SPRING CITY, PENN. — History always seems to repeat itself, and after 30 years Rhoads and Rhoads has taken advantage of the hypnotic buying mood that surrounds Thanksgiving weekend. Still, the nearly $1 million auction the firm conducted on November 29–30 surprised all. Led by the James Earle Fraser bronze “End of the Trail” with a final bid of $483,800 — five times its high estimate — the auction house was ablaze with thunderous applause and excitement. All three of Ron Rhoads auctioneers said they love days like this, and wish it could go on forever.
Signed Roman Bronze Works, #14, the 34-inch bronze is one of the most familiar images depicting the American West. Fraser’s “End of the Trail,” 1918, was created by the sculptor, who grew up in Dakota Territory, after he said “the idea occurred to me of making an Indian which represented his race reaching the end of the trail at the edge of the Pacific.” The slumped, exhausted warrior and his equally sagging horse embody the pathos of the fate of Native Americans in the face of Manifest Destiny. The sculpture, modeled in Fraser’s characteristic naturalistic Beaux-Arts style, appeared in monumental form at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and soon after in two different sized statuettes.
Friday’s session included the ephemera from the Dorrance and Groves family, with the album from TE Ranch in Cody, Wyo., selling to the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody for $4,235. Tagging along were a lot of more photos from Cody that reached $3,328.
A South Carolina round shoulder plate marched to $3,925, selling to a collector in the crowd. Jewelry from the Groves estate soared beyond the modest estimates. For example, a vintage 1905 2-carat platinum diamond ring brought $17, 545, while a J.E. Caldwell & Co. pink sapphire platinum diamond ring took $8,470, and another J.E. Caldwell piece, a platinum diamond bracelet, commanded $7,080.
Paintings by noted Western artists kept the fire burning, with Freemont Ellis’s “Threatening” going out at $35,400 and “Surprise Valley” fetching $22,990. A formal painting by James Peale, “Portrait of Anthony Groves,” fetched $11,800.
American Indian items were highly sought after in the sale. A Sioux fully beaded vest was $4,425, a Western cowgirl outfit that belonged to Charlotte Groves rose to $6,655, and a rare three-book edition of The History of the Indian Tribes of North America by J.T. Bowen closed at $15,340.
A pair of silver mounted spurs by Mark Morales, a student of Garcia, garnered $6,655, while a Plains Indian pectoral buffalo robe sold for $13,310 to a Colorado collector who intends to display it above his fireplace.
The cast iron dog that adorned the front lawn of noted antiques dealer Harvey Funderwhite for 30 years found a new home for a resounding $22,420. Oriental rugs, other Indian items, glassware, furniture and family sterling “all brought incredible prices,” said auction house co-owners Ron and Eileen Rhoads, adding, “The auction was a delight from start to finish.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For information, 610-385-4818 or www.echant.com.