One of the pleasures of growing up in the auction business is being able to see fine collections. However, you usually do not see what I saw this morning at John McInnis’ auction gallery in Amesbury, MA; it was a collection of collections.
Robert Rogers, a native and lifelong resident of Byfield, Massachusetts. If you know him, you may know him as “Bob”, “Tubby” or “Tiny”. He has been a staple in the Northeastern part of the Massachusetts antiquing community since the 1960’s. As sophisticated and diverse as this collection is, it holds a sense of whimsy which puts “that” smile on your face.
Sometimes collectors reach a time in their life when they decide to let it all go. His entire house was recently emptied out for the upcoming auction with 1000s of his pieces. When the truck pulled away, he was literally left with only a lamp, a table and a chair. It will be interesting to see if he starts collecting again and what he will collect. I have seen this happen a few times, and it is very hard for someone like Bob to stop when he stumbles upon another treasure.
Stoneware, early rare examples of ovoid jugs, and blue decorated jugs and crocks. One 19th century 2 gallon jug was decorated as a wonderful West Virginia wholesale druggist advertisement.
Clocks, including a David Wood tall case with the 18th c. receipt by the maker, plus a rare moon phase Seth Thomas, banjo clocks and more.
Lighting, including a rare 18th c. time capsule of sorts, a candle lantern that was removed from a New England attic by the collector himself, when opened reveals a candle that was in there for the last 200 years. There is also early American lighting through Victorian, skater’s lamps and more.
Kitchenalia, all kinds of odd contraptions such as a Boston made 19th century mechanical egg timer, that lowers eggs into boiling water and raises them out again when done as well as a large collection of yellow ware.
Doorstops, a large collection of rare examples, and many of them in fine original surface, just like a refined collector loves to find them.
Black Americana, includes a painting of a man protecting his crops from a flock of birds, some carvings and more rare doorstops.
Folk art, one of the finest carved snake canes I have ever seen as well as trade signs and much more.
The collection goes on and on, and what I noticed in the smaller collections was, that he may have one or two of a certain genre, but those few pieces are top-notch.
Being from New England, two of my favorite pieces are a circa 1852 Charlestown, Boston MA 1/4 Plate daguerreotype depicting a firefighter in dress uniform. The subject’s fire hat placed on the table reads “Bunker Hill No. 2″. D. and a wonderful decorated fire bucket with the magical date “1776”, the condition for age does not get any better than this. These buckets were hung just inside the door during Colonial times and often had a ‘valuables’ bag and bed wrench in them. People would grab their silver, and breakdown their beds to move them in the street (beds being the most treasured item of furniture). Then they would form a brigade to the nearest pond or water source and attempt to douse the fire.
Most auctions I am involved in these days have well over 200 hundred separate consignors. This is an exciting collection and a rare one owner auction, not a single piece was added from anyone else. There are no minimum bids or reserves, it is all meant to be sold. In my experience, when the items are a good and rare as they are in this collection, they will sell themselves.
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by Martin Willis
Gemr Community Manager