Witherell's holds best items for Western Design Auction

  • SACRAMENTO, California
  • /
  • April 20, 2016

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An Edward Bohlin saddle valued at $15,25000 in Western Design Auction starts April 27.
Buffalo Brewing Co.'s most famous calendar is in Witherell's Western Design Auction.

A Bohlin saddle, 1901 “Indian Maiden on Buffalo” calendar, zinc Demuth Cigar Store Indian, “Chief Joseph” stained glass and part of an 1852 presentation goblet have been held back for Witherell’s most exclusive sale, the Western Design Auction that runs from April 27 to May 11, 2016.

Western Design Auction highlights are exhibited in the entrance-way showroom to Witherell’s Old West Show in Grass Valley, Calif. May 6 and 7.

“We hold back items all year long for this auction,” said Brian Witherell, chief operating officer of the eponymous company and a featured appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow.”

“This is the highlight of our auction year, the one that’s always the most fun and exciting.”

Witherell was particularly pleased when a Nevada rancher contacted him about selling the Bohlin saddle, one Witherell had seen at Sharkey‘s Casino in Gardnerville, Nev., 20 years ago.  The elaborate, silver-decorated Bohlin was part of a promotional display at the casino.

An inscription tooled on the saddle says “Thomas W. Hintz in Tracy, California.”

This beautifully crafted Dick Dixon model with the Sharkey provenance is estimated at $15/25,000.

The image of a bare-chested Indian maiden riding a buffalo bare-back is very popular with Western aficionados. So much so, that Brian and his father, Brad, use an adjusted version of it on the cover of their book “California’s Best: Old West Art & Antiques.”

They also did an appraisal of it on “Antiques Roadshow” nearly 20 years ago. Because there also were reproductions, the original metal bars on top and bottom authenticate it.

“It is the only one we know of to survive with the metal tabs intact and the first original we have found since the show aired many years ago,” said Witherell.

Witherell also saw the William Demuth (1838-1911) Cigar Store Indian at an “Antiques Roadshow” filming 17 years ago. The life-size zinc depicts a white settler named “Capt. Jack” who disguised himself as an Indian to revenge the death of his family during the French-Indian War.

A rare zinc Cigar Store Indian by Wm. Demuth in Western Design Auction closing May 11.

The late nineteenth century zinc was exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago and is included in at least two books.

The statue is accompanied by the original cigar store log-register with a handwritten notation from 1929 stating its value at the time.

Despite flaws, the dramatic piece is in remarkable condition and zinc being more fragile than wood, few remain.

As such, it is the only example Witherell’s has been able to locate with the old surface still intact and is estimated at $8/12,000.

A large stained glass window depicting Chief Joseph, the leader of the Wallowa Nez Perce, is another exciting find that will be on the block. 

Chief Joseph led the tribe in their unsuccessful resistance to the U.S. government’s forced relocation to a reservation, which became known as the Nez Perce War.

The framed 46.5h by 72 inch wide item is valued at $3/5,000.

Probably the most historic object offered in this round, the Capt. John A. Sutter silver goblet body is a Gold Rush relic.

Originally with stem and base, the goblet was found at Sutter’s Hock Farm, the first non-Indian settlement in Sutter County and large-scale agricultural operation in Northern California. 

Sutter intended the farm for his retirement, but by the 1864-65 Gold Rush, the lack of man power forced him to give up farming. 

The body is engraved “Awarded to Capt. A. Sutter the Immortal Pioneer of California; and the Illustrious Husbandman of ‘Hock Farm’ by his Friends Warren & Son of the Agricultural Hall Sacramento City, Oct. 1852.”

With wheat and floral design, the 4 h by 5.5 inch wide goblet weighs 5 troy oz, came from the estate of Sacramento antiquarian bookseller Herb Caplin and is valued at $1/3,000.

For more information, visit www.witherells.com or call (916) 446-6490.

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