Calvin Black doll leads Slotin Auction

BUFORD, Ga. – A carved and painted doll, executed by folk artist Calvin Black (1903-1972) sold for $92,000 at the Nov. 10 sale conducted by Slotin Auction. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium. Almost 900 lots had changed hands in the cataloged sale, which grossed a little over $1 million.

Calvin Black.jpgThe Calvin Black doll (the sale’s top lot) carried a high estimate of just $12,000. It was mounted on a stand with a homemade tag that read, Miss Sherion Rose Possum Trot. The doll had silk fabric clothing, a crochet knit hat, wig hair and a necklace with stone pendant. Black lived in California’s Mojave Desert, where he created more than 80 life-size moving dolls.

Painted doll by Calvin Black (1903-1972), $92,000.

The auction featured the self-taught and international folk art collection of the noted Hollywood film director Jonathan Demme. About 300 lots were consignments from Demme. A few of the highlights from his collection include:

A pair of works by William Blaney (1917-1986), both depicting multi-headed beasts, which sold for over $27,000 combined. One, titled Seven Headed Lion Beast With Ten Horns (oil on canvas, circa 1960), went for $15,755. The other, titled Beast With Ten Horns (oil on canvas, circa 1959-1960), fetched $12,075.

An oil on Masonite work by the artist Ellis Walter Ruley (1882-1959) titled Hippos realized $12,650. Ruley was a black artist who lived in a mostly white suburban Connecticut neighborhood. He came into money, thanks to an insurance settlement, married a white woman and died a suspicious death.

Other highlights from the sale included an oil on canvas work by Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997), titled Marcantonio for Mayor or Campaign Lucky Corner (circa 1964-1972), which brought $69,000. The piece was featured in the book Fasanella’s City by Patrick Wilson.

Slave Dave urn.jpgA storage jar signed and dated April 25, 1861, by Dave the Slave was bought by a museum for $40,250. Born around 1800, Dave was bought and sold by several families, one of which taught him pottery. He signed and dated more than 100 jars, many 25-40 gallons.

Storage jar, signed and dated by Dave the Slave, $40,250.

An acrylic-on-paper creation by Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) titled The Shepherd’s Voice achieved $28,750. The work was signed and included a long poem incorporated into the work on the front.

Sam Doyle.jpgA house-paint and pine-straw work on found tin, with applied conch shell, by Sam Doyle (1906-1985), titled Dr. Buz, changed hands for $23,000. The consignors purchased the painting directly from Doyle and asked him to sign it twice. The work depicts Dr. Buzzard, a voodoo doctor who received inspiration from conch shells, and a favorite subject of Doyle’s.

A painted wooden panel by the Rev. Howard Finster (1916-2001), titled Daniel Boone and Wolf Dogs (circa 1982), went for $20,700. The painting, large at 48 inches square, was housed in a wood-burned frame decorated by the artist.

Dr. Buz, house paint and pine straw on found tin, with applied conch shell, by Sam Doyle (1906-1985), $23,000.

A carved three-dimensional depiction of a tiger, done in Latex paint with jeweled eyes by Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), garnered $18,400. A nearly life-size carved and painted wood sculpture of a donkey by Felipe Archuleta sold for $12,650. Two of creations by Clarence Woolsey, made from old bottle caps covering a wooden frame went for $9,430 and $5,750.

Slotin’s next sale is scheduled for Feb. 9, 2008. For more information, visit or call 404-403-4244.