On Saturday, June 4 at 10 AM, Skinner, Inc.
will present at auction The Shaker Collection of Erhart Muller in its Marlborough, MA gallery. The auction will showcase the last of the pioneering Shaker collections to be offered to the public, along with additional Shaker objects from other private collections.
The Collection of Erhart Muller
Erhart Muller, who died at 105 years old, remained enthusiastic and passionate throughout his life about Shaker furniture and utilitarian objects and their association with the many Shakers he befriended beginning in the 1940s. Erhart and his wife, Ruth, had a broad interest in everything Shaker: furniture, woodenware, tools, textiles, baskets, and ephemera. Their keen interest was in preserving these objects along with their historical relevance; they were meticulous in caring for their collection and recognized early on the importance of preserving original Shaker finishes.
Some notable highlights in this 150-lot offering include a Canterbury Red-stained Pine Tall Chest of seven drawers (Lot 67, estimated between $30,000 and $50,000) in original condition; an Enfield, New Hampshire, diminutive Tiger and Birds-eye Maple, and Cherry One-drawer Table distinguished for its delicacy (Lot 70, $20,000-$30,000); and a Canterbury, New Hampshire classic Single-drawer Table on Slightly Splayed Tapering Legs (Lot 34, $20,000-$30,000) with its original red-painted surface.
Carriers and boxes were among Erharts favorites. Lot 43 ($30,000-$50,000) is a Bittersweet-red and Yellow-stained Oval Fixed Handle Carrier from Canterbury, New Hampshire, inscribed on the bottom Edna Fitts, CHH Canterbury, 1860. This carrier and an Olive Green-painted Oval Covered Box (Lot 60, $8,000-$12,000) from Mount Lebanon, New York inscribed Presented to Emilia Joslin, March 29, 1881 by Sister Dana Brewster were included in the exhibit Shaker Design at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1986. The smallest box is a brilliant Bittersweet/Red-painted Gift Box (Lot 62, $4,000-$6,000), possibly the work of Elder Joseph Johnson, Canterbury, New Hampshire, c. 1850. Arguably the rarest item in the collection is a Shaker Painted Thirteen-foot Alphabet Board from Harvard, Massachusetts (Lot 73, $15,000-$25,000). One of three known, this example beautifully shows the alphabet letters and punctuation in fluid script.
Other Private Collections
In addition to the Muller collection, Skinner is offering an additional 134 lots of Shaker furniture and utilitarian objects from other collectors including Shaker specialists Suzanne Courcier and Robert W. Wilkins. Important pieces include a Shaker Red-painted Pine Double Cupboard over Drawers from New Lebanon, New York, dated 1853 (Lot 165, $40,000-$60,000), and a beautifully-proportioned and useful Shaker Pine, Butternut, and Cherry Work Table (Lot 166, $12,000-$16,000). The simplicity in design of Shaker furniture and objects in general is timeless and fits well with the décor of todays modern home.