Property from the Estate of Louis Hahn, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania more than doubled its presale estimates in a two-day sale at Cowans Auctions
on November 11 and 12. The more than 800-lot auction featured the largest and most important Western Pennsylvania stoneware collection to appear at auction in recent memory, along with a collection of advertising tins, signs and store displays, painted American furniture, and folk and decorative art. The sale totaled $616,885 across the two days against a presale estimate of $277,450 and saw a remarkable 97% of lots sell.
I first ran into Louis Hahn completely by accident at an antique mall in Pittsburgh, said Wes Cowan, Hindman Vice Chair and Cowans Founder. From those first casual conversations I could tell that this was a special collection. I think Louis would be overjoyed to see so much excitement for his collection.
Western Pennsylvania was a center of stoneware production in the 19th century and the Hahn Collection contained examples of all of the major potters as well as rare examples of smaller manufacturers. The quality was not lost on collectors with the 202 lots of stoneware selling for a combined $256,909, more than two and a half times more than its presale estimate of $100,200.
The top stoneware lot was an important Ohio stoneware water cooler with patriotic eagle (Lot 98). While coolers incorporating American eagles are hardly uncommon, the graceful shape of this vessel, with its high outward flaring neck, is unique. The 21-inch cooler from the 1840s sold for $11,875.
Other notable stoneware lots included a Pennsylvania free-hand cobalt decorated four gallon crock (Lot 88) which sold for $8,320, more than ten times its estimate of $800 - $1,000; a cobalt double eagle-decorated ten gallon stoneware crock (Lot 112) which sold for $7,500 against an estimate of $2,000 - $3,000; a Pennsylvania stoneware canning jar with cobalt stars and floral decoration (Lot 101) which sold for $6,875 against a presale estimate of $1,500 - $2,500; and a five gallon stoneware churn with cobalt decoration (Lot 114) which sold for $6,875 against a presale estimate of $1,500 - $2,500.
The highest sale prices of the auction occurred on the second day of the auction when a pair of blanket chests soared past their estimates in back-to-back lots. First, an 1804 Chippendale Berks County painted pine blanket chest (Lot 732) vaulted past its $3,000 - $5,000 estimate on its way to selling for $16,640 to an online bidder. The following lot, an 1801 federal polychrome paint decorated pine three drawer blanket chest (Lot 733) sold for nearly 12 times its presale estimate of $2,000 - $4,000 when a phone bidder won the lot for $23,750.
Other lots of note:
Lot 791 - A Chinese Export carved and ebonized silk embroidery inset four panel floor screen (Est. $600 - $800) Sold for $5,760
Lot 277 Two tin brewery signs (Est. $300 - $500) Sold for $5,625
Lot 401 - A federal green painted stepback cupboard (Est. $800 - $1,200) Sold for $5,440
Lot 767 A Pennsylvania watercolor fraktur (Est. $600 - $800) Sold for $4,480
Property from the Estate of Louis Hahn was offered November 11 and 12 in a single-owner auction from Cowans Cincinnati saleroom. All bidders participated remotely via absentee bid, over the phone, or live online on one of four bidding platforms. Cowans next American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts auction will be held in March 2021. Consignments for the auction will be welcomed through the end of the year.