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Great Estates Thanksgiving Auction

Published in Maine Antique Digest – February 2024

By Don Johnson

Photos courtesy Amelia Jeffers

Amelia Jeffers, Delaware, Ohio

A Black Friday tradition returned to The Barn at Stratford in Delaware, Ohio, November 24 and 25 when Amelia Jeffers brought a Thanksgiving-weekend sale to the original home of Garth’s Auctions.

Amelia Jeffers (center) calls for bids during the first day of the “Great Estates” Thanksgiving auction. Clerking is her youngest daughter, Maddie Jeffers (left), while Murielle Marra takes Internet bids. Below them is a geometric hooked rug, first quarter of the 20th century, 39½" x 51", mounted on a stretcher, with some sun fading and wear, that sold for $437.

The annual sale’s revival was one thing. Possibly of greater significance is that it was the first auction since Jeffers, who has been working as an independent auctioneer for two years, took over management of existing consignments to Garth’s, which was shuttered in September (see M.A.D., December, p. 50). Some of the items in the auction had previously been consigned to Garth’s.

“I was really proud of the consignments we had garnered and that we would be back in the barn,” Jeffers said. “It feels like the start of something pretty special.” She negotiated exclusive rights to holding auctions at the venue, which is now an event center operated by the Delaware County Historical Society.

Untitled painting by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), gouache on paper, signed, dated 1963, 29½" x 43¼", lower left corner slightly bent, mounting tape at top and sides, dirt and scuffing on back, $72,000 (est. $40,000/60,000). The work was sold by Pace Gallery in 1989 for $25,000.

The Thanksgiving auction had live floor bidding on Friday, with country antiques and Americana making up much of the catalog. Saturday’s session featured a greater variety, from jewelry to mid-century modern furniture, and was originally slated to be online only. However, Jeffers made a late decision to open the barn to floor bidding as well.

The top lot was a 1963 painting by Alexander Calder that was offered during the Saturday session. Gouache on paper, signed and dated, it sold for $72,000 (including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $40,000/60,000. Measuring 29½" x 43¼", the work was previously sold by Pace Gallery of New York City in 1989 for $25,000.

“That was about where I expected it to land,” Jeffers said of bidding for the work. “I was thrilled. I felt like we got every bit of money out of the piece.”

Soucoupes Dans Le Noir by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), lithograph on paper, signed and numbered, published by Maeght in 1969, 43" x 29", $7500 (est. $4000/8000).
Storming the Castle, an etching by Roy F. Lichtenstein (1923-1997), signed, numbered 10/25, circa 1950, 11¼" x 15¼", $5625 (est. $1500/2500).

Other top lots during the second session included a Calder lithograph on paper, Soucoupes Dans Le Noir, signed and numbered, published in 1969, 43" x 29", at $7500 (est. $4000/8000); a Roy F. Lichtenstein etching, Storming the Castle, signed, circa 1950, numbered 10/25, 11¼" x 15¼", $5625 (est. $1500/2500); a Grant Wood (1891-1942) lithograph on paper, a snowy landscape with rolling hills and three horses, signed, circa 1941, from an edition of 250, 9" x 11¾", $4800 (est. $4000/8000); and a Black Forest wall-mount hat rack in oak, German, late 19th century, heavily carved with a bear, two boars, a dog, five pairs of antlers, foliage, and twigs, 58½" x 32", at $4375 (est. $800/1200).

Black Forest wall-mount hat rack, German, late 19th century, oak, heavily carved with a bear, two boars, a dog, five pairs of antlers, foliage, and twigs, 58½" x 32", edge damage, $4375 (est. $800/1200).

The hat rack drew special note from Jeffers, “It was just a great, splashy example of that category of material. A lot of time you see furniture, and this wall-mounted hat rack was an unusual thing to see.”

Two-piece paint-decorated corner cupboard in pine, probably York County, Pennsylvania, 19th century, original design with red, green, and yellow exterior and salmon interior, 76" high, $7200 (est. $4000/8000).

Receiving the highest bid on the first day was a paint-decorated corner cupboard in pine, likely having originated in York County, Pennsylvania, during the 19th century, with its original red, green, and yellow paint, the interior in salmon, 76" high, that sold for $7200 (est. $4000/8000).

“There was a time when that cupboard would have brought a lot more at auction,” Jeffers noted. “Prices have adjusted, especially for things like corner cupboards.” Describing the color and condition as “incredible,” she didn’t let the changed marketplace affect her thoughts on the final bid. “I was thrilled with the price.”

Sheraton chest of drawers attributed to Ebenezer Wheeler, Vermont, second quarter of the 19th century, birch with mahogany veneer, inlaid with sapwood and ebony, 53½" high x 47½" wide, refinished, $5937 (est. $2000/4000). The piece was attributed to Wheeler based on a sideboard of similar design at the Shelburne Museum.

Other furniture also did well, with a refinished Sheraton chest of drawers attributed to Ebenezer Wheeler, Vermont, second quarter of the 19th century, birch with mahogany veneer, inlaid with sapwood and ebony, 53½" high x 47½" wide, realizing $5937 (est. $2000/4000). 

“Three of the top ten lots were brown furniture,” said Jeffers. “That’s definitely a good sign.”

Long rifle by Daniel Marker Sr., (1774-1853), Darke County, Ohio, mid-19th century, approximately .36 caliber, carved tiger maple full stock with engraved silver inlays, engravings on the brass patch box including a folky profile of a man, possibly a Native American, double set trigger, 54" long, refinished, a crack on the stock filled with putty, $4062 (est. $2000/4000).

