The Rarities of Rhead, the Details of Newcomb, and A World Record Smashed: Decorative Arts at Auction In Review

by Kate Nixon



Fall Art and Design Auction

Treadway Gallery, September 18th










Clockwise from top left: A Handel lamp ($2,000-$3,000) made of obverse painted glass and metal sold for $5,000.00; a signed Newcomb College vase ($7,500-$8,500) by K.S. Wraight sold for $11,000.00; and a Wheatley Pottery tile ($500-$700) out of a Cincinnati collection in a new Arts & Crafts frame sold for $2,000.00.




An example of silver overlay on the Rookwood vases during Treadway’s auction.

In a 325-lot catalog, a Newcomb Vase stood taller than the rest; the signed vase, decorated by Newcomb College artist K.S. Wraight ($7,500 – $9,500) and originating from a collection in Maine, sold for $11,000. One of six Newcomb College items offered, the vase was shown as beautifully preserved and stood out as a tall example by a talented and early artist.

As expected, lighting also was represented well: one example of a Tiffany Studios lamp ($5,500 – $6,500) with a bronze base, a favrile glass shade, and an etched signature sold at $7,500, while a Handel lamp with detailed and fine artwork on the shade (see above) sold for $5,000.

In more ceramics results, the works of Rookwood sold well: the vintage silver overlay examples of Rookwood were able to fetch the highest prices as a signed vase by Rookwood artist Harriet Wilcox ($2,000 – $3,000) with the detailed overlay sold for $3,000 and a signed liddel vessell by Matt Daly ($1,500 – $2,500) sold within the estimates with a hammer price of $1,600. As the auction did take place in Cincinnati, a wide array of Rookwood was offered not just with silver overlay; a signed Rookwood Pottery plaque ($2,000 – $3,000) by favorite artist E.T. Hurley in its original frame sold within the estimates at $2,300. The unusual in Rookwood offerings was shown as well: a brown matte vase carved and decorated by Albert Munson went for a hammer price of $600, blowing past the $250 high estimate. Similarly colored, a Grueby vase with an “oatmeal” toned glaze and TWO original paper labels ($700 – $900) sold for $1,300.

As you’ll read below, the works of Frederick Hurten Rhead have made a resurgence into the auction world in recent years – one example of his work from his years in Santa Barbara ($3,500 – $5,500) made an impression on collectors and sold for $4,000 witihin the estimates.

One lovely surprise was the framed Wheatley Pottery tile (pictured above), a glazed ceramic tile with a sweet pink floral design was the object of desire in a fierce bidding war that turned an initial $350 starting price into two thousand. The tile was held in a new quality Arts & Crafts wooden frame.

As metalwork and enamel boxes are particularly popular at Treadway, a pewter and enamel box ($1,200 – $1,700) designed by Charles Fleetwood Varley for Liberty & Co. had a selling price of $2,100. The detailed box showing a beautiful ocean view was signed by the artist and in very good condition. Meanwhile, another Arts & Crafts box made of copper with Ruskin inserts ($350 – $450) sold for a respectable $700; this box was in its original condition and displayed an impressive patina. In one of Tiffany Studio’s several appearance, one unusual came in the form of a bronze vase with a leaf/plant design ($600 – $800); collectors swept past the high estimate with bids and bronze vase sold for $1,600.


To see the remainder of the Treadway catalog, click here to see the results.


AcStickley Arts & Crafts Auction

California Historical Design, September 17th


A quarterly auction run on the west coast, the AcStickley Arts and Crafts Auction was also held last weekend, featuring 950 lots of Arts & Crafts furniture, pottery, lighting and metalwork. A specialty of this auctionhouse, lighting and varied hand-hammered copper vases bookends from Dirk Van Erp were represented several times, with an auction highlight: the signed hammered Copper Rivetbase three-socket lamp ($12,000-$15,000) with original mica, original patina, and a signed San Francisco open-box mark, finally sold for $23,000.00 in a competitive bidding war. Additionally in lighting, a Duffner & Kimberly Stained Glass Hanging Lantern ($3,000 – $4,000) with its original patina sold for $5,000.

