Dedham Dinnerware Struggles To Attract New Collectors
Once the darling of Boston Arts & Crafts collectors, the cute little rabbits, turtles, crabs and lions encircling the blue and white crackleware of Dedham Pottery (1896-1943) may have lost some of their luster.
The Skinner’s 20th Century Furniture and Decorative Arts department tested the Dedham market on June 25th with an extensive collection of more than 100 plates, saucers, platters and pitchers. In classic Dedham style, they were decorated with an assortment of animals, insects and plants, from azaleas and magnolias, moths, owls, lobsters and crabs to orange trees, turkeys, lions and, of course, the famous Dedham crouching rabbit.
A brief stampede for a herd of elephants encircling nine Dedham bowls, plates, salt and pepper shakers and a small pitcher buoyed hopes for a recovery, but once the battle for the elephants was over, the remaining dinnerware failed to generate any sustained excitement. The majority of the pieces carried conservative estimates in the $200-$300 range, but even this was not enough to entice new collectors to begin buying Dedham dinnerware, as many left the auction block unsold.
The 20th Century Decorative Arts sale started with a pleasant surprise, however, as a pair of enameled copper bookends featuring a colorful orange tree with green foliage (est. $600-$800, pictured) handcrafted around 1924 by Rebecca Cauman, a member of The Boston Society of Arts & Crafts, soared to $5,036.
Pottery collectors proved they were ready to bid when the right piece came up, as they drove the price on a beautiful seven-inch green Grueby vase with alternating buds and broad leaves to $2,328. A tall Rookwood Scenic Vellum vase decorated by Edward Diers ran past its pre-sale estimate of $700-$900 to sell for $2,133 (all prices include the buyer’s premium.)
While the sale offered numerous bargains for astute collectors, none may have been surpassed by that of the bidder who walked away with a classic 60-inch wide, two-door signed Gustav Stickley oak bookcase for just $1,778. Although described as having “wear,” this may have been a record low price paid for a Stickley 60-inch bookcase at a major Arts & Crafts auction in recent years, proving that there are still bargains awaiting those who watch and wait.
For complete auction results and information on upcoming Skinner auctions, please go to http://www.skinnerinc.com.
– Bruce Johnson