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Mt. Crawford Marathon of Americana

Walter C. Newman | November 16th, 2013

Andrew Coffman is considered one of the pioneers of Shenandoah Valley stoneware. Although his name is less well known than other makers, examples of his work are prized by collectors. This 13¼" x 7¾" (rim diameter) ovoid salt-glazed storage jar dates from the second quarter of the 19th century. It features Coffman’s distinctive high neck design and displays brushed cobalt floral decorations and a “3,” the only known capacity mark on a piece of Coffman pottery. The jar is in excellent condition with a few small chips and tight internal hairlines. The jar sold to a left bid for $10,350 (est. $5000/8000).

The high lot of the Evans sale was this Petersburg, Virginia, walnut Chippendale armchair. The chair exhibits a slightly curved crest rail with distinctive spiral carved ears. The one-piece back splat in a slight fan shape features four vertical piercings emanating from a pierced oval form at the base. The back splat rests on an applied shoe. The carved serpentine arms terminate with carvings that are identical to the ears. The slip seat rests on a trapezoidal frame. The chair is raised on square legs with inside chamfering. As is characteristic of Petersburg chairs, there are stretchers on the front and two sides but none at the rear. The slip seat frame is yellow pine and appears to be original. The chair dates 1765-85 and stands 36 5/8" in overall height with a seat height of 17¼". The chair sold to the telephone for $34,500 (est. $5000/8000).

Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, Inc., Mt. Crawford, Virginia

Photos courtesy Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, Inc.

The lengthy title of the November 16, 2013, auction at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, Inc. in Mt. Crawford, Virginia, is prophetically appropriate: “Catalogued Auction of Americana, Antiques, Fine & Decorative Arts Spotlighting Virginia and the South.” This edition of what has developed into a semiannual auction marathon consisted of more than 1100 lots offered in one sitting. Kudos to Evans and his staff for moving the sale along without a hitch in just under 12 hours. I must admit, however, I personally lasted for only nine hours.

Given the large number of lots that were offered in all major categories, it is tempting to draw broad conclusions about the overall antiques marketplace based on a single sale. While the photos that accompany this report highlight many of the unusual and exceptional lots from the sale, it must be noted that the overall strength of prices realized seemed unusually positive. (All prices in this report include the buyer’s premium.)

In particular, two categories stood out from the others in their overall strength. They are pottery/ stoneware and furniture.

Evans is accustomed to having strong stoneware sales. This time there were no record-breaking items, but all 144 lots sold. Only a handful of items failed to surpass their presale high estimate.

The 136 furniture lots enjoyed similar success. The sale’s lone no-sale lot did come from the furniture group. A walnut tall-case clock signed by New Market, Virginia, maker George Kring failed to reach its reserve, which was somewhere north of the $18,400 bid that it had received. Case pieces were quite strong as a subcategory.

Jeff Evans did acknowledge that this sale may have approached the limit of a single-day sale. He allowed, however, that having too many lots to sell is much more desirable than having too few.

For additional information, contact Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, Inc. at (540) 434-3939 or visit the Web site (

This Virginia egg basket is constructed from white oak splints and is finely woven in a traditional kidney form. The basket dates from the mid-19th century and retains its original green-painted dry surface. There is a single arched handle with wooden peg fastenings. The piece measures 7" in overall diameter and 7¼" in overall height. The basket is in overall very good condition with some minor splint breaks and losses to the rim wraps. The piece brought $1955 (est. $200/300).

The six-plate cast-iron stove was cast at the Warwick Furnace, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is dated 1764 and carries the cast inscription “Depart from Evil” as well as various tulip and heart design elements. The stove measures 24" x 16" x 27" and is in very good condition, although it is lacking its door. A determined bidder in the room won the stove for $8625 ($2000/3000).

This four-drawer walnut child’s chest was hotly contested among an individual in the room and several telephone and absentee bidders. The chest features a rectangular top with applied moldings, a fully dovetailed case, and four graduated scratch-beaded drawers, all raised on a fully framed base attached to the case with glue blocks. The secondary wood is yellow pine. The French-style feet are straight, and there is a serpentine cutout skirt. The chest measures 23½" x 22" x 13". The circa 1810 chest appears to be one of the pieces from an unidentified cabinetmaker or cabinetmakers working in the Winchester and New Market, Virginia, area of the Shenandoah Valley. This little chest sold in the room for $24,150 (est. $10,000/15,000).


The name Bell is commonly associated with Shenandoah Valley pottery. This circa 1870 food/pie safe is marked with a stencil reading “E. F. Bell, Strasburg, Virginia.” Edward Fry Bell (1834-1911) was the son of John Bell and nephew of Samuel and Solomon Bell, all members of the mid-19th-century potting dynasty. This safe is constructed of walnut with hard poplar and yellow pine secondary woods. The top is rectangular with an applied, finely shaped gallery. The case is mortised and pinned with two drawers over two doors all raised on turned feet. The doors and the two side panels are each set with two hand-punched tin panels. The door tins are decorated with a large centered fylfot framed by star and elliptical corner decorations. The side panels have the same center design but with bull’s-eye and elliptical ornaments. The safe measures 54¼" x 42" x 16¾". Catalog notes provide a lengthy history of the relationships among the Bell and the Grim families associated with this particular safe. According to the notes, this is the only recorded example of cabinetry by E. F. Bell. Enthusiastic bidding pushed the price of the safe to $14,900 (est. $3000/5000).


The sign on the building in the background of this scene is written in Arabic and translates as “patience is the key to redemption.” Patience was certainly a necessity as seven telephone bidders waited for this lot to be called. The oil on canvas is by Fabio Fabbi (Italian, 1861-1946). Fabbi is considered one of the finest painters of Orientalist images of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. The 23" x 16" sight size image depicts a Middle Eastern street dancer performing on a Persian rug while holding a palm frond. The dancer is dressed in a flowing white dress with colorful accents. The background and many other details are less distinct, giving a slight Impressionist feel to the painting. Bidding was active and intense, with one of the phone bidders’ patience being rewarded at $25,300 (est. $5000/8000).

This solid body cast-iron rooster figural doorstop is not marked, but it is thought to be from one of the furnaces in the Virginia’s central Shenandoah Valley. The 6¼" high rooster dates from the second half of the 19th century and displays a large comb and a deep fan tail. The doorstop is in overall very good condition. There is some light pitting and rust, as well as traces of its original green paint. This proud rooster sold for $1840 (est. $200/300).

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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