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Jasper52 presents Americana, folk and outsider art, Aug. 5

Many spectacular objects and items go unsigned or unmarked by their makers. Too often, these artisans didn’t regard their masterpieces as art; they saw them as a hobby, or an amusement, or something that helped pass the time. We may not always know who made a given piece, but we do recognize its beauty and its craftsmanship.

On August 5, starting at 6 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will stage an auction of Americana, Folk Art, and Outsider Art. As always, the sale is curated by Clifford Wallach, an expert in tramp art, folk art, and Americana.

19th-century buckskin vest, est. $3,000-$5,000

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 offers Americana, Folk Art and Outsider Art, June 3

Once again, trusted expert Clifford Wallach has curated an Americana, Folk Art, and Outsider Art auction for Jasper52, which means its contents will be a richly panoramic representation of rural American life from decades if not centuries ago. Starting at 6 pm Eastern time on June 3, it contains more than 550 lots of paintings, textiles, and decorative objects.

1845 sampler stitched by Susan Locke of Lexington, Massachusetts, estimated at $3,000-$3,500

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Art Deco ice cream sign a cool addition to May 20 NHADA auction

Once again, the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA) has offered a strong selection of items, and once again, Clifford Wallach, an expert in tramp art, folk art, and Americana has selected the best for Jasper52. A total of 344 lots comprise the May 20 auction, which commences at 6 pm Eastern time.

Art Deco ice cream sign, circa 1930, estimated at $4,000-$5,000

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 presents Americana, Folk Art & Outsider Art April 8

The fascinating world of Americana, folk art, and outsider art takes center stage in Jasper52’s new auction, beginning Thursday, April 8, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern. Absentee and Internet live bidding is provided by LiveAuctioneers.

Handcrafted tramp art boxes, collectible vintage signage, and detailed wooden frames are just a few of the whimsical treasures offered in this Americana sale. These artisan objects vary from folk art paintings, ceramics, and more formal Americana. This collection of 19th-20th century rural life will create a unique sense of welcome in any home.

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Traditional country auction available online Jan. 14

Collectors longing for an old-time New England country auction loaded with hundreds of antiques and folk art, but with the convenience of online bidding, will enjoy the sale Jasper52 will conduct on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. EST.

Folk art clipper ship carving on board, circa 1880, 23 x 13in. Estimate: $800-$900. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

NHADA Americana & Folk Art auction slated for Oct. 15

The New Hampshire Antique Dealers Association will conduct an online auction of Americana and folk art consigned by members of the prestigious organization on Thursday, October 15 through Jasper52. In total, 368 lots will be offered, including early textiles (quilts, samplers, table covers), gameboards, ceramics, rugs, advertising signs, tramp art, baskets, primitives and much more.

Mercedes and James Hutchinson hooked motto rug, circa 1940s, wool and cotton, estimate $1,500-$2,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Scherenschnitte cuts no corners on folk art

NEW YORK – Literally translated as scissors (scheren) and cuttings (schnitte), scherenschnitte came to America with German-speaking immigrants (most from Germany, Austria and Switzerland) in the 1700s. While it was concentrated in Pennsylvania, especially Lancaster County, it spread to Virginia and other states. Typically, scherenschnitte is made by cutting a single sheet of paper, with all parts connected, into designs. These elaborate cut work pieces, including love letters, birth and family lineage records and valentines, are highly collectible.

Signed antique and vintage examples can bring over well $10,000 and private collectors as well as museums appreciate the craftsmanship and skill that goes into these works.

An important Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art cutwork/scherenschnitte valentine, made by Sarah Weaver of Rockingham County, Va., in 1856 sold for $19,000 + buyer’s premium in November 2016. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

“The focus isn’t necessarily on the motif or the decoration, but rather on the skill of the artist and the intricacy of the cuts, the addition of other cut pieces: Did they include watercolor, pin pricks, layers, etc. … ?” said Christina Westenberger, assistant manager, museum education, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Decorative elements were limited only by the artist’s imagination but certain motifs were common such as birds, hearts and flowers with fantastic beasts and creatures sometimes seen. Similar decoration styles often appear in fraktur and painted furniture, she said.

“Scherenschnitte has its roots in Germany, but it’s really important to note that the Germans weren’t the first to start cutting paper, you can find evidence of cutting paper in histories all over the world,” Westenberger said. “The Chinese invented paper and they were the first to start cutting it up. You can also find amazing cut paper coming from Poland and Mexico, and it has deep traditions in the Jewish community.  It’s really interesting to compare and contrast scissors cutting from around the world.”

