High Peaks Dot Blanchard’s Adirondack Sale

Emilee Geist

Auction Action In Potsdam, N.Y. POTSDAM, N.Y. – Blanchard’s Auction Service has been a dominant player in the rustic furniture market for years, with its annual Adirondack sale a fixture in the firm’s annual calendar. This year, as it was in August 2020, the sale was conducted online from the […]

Auction Action In Potsdam, N.Y.

POTSDAM, N.Y. – Blanchard’s Auction Service has been a dominant player in the rustic furniture market for years, with its annual Adirondack sale a fixture in the firm’s annual calendar. This year, as it was in August 2020, the sale was conducted online from the auction house gallery rather than at the Saranac Lake ski lodge it auctioned from for nearly 15 years. Without the spatial constraints of outdoor tents or lodge interiors, Blanchard’s expanded the sale, offering nearly 625 lots compared to the 400-500 lots he usually puts up. All of the lots offered sold – a strategy Kip Blanchard purposefully targets with realistic, even conservative estimates.

Blanchard was upbeat when we spoke to him a few days after the sale. “We were excited, and it was a great sale. Most of the sale sold to clients within our mailing list who we’ve done business with for a number of years. Even though it’s Adirondack, it’s the kind of thing you find in Western lodges or in homes in the mountains up and down the East Coast, so our buyers aren’t local, and being online only broadens our reach. We had the greatest number of registered bidders that we’ve ever had – from 47 different states and ten countries – and 220 unique buyers.”

Arguably one of the most significant parts of the sale were nearly three dozen lots from the collection of Ralph Kylloe, author and expert on rustic furniture and the former owner and proprietor of the Kylloe Gallery at Lake George; once Kylloe retired a few years ago, Blanchard’s handled pieces from his gallery. Works from Kylloe’s collection included Aurora lamps, carved animals and Adirondack baskets, but it was his rustic furniture that really attracted bidders, including the top lot in the sale, a writing desk with gallery made around 1914 by Old Hickory that sold for $17,700. Not only was the desk included in Kylloe’s book, The Old Hickory Furniture Book, but it had been his personal desk and part of his collection for more than 25 years. Kip Blanchard said there had been lots of interest in the piece and confirmed that it had been purchased by a collector in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks. When asked if it was a record price for Old Hickory furniture, Blanchard said he didn’t know, only that it was the highest price the firm has ever realized.

Other Old Hickory furniture pieces in Kylloe’s collection included an oval dining table that made $1,620 and a twin bed at $780. His collection featured four lamps, including two Aurora Handcraft hammered copper table lamps that sold well above expectations, bringing $3,600 and $2,940, respectively. Rustic pieces by Michael Hutton featured small tables and small furnishings like mirrors, magazine holders, a birdhouse and a wall pocket.

Furniture and decorative pieces by Barney Bellinger were hot and the sale featured more than a dozen works by him, all from a lake home in Minnesota whose owner had commissioned the pieces directly from Bellinger. Leading works by Bellinger were an Adirondack sofa table that had been custom-made in 2002 for a Minnesota lake home and depicted on its front rail a small oil painting depicting a guide boat. The table sold to a collector in Stockbridge, Mass., for $6,120. A painting of a rainbow trout in a Bellinger frame had been featured in Kylloe’s book, Rustic Artistry for the Home, in which it was shown on an easel in Bellinger’s studio. Bidders fought hard for the piece, but one finally reeled it in, for $5,760. A Bellinger writing desk custom made with painted backsplash and vintage guide boat yoke legs sailed to $3,960. Three end stands with fish decoration were offered separately and brought $3,720, 3,600 and $3,960, respectively.

Bringing the most in the fine art category was “Four Seasons” by George William Whitaker (American, 1840-1916), a tonalist landscape painter who was the first instructor of oil painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. The same Stockbridge, Mass., collector who bought the Bellinger sofa table paid $6,120 for the four-panel painting in its original frame. An oil on board painting of a whitetail deer by Ned Smith leaped to $2,460 and a painting of Mount Marcy with a waterfall in the foreground and an illegible artist’s signature made a splash at $2,220, nearly four times its high estimate.

It would be hard to envision an Adirondack sale without a canoe, and the auction had ten on offer, led by a rare “A” grade Rushton 15-foot white cedar and cherry Indian girl canoe that had been in the same North Country family for years and dated to about 1910. The canoe had been restored by Everett Smith of Canton, N.Y., with little use since its restoration; it finished at $4,680. Full size canoes ran in price from $870 for a 12-foot-long Stalek Canoe cedar strip canoe to $3,720 for a 13-foot Rushton Ontario #8 model.

“Boats in the sale were some of the best buys,” Blanchard said. We had ten boats in the sale, and they are going to ten different states.”

