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Foster's Two-Day Event

Mark Sisco | August 31st, 2013

The portrait of the American schooner Jonathan Chase sold for $6050.

This blue historical Staffordshire platter with an Oriental scene of birds and pagoda-type buildings in the center panel sold for $660.

This two-part Federal secretary with matched crotch mahogany-veneered drawer fronts, brass pulls, and doors with four arched glass panels sold for $275.

A simple and straightforward Chippendale chest in unfinished pine, with two over three graduated drawers, brass pulls, and ogee bracket feet, sold for $770.

This 16" burl bowl with a simple inscribed ring near the upper rim brought $1320. Foster photo.

Robert L. Foster, Newcastle, Maine

The red maples were starting to show just a hint of blush. The nights got sharply cool, and the days remained warm. And Robert Foster held a big two-day sale in Newcastle, also a sure sign that Maine’s summer was quickly coming to an end. Foster’s sale on August 31 and September 1 played to a standing-room-only crowd and topped off the state’s unofficial Antiques Week, a virtually nonstop stretch of auctioneering at the end of summer.

An unsigned oil on canvas was listed as a portrait of the French four-masted sailing ship Soueville, and it sold for a moderate $440 (includes buyer’s premium). I could find no record of a French sailing ship by that name. On the other hand, it makes quite a difference when an American name is on the ship, as happened when a 27¼" x 35½" (sight size) oil on canvas portrait of the American three-masted schooner Jonathan Chase, sailing before a coast with two lighthouses and several other vessels, topped the sale at $6050. Again, I couldn’t find an American schooner by that name, but I did locate many records of a Jonathan Chase who, along with his family, captained or owned several ships in the mid-19th century. One of Foster’s assistants reported that the Jonathan Chase had been owned by an ancestor of the consigning Damariscotta, Maine, family.

Works by artist, animator, and prolific sculptor Maurice “Jake” Day (1892-1983) are favorites in this neck of the woods. Day maintained a studio and shop only a few miles from the Foster auction hall. A watercolor by Day of an anthropomorphic Smokey-type black bear, who is fishing while tuning in his radio, found favor at $742.50. Day was a multifaceted talent who worked as a ship camouflager for the U.S. Navy in World War I. He is also credited with convincing Walt Disney to represent Felix Salten’s character Bambi as an eastern whitetail deer in Disney’s famous feature film of the subject, and Day became one of Disney’s chief researchers for that animated movie. In addition, Day produced hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small woodcarvings for his retail shop in Damariscotta, Maine.

A 28½ x 24½" oil on canvas of a seascape by Stephen Etnier (1903-1984), with a $3000/6000 estimate, was the only item in the entire sale that didn’t sell. It was dated 1931, when the artist was only about 28 years old, and may have portrayed Etnier himself in a small rowboat between two wharves, although the features on the figure were indistinct. Etnier lived in South Harpswell, Maine, during the latter part of his career (beginning around 1948 after serving in the U.S. Navy) and on an island at the mouth of the Kennebec River in the 1930’s. He created many Luminist, architectural paintings depicting his close observations of scenic and working waterfronts.

A good assortment of silver was topped by a fancy 12" tall coin silver pitcher with elaborate repoussé decorations by Jones, Ball & Co. The company operated under that name only for a short period (from 1853 to 1855) in Boston, Massachusetts. The pitcher was listed as “inscribed to Col. Isaac O’Barnes.” I found numerous apocryphal stories relating to a Colonel Isaac O. Barnes, who served as a U.S. marshal from Boston at about that time. The intricately decorated pitcher brought $1980.

For more information, visit Foster’s Web site ( or call (207) 563-8110.

This coin silver pitcher by Jones, Ball & Co. brought $1980. Foster photo.

This Victorian 16-drawer apothecary chest with porcelain labeling knobs, from a Thomaston, Maine, drugstore, brought $935.

This pine-cased tall clock, probably by James Anns of Highworth, England, has a brass face with a painted peacock, flat top, and simple, undecorated waist door. It brought $1870.

Originally published in the December 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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