In 1854, Sarah Weaver made this Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art cutwork/scherenschnitte valentine, which brought $11,000 in November 2016. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

The Guild of American Papercutters, which has a museum in Somerset, Pa., has fine examples in its collection as well as members who practice this craft today, several of whom learned the craft from grandparents. Kathy Trexel Reed, the guild’s museum coordinator, explains in an article she wrote in April for the guild’s Laurel Arts Art Link that this art form shared by German-speaking immigrants was a popular method, pre-Industrial Revolution, to commemorate births, baptisms, and marriage certificates. “Lovingly cut, these often included nature references, painted accents and evolved into ‘lacy’ paper Valentines,” she wrote. While similar in nature overall, scherenschnitte has stylistic differences based on country of origin. “Symmetry was often an important design element in Swiss work, achieved by cutting the paper while folded,” she said. “Intricate borders and themes depicting landscapes and local traditions also characterized Swiss paper cuttings. Germanic and Dutch designs tended to be more surreal personalized and romanticized.” Examples of these influences are in the guild’s permanent collection and can be viewed in regular exhibitions at Laurel Arts, where the GAP museum and home office are located.

An elaborate example, circa 1850, attributed to Beckman V. Huffman, New York, for the Milliken family, realized $1,200 in January 2017. Photo courtesy of Brunk Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

The trajectory of scherenschnitte is specifically apparent in Bethlehem, Pa., due to the city’s roots in Germanic culture and craft, notes Lindsey Jancay, director of collections and programming at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites. “The content, materials and approach are a direct reflection of the person who created them, the intended purpose and the time period in which they were made,” she said. “At Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, we have the unique opportunity to exhibit Colonial scherenschnitte silhouettes, alongside ornate Victorian valentines, next to contemporary paper-cut artworks that take the craft to a new level with custom patterns, watercolor and text. Regardless of its iteration, technique remains the heart of the art form and joins these works across centuries.”

Jeffrey Evans, co-owner of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mount Crawford, Va., said collectors are attracted to the artistic appeal and whimsical nature of scherenschnitte. Desirable decoration on these includes “folk art motifs, especially Germanic ones like distelfinks (birds), hearts, fylfots and tulips. Bright watercolor decoration adds tremendously to value, and a nicely written verse with the maker’s and recipient’s names are a big plus,” he said.

A finely executed German marriage scherenschnitte, dated 1830, with painted flowers, tulips and angels, fetched $1,000 in June 2017. Photo courtesy of Wiederseim Associates Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

“The most desirable and popular forms are the valentines. Once in a while a birth/marriage record or bookplate with a cutwork border will turn up,” he said. “You also see a good number of pictures of various types, most of which are left white with no colored embellishments. Some of these can be extremely intricate and do draw collector’s interest, many are of New England origin. But most are fairly simple and if not signed by the maker don’t bring much money.”

Buyers will seek out examples with strong folk art appeal, and which are brightly colored, signed with presentations, family provenance, and in excellent condition with no fading or missing elements, Evans said. “Collectors are especially seeking out documented Southern examples. Most of the valentines that come to market are of Pennsylvania origin. The tradition did travel with the 19th century German immigrants into the Shenandoah Valley but surviving examples from here are extremely rare and desirable.”

Jamie Shearer, vice president of Pook & Pook, Inc. in Downingtown, Penn., noted that subject, style, quality are all factors that contribute to a piece’s appeal. “Like all artwork and different mediums, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Buyers may be looking for just a certain theme, such as hearts or eagles,” he said. “As with all antiques the three most important things are condition, condition and condition. Next would be how well it is executed, the small and more refined cuttings would produce higher sales. The final thing would be bells and whistles that are added. Pen and ink accents, a date, name of artist or of a place they were from.”

A patriotic ‘Liberty 1851’ scherenschnitte sold for $1,200 in June 2015. Photo courtesy of Copake Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Steve Woodbury, a founding member and the first president of the Guild of American Papercutters, said buyers should be aware that in the 1920s and 1930s, many die-cut papercuts were produced in Germany, and sold widely. “While often referred to as ‘scherenschnitte,’ these are not ‘scissor cuts.’ They were mass-produced with a die-cut process, similar to paper doilies today. Even if ‘signed,’ they are not original scissor-cuts,” he said. Today’s laser technology can also create laser-cut “paper cuttings.”

