See All Ads

The Goodyear Collection at Auction

Susan Emerson Nutter | September 21st, 2013

William Hart & Son created a series of five episodes of boxing squirrels in the 1850’s. The squirrels are stuffed. Each box is 14¾" x 19" x 7". A set was displayed at the Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851. Interestingly, the squirrels wear gloves, which became mandatory only after 1867 when Queensberry rules came into force. Number one in a set of five shows squirrel opponents shaking hands and sold for $22,420.

Number two of the set shows the squirrels preparing to fight. The box has remnants of a manufacturing label on the back and brought $17,700.

Number four in a set of five shows one squirrel falling to the mat and brought $21,240.

Number five in a set of five (number three was missing) depicts a victorious red squirrel standing over the blue squirrel and sold for $21,240. The remnants of the manufacturer’s label are on the back.

Claes Jansz, Comitatus Flandriæ Summa Cura Recens Delineatus Per N. I. Visscherum, published by Visscher in 1656. An extremely rare description of Flanders, it is lavishly illustrated at the left and right borders with 14 insets with Flemish landscapes. Each town, seen from a slightly elevated view, serves as a backdrop to the scenes from daily life. The cartouche, surmounted by a coat of arms bearing the Flemish lion, is supported by putti, some with wings and others with fishtails, and is embellished with swags of fruit, leaves, and ribbons. The North Sea is decorated with Poseidon in his chariot pulled by seahorses and accompanied by his entourage, a compass rose, and various ships. Along the bottom border, text is presented in both Flemish and French. The 12 joined sheets are approximately 65" x 85" (165 x 216 cm). With original hand coloring, the map is age toned and has some creasing, staining, soiling, and loss to the top edge and upper right-hand corner. It has a linen backing. From the Goodyear Collection, purchased from Nico Israel in Amsterdam in January 1985, it sold here for $30,680.

Nicolaos Sophianos, Descriptio Nova Totius Graeciae per Nicolaum Sophianum, circa 1601, second state, second impression. Sophianos’s woodcut map of Greece, the first of its kind in the modern era, encompasses the Aegean Islands as well as the historically Hellenistic western portion of Turkey. The map is decorated with ships and sea monsters and intricately engraved with grotesque motifs. Apparently a separate ninth sheet, printed with a key to the numbered features on the map, is missing. A similar example resides in the Universitätsbibliothek, Basel. The eight joined sheets are approximately 30 1/3" x 44". Uncolored, the map is lightly toned and has a few small stains and areas of browning to the margin edges and also to the edges of some individual sheets. Several of these outer edges and interior joins have been expertly reinforced. There are marginal notations handwritten in pencil at top and bottom right-hand corners. The Goodyear collection purchased it from Nico Israel of Amsterdam in January 1985. It sold here for $141,600.

Nicolas de Fer, Carte de la Mer du Sud, et des Costes d’Amerique et d’Asie, Situees sur cette Mer... and Carte de la Mer du Nord, et des Costes d’Amerique, d’Europe et d’Afrique, Situees sur cette Mer...1713, published in Paris by J.F. Bernard. De Fer’s wall map (on two sheets) of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is centered on the New World. It provides a panorama of the period of discovery and exploration. Display of the people and resources of the New World reflects European curiosity and interest in unfamiliar and exotic cultures and practices. Recording the routes of Magellan’s voyage and the opening of the South Pacific to Europeans, it is the most advanced map of this period for this part of the world. According to the catalog, there is no other known map that provides this wealth of imagery. Larger than most wall maps, it is one of three known copies; the remaining two are in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Naturally the map also shows geographical misconceptions typical of the period. With original hand coloring, it is two sheets: Carte de la Mer du Sud, approximately 20" x 75", and Carte de la Mer du Nord, approximately 20" x 75". There are 12 vertical folds (each sheet) and the map is lightly toned with some soiling, creasing, and a few spots of foxing and staining, etc. The Goodyear collection purchased it from Richard B. Arkway of New York in July 1984. It brought $70,800.

Rachel Davis Fine Arts, Cleveland, Ohio

Photos courtesy Rachel Davis Fine Arts

When word got out that Rachel Davis Fine Arts would be auctioning off items from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company collection, people took notice. Fine art, sterling, old maps, art glass, sculpture—a myriad of wonderful items were due to cross the auction block on September 21. Still, the items that caused the most ruckus were the squirrels.

Yes, squirrels. Boxing squirrels, to be exact. Thought to be from the late 1800’s, a set of four small wooden boxes with glass fronts, each depicting two stuffed squirrels in various boxing poses (from handshake to knockout) had Davis’s auction house buzzing.

