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Berks County dower chest could close up $120K

Pook & Pook, Inc. is bringing a diverse selection of fine art, folk art, and furniture to auction April 28, and among the headliners is a painted dower chest that dates to 1775.

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – Even as chilly winter weather persists, Pook & Pook, Inc. is looking to heat things up with its annual spring Americana & International auction. On April 28 at 10 a.m., just over 500 lots are set to cross the auction block.

Painted Dower Chest Headlining Sale

Saturday morning’s auction draws its strength from a group of devoted collectors who have sustained the past in their finely curated estates and cherished family heirlooms. Fine art, folk art, furniture, and ephemera from a number of important estates create the bulk of this sale.

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Highlights from this sale include an Ammi Phillips portrait ($12,000-$18,000). It hails from the family of the sitter. It joins a sought-after blue Berks County painted dower chest circa 1775 ($80,000-$120,000) with a high quality of remaining paint. Plus, a banjo clock ($1,500-$2,500) by Massachusetts clockmaker and convicted murderer Elmer Stennes is on offer. Other interesting and exciting items include a diverse assortment of cast iron door stops. Also on offer is Pennsylvania Chippendale furniture. In addition, bidding is up for a late 19th century gilt sheet copper ice skate weathervane ($6,000-$9,000).

The sale will begin with an assortment of fine art. A winter landscape by pioneer of American Impressionism Charles Morris Young is on offer. It is a decommission piece from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It will be the first item to cross the block. Following in sale are a vast assortment of oil paintings featuring farm scenes, equestrian themes, maritime motifs, and Pennsylvania landscapes.

Crock Marks Historic Partnership

Folk art will follow in sale and features items such as an 8-gallon crock marked Eberhart & Williams ($3,000-$5,000), from the short-lived 1866-1870 partnership of Adolph Eberhart and J.G. Williams.

Very few pieces exist with this inscription. A number of lots featuring Native American beaded bandolier bags will invite competition amongst bidders, as well as several Native American pipe tomahawks. A Hattie Brunner watercolor and gouache winter landscape ($800-1200) will sit comfortably among other Lancaster County treasures, and the unique Arts and Crafts walnut dresser box, attributed to Daniel Pabst ($400-$700) should attract the eye of interested collectors. One lucky baseball fan will top all bids for a Louisville Slugger baseball bat made for President Ford signed by 40 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame ($3,000-$5,000).

George Washington is present throughout the sale with a number of items featuring his image and even his hand. Such items include a portrait by Jane Stuart, after her father Gilbert Stuart’s iconic Athenaeum portrait, ($8,000-$12,000) and a collection of 24 Currier color lithographs of U.S. presidents and historical figures ($1,000-$2,000). Perhaps the most exciting inclusion of General Washington are three lots featuring his signature. A letter discussing British troop movements from 1779 ($20,000-$30,000) is a historical document of the American Revolutionary War and is on offer. This accompanies other lots of letters, including those by Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.

Transferware Collection Makes Appearance

The transferware collection of Susan and Ben Ventresca features over 70 pieces of sought-after Historical blue Staffordshire including items stamped Stevenson, Ridgway, Clews, and E. Wood. While amassing their collection, Ms. Ventresca has said that her personal “white whale” was the Arms of Pennsylvania platter, a most desirable piece that she acquired from Pook & Pook in 2010 for a record-breaking price. The Ventrescas are ready to share the joy of collecting antique transferware with others; the Arms of Pennsylvania platter will be making another appearance at Pook & Pook for this sale ($15,000-$25,000).

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A special addition to the sale are 100 items from the Dumont Estate of New Hope, Pennsylvania. An outstanding Walter Emerson Baum painting ($8,000-$12,000) starts the collection. Also in this sale is a massive weathervane, featuring a double ball and bannerette decoration, topping out at a staggering 140 inches ($1,000-$2,000), This weathervane accompanies a newspaper photo of the lot in situ on the church it appears. Rounding out this collection of trade signs, hooked rugs, weathervanes, furniture, fraktur, whirligigs, and quilts is a Canadian painted pine Dutch cupboard from the early 19th century ($3,000-$5,000) and an English crewelwork panel measuring 108 inches long ($500-$1,000).

Interested bidders are encouraged to contact Pook & Pook, Inc. at or 610-269-4040 with questions. Gallery exhibitions are scheduled for Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, April 25-27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. On the morning of Saturday, April 28, reception will begin with breakfast at 8 a.m. (RSVP: Bidding for the Americana & International auction will open at 10 a.m. Online bidding will be available at

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