Skinner

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Folk Art

Wildly popular, American folk art includes weathervanes, gameboards, trade signs, painted furniture, needlework, naïve portraiture, hooked rugs, tramp art, and other works by itinerant artists.

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American folk art is serious fun–so much so that even the most discerning of Americana collectors can’t resist this walk-on-the-wild-side of American antiques. Part of the appeal comes from the exhibit of raw talent in these pieces of art that were created by makers with little or no formal artistic training. Folk art is the work of country farmers, homemakers, school girls, merchants, blacksmiths, immigrant laborers, and even slaves who, with untrained hands, turned utilitarian objects into things of beauty. Inspired by their families, their work, their neighborhoods, or even their faith, this diverse group of unsung and often unknown artists all shared a need to create. And create they did,everything from weathervanes and gameboards to trade signs and carved sculpture, painted furniture, portraiture, needlework, hooked rugs, and tramp art. Today these simple homemade objects are recognized as bona fide works of art.

Skinner was among the nation’s first auction houses to fully recognize the cultural significance and raw beauty of American folk art. In fact, Skinner built its impeccable reputation as an auction house on its strong record for selling some of the country’s finest examples of American folk art. Stephen Fletcher, folk art expert and head of Skinner’s Americana department, was once the protégé of company founder and legendary folk art visionary Bob Skinner.

Under Stephen’s direction, Skinner has grown to become a major force in the sale of American folk art at auction, attracting art dealers, major collectors and institutional bidders worldwide. Skinner Americana auctions consistently achieve outstanding prices for painted folk furniture, quilts, weathervanes, and naïve portraiture. In 2011, a particularly fine unsigned 18th century folk art portrait depicting Abigail Rose of North Branford, Connecticut, brought a record $1.27 million at Skinner. This is one of only three American folk art portraits to have surpassed the million dollar mark at auction.

Skinner’s American Furniture & Decorative Arts department has overseen the sale of some of the best examples of American folk art ever brought to auction. Whether you have one great piece, or an entire collection, trust Skinner to offer it at auction. Learn about selling at Skinner.

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