Hunting and fishing are part of the Adirondack lifestyle so, naturally, the sale included lots related to those pursuits as well. A carved walnut Black Forest deer head with real whitetail deer antlers mounted to a carved plaque leaped past its estimate to finish at $3,840 with taxidermy examples of everything from black bear ($2,100), elk ($1,080), big horn sheep ($900) to red fox ($630), Northern Pike ($600), and fallow deer ($450). Nearly 50 lots of duck and swan decoys populated the sale, as did numerous lots of fishing rods, reels, creels and nets.

A few years ago, Blanchard’s got good money for a few totem poles from the Totem Camp in Harrisville, N.Y., which had belonged to the Smith Family of Smith-Corona typewriter and LC Smith shotgun fame. Kip Blanchard said he got a call from a woman about a year ago saying she was from that family, that she still had one pole, and would he like to sell it? Fast forward a year and Blanchard’s offered the remaining Totem Camp pole, which stood 80 inches tall. Blanchard said it was purchased by one of the buyers who had bought a Totem Camp pole a few years earlier, for $2,880.

Blanchard’s next Adirondack auction will take place Columbus Day weekend and will feature more pieces from Ralph Kylloe’s collection.

Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.

For additional information, www.blandardsauctionservice.com or 315-265-5070.

LEAD 1 Old Hickory Desk

Number one was number one! The first lot in the sale was this Old Hickory writing desk with gallery that finished in first place, bringing $17,700 from a private collector who has a house in the Adirondacks. Driving interest was the fact that it had been in Ralph Kylloe’s personal collection for more than 25 years and was illustrated in his book, “The History of the Old Chair Company.” It was accompanied by a chair and a copy of Kylloe’s book ($2/4,000).

32 Barney Bellinger Sofa Table

Bringing the second highest price in the sale was this custom-made Adirondack sofa table made by Barney Bellinger in 2002 for a Minnesota Lake house. A private collector in Stockbridge, Mass., won it for $6,120 ($6/12,000).

100 GW Whitaker Four Seasons

Kip Blanchard admitted the estimate on George W. Whitaker’s (1840-1916) “Four Seasons” was high, but it had provenance to former New York Governor John Alden Dix and had been professionally restored. It sold to a private collector in Stockbridge, Mass., for $6,120 ($5/10,000).

175 Barney Bellinger Rainbow Trout

This exact painting was illustrated in Ralph Kylloe’s book Rustic Artistry for the Home, where it was shown on an easel in Barney Bellinger’s art studio. It came from the Minnesota Lake House and sold for $5,760 ($3/6,000).

52 Art Deco Jukebox

This Art Deco Rock-Ola jukebox from 1939 came from a Sackets Harbor, N.Y., estate and sold to a buyer in Chazy Lake, N.Y., for $5,160. It was in restored working condition and had music from the period ($2,5/5,000).

204 Rushton Canoe

This grade A Rushton 15-foot canoe dated to circa 1910 and had been owned by the same North Country family for many years. Made from white cedar and cherry, it had a painted canvas exterior and had won an award in the 1987 Rushton canoe race. A buyer from Brooklyn, N.Y., bid it to $4,680 ($2,5/5,000).

300 MCM Danish Rosewood Sideboard

“It is nice to have a few ‘out-of-category’ things,” Kip Blanchard said, in reference to this Danish Midcentury Modern rosewood sideboard that had come from a local professor’s house. It sold to a buyer in New York’s Thousand Islands, for 4,440 ($750-$1,500).

401 Running Horse WV

This mid-Nineteenth Century riveted sheet metal running horse weathervane measured 35 inches long and had been found in a barn in Gloversville, N.Y. It ran to $4,320 ($400/800).

31 Barney Bellinger Custom Writing Desk

Barney Bellinger made this writing desk using four vintage guideboat yoke legs, with a backsplash depicting a camping scene with guideboats and tents at Lewey Lake, N.Y. It sold for $3,960 ($5/7,500).

178 Barney Bellinger Adirondack End Stand

There were three Adirondack end stands by Barney Bellinger in the sale. This one had a fishing motif with salmon on the front and did $3,960 ($2/4,000).

117 Blackforest Deerhead

This circa 1890s carved walnut Black Forest deer head was embellished with real whitetail deer antlers and brought $3,840 ($750-$1,500).

15 Aurora copper table lamp

This Aurora handcrafted hammered copper table lamp had been in the collection of Ralph Kylloe. It sold for $3,600 ($300/600).

170 Stickley Prairie Settle

This Stickley Prairie paneled settle, made from quartersawn oak and measuring 7 feet long, brought $3,360 ($600-$1,200).

101 Gus Rogers hen

This Gus Rogers hen whistler duck decoy was carved in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and flew to $3,120 ($500-$1,000).

10 Totem Pole

A Washington, DC, totem pole collector paid $2,880 for this Northwest Indian carved totem pole from the Totem Camp in Harrisville, N.Y. ($1,5/3,000).

434 Navajo Yei rug

Thirty Navajo and Oriental rugs were in the sale. This Navajo Yei rug with five figures measured 40 by 48 inches and brought the most, $2,460 ($250/500).

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