An oil on board painting by Canadian artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970) sold for $25,960, a circa 1865-1870 Prince Edward Island pocket watch trade sign hit $16,520 and a carved slide-top pencil box made around 1800 in Quebec realized $12,980 in an online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held on April 17 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.
All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and are inclusive of an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
The circa 1960 painting on green board by Maud Lewis was the top lot of the auction. It showed a favorite local cove of the artist, with the red-roofed Lynch House on the shore and the ferry Princess Helene entering the harbor. The Princess Helene operated between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for 30 years. The signed and framed work measured 11 inches by 13 inches (sight).
The 19th century double-sided Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island pocket watch trade sign, was marked W. N. Taunton, who operated his shop there from 1865-1900. The 16 inch in diameter trade sign had an untouched surface and showed 10:15 on one side and 11:15 on the other. It was illustrated in the book Canadian Folk Art to 1950 by John Fleming and Michael Rowan (p. 63).
The signed, slide-top pencil box from Saint-Henri-de-Levis, Quebec had the original untouched brown painted surface and was incised with the name Germain Roberge on the bottom. It was 8 ¼ inches long by 3 inches wide and was carved from a single block of pine, with deeply carved geometrics on the top and ends, while the sides had carved rosettes flanking a swirling pinwheel.
The auction was headlined by the lifetime Canadiana collection of Marty Osler, a true collector whose passion for history and the human experience was reflected in the objects he acquired. In addition to Canadiana and folk art, categories included furniture, paintings, pottery, stoneware, tools, toys and banks, architectural and nautical. In all, over 300 lots crossed the auction block.
“Despite not having a live preview due to COVID, the market response was very positive, with collectors showing their enthusiasm for great material,” said Peter Baker, an antiques dealer in Quebec who was retained by Miller & Miller to curate the auction. “It was stressful for serious collectors who were unable to handle the objects or get a sense of scale. But Marty Osler was well known for decades as a passionate and cautious buyer, so people had great trust in his eye and the objects he collected.”
Baker added, “Many objects were squirreled away in Marty’s home, seeing daylight for the first time in decades. Even family and close friends were surprised and excited to see what we found. From early burl bowls to pressed steel toys, it was an eclectic mix that showcased Marty’s broad taste for quality no matter the genre. A personal favorite of mine was the canoe cup – lot 219 – one of the earliest I have seen and complete with a mermaid carving, subtle but screaming with quality.” In summary, Baker commented, “Form, surface, provenance and rarity ruled the day.”
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. has four big auctions planned for Saturdays in May and June. These include a Petroliana & Advertising auction on May 15th, featuring the Bill McNevan collection; a Canadiana & Sporting auction on June 5th, featuring the Don and Joyce Blyth collection; a Watches & Jewels auction on June 12th and an Advertising auction on June 19th.
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auctions, please visit www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com.