|PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 1982 Willis Henry Auctions held its first Shaker auction held at the Shaker Round Barn on the grounds of Hancock Shaker Village. The cover lot of that first auction was a five-drawer pine chest in original red paint.
Now 36 years later, that chest will once more star at auction as it has been consigned to the 36th annual Willis and Karel Henry Shaker auction to be held July 13.
The chest measures 37½ inches high and 31½ inches wide. The top drawer is lower in height than bottom four with inset panel ends. The second drawer has four small interior lipped drawers.
Another piece which sold at a previous Shaker auction is a wonderful yellow painted pail with a red birch handle, and signed on the bottom “Infirmary, North Family.” Another signed pail stamped “N.F. Shakers, Enfield N.H.” is in original red/orange stained finish and signed “Elsie A. Bell”.
There are many other Shaker pieces that have never been sold before, such as a rare butternut comb rack from the Belfit collection. The Belfit’s started buying Shaker from the Shakers in the 1920s and advised Ted Andrews to buy from the Shakers when he only collected formal Chippendale furniture. The comb rack was described by Belfit as an “exquisite illustration of perfect Shaker craftsmanship”, and an antique cabinetmaker said “it is a privilege just to hold it.”
Many other fine Shaker collections are represented in this auction and the standouts are The Pat Hatch personal collection of Harvard, Mass., and the late Robert R. Sokol, Sr. Shaker collection of Enfield, Conn. Both collectors started over 40 years ago to gather Shaker pieces, and both have many Sister’s sewing objects and “fancy goods.” A small hanging shelf comes with more than 50 strawberry emeries and a rare mold to make them.
Shaker furniture includes three rare sewing tables, including one signed “OH” (Brother Orren Haskins), the mate to which is in the Hancock Shaker Village Shaker collection. Other pieces include a Harvard Shaker 8½-foot trestle dining table, circa 1850, and a group of six original Harvard Shaker chairs in original finish. There are three 19th century cupboard over drawers from various Shaker communities, and many Shaker cupboards and workstands.
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