An oil on board painting by Canadian artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970) sold for $25,960, a circa 1865-1870 Prince Edward Island pocket watch trade sign hit $16,520 and a carved slide-top pencil box made around 1800 in Quebec realized $12,980 in an online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held on April 17 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.
All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and are inclusive of an 18 percent buyers premium.
The circa 1960 painting on green board by Maud Lewis was the top lot of the auction. It showed a favorite local cove of the artist, with the red-roofed Lynch House on the shore and the ferry Princess Helene entering the harbor. The Princess Helene operated between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for 30 years. The signed and framed work measured 11 inches by 13 inches (sight).
The 19th century double-sided Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island pocket watch trade sign, was marked W. N. Taunton, who operated his shop there from 1865-1900. The 16 inch in diameter trade sign had an untouched surface and showed 10:15 on one side and 11:15 on the other. It was illustrated in the book Canadian Folk Art to 1950 by John Fleming and Michael Rowan (p. 63).
The signed, slide-top pencil box from Saint-Henri-de-Levis, Quebec had the original untouched brown painted surface and was incised with the name Germain Roberge on the bottom. It was 8 ¼ inches long by 3 inches wide and was carved from a single block of pine, with deeply carved geometrics on the top and ends, while the sides had carved rosettes flanking a swirling pinwheel.
The auction was headlined by the lifetime Canadiana collection of Marty Osler, a true collector whose passion for history and the human experience was reflected in the objects he acquired. In addition to Canadiana and folk art, categories included furniture, paintings, pottery, stoneware, tools, toys and banks, architectural and nautical. In all, over 300 lots crossed the auction block.
Despite not having a live preview due to COVID, the market response was very positive, with collectors showing their enthusiasm for great material, said Peter Baker, an antiques dealer in Quebec who was retained by Miller & Miller to curate the auction. It was stressful for serious collectors who were unable to handle the objects or get a sense of scale. But Marty Osler was well known for decades as a passionate and cautious buyer, so people had great trust in his eye and the objects he collected.
Baker added, Many objects were squirreled away in Martys home, seeing daylight for the first time in decades. Even family and close friends were surprised and excited to see what we found. From early burl bowls to pressed steel toys, it was an eclectic mix that showcased Martys broad taste for quality no matter the genre. A personal favorite of mine was the canoe cup lot 219 one of the earliest I have seen and complete with a mermaid carving, subtle but screaming with quality. In summary, Baker commented, Form, surface, provenance and rarity ruled the day.
Following are additional highlights from the auction, which grossed $430,375. More than 500 registered bidders combined to place 8,498 bids. One hundred percent of lots sold, with 73 percent meeting or exceeding estimates and 42 percent exceeding the high-end estimate. Online bidding was provided by www.LiveAuctioneers.com and www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com
A dramatic 19th century Quebec two-sided parcheesi/checkerboard made from hardwood (ash), the parcheesi side interestingly inscribed France in the center home space, perhaps as a nod to the ancestral homeland of the maker, went for $9,440. Also, a large, circa 1880 diorama of the Niobe, a three-masted, square-rigged clipper ship in full sail with jibs and staysails flying, accompanied by a tugboat and a pilot boat, impressive at 41 inches long, left port for $4,130.
An early 19th century Ontario harvest table in the original red/brown paint, with a three-sided box stretcher and a single drop leaf supported by a plank draw support, 66 inches long by 27 ½ inches wide, found a new owner for $8,260; while a circa 1830-1840 Waterloo County two-piece cupboard with the original paint and excellent proportions, featuring four overlapping doors with blown panels and two drawers in the lower section, 87 inches tall and 54 inches long, hit $6,490.
A monumental birds sculpture by Edmond Chatigny (Quebec, 1895-1992), of a bird in brown paint with white splotches mounted on a square stool base and adorned with some 40 smaller birds and animal figures, 46 inches tall, brought $8,260. Also, a rare oil on canvas painting of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and Experimental Farm in Guelph, rendered circa 1880, depicting farm hands, pedestrians, farm animals, buggies, wagons and more, gaveled for $4,720.
A circa 1870-1880 allegorical walking stick from North Bay, Ontario, 35 inches long, with a great surface and carved details including hearts, dogs, a horse, a crescent moon, a tree of life, a wolf, a deer and a hunter holding a gun, fetched $6,490. Also, a finely carved 18th century slide-top pencil box in paint, carved from a single block of pine, profusely decorated on all surfaces with zigzag motifs, a crescent moon, a heart and a sun motif, 9 inches in length, realized $5,900.
An early New Brunswick needlework sampler in wool on linen, signed Jane Kinnear, Sussex, KC (Kings County), March 4th, 1858, showing a bluebird in the center and a partial alphabet, mounted in a birds-eye frame, knocked down for $5,310; while a large, circa 1860 Ontario country sofa with an open fretwork back in butternut, having scrolled arm posts and a shaped skirt on the front and sides, with the original dark stain and dark varnished surface, made $4,130.
A circa 1865-1870 Quebec architectural one-piece cupboard-on-table in the original paint, the cupboard section having an arched top over a single door that is supported in the front by white painted Corinthian columns, 59 ½ inches tall, earned $5,015. Also, a circa 1820-1830 Quebec folk painted chest of drawers with a chimney pot backboard and original color, a pine chest of forged nail construction, boasting great paint and original Hepplewhite brasses, sold for $4,720.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. has four big auctions planned for Saturdays in May and June. These include a Petroliana & Advertising auction on May 15th, featuring the Bill McNevan collection; a Canadiana & Sporting auction on June 5th, featuring the Don and Joyce Blyth collection; a Watches & Jewels auction on June 12th and an Advertising auction on June 19th.