|By Susan Emerson
CINCINNATI – While art pottery sales may not be as strong as they once were, Humler & Nolan’s Rookwood XXVII event held June 4 saw a robust market.
“It’s a tough market right now,” said Riley Humler, Auction Director of Humler & Nolan. “But it was our strongest sale we’ve had in the past three or four years. Overall it went very well, and we were very pleased.”
“We had several lots where it came down to two buyers who both really wanted to take that piece home. One buyer was just delighted. The other was very disappointed,” said Humler.
The time-worn tale of the auction world.
A rare Rookwood Spanish water jug produced in 1883 was just such a piece. Decorated with a lobster on one side and a very early depiction of the Rookwood RP logo, it was thought the jug was created by Alfred Brennan who was known to paint a number of RP trademarks on the exterior of vases in that year.
“This piece was historically important,” Humler said. “Rookwood began production in 1880. By 1883 Brennan was using the RP mark but it appears on the side of only about half a dozen pieces.”
“Rookwood had several different logo changes in its early years,” Humler added. “Brennan’s reverse “R” back-to-back with a “P” which is on this piece was incorporated into standard production in 1886, but it was then placed on the base where most pieces are marked.”
Standing 9 5/8 inches tall, this jug realized almost five times its high estimate when it sold for $14,500. Prices listed are hammer prices and do not include the 21 or 26 percent buyer’s premium.
The sale’s cover lot was a large Vellum glaze scenic plaque painted by Ed Diers in 1929 sold for $20,000 falling short of its estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It measured 14 Ľ by 16 1/8 inches. Still, it was a beauty. Featuring an early morning Venice scene that included a building, boats, and people under a Turneresque sky, the plaque was artist signed on the front and wore the Rookwood logo and date, verso.
A twin-handled Standard glaze portrait vase of Hollow Horn Bear done in 1899 by artist Grace Young made $12,500. An Iris glaze vase decorated with clumps of wisteria against a gray to pink ground by Albert Valentien in 1902 sold for $8,500 and a Black Iris vase with golden day lillies painted in 1906 by Carl Schmidt was taken to $7,500.
The auction included many other potteries as well as art glass and a limited number of paintings.
The highly anticipated selling of the Iowa State College carved and painted vase featuring cone flowers, stems, and leaves; the work of Ethel Julia Bouffleur which she did between 1922 and 1924 sold at its low estimate making $20,000.
“This was a wonderful piece,” Humler said “The information on it is interesting and extensive. I thought it would have brought more.”
The catalog listing explained his comment, “Until now, the mark on this vase has not been recorded necessitating a trip to the Brunnier Museum at Iowa State University in Ames. With the assistance of Lynette Pohlman and her staff at Brunnier, a discovery of four other vases by Bouffleur with identical marks was made. All four are carved examples, two with flowers and two with landscape scenes. Bouffleur, a graduate from the University of Washington, taught at ISC from 1922 until 1924 under the direction of Paul Cox.”
A double signed Newcomb high glaze vase decorated with carved, white budding roses; the combined work of Anna Francis Simpson and Maude Robinson in 1910 helped this vase realize $11,000.
Two large Chinese Famile Rose porcelain vases with ornate openwork handles that sold for $7,000 had an interesting back story. According to Humler, “When the bidding for the vases started at $10,000 on liveauctioneers.com, we knew something was up. The vases eventually sold for $14,000 to a Chinese buyer from England. Ten days later, the buyer flew to the states to personally take the vases home. Having them in hand, he pointed out to people in our company that one vase was good; the other, not so much. He ended up buying the one good vase for an agreed upon price of $7,000.”
Cockatoos also seemed in demand at this Humler & Nolan event. A 60-pound bronze featuring two-life size cockatoos; the work of Tim Cotterill (known as “The Frogman” as his works usually feature frogs) sold well very well reaching $3,700 against a $500-$700 estimate. A large oil painting on board done in 1920 by Zanesville pottery artist Claude Leffler of a macaw and again a cockatoo in a grape arbor went to $3,500.
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