The Isaac Stahl redware pot, dated 1939, with an applied multi-petaled rose, foliage, and open vertical twist handles sold for $1500. In very good condition, it had a small spot of glaze loss on one petal.
This circa 1840 wallpaper-covered hatbox, 17½" wide x 14" x 13", with a Lancaster County newspaper lining the lid and interior sold for $8800 to Wilmington, Delaware, dealer John Chaski, underbid by a private collector, both in the salesroom. The themed wallpaper depicts William Henry Harrison and a log cabin and cider barrel, images associated with the 1840 presidential election. The paper was in well-preserved, unfaded condition, since the box was once covered by fabric. The fabric had been stitched over the box as opposed to being glued.
This Pennsylvania walnut Dutch cupboard with an old refinished surface was the last lot in the sale and sold for $9000.
Walter Steely (1897-1977) was a furniture maker in Lititz, Pennsylvania, not far from the auction center. His work has a large base of active collectors. He marked his work “WS.” The matching pair of comb-back armchairs sold to an on-line buyer for $927.50.
Measuring 19" x 16" and not in a period frame, this Ben Austrian painting of a seated rabbit and a chick sold for $11,500. It last sold for $10,073 on November 11, 2011, at the Lester Breininger sale held at Pook & Pook.
This paneled-back settee in original green paint and in excellent condition was the highest-priced lot of the Snow Hill items. It sold to an on-line buyer for $2862. It was thought to have come from the stone meetinghouse.
A preacher’s table from Snow Hill, dating from the first half of the 19th century, with a two-board top, bookshelf, and mortise and tenon leg construction sold for $900 to Pastor Ed Rosenberry, a collector. It was from the upstairs Saal (communal building and central place of worship).
Horst Auctioneers, Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Photos courtesy Horst Auctioneers
On January 18 and 19 Horst Auctioneers, Ephrata, Pennsylvania, held a cataloged sale featuring property from the German Seventh Day Baptist Church of Snow Hill in Quincy, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, along with items from the estate of Robert J. Merritt of Douglassville, Pennsylvania. There were 1361 registered bidders, 462 in house, and 899 on line, and the 719-lot sale grossed $238,170. Horst does not charge a buyer’s premium; however, on-line bidders through the LiveAuctioneers platform pay a 6% fee.
Sixteen years ago, on August 11, 1997, Horst sold the contents of the Snow Hill Nunnery, a 19th-century offshoot or daughter congregation of the Ephrata Cloister. The monastic society, located in a rural south-central part of the state, operated on-site businesses such as a grist mill, weaver and tailor shop, tin and cooper shop, cabinet shop, broom shop, and a printery. The first Snow Hill communal house was built in 1814. There were both monastic members of the group and married or “householder” members, who resided off the property. Monastic life at Snow Hill was in decline by the middle of the 19th century, and the last celibate member of the congregation died in 1895. Throughout nearly all of the 20th century, the nunnery remained as a small religious group referred to as the German Seventh Day Baptist Church of Snow Hill. On occasion, open houses were held, and in 1996 an exhibition of select items from the Snow Hill collections was held at the Renfrew Museum and Park, located in nearby Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Today, the Renfrew has a room in the museum dedicated to telling the story of Snow Hill.
Over 600 lots of material sold at the sale in 1997 for a total of $837,860. The contents of the 1829 stone meetinghouse and the nunnery’s upstairs Saal (central place of worship), such as benches, chairs, and tables, were not sold; they were kept in order to accommodate future worship services. “When we had the original sale, they did not want to sell the furniture in the meetinghouse or nunnery because they had planned to use them, and at the time a few people were still living in the Saal,” according to historian Clarence Spohn, who cataloged the first sale and was instrumental in Horst’s getting that sale.
In the intervening years the remaining congregation was dissolved, and the real estate was sold to a private buyer. Most of the remaining objects, comprising 26 lots, were sent to Horst. One highlight was a settee in original green paint with a paneled back, turned legs, and armrests that was believed to have been used as a preacher’s bench in the meetinghouse. It was the highest-priced lot in the group and sold for $2862 to an on-line bidder. A large sawbuck table with a central stretcher and a storage shelf underneath sold to a private collector for $925, and a 15' long communal sawbuck table with a scrubbed top sold for $550. Pew benches, one-drawer stands, a pulpit, peg rails, and a ten-plate cast-iron stove from the nunnery were also sold.