“When we got these, my research indicated similar nineteenth-century taxidermy squirrels in Western themes or playing cards, for example, were selling in the three hundred to seven hundred dollar range,” said auctioneer Rachel Davis. “I didn’t realize we were offering what one bidder called “the Holy Grail’ of squirrel collections.”

Bidding for the first box, the example showing two squirrels shaking gloved paws, opened at $950, and it quickly sold for $22,420 (includes buyer’s premium). The second box, featuring the squirrels with their dukes up ready to go, made $17,700. The third box, depicting the felling blow, went to $21,240, as did the fourth box, showing the knockout. And, just as at any boxing match, after the bidding battle was done, the audience responded with a round of applause. Total for all four boxes was $82,600. Yes, they all went to one buyer, Stephen Dori Shin, a partner in Antediluvian, an antiques and curiosities shop in Lake Placid, New York.

This is not a complete set. The missing box would show the buffer bushy-tail throwing a strong punch to the gut of the other. It is the third in the series, and it is a mystery why it was not with the others. “We were missing number three, which is why I chose to sell them separately,” Davis explained. “The squirrels on display were in the dining room at Goodyear, and at some point they disappeared. Ron Beahn, who was hired by Goodyear to gather and inventory the artwork for this auction, found the squirrels shoved in the back of a closet.”

According to a taxidermy Web site (, this squirrel grouping is called Prize Fight and is the work of Edward Hart of William Hart & Son, “Bird and Beast Preservers,” London, England.

The selling of the squirrels, along with other decorative art that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. executives decided not to bring to the company’s new headquarters, continued to keep the crowd entertained throughout the day’s sale. Goodyear moved its corporate offices to just off Innovation Way in East Akron in late summer, just prior to this auction. (See sidebar.)

Generating almost as much excitement as the rodents engaged in fisticuffs were the numerous maps, which sold later in the day. Goodyear had amassed an extensive map collection in the 1980’s, and map collectors were out in full force. The most desired was a map of Greece, circa 1601. The work of cartographer Nicolaos Sophianos, the map was titled Descriptio Nova Totius Graeciae per Nicolaum Sophianum and made $141,600. Sophianos’s woodcut map of Greece encompasses the Aegean Islands as well as the historically Hellenistic western portion of Turkey.

Also selling well was the 1713 map of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, centered on the New World, by cartographer Nicolas de Fer. This wall map (on two sheets) provides a panorama of the period of discovery and exploration and brought $70,800. The map titled Americæ Pars, Nunc Virginia Dicta, Primum ab Anglis Inventa Sumtibus Dn. Walteri Raleigh, Equestris Ordinis Viri by cartographer Theodore de Bry sold for $15,340. Published in Frankfurt in 1590, de Bry’s map was the first to show detailed coastlines of Virginia and North Carolina and the earliest to show the name of Chesapeake Bay.

“Goodyear spent a great deal of money putting together this collection,” Davis explained. “Not only did they invest money in the maps themselves, they also paid the travel expenses and salary of the map expert who traveled the world acquiring the collection for the company.”

Artwork and decorative items rounded out the rest of this auction, featuring items from the Goodyear collection as well as several other smaller consignments. Originals and prints of the artwork used in Goodyear ads were part of the items offered. Included in that category were four original paintings by Dean Cornwell that sold well.

“The four Cornwell paintings were all created and used in Goodyear tire ads that ran in the Saturday Evening Post,” Davis said. “Cornwell taught Norman Rockwell. In fact, there was an oil by Rockwell that just sold for more than four million [dollars] with the same use of Lincoln and Washington as Cornwell used in lot one hundred thirty-eight. I don’t know which was created first,” she said. (She was referring to the Rockwell painting in the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction sale on July 27, 2013.) The Cornwell that shows Lincoln and Washington was Parachuter with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. It was created around 1940 and exhibited in the 22nd annual Exhibition of Advertising Art. It sold for $30,680 in house.

“Many of Cornwell’s paintings have a patriotic theme and were created near the end of or right after World War Two,” said Davis. The other three paintings by Cornwell offered were circa 1950 oils on canvas: Betsy Ross, $16,520; Landing at Plymouth, $17,700; and Ben Franklin, $21,240.

Works by John Clymer (1907-1989) were also used in Goodyear tire ads, and many include a Saint Bernard and tire tracks. Davis stated, “I found images of other Clymers with the same theme—an emphasis on the tire tracks—and they all had the Saint Bernard. I don’t know the significance of that, but maybe the thought was with Goodyear tires you will never need to be rescued.” The two oils that ran as ads for Goodyear in the Saturday Evening Post included Route 1, Bridgewater, Connecticut, which sold for $10,030, and Winter in the Country, for $8850. “Clymer was from Westport, Connecticut, so the competition was between the illustration collectors and the Westport collectors,” Davis explained.

