Purchase Story

A Little Knowledge and a Little Money Go a Long Way at Farrin’s

Farrin’s Country Auctions, Randolph, Maine

Every year for the past two decades or so, Rusty Farrin of Farrin’s Country Auctions, Randolph, Maine, has piled together some of the best of a year’s worth of gathering for presentation in a pre-Thanksgiving sale, which happened on November 15, 2017. A larger-than-usual crowd perused several hundred lots of New England folk art, early furniture, and assorted esoterica, some of which brought thousands of dollars, and a few of which escaped virtually unnoticed but for the attention of some well-versed bidders.

This large collection of 19th-century Chinese export blue-and-white Canton wares led the sale at $6600.

This English Renaissance oak table sold for only $220.

Farrin planned to sell a batch of 19th-century Canton blue-and-white pottery by dividing it into several lots, including stacks of warming dishes, platters, plates, and casseroles. But when a viewer offered to pay $2500 for all of it, he changed his mind and offered it as a single lot. Apparently the anonymous bidder was left in the dust when the final price totaled $6600 (including buyer’s premium).

Size definitely mattered when it came to this large turned wooden bowl that sold for $1650.

Federal-style half-column mirror with a tablet painted and signed by Vivian Akers (1886-1966), $4400.

Queen Anne tavern table in maple, with moderately worn stretchers, turned legs, and pegged mortise-and-tenon construction, $1650.

Vivian Akers (1886-1966) of Norway, Maine, was an artist who frequently combined his painting with his woodworking skills. He was one of the original Harer frame makers, frequently framing his paintings in his own creations. In this sale he was represented by a small painted panel that he signed and dated “V. AKERS / 1948,” framed with a Federal-style half-column mirror. It seems likely that he created the mirror frame himself. The panel and mirror sold for $4400.

One interesting item in the sale was a lantern. The curious thing about the painted wooden and tin lantern is that the top flipped open to reveal a wool-covered surface. The partly legible stenciled legend on top read “R. B. OSTROM / MANUFACTURER / ANGOLA, N. Y. / PATENTED MARCH 14TH 1865 / BY D. L. JACQUES.” My first guess was that it was for warming mittens, which could be pressed beneath the lid. But I discovered online Jacques’s patent application, which contended that it was specifically for creating light and heat and for warming the feet or hands of the carrier. There wasn’t much room under the lid for more than half of a foot or hand at any one time, but that’s apparently what the purpose was. The patent also made the highly doubtful assertion that the whole thing was fireproof. It was a delightfully unusual little contraption, and it sold for $104.50.

The painted Colonial figures on this red-painted wooden bread bowl are attributed to popular Cape Cod folk artist and raconteur Peter Hunt (1896-1967) but with little proof. Hunt has numerous imitators. Nevertheless, it fetched $330.

When viewed from the other side, this sheet-iron weathervane, about 6' long, spells “BELIEVE,” suggesting that it probably flew above a church steeple. The arrowhead end is imprinted “AGE 81 / J. M. KENDALL / NOV. 1897.” Complete with directionals (not shown) that matched the style and age of the vane, it commanded $5225.

One item got away from everyone except for one highly knowledgeable and astute buyer. I underbid it to $175, thinking it was an English Jacobean oak table, dating to perhaps the early 18th century. But the winner got it for $220. Later he explained to me that it was not Jacobean at all but an English Renaissance table, dating to perhaps the 16th or 17th century. He had studied it thoroughly the day before the auction and planned his attack carefully, confident that no one else would.

For more information, visit (www.farrinsauctions.com) or call (207) 582-1455.

George Hathaway (1852-1903) spent a great deal of time painting Maine coastal scenes. He painted these four small oils on artist board, each measuring about 5" x 10" and signed “G.M. Hathaway,” one of which features his favorite haunt, the Portland Head Light (lower right). Two sold for $880, and two brought $1100.

This nicely contoured oxbow slant-front desk in brown mahogany, with graduated drawers, squat ogee feet, and probably original brasses, sold for $990.


Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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