On August 21, 2012, a small on-site sale of items that had not been consigned to Horst took place at Snow Hill in the town of Quincy. The August sale included a wide range of miscellaneous modern household items, lawn care tools, and scrap lumber. Various printed material was also sold. A few small Snow Hill printed hymnals were in the sale, as was an 1812 imprint by Jacob Ruth, who printed for a brief time in Ephrata. It was a book critical of aspects of Conrad Beissel’s leadership. Beissel (1691-1768) was the religious leader and founder of the Ephrata Cloister. Clearly some of this material was brought over from the Ephrata Society during the early years of the Snow Hill congregation’s founding.
Also at the August 2012 sale was an important Ephrata music book. It was purchased by Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. “It is an illustrated manuscript music book from the Ephrata Cloister written in the mid-eighteenth century. I would say 1750’s. It is handwritten and illustrated with five floral drawings done in the style of the Ephrata Sisters. I would be confident to say it was done by the Ephrata Sisters. The composition in the book is by Conrad Beissel and community members. The text for the hymns is from the 1739 hymnal titled Weyrauchs Hügel...On the flyleaf in front is written the name Daniel Neagley and date 1791,” stated Bach during a phone interview. “This book has not been known to other researchers of Ephrata music books,” continued Bach. It was advertised in the sale bill as a German choral book. Also purchased by Bach on behalf of the Young Center was a set of 40 drinking glasses that served as communal cups used during the society’s love feast rituals.
At the Horst sale on Saturday, January 19, some fine iron lighting, both antique and contemporary, was sold. A Peter Derr-style betty lamp signed “F 70,” made by Hap Fisher in 1970, sold for $150. Fisher, who died in 1999, worked in Hamburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania. A Larry Long kettle lamp dated 2004 sold to a local private collector for $260. Long is a metalsmith working in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A period betty lamp with a bird finial, marked “JS” and “1826 No 25,” sold for $1800 to a private collector; and an 1852-dated Peter Derr dough scraper with a brass handle sold for $2100.
Robert J. Merritt (1929-2011) of Douglassville, Pennsylvania, was a dealer and collector. A number of items from his estate were sold at Pook & Pook on October 5, 2012 (see M.A.D., December 2012, p. 22-B). A regional buyer, he loved Berks County art and antiques, in particular paintings by county artists such as Ben Austrian. About a third of the Horst sale was from Merritt, according to his son Rick, who was in attendance. “I think the prices are fairly strong in light of today’s market,” stated Merritt. A Ben Austrian oil on board depicting a seated rabbit and a chick sold for $11,500. It had sold for $10,073 on November 11, 2011, at the Lester Breininger sale held at Pook & Pook.
A number of paintings by Berks County artists other than Austrian were sold from the Merritt collection, including works by Mary Leisz, Charles Hepner, Franklin Eshelman, Christopher Shearer, Louis Cruise, George Falk, and Conrad Roland. A circa 1920 portrait by Mary Leisz of a young girl framed in an oval mat and original frame sold for $750. It had sold for $60 on November 17, 1975, at Pennypacker’s.
Conrad Roland worked in rural Kempton in northern Berks County in the first half of the 20th century and specialized in painting wildlife. “His work does not come up for sale often and is collectible,” noted one spectator in the salesroom. A private collector paid $725 for a Roland watercolor of a great horned owl perched in a tree, dated 1939. A Roland watercolor of another bird, possibly a snipe, sold for $450. A circa 1900 mill scene and landscape oil on board by Louis Cruise sold for $625, and a Christopher Shearer oil on board of a forested scene and old stone house sold for $575.
Furniture and large accessories finished the well-attended sale on Saturday. A one-piece wardrobe with raised paneled doors sold for $1550. A wool wheel from Lobachsville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, marked and dated “IHK 1819,” sold for $1150. A country red-painted two-piece corner cupboard with a single drawer and two false drawers in the base sold for $4100. A Hepplewhite chest of drawers with flared French feet and inlay decoration on the shaped skirt sold for $1060 to an on-line buyer. The captions tell more of the story.
For more information contact Horst Auction Center at (717) 738-3080; Web site (www.horstauction.com).
This ladder-back chair was one of the earliest pieces of furniture sold from the Snow Hill consignment. In a blackened surface over the original blue paint, the chair sold to private collector Pastor Ed Rosenberry for $2050. “It had been in the kitchen where the congregation prepared their ritual love feast,” noted Rosenberry. The church’s love feast was a tradition that involved the well-known slip-decorated redware “nunnery” bowls that were sold in the first Snow Hill sale at Horst in 1997. They are believed to have been made by the Bell family potters in nearby Waynesboro.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest