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Record Set: Spitler chest closes up $356,500

Shenandoah Valley of Virginia yellow pine blanket chest (circa 1800) decorated by Johannes Spitler, sold for $356,500 during a June 20 auction offered by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.
Blanket chest

Johannes Spitler, Shenandoah Valley of Virginia paint-decorated yellow pine blanket chest.

MT. CRAWFORD, Va. — The Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates June 20, 2015, Americana and Fine Antiques Auction was a success by all accounts, boasting strong prices in many categories. The sale’s top lot, an important Shenandoah (now Page) County, Shenandoah Valley of Virginia yellow pine blanket chest (circa 1800) decorated by Johannes Spitler, perhaps the last example remaining within the family of the original owner, sold for $356,500. The price set a record for a Spitler-decorated blanket chest at auction.

The Long family, for whom the chest was made, settled in the Massanutten area in the 18th century, and the chest had stayed within the family for six generations, residing at historic Wallbrook Farm for the last 100 years prior to its appearance at auction with Evans & Associates. The artistry of the geometric and figural imagery attracted strong bidder interest, with a private Virginia collector triumphing over a Virginia institution.

In his commentary after the auction was over, Jeffrey S. Evans said, “It was a great pleasure to handle the Long family Spitler decorated blanket chest. It is not often that such an important piece comes to market directly from the original owner’s family where it has resided for more than 200 years.”

Another Shenandoah Valley item of nearly equal rarity in the auction, an important fraktur taufschein attributed to Jacob Strickler, made for Susanna Rothgeb and dated 1806, sold for $29,900. This fraktur, densely packed with vivid imagery, attracted interest from collectors and institutions across the country. In a sign of market strength, fraktur remain popular with collectors, and the sale included a number of fi ne examples. A rare group of Frederick County, Virginia, fraktur birth records made for the Carter family, by the Record Book Artist, comprising three informational sheets and three accompanying pictorial pages, dating to the first quarter 19th century, sold for $21,850. The six pages offered in the sale included a unique representation of a human figure and had remained in the Carter family until their discovery in the 1980s.

Silver exhibited strength. Leading the way was a fine pair of Thomas Bradbury & Sons, Sheffield,

Fraktur taufschein

Important Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art fraktur taufschein attributed to Jacob Strickler, sold for $21,850.

sterling silver candelabra (circa 1930), made for the Scott family of Richmond, Virginia. Modeled after 17th-century examples from a Scottish castle, the pair achieved $18,400. Likewise, uncommon furniture forms in good condition continue to hold value; several pieces with these qualities produced strong results. Outside of the aforementioned Spitler chest, the top furniture lot was a Pennsylvania paint decorated step-back “Dutch” cupboard (circa 1830). Formerly in the collection of Dr. E. R. Eller of Pittsburgh, this example, in very good condition and retaining its original paint-decorated surface, brought $12,650.

The pottery portion of the auction included 200 lots of material with strong prices achieved throughout. Top lots included a rare Zigler Pottery, Timberville, Rockingham County, Shenandoah Valley of Virginia decorated stoneware diminutive cream pitcher (circa 1835) at $6,325; and an East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia Great Road decorated earthenware honey pot (circa 1850) at $5,750. A noteworthy example from the folk art group was a Thomas Jefferson Craddock (Albemarle County, Virginia, b.1845) carved cane/walking stick (circa 1890) with imagery including a bold spread-wing eagle. Craddock was a full-time carver, and a number of his walking sticks have come to market over the years. The present example brought $3,750, establishing an auction record for the artist.

After the sale, Jeffrey S. Evans said, “The auction was a great success across the board. But of course the stars of the sale were the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art objects. The auction room was electric when the Spitler chest and the three lots of fraktur came to the block. The market for great Southern material has never been hotter.”

For further information, visit www.jeff, email info@jeff or call 504-434-3939.

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