Gustav Stickley #906 Six-Drawer Dresser c1910. Iconic Gustav Stickley dresser with hammered copper door-knocker hardware and original finish. Signed with red decal inside drawer. Sold for $8,000.00.

The Arts & Crafts Furniture selections in the auction included works by Gustav Stickley, L&JG Stickley, Stickley Brothers, Charles Stickley, Limbert, Roycroft, Lifetime, Lakeside, JM Young, Mathews Furniture Shop, Bernard Maybeck, Karpen, Harden, and Michigan Chair Co. A Gustav Stickley #332 Morris Chair ($4,500 – $5,500) was an auction highlight; the signature, original finish and sturdy condition yielded a $13,000 selling price after another bidding competition.

Other examples of note include a number of items from the Monterey Furniture Co: two examples of tall chest of drawers ($800 – $1,200) from the Monterey Furniture Company complete with signature and original finish sold for $2,200 and $1,300 respectively, but the Monterey Furniture Company’s signed vanity desk with a signature and its original finish ($600 – $800) ended up with a $3,500 selling price after an intense bidding war. A signed Gustav Stickley bookshelf ($1,800 – $2,200) with original finish sold for $2,500, a lovely signed and branded Limbert Two-Door Flared Leg Bookcase ($3,000 – $4,000) sold for $3,000,  a rare pair of L & J.G. Stickley Onondaga refinished wash stands ($4,500 – $5,500) ultimately sold for $4,000 despite its rarity , a signed Gustav Stickley six-drawer dresser ($7,500 – $9,500) with hammered copper door-knocker hardware sold for $8,000, an L & J.G. Stickley slatted Morris chair, in its’ original finish and with a remnant of the red decal label, sold for $2,500, an L&JG Stickley Onondaga Mahogany Leather-Top Table ($2,000 – $3,000) with its original finish sold for $3,250, a rare Limbert eight-leg console table sold for $5,000, and even a reminder of the Grove Park Inn’s old furniture made an appearance with an oak and wicker console table from 1913 with its old refinish ($2,000 – $3,000) came back with a $2,600 selling price.

In metalwork, a hammered copper firescreen made by Michael Adams of Aurora Studios ($2,000 – $3,000) in a rare Gustav Stickley form with the original patina sold for $2,900, an impressively designed Craftsman Studios hammered copper tray ($200-$300) with a 17.5″ diameter sold for $300, and a lovely Arts & Crafts hammered copper bracelet ($150 – $250) with diamond shaped flowers sold for $275.00.

In ceramics, the clear highlights came from Marblehead: a Tall Exceptional Marblehead Pottery Decorated Vase; while it sold for $20,000 rather than the $25,000 – $30,000 estimates, it clocks in as the tallest decorated Marblehead vase. In second place, a dragonfly vase by Arthur Hennessey and Sarah Tutt ($7,000 – $9,000), signed in a high quality condition, sold for $15,000. A number of Grueby works sold well: a signed Matte brown vase also by Ruth ($1,500 – $2,000) sold for $2,100 and a Tiffany Framed Grueby Trivet Tile circa 1905 with an artist’s signature “EG” ($3,500-$4,500) sold for $4,750, a signed Ozark Pottery vase circa 1907-1910 ($2,000 – $2,500) sold for $2,200, a signed Rookwood Pottery William Henschell Ombroso Glazed Vase ($600 – $800) sold for $900, and a Hampshire Pottery Matte Green Vase ($250 – $350) in near perfect condition had a long and competitive bidding war before ultimately ending in a $2,200 selling price.

Even the printed and painted works had their highlights: a Margaret Patterson (1867-1950) Woodblock Print ($4,000-$5,000) “In the High Hills” with a custom Tim Holton frame fetched a $4,000 selling price and Charles Warren Eaton Painting ($6,000 – $8,000) of a sunset through the pine trees sold for $6,000, the most expensive of the 23 paintings in the AcStickley auction.


