MARLBOROUGH, MA – May 25, 2016 – On Saturday, June 4 at 10 AM, Skinner, Inc. will present at auction The Shaker Collection of Erhart Muller in its Marlborough, MA gallery. The auction will showcase the last of the pioneering Shaker collections to be offered to the public, along with additional Shaker objects from other private collections.
The Collection of Erhart Muller
Erhart Muller, who died at 105 years old, remained enthusiastic and passionate throughout his life about Shaker furniture and utilitarian objects and their association with the many Shakers he befriended beginning in the 1940s. Erhart and his wife, Ruth, had a broad interest in everything Shaker: furniture, woodenware, tools, textiles, baskets, and ephemera. Their keen interest was in preserving these objects along with their historical relevance; they were meticulous in caring for their collection and recognized early on the importance of preserving original Shaker finishes.
Some notable highlights in this 150-lot offering include a Canterbury Red-stained Pine Tall Chest of seven drawers (Lot 67, estimated between $30,000 and $50,000) in original condition; an Enfield, New Hampshire, diminutive Tiger and Bird’s-eye Maple, and Cherry One-drawer Table distinguished for its delicacy (Lot 70, $20,000-$30,000); and a Canterbury, New Hampshire classic Single-drawer Table on Slightly Splayed Tapering Legs (Lot 34, $20,000-$30,000) with its original red-painted surface.
Carriers and boxes were among Erhart’s favorites. Lot 43 ($30,000-$50,000) is a Bittersweet-red and Yellow-stained Oval Fixed Handle Carrier from Canterbury, New Hampshire, inscribed on the bottom “Edna Fitts, CHH Canterbury, 1860.” This carrier and an Olive Green-painted Oval Covered Box (Lot 60, $8,000-$12,000) from Mount Lebanon, New York inscribed “Presented to Emilia Joslin, March 29, 1881 by Sister Dana Brewster” were included in the exhibit “Shaker Design” at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1986. The smallest box is a brilliant Bittersweet/Red-painted Gift Box (Lot 62, $4,000-$6,000), possibly the work of Elder Joseph Johnson, Canterbury, New Hampshire, c. 1850. Arguably the rarest item in the collection is a Shaker Painted Thirteen-foot Alphabet Board from Harvard, Massachusetts (Lot 73, $15,000-$25,000). One of three known, this example beautifully shows the alphabet letters and punctuation in fluid script.
Other Private Collections
In addition to the Muller collection, Skinner is offering an additional 134 lots of Shaker furniture and utilitarian objects from other collectors including Shaker specialists Suzanne Courcier and Robert W. Wilkins. Important pieces include a Shaker Red-painted Pine Double Cupboard over Drawers from New Lebanon, New York, dated 1853 (Lot 165, $40,000-$60,000), and a beautifully-proportioned and useful Shaker Pine, Butternut, and Cherry Work Table (Lot 166, $12,000-$16,000). The simplicity in design of Shaker furniture and objects in general is timeless and fits well with the décor of today’s modern home.
Evening Lecture by Maggie Stier
Please join Skinner on Friday, June 3, at 6PM for a reception and a lecture by Maggie Stier, Erhart Muller: The Man Behind the Collection. Maggie Stier met Erhart Muller in the late 1980s when she was curator of the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts. Their shared interest in the Shakers led first to a friendship based on explorations around the Harvard Shaker Village, where Mr. Muller lived, then later to a shared project to document Muller’s Shaker collection. Stier has held museum positions at Vermont’s Shelburne Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Dartmouth’s Hood Museum. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to 508-970-3240 or email@example.com.
Previews, Catalogs, and Bidding
Previews for the auction are free and open to the public. Previews will be held in Marlborough on Wednesday, June 1 from noon to 5PM; Thursday, June 2 from noon to 5PM; and Friday, June 3 from noon to 8PM. Illustrated catalog 2898M is available from the Subscriptions Department at 508-970-3240 or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sale. The Skinner website also enables users to view all lots in the auction, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!
Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Miami, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at www.skinnerinc.com, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.