18th century Shenandoah Valley of Virginia birth certificates bring $103,500

Joseph Stover Spengler Shenandoah Valley of Virginia birth certificates.jpg  Margaret Spengler Shenandoah Valley of Virginia birth certificates.jpg

The most coveted lot in Jeffrey S. Evans‘ June 25 auction was an important pair of circa 1800 Shenandoah Valley of Virginia watercolor and ink birth records for Joseph Stover Spengler (1790-1876) and his sister Margaret Spengler (1799-1848), of Strasburg, Shenandoah Co., Va. The pair sold for a remarkable $103,500.

One certificate was signed “H.D. pinxit et scripsit”; Evans’ research attributed the pair to Heinrich Diefenbach (1771-1837), a Reformed minister who worked in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley from roughly 1799 to 1802. Diefenbach’s journal indicates that he produced three birth certificates for the Kiracofe family of Augusta Co. in 1802; however, the whereabouts of those certificates is unknown, making the Spengler records the first and only works ascribed to Diefenbach.

The roughly 9-inch by 7-inch records had descended uninterrupted through six generations of the Spengler family in Shenandoah and Rockingham Counties.

The records received interest from several Virginia museums; however, the final bidding came down to two Virginia collectors and Pennsylvania dealer Kelly Kinzle, all bidding in house, with Kinzle ultimately winning the pair for $103,500 (all prices include a 15 percent buyer’s premium), a record auction lot price for Virginia folk art watercolors.

- Karen Knapstein
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