Also drawing considerable interest was a long rifle by Daniel Marker Sr. (1774-1853) of Darke County, Ohio, mid-19th century, approximately .36 caliber, having a carved tiger maple full stock with engraved silver inlays, the brass patch box engraved with a male profile believed to depict a Native American, 54" long, refinished, that brought $4062 (est. $2000/4000).

Mocha pitcher, English, first half of the 19th century, the multicolored banding decorated with cat’s-eye and earthworm designs, 8" high, stains, small chips, hairlines, $3480 (est. $150/300).

A variety of mocha was led by a pitcher in multicolored bands having cat’s-eye and earthworm designs, English, first half of the 19th century, 8" high, with some imperfections, that brought $3480 (est. $150/300).

The best of the artwork was a folky painting by Tella Kitchen (1902-1988), oil on canvas, signed and dated 1983, 22" x 28", that sold for $2750 (est. $1000/3000). The work depicted a brick house near a dirt road that paralleled a body of water. The stretcher was lettered “No. 162 Happy Days of Summer - Hollyhocks - grandchildren - Love and Beauty to Enjoy all around us / Tella Kitchen - April 1983 - Age 81 years.”

“Americana and folk art are very near and dear to my heart,” said Jeffers. “I’ve got a great audience for it, too.” A fair amount of that material went to floor bidders, with strong competition from the Internet. “Those online platforms are great, and they give everybody an even playing field. But we had a very high percentage of buyers in house.”

Two blown glass jars, first half of the 19th century, $2000 the pair (est. $200/400). The 9" high amber jar has a folded rim and iron pontil, wear from use, and interior residue. The 7½" high olive-green jar has a flared lip, broken pontil, and interior residue.

Following a sale in September 2022, the Thanksgiving auction was the second time Jeffers had sold from The Barn at Stratford since leaving Garth’s in 2017 and eventually starting her own auction business.

“I’ve had two years jumping back in under my own name,” she said. For this sale, however, there was an added distinction. “It was special because I had three of my four kids in town to work it. They grew up in that barn.”

Scudders-Gale cigar cutter made by Brunhoff Advertising Specialties, Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1900, cast iron with nickel and brass plating, the faceplate picturing a buffalo and lettered “Scudders-Gale / 5¢ Cigar / ‘Buffalo,’” plating wear, base cracks, 9" long, $1875 (est. $800/1200).

The auction fell under Jeffers’s “Great Estates” banner. The concept shuns specialty sales, favoring those that offer a mix of categories. That variety of merchandise encourages impulse bidding. Jeffers noted one case in which a couple planned to buy a music box but also took home a piece of jewelry. As an added benefit, the Great Estates concept eliminates the lag time that can arise as specific items trickle in for specialty sales.

With a warehouse of consignments and a solid business plan, Jeffers is as enthusiastic as ever. “It’s exciting because we’re sitting on a lot of great material, and at the same time my phone is blowing up with people wanting to sell,” she said. The exponential leap in business quickly required more help. “Overnight I blink, and now I have a staff of eight full-time and six part-time people.”

Jeffers recently told that staff, “It’s easier to ride the wave than create the wave.” There’s work to be done. “I’ve got to make it rain. And I will. And I love that. The hunt is such a fun part of it.”

Jeffers wants to build something greater, more than just a business, something special. “There’s a community to this size of an auction company,” she said. Along the way, the rally point will be the 1848 barn where Garth Oberlander first held auctions in the 1950s. For Jeffers, The Barn at Stratford is more than just a venue, it’s an icon “that will help solidify Delaware, Ohio, being a hotspot of great things.”

For more information, phone Jeffers at (740) 815-7016 or see (

Snowy landscape with three horses by Grant Wood (1891-1942), lithograph on paper, signed, circa 1941, from an edition of 250, 9" x 11¾", taped down in four spots, $4800 (est. $4000/8000).
Four-gallon jug with freehand cobalt decoration of a crested bird and vining flowers, having the impressed mark of W. Roberts of Binghamton, New York, late 19th century, 17½" high, minor glaze flakes to dots on the bird, $2160 (est. $800/1200).
Queen Anne high chest in mahogany, second half of the 18th century, 67" high x 42" wide, refinished, replaced brasses, $2400 (est. $1000/2000).
Child-size transitional Sheraton-to-Empire chest in cherry and tiger maple, second quarter of the 19th century, brass pulls, 27" high x 21½" wide, excellent condition, $1800 (est. $800/1200).
Paint-decorated trunk in pine, first quarter of the 19th century, staple hinges, 10¼" high x 20½" wide, paint wear and loss, shrinkage, missing its interior well separator, $2280 (est. $1500/2500).
Folky winterscape by Forrest K. Moses (1893-1974), oil on board, signed, dated 1968, 19" x 27", $1812 (est. $2000/4000). Forrest Moses was a son of Grandma Moses.
Twelve-tin pie safe in poplar with original red paint, second quarter of the 19th century, the tins with an unusual arched pattern, 43¾" high x 37½" wide, varnish over the paint, repair to the back edge of the top, damage to one tin, wear, loss, $1562 (est. $300/600).
Folky painting by Tella Kitchen (1902-1988), oil on canvas, signed and dated 1983, 22" x 28" (sight size), $2750 (est. $1000/3000).
Nine-drawer apothecary chest in pine, first half of the 19th century, 32½" high x 33" wide, $2520 (est. $800/1200).


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