During the 60 years they collected Pennsylvania German folk art, Drs. Donald and Patricia Herr became true connoisseurs, retaining only the best examples of an artist’s work, the best of a form, and the rarest and most highly sought-after examples.
On Thursday and Friday, Pook & Pook will be auctioning more than 500 lots from the collection, including coverlets, quilts, frakturs, pewter, samplers, and more.
“These items represent heritage, craftsmanship, scholarship, and above all, cherished moments shared between Don and Trish and other collectors,” said the Herr family.
Researching and documenting their collection, the Herrs published studies and research papers on a wide range of Pennsylvania German subjects. They recorded their observations, made comparative studies, and researched provenance and the progress of objects, artisans, and families through time. The Herrs uncovered relationships and made connections, adding greatly to the study of Pennsylvania German artists and craftspeople.
The Herr name is found on diverse objects, with a Herr family coverlet, a Grandmother Herr quilt, an 1828 David Herr watercolor fraktur of birds, and Herr family birth and baptismal frakturs. The couple's research led to new discoveries, such as when Dr. Herr and Dr. Don Yoder collaborated to uncover the identity of a “Sussel Unicorn Artist.” Schoolmaster Christian Beschler (Germany, Northumberland County, ca. 1800) created only ten known works. Two of these rarities are birth and baptismal certificates for Jacob Jaekle, dated 1796, and Magdalena Fuchs, born in 1801. Both are profusely decorated with compass stars, hearts, unicorns, and parrots amid tulips, flowers, and vines.
Patricia Herr’s collection documents early schools of needlework. Highlights include three works from the Marsh School (Philadelphia 1723-1795), featuring one by Ann Marsh herself, ca. 1730, a vibrant work with an urn of flowers with insect and bird, resting on a rolling lawn with sheep and a running dog, retaining the original tombstone arched walnut frame. Ann, alongside her mother, Elizabeth, taught the daughters of elite Philadelphia Quaker families the art of ornamental embroidery. Marsh works are rare and the earliest identifiable group of Philadelphia needlework.
Another category highlight is an important Chester County, Pennsylvania needlework grouping of sewing articles. Made by Hannah Darlington, ca. 1785, each piece bears the maker’s name or initials.
“This is a wonderful example of Chester County needlework. These very early sewing articles are all made by the same hand, by Hannah Darlington, from the well-known Quaker Darlington family," said Debra Pook, co-founder of the auction house. "She created the fabulous flame stitch wallet in wool in 1785, and rollup pin case in silk in 1787. The rollup pinball is remarkable for being crowned with a stitched sampler. They are beautifully and expertly done and have survived in fine condition.”
Pewter is the crown jewel in the Herr collection, abounding in rare and important items. A highly important Lancaster, Pennsylvania pewter flagon, ca. 1770, bears the touch of Johann Christoph Heyne (Germany, Lancaster 1715-1781). One of only two examples in private hands, it is remarkable for its cultural assimilation of styles. Another work by Heyne, a ca. 1770 canteen, was a memorable find at a Carlisle flea market.
Session One on Thursday, June 9, will start at 6 p.m.; Session Two on Friday, June 10, will start at 9 a.m. Gallery exhibitions will be at Pook & Pook, 463 East Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335, on Wednesday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Friday from 8-9 a.m. There will also be a reception on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. Please RSVP to email@example.com or call 610-269-4040.
Live, phone, absentee, and internet bidding will be available for this auction. Online bidding is available on PookLive, Bidsquare, and Invaluable. All telephone bids must be submitted by noon on Thursday. Call 610-269-4040 to reserve a seat at the live auction. For more information, visit pookandpook.com.