Paintings by Maud Lewis Lead The Way in Miller & Miller’s Successful Online Auction Held April 13th

Three vibrant and colorful paintings by the legendary Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis (1901-1970) sold for a combined $79,060, and a 19th century French Bontems caged singing bird automaton played a sweet tune for $10,030 in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd’s online Advertising, Canadiana & Historic Objects auction held April 13th.

All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.

Maud Lewis has been featured in numerous Miller & Miller auctions in recent months, always with positive results. Of the three of her paintings in this auction, the top performer was a late 1965 or early 1966 mixed media on pulpboard (beaverboard) titled Cow in Spring Meadow. It was signed “Maud Lewis” lower right and bested the $25,000 high estimate by bringing $30,680.

The other two paintings signed by Ms. Lewis were a mixed media on artist board titled Covered Bridge in Winter, which featured blue loops that almost certainly dated it to the second half of 1965 ($25,960, beating the $23,000 high estimate); and a mixed media on Masonite titled Two Deer in Winter, a serial image found only in the 1960s, that sold within estimate for $22,420.

Also sold was a group of six handwritten letters from Maud Lewis to John Kinnear, all from 1966-1967 ($9,440). Kinnear was a London, Ontario artist and friend who worked as an agent for Ms. Lewis in the late 1960s. Ms. Lewis stated in one of the letters that she had finished decorating some dustpans supplied by Mr. Kinnear. It was signed, “Maud Lewis” ($9,440).

In a related lot, a framed working pencil sketch on paper titled Alberta by A.Y. Jackson (Canadian, 1882-1974), depicting a small village with a church and low hills in the background, supplied by Jackson to John Kinnear, as suggested by Jackson’s 1967 letter to Mr. Kinnear (also offered in this sale), artist signed lower left but undated, rose to $4,425.

The circa 1885 French Bontems caged singing bird automaton was housed in a bronze cage and stood 18 ½ inches tall, with applied scenic Sevres plaques surrounding the base panels. Included was a crank-style winding key. It was mechanically functioning and made $10,030.

The auction overall was packed with 414 lots of general store items, art glass, Canadiana, advertising signs, Western collectibles, pottery and stoneware, art, and lamps and lighting. Headlining the event was the Greg Hisey Collection. Mr. Hisey’s “Ghost Town Blues” in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan was a bed and breakfast where travelers immersed themselves in the past.

Working with themes of early Western transportation, veterinary and general store, Mr. Hisey collected advertising and furnishings right out of a ghost town. Additions to the catalog were remarkable, too, including late 19th century automata, rare Canadian political posters and folk art, decorative art glass, silver, bronzes, and early lighting. East met West in this very diverse sale.

“This was an eclectic auction and performance varied by category,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Petroliana and soda advertising performed well, while niche markets such as veterinary medicine advertising were variable. We found that uncirculated, fresh to the market material performed the best. Collectors are energized by things they haven’t seen before, and their memories are sharp and long. The goat wagons and historic objects relating to early transportation languished, while key advertising soared past our expectations.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction, in which a total of 464 online bidders placed a combined total of 7,402 bids, for a gross of $478,785. Internet bidding was facilitated by and the Miller & Miller Auctions website. Of the 414 total lots up for bid, 99 percent of them were sold and 48 percent of the top 50 lots exceeded estimate.

A Canadian Gilson, Guelph Dixie “Ace” Tractors sign from the 1910s, an embossed lithographed single-sided tin sign, 13 ¾ inches by 20 inches, blew past its $5,000 high estimate to sell for $7,670. Gilson Manufacturing was a Wisconsin company that opened a plant in Guelph, Ontario in 1907. The Dixie Ace tractor was made in Guelph in 1919-1920.

A circa 1891 Conservative Party of Canada poster lithograph, encouraging voters to embrace tradition and protectionism by reelecting Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) Prime Minister, 39 ¾ inches by 26 ¼ inches (paper, less frame), featuring his official campaign slogan (“The Old Flag, The Old Policy, The Old Leader”), gaveled for $4,720, which was within estimate.

A wooden veterinary remedies store display cabinet from the 1900s for Dr. Lesure’s Famous Remedies (Keene, New Hampshire), the tin lithograph panel depicting a horse in profuse detail peering out of an oval stone opening, one of the “holy grails” in veterinary patent medicine collecting that came with the original advertising booklet, achieved $4,130.

A circa 1906 self-framed single-sided tin lithograph sign for the Hickman-Ebert Wagon Company (Owensboro, Ky.), one of the great self-framed tin signs, titled “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree”, a stunning lithographic image from the golden age of advertising, marked, “Chas. W. Shonk Co. Litho, Chicago”, 25 ½ inches by 37 ½ inches, commanded $5,900.

A 1911 bronze yacht racing trophy from the Motor Yacht Club of Germany & Austria, in the form of a dish displaying a mermaid clutching a skiff, signed “Gustav Gurschner (1873-1970) and measuring 7 inches tall by 8 inches wide, fetched triple the high estimate for $4,730.

To watch a brief YouTube video wrap-up of the auction, please click this link:

Next up for Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is a Toys auction featuring the Late Howard Meyer Legacy Collection on Friday, May 10th, followed by a Toys, Advertising & Coin-Op auction on Saturday, May 11th; then a Petroliana & Advertising Auction on Sunday, May 12th.