ROSE VALLEY. Pa. – The Rose Valley Museum at Thunderbird Lodge has never taken its eyes off the Wharton Esherick prize.
The museum will be hosting a curated, in-person and online auction on Sunday, Oct. 25, of Arts and Crafts antiques and fine art from the turn of the 20th century. While the event will include several small Esherick pieces, the proceeds will be used to bid on his tables and hammer-handle chairs to be auctioned on Oct. 29 by Freeman’s in Philadelphia.
“We have held two small fundraiser auctions in the past four years, the first with 25 items and the second with 50,” said museum curator Ryan Berley. “This time, we will be partnering with LiveAuctioneers.com, the premier Internet auction platform, to provide the broadest possible audience.”
Conducted by Joseph Laskowski of Brandywine Valley Auctions, the event will feature 180 furniture, decorative art and artwork (photo and print) items. Some pieces are owned by the museum and others donated, although the majority are on consignment from local collectors.
The lots include Esherick and Stickley furniture, art pottery tiles and ceramics, hammered copper and wrought-iron metalworks, books from Roycroft Press, stained and art glass lamps and etchings by local artists. Highlights include an Esherick signed woodcut of Hedgerow Theatre, three-legged stool in the Esherick design, rare Stickley arm chair and tile with a Tudor rose.
The live auction on the Thunderbird Lodge porch will run concurrently with the online event, with 60 seconds allocated to bid on each lot. Reservations are required for the former and participation will be limited based on Pennsylvania coronavirus guidelines, with individuals asked to bring their own chairs, wear masks and practice social distancing.
“So many live antique events were canceled this spring,” said Berley. “The online portion will allow collectors and dealers to get their fix.”
A sculptor who worked primarily in wood, Esherick was recognized by his peers as the “dean of American craftsmen.” Nearly 100 years ago, he bartered several pieces with Hedgerow Theatre as payment for his daughters’ acting lessons.
Hedgerow has decided to sell three tables, eight hammer-handle chairs and a spiral staircase and use the proceeds to create an endowment and support building improvements. The Thunder Table, named for the 1929 production of “Thunder on the Left” in which his children appeared, is expected to sell for six figures.
The museum has raised approximately $100,000 for its Keep Wharton Esherick in Rose Valley fund, half of which was used to purchase the table used by the actors in residence living at Hedgerow House. The remaining $50,000, plus the hoped-for $25,000 from the auction, will be earmarked to bid on the remaining pieces.
“The picnic table, as it is known, is a major piece we have secured,” said Berley. “We look at any others we are able to buy as a benefit both for the museum and for Hedgerow.”
The live and virtual auction will begin 1 p.m. at Thunderbird Lodge, 41 Rose Valley Road. A catalog and online registration are available at LiveAuctioneers.com.
Reservations for the in-person viewings and live auction can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.