Click here to see the selling prices of the entire AcStickley auction catalog


Early 20th Century Design

Rago Arts, September 22nd, 2022


During Thursday’s “Early 20th Century Design” auction at Rago Arts and Auction Center, the works of Rhead, Artus Van Briggle, Adelaide Robineau, Mary Louise McLaughlin, Grueby Pottery, Russell Crook, and other greats of American Art Pottery were displayed in a 461-lot auction. The early 20th century design furniture, lighting, and pottery featured works from the collection of artist and collector Gary Keith included an Important Newcomb College lamp, exceptional ceramics by Taxile Doat, a Rare and Early Tiffany Studios enameled Grapevine lamp, and a large selection of Loetz, Gallé, Majorelle, and Daum from private collections. Additionally Rago achieved another world record for a Newcomb College work; the winning piece sold for $262,500.


A lamp with Louisiana Irises designed by Mary Sheerer of Newcomb College ($100,000-$125,000) with a historic past sold for $262,500, a world record for a work of Newcomb College. Photo courtesy of Rago Arts.


At Rago auctions, collectors can always expect a wide array of American art pottery on display from experts in the field and with another world record achieved, this auction did not disappoint. An important lamp from Newcomb College artist Mary Sheerer ($100,000-$125,000) blasted past its estimates to arrive at the $262,500 selling price; the work has appeared in the 1987 exhibition The Art That is Life: The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920 and the historic 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, MO and has been featured in a number of publications about Newcomb Pottery.

In a special essay written by Dr. Martin Eidelberg for the historic lamp, Eidelberg praises the lamp as a perfect example of the Arts and Crafts movement as he writes “…the Iris lamp unites the useful and the beautiful: it sheds light in the darkness and brings joy to the beholder. Comparable Newcomb lamps cannot be found. Indeed, as far as is known, this lamp is the only extant example of such work from the Newcomb Pottery.“

The lamp currently holds the world record for a selling price for a Newcomb College work; the previous record was set in 2009 for a Marie de Hoa LeBlanc high glazed vase which sold for $169,200.

A Rare and Tall reticulated Della Robbia vase notably made by Frederick Hurten Rhead with wild roses sold at Rago Arts and Auction’s Early 20th Century Design Auction for $23,750.

The Newcomb lamp wasn’t the only ceramic work considered the spotlight. The rare works of Frederick Hurten Rhead were represented exceptionally well in many cases sailing past their high estimates; it appears the phrase “Rare” and “Della Robbia-style”  worked out especially well in this auction. Among the several Rhead vases with stylized floral patterns, there were a number of notable works: Rhead’s exceptional vase ($35,000 – $45,000) with the Della Robbia-style design nabbed an $87,500 selling price while a Rare Della Robbia potpourri jar with stylized blossoms ($15,000-$20,000) sold for $30,000, his Rare and Tall reticulated Della Robbia vase with wild roses ($12,000 – $16,000) sold fetched a $23,750 price tag, and his Della Robbia vase with stylized arabesques and tulips ($6,000 – $9,000) sold for $16,250 to name a few.

Speaking of rare vases with floral patterns, a vase by Hugh C. Robertson of Chelsea Keramic Art Works ($6,000–9,000) labelled “Rare experimental vase with tulips” got plenty of attention selling for $30,000. The vase, originating from an important private collection and from the Lillian Nassau collection, this vase was featured in Martin Eidelberg’s book From Our Native Clay: Art Pottery from the Collections of the American Ceramic Arts Society. The work of Adelaide Robineau was presented in the form of an exceptional vase with a reticulated stand ($12,000 – $16,000); the crystalline-glazed porcelain, previously part of an important collection, sold for $56,250. A vase by Mary Yancey for Iowa State with sweet blue daisies kept the bidding going as the estimates of $13,000$18,000 were quickly surpassed and ended with a $38,000 hammer price. Finally, the artistry of Russell Crook did not go unnoticed. From a private collection in New York, a stoneware vase decorated with elephants ($6,000 – 9,000), exhibited with JMW Gallery and Craftsman Farms and featured in exhibition literature, sold for $30,000. However, the rare and large tile Crook created for Grueby Faience Company ($9,000–14,000) featured in Montgomery’s The Ceramics of William H. Grueby sold for a fantastic $50,000. A similar example of a panther is held in the permanent collection of the Two Red Roses Foundation.


Russell Crook for Grueby Faience Company Rare and Large tile ($9,000–$14,000) with elephants sold at Rago’s for $50,000.


To see the remainder of Rago’s catalog with sold prices, click here to see Rago’s catalog.