Many early and authentic scherenschnitte works are signed and among sought after artists is Martha Ann Honeywell, Westenberger noted. “Here’s an artist who is creating tiny, intricate, multiple cuttings, with the inclusion of silk embroidery and woven paper objects to create one piece of art,” she said. “Not only is the piece brilliantly cut, but then you realize she was born without arms and cut with her teeth and her toes. And it’s not Valentines that she is cutting, she’s cutting silhouettes and biblical verses and what one might consider very traditional scherenschnitte designs such as birds and trees. If you haven’t seen her work … Wow!”

Mexican retablos: divine folk art

NEW YORK – When Spain colonized Mexico (which included parts of the American West) in the 1500s, they not only expanded their empire and reaped riches. They also introduced Roman Catholicism to the native population.

Along with crosses and rosaries, Franciscan friars imported santos retablos (sacred tablets) hand- painted devotional panels featuring sacred images. Small ones adorned portable altars, for use in travels. Larger, lavishly gilded ones backed permanent church altars.

Finely painted retablo on heavy gauge tin depicting the Christ Child as El Nino de Atocha, set in a beautifully worked tin nicho presenting a rosette in repousse on the scalloped pediment with cut and repousse adorned tendril-shaped attachments to either side, as well as hand-painted glass panels depicting leafy festoons of blossoming flowers in the frame and over the image. Sheets of patterned gold foil were placed behind the glass frame panels. The tradition of the child may be traced back to Atocha, a suburb of Madrid, following the Moors’ invasion, where pious prisoners were said to have been visited and nourished by a young boy dressed as a wandering pilgrim. Because of the miraculous nature of the child’s appearance and bountiful offerings, it is accepted that he was a manifestation of the Child Jesus. He is shown in his traditional capelet and brimmed hat, with a traveler’s staff in his left hand and a basket of bread in his right. Size: 13¼in x 6 7/8in, 19th century Mexico. Realized $500 + buyer’s premium in 2017. Image courtesy of Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Within a century, retablos evolved into small, personal sacred paintings, reflecting humankind’s age-old desire to communicate directly with the Divine. According to Gloria Fraser Giffords in Mexican Folk Retablos, early ones, executed on canvas or copper, usually featured refined images worked by academically trained artists. Depictions of the Virgin Mary, God the Father, Christ, the apostles, martyred saints, and archangels were most common. These are highly valued by collectors and museums alike.

By the early 1800s, however, devout, untrained, provincial artists painted holy images on small, inexpensive, tin-plated iron sheets. Their humble works, commissioned or made in bulk, were beloved by the poor. They not only figured publicly in prayers for abundant harvests and healings, but were also displayed in churches, shrines and private homes.

These bright, simple, stylized designs were likely copied from imported engravings, woodcuts, and church artwork. Since most of the poor could not read, holy images are characterized by what they traditionally wore, what they carried, as well as tools of their trade.

San Mateo (Saint Matthew), patron saint of accountants, tax collectors and bankers, for instance, often appears with open ledgers, quill and ink wells. Archangel Michael, patron saint of soldiers, mariners, police officers and paratroopers, battles evil with a fiery sword. Archangel Rafael, patron saint of travelers, the blind and the ailing, along with a vial of healing balm, clasps a walking staff.

A polychrome retablo, San Rafael, circa 1885, oil on tin, framed. Some rust and oxidation to the surface. Scattered minor paint loss and surface abrasions throughout. Nail holes along the upper center and lower edge, 14in x 11in. Realized $2,500 + buyer’s premium in 2013. Image courtesy John Moran Auctioneers Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

As most santo retablos were derived from copies and copies-of-copies, many eventually lost original detail or became solely decorative in nature. Few were signed. Yet certain shared technical or artistic styles suggest creation by particular families, workshops or individuals. Those primed with reddish clay or burnt-sienna paint, featuring figures with heavy-lidded eyes and finely shaped hands, for example, are known as “red bole” retablos. Those depicting simply designed Virgins in minimal pastels are commonly attributed to the anonymous “Skimpy Painter.”

This Mexican tin retablo depicting San Mateo (St. Matthew) is attributed to Agustin Barajas, also known as the ‘Skimpy Painter,’ who also embellished the beautiful composition with the saint’s name, circa 1885. Size: framed 15¼in x 12¼in. Realized $550 + buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Those depicting saints with pouty, “bee-stung lips” are commonly attributed to “Bee-Sting Lips Painter.”

