Milestones, Monuments and Miniatures

When Amelia Jeffers raised the gavel at the September 24th Fall Auction Gallery at Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers, she marked a milestone. Exactly two years after Amelia and Jeff Jeffers, longtime owners of Garth’s in Ohio, bought the iconic Selkirk brand in September 2014, they conducted the St. Louis gallery’s 7th and most successful auction to date under their ownership.

“We came into the market at a critical time for the Selkirk brand. We did it because it was the right thing to do, although certainly not the easiest thing to do,” said Jeff Jeffers. “Thanks to the embrace of many long-time customers, the enthusiasm of new friends and a truly outstanding team in our St. Louis and Ohio offices, the progress has been steady and strong.”

St. Louis gallery director, Sarah Cunningham, noted, “The appetite for fine art, furniture of excellent form and other one-of-a-kind pieces is alive and well in St. Louis and beyond. We felt the momentum building as the auction approached, and were happy to see it culminate in very active bidding both in the gallery and remotely.”

Sculpture of St. Louis Significance

The four top-selling items were sculptures of exquisite form and significant provenance.

Two Ernest Trova sculptures each sold for more than double their high estimates. Owned by the late Faye Beth Baer O’Byrne, they were among more than 100 lots from her estate. A generous and influential figure in her St. Louis community, Mrs. O’Byrne was the widow of William T. O'Byrne, and her first husband, S. Charles Baer of the well-known Stix, Baer and Fuller department store family.

Her collection offered two sculptures by St. Louis native Ernest Trova (American, 1927-2009), whose work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Tate Gallery, among others.

Humor briefly broke through intense bidding for Trova’s 15-inch Study/Falling Man (Figure in Sphere) in stainless steel. When Amelia asked “Shall we go to twenty-five hundred dollar increments?” one bidder replied, “Thousand-dollar increments are just fine!” When the gavel fell, Falling Man brought $38,400 far exceeding the estimated $10,000 to $15,000.

Applause once again rang out to see that a St. Louis treasure had passed from one St. Louis family to another when Trova’s stainless steel Walking Jackman, the 31-inch representation of six figures, radiating from a central cube, more than doubled its $10,000 to $15,000 estimate, selling for $34,800.

The work of sculptor and real-life World War II “monuments man,” Walker Kirtland Hancock (American, 1901-1998) is also of great significance to St. Louis. Walker is recognized for his role in military intelligence and the protection of important works of European art and history during the war. He was portrayed in the 2014 movie by fellow St. Louis native John Goodman.

Walker’s bronze work Mother and Child is signed and dated "W. Hancock 1938" and bears Polich Tallix foundry mark. The 23-inches-tall figure is a woman, gazing outward with her left arm extended skyward, cradles an infant in her right arm. Once again, strong interest drove bidding far above the $6,000 to $8,000 estimate. The audience applauded as the gavel fell at a sale price of $15,600.

Though a native of Brooklyn, a particular piece by sculptor Doris Caesar (American, 1892-1971), was warmly embraced in the St. Louis gallery. Caesar’s lovely and dramatic bronze, Mädchen, a full figure nude woman with arms raised and bent over head, is signed and dated “1966.” The bronze, estimated at $7,000 to $10,000, performed beautifully, selling for $13,200.

Miniature to Monumental Furniture

Also from the Baer O’Byrne estate, were several examples of exquisitely detailed 19th century miniature antique furniture. A 16-inch-tall American Federal Breakfront Miniature in walnut, rosewood, mahogany, and bone estimated at $600 to $900 fetched $2,040. Likewise, an 11-inch-tall miniature Mahogany Chest Form Tea Caddy with hinged covered compartments, estimated at $200 to $400 brought $1,080.

In sharp contrast to the fine miniatures from the local estate, the September Gallery auction features a selection of furniture acquired from a California collection reflecting the grandeur and craftsmanship of 19th century Europe. An elaborate, lavishly carved suite of walnut Italian Renaissance bedroom furniture was among the was a favorite of bidders. The mirrored wardrobe with carvings of children, cornucopia of fruit and masterful floral carvings bore the words Salute (health) and Pace (peace). Nightstands with grey carrera marble resting over heavily carved rectangular cabinets complemented the fine, heavy carvings in high relief of the bed frame’s shapely arched headboard which bears a discreet B monogram to oval medallion at center. Individually lotted, with a combined estimate of $4,500-$7,500, they sold for $12,355. (Wardrobe for $2,375; pair of nightstands at $3,480; bedframe at $6,500.)

Enchanting Surprise

Near the conclusion of the sale, bidders on a unique Newfoundland and Labrador (1920-1940) Grenfell mixed-fiber rug raced to acquire the piece with three polar bears exploring a rocky shore. They raced past the $300 to $600 estimate, arriving at a winning sales price of $3,000.


Prices realized from Selkirk’s Fall Gallery Auction may viewed online. The Gallery is located at 4739 McPherson in the St. Louis Central West End. Selkirk is accepting quality items for its upcoming Fall Eclectic Auction on October 22, 2016 and Winter Gallery Auction on December 10, 2016. For further information regarding how to sell at Selkirk or for a valuation of your item(s), please contact or call 314.696.9041.

Media Contact: Mary Barber 314.494.6952

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