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Collectors continue to make sand bottles by artist Andrew Clemens hot commodities in American folk art.

Spirited phone bidding pushed another one of his works way past its pre-sale estimate at Hindman to sell for $800,000, including buyer’s premium. 

This result comes on the heels of Hindman setting an auction record for Clemens’ sand bottles in September 2021 when another one sold for $956,000, beating the previous record set in 2020 at Skinner of $275,000 for a patriotic presentation bottle.

This Andrew Clemens sand bottle, with a railroad theme, sold for $800,000.

This Andrew Clemens sand bottle, with a railroad theme, sold for $800,000.

Estimated to bring $100,000-$150,000, Clemens’ latest sand bottle sold in Hindman’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts sale March 10-11 was from the family of its original owner, railroad freight agent Nicholas J. Goll. Dated 1889, one side of the 10-1/2-inch high bottle, with polychrome decoration in shades of brown, black and gold, depicts a coal-burning locomotive stopped at a railroad station, with freight cars stretching into the distance. A lone figure is seen handling a large piece of freight, with others stacked on the siding in front of a train station. Below this scene, written in script, is the name N. J. Goll. 

The other side of the bottle is divided into two decorative panels, with one featuring a spread-winged eagle clutching arrows and green olive branches in its talons, and a patriotic shield and ribbon banner proclaiming E. Pluribus Unum, and the other of a sidewheel packet boat under a full head of steam with the name St. Paul in block lettering on the paddle box. 

The other side of the bottle.

The other side of the bottle.

According to Hindman, in the more than 100 bottles known to exist, this is one of only two known to incorporate an eagle and patriotic shield. Dated five years before Clemens' death, the Goll bottle amply demonstrates the mastery of his life's work. Like most of his bottles, it was undoubtedly commissioned for its new owner. Hindman said that Goll, who was born in St. Louis, Missouri, spent most of his life in that town. At an early age, he embarked on a life-long career working for the railroad and the bottle incorporates motifs that would have been important to his career.

Trains were occasionally utilized in Clemens' bottles, and he is known to have made more than one for railroad owners or executives. One of these bottles (now lost) weighed 20 pounds and depicted a train crossing a pontoon bridge over the Mississippi at McGregor, according to Hindman.

For more auction results, visit Hindman.

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