Fine 19th-century Mexican folk retablo created by Concepcion Avila, also known as the Bee- Sting Lips Painter, portraying the Archangel Michael fighting the forces of evil. The retablo is fitted to a custom wood mount and wired for suspension, 10.25in x 7.125in. Realized $950 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

(Some now believe these artists were, respectively, Agustin Barajas and Concepcion Avila.)

Ex-voto folk retablos, like santos retablos, were also drawn on small tin sheets. Some, depicting soldiers, matadors or circus performers, for instance, request heavenly protection from danger. Others request specific blessings like safe stagecoach travel, healthy chickens or rain in the dry season.

Ex-votos were also commissioned by survivors who overcame life’s tribulations – anything from morning hangovers, lost love, broken farm machinery and sewing machine mishaps, to dramatic injuries or illnesses – through Divine Intervention.

Sewing Machine Mishap Ex-voto, Mexico, 1931. The narrative of this ex- apparently a bit too curious, unfortunately experienced on Nov. 4, 1931. See the central image of Ofelia getting pricked by a needle while using the sewing machine. Her mother Eulalia D. Villagomes, in a prayerful attitude on the left, invoked Our Lady of Guadalupe, depicted in detail on the right, to come to the church of Cerrito del Coatepe Harinas and bring her child to a healthy state without any suffering. In gratitude for this miracle, she dedicated this retablo. The inclusion of the sewing machine is charming and reflects the introduction of the early modern Machine Age to Mexico. Size: 12½in x 8¼in. Realized $475 + buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy of Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Each portrays the heavenly being who performed the miracle, hovering above a depiction of that event. A short narrative, often penned in regional, tricky-to-translate Spanish, follows. These unique, public tokens of gratitude were generally placed near shrines or in churches.

An unusual example, dated 1883, reveals how a man (in an impeccable gray suit), while falling from a hot air balloon 170 meters above the earth, was saved through his wife’s prayer, “invoked with true heart,” to Our Señora of San Juan (Blessed Mother Mary).

Woman at Gunpoint ex-voto, Mexico. A particularly dramatic ex-voto painted on heavy gauge tin. The composition presents a finely dressed man pointing a pistol at a woman. The ex-voto is dedicated to Santo Nino de Atocha depicted in his traditional pilgrim attire at the upper right. Size: 12¼in x 7½in. Realized $950 + buyer’s premium in 2019. Image courtesy Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Another, roughly translated, reads, “I dedicate this little retablo to Santo Nino de Atocha (Christ Child) who saved me from my husband who wanted to kill me, because evil tongues had told him gossip about me. Erminia Romero Mexico 1912.”

Since ex-votos were created by the thousands, many were traditionally discarded to make room for more. Yet scores survived. Artemis Gallery, explains Sydelle Rubin-Dienstfrey, fine art specialist and manager of its research department, currently sources them from galleries, art dealers, and private collections across the country and abroad.

“Many find their religious iconography or their folk art aesthetic appealing,” she adds. “Others find their narratives of family tragedies or expressions of gratitude for cures or good fortune intriguing. Collectors always love it when a piece has a fabulous story to tell.”

Thornton Dial watercolors noted in online auction Dec. 19

Three watercolor paintings by African American artist Thornton Dial are among the highlights of a 500-lot auction of Americana, folk art and outsider art that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Thursday, Dec. 19. Handcrafted tramp art boxes, vintage signage, baskets and quilts are just a few of the added attractions in this expansive sale.

Thornton Dial (1928-2016), ‘Lady Holds the Long Neck Bird,’ watercolor, charcoal and pencil on rag paper, 1991, 30 x 22 in. Estimate: $6,000-$7,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

’41 Harley Knucklehead revs up Jasper52 auction Oct. 10

Americana comes in many forms, from unique homemade objects to mass-produced commercial items from cultural icons. The Jasper52 Americana and Folk Art auction on Thursday, Oct. 10, will have a generous mix of both. The auction opens with an early 20th century cast-iron doorstop in the form of a monkey and quickly accelerates to an “iron hog” – a scarce 1941 Harley Davidson FL motorcycle.

1941 Harley Davidson FL, 74-cubic-inch Knucklehead OHV engine, in running order. Estimate: $70,000-$100,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.