb of Cincinnati. Telephone and mail-order auctions offered an alternative to online auctions. About 800 bidders signed up for the 466 lot sale, which missed white glove status with only one lot failing to sell on the podium.
The only sampler in the sale won first batch honors. An 1819 silk-on-linen sampler worked by Blanch Welch of Baltimore consisted of a five-row verse on a landscape, accompanied by a basket of flowers and a vine border. He was descended from Welch’s Baltimore family and linked to another at the Baltimore Museum of Art which is illustrated in volume II of Betty Ring’s Embroidery from childhood: American samplers and illustrated needlework, 1650-1850. Enthusiastic bidders took it to $ 5,310 on an estimate of $ 2/4,000.
One of Frank Forsythe’s favorite pieces was something he had never seen – or sold – before. An 1860s cast iron hitch top in the shape of an eagle’s head still had traces of old black paint and was nearly a foot tall. He was from an estate in Cincinnati and made $ 3,186.
The same price – $ 3,186 – was also achieved by an early 19th-century 4-gallon stoneware pot with cobalt decoration in the shape of two birds and a tulip that formed a heart. He was from an estate in Kentucky and directed a selection of over two dozen sandstone examples including cobalt decorated examples from Ripley, Ohio ($ 767) and one from New Geneva, Penn. ($ 531).
Advertising was another strong category, with the results supporting the claim.
A cigar store or African American trade figurine carved in the shape of a dandy that had been sculpted by Kentucky folk artist S. Cornett was found in Kentucky and sold for $ 2,950. Forsythe admitted that they didn’t see the artist’s work often, but the Kentucky collector who bought it owned another piece by Cornett. The figure, who stood 66½ inches tall, was on a blue painted base that read “Black Jacks Inn” and advertised beer for 10 cents and rooms for $ 2.
A first painted wood panel for the new Tiffin cars also reached $ 2,950. Forsythe noted that the company had sold a larger copy – for more money – a few months before, but he was happy with the outcome as it nearly doubled the high estimate. He had found it in an estate in Brown County, Ohio, and the original paintwork had contributed to the result. A more modern promotional item – a neon sign for Skript Drug Store – heated up to $ 1,180.
Notable products in the American furniture category were seen in a Kentucky Sheraton cherry sugar chest that sold within estimate, for $ 2,714, and an oak apothecary cabinet with 28 drawers on paneled cabinet doors that closed at $ 2,478.
About a tenth of the sale consisted of fine art, of which portraits were the dominant genre. At the top of the proverbial gallery were two portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Birdseye painted by C. Curtis in 1841; the pair found a new home for $ 1,770. Both portraits – and a double portrait of two brothers that ended up at $ 1,652 – were from a Cincinnati estate that had acquired them from Creek Wood Antiques in Cincinnati in the 1970s.
The next Forsyth ‘Auctions sale will take place in February, a date that has yet to be announced.
Prices shown include buyer’s premium but may not include additional online auction surcharges. For more information, www.forsythesauctions.com or 939-377-3700.