Two Turkish paintings sold well above their presale high estimates, but this was not necessarily a surprise for Davis. “Turkish paintings are an area of art that is hot right now,” she said. “I think if we had sold these two paintings just two or three years earlier, they would have brought under a thousand dollars.” Woman and Goat by Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu (Turkish, 1911-1975) sold for $18,880, while Turkish Peasants by Nuri Iyem (Turkish, 1915-2005) realized $22,420. “This is also a great example of how the Internet has changed things,” Davis added. “We had four phone bidders from Turkey, and several of the registered Internet bidders were from Turkey.”

Bidders from all over the world participated in an auction whose main offerings were definitely rooted in America. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has moved to new digs. The majority of the items that decorated this American icon’s former offices have found new homes, and the auction did not disappoint. In fact, it actually resulted in some surprises. When asked how she felt the auction went overall, Davis answered that it was a great event, and then added with a smile, “How about those squirrels?”

For more information, contact Rachel Davis Fine Arts at (216) 939-1190; Web site (

The Goodyear Collection

Ron Beahn is the third generation of his family to work for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. He started out as an electrical engineer and later acted as the curator of the company’s fine and decorative arts holdings until his retirement. He is the art curator for the Boston Mills Artfest, held annually in Peninsula, Ohio. He was rehired by Goodyear long enough to curate and organize the items housed in Goodyear’s former executive offices in preparation for sale through Rachel Davis Fine Arts. Here are his insights into why the Goodyear collection came to auction.

“Originally, everything was to be inventoried and sold,” he said. “The new management at Goodyear wanted nothing to do with the company’s past. They want to start fresh at their new offices. So, I was hired to gather everything together at the company’s former location for the sale.”

How can a company know where it’s going without having some historical record of where it’s been?

“Goodyear, like many companies, never set out to acquire works of art for investment purposes,” Beahn said. The artwork and items on display in the corporate offices and hallways came to be there sometimes by default, sometimes on purpose.

“When the company was ready to prepare an ad campaign, Arnold Boedecker, the art director for Goodyear, would contact artists to explain the company’s needs, commission the work, and then once the art for the ad was done and purchased, the company often hung that original in the offices as decoration just because they had it available to them,” Beahn explained.

Some of the items in the Goodyear collection were also gifts, as was the case with the boxing squirrels. “We are not really sure how those came to be here,” Beahn said.

On the other hand, Goodyear’s extensive map collection was put together purposefully. “The maps were actively purchased by Goodyear beginning in 1983,” Beahn said. “The company wanted to present a world view, so the maps were hung in the area of the building called ‘Mahogany Row,’ where the executive offices were located.”

Some items that once graced the walls of Goodyear headquarters did not make it to the Rachel Davis Fine Arts event. “When I was the company’s curator prior to my retirement, there were some wonderful museum-quality portraits of the founders of Goodyear by G.P.A. Healy that hung on the walls. When I returned to catalog the items for this auction, those paintings had simply vanished.” Beahn said.

George Peter Alexander Healy (1813-1894) was from Boston and had studied in Paris and Rome and for many years was a prolific portraitist in Europe and the U.S. “Among his portraits of eminent men are those of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Arnold Henry Guyot, William H. Seward, Louis Philippe, and the presidents of the United States from John Quincy Adams to Ulysses Grant; this series being painted for the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.,” according to author Hugh Chisholm for the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1911.

Goodyear also donated wonderful works of art to the University of Akron and to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, a notable country estate in Akron, Ohio.

The third reason a portion of the Goodyear collection did not cross the auction block on September 21 was, Beahn said, because, “When the architects had almost completed the new offices, they realized they had not figured in what to use as decoration. So, the interior designer hired by Goodyear went through the curated collection awaiting auction. The interior designer began picking and choosing what to use to decorate the new offices…simply based on shape and color.”

Unfortunately, even an organization as significant as the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company may suffer such a fate when ownership or management changes hands. At least some of the history of Goodyear stayed with the company, some is being preserved by institutions, and some made its way into the hands of collectors who recognize and appreciate history.

Dean Cornwell (1892-1960), Parachuter with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. This circa 1940 oil on canvas, measuring 40" x 36½", had been exhibited at the 22nd annual Exhibition of Advertising Art by Arthur Kudner Inc. As with the other three images by Cornwell, this was used in magazine advertisements and promotional calendars. It sold for $30,680.


Dean Cornwell, Ben Franklin, oil on canvas, circa 1950, signed “Dean Cornwell” lower right. Measuring 41" x 37", it sold for $21,240.

John Clymer (1907-1989), Route 1, Bridgewater, Connecticut, 20" x 40", oil on panel, signed “John Clymer” lower right. The paintings by Clymer that were sold had all been used in magazine advertisements. This brought $10,030.

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

comments powered by Disqus
Web Design By Firefly Maine Maine Web Design