American Folk Art from the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia, lots 26-60
The Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia is steward of the premier collection of Philadelphia city history, numbering nearly 100,000 items. Many objects are important to United States history as well as to Philadelphia history, including the wampum belt given to William Penn by the Lenape tribe, personal effects from George Washington, African American Quaker dolls, and souvenirs from the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Objects from the 20th century include items from immigrant communities, home furnishings and appliances, manufacturing history, sports memorabilia, and post World War II civil rights movements. The painting collection includes the work of Thomas Birch, Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, and the Peale family. The pieces of American folk art offered for sale have been deaccessioned because they have no Philadelphia provenance and are outside the mission of the museum. Proceeds from the sale will be used for the direct care of the collection. For information concerning the exhibitions and programs of AKMP, visit www.philadelphiahistory.org.
Rudolph F. Haffenreffer, Jr. (d. 1954) was born into a family of prosperous New England beer barons. His father, Rudolph Sr., immigrated to Boston from Germany and founded the Narragansett Brewing Company in 1870. The company was sold to Falstaff Brewing Company for more than $17 million in 1965. Haffenreffer was an avid collector of cigar-store Indians, preferring to buy entire collections rather than individual items. He purchased the collection of Anthony W. Pendergast, an Illinois optometrist who was an early collector of tobacconist figures and a noted authority on the subject. In 1940, Haffenreffer acquired 42 tobacconnist figures from the collection of Dudley Waters for his King Phillip Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island. The museum included extensive holdings of Native American artifacts, which were donated to Brown University and became the basis of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. In 1956, the Narragansett Brewing Company Foundation offered Haffenreffer's cigar store Indians at Parke-Bernet galleries.
The Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia purchased many of these trade figures at the Parke-Bernet sales in 1956 and 1960. The latter of the two auctions included inventory of Helena Penrose, a New York City antiques dealer who specialized in folk art. Frederick Fried suggests that Penrose may have been the enterprising antiques dealer to convert the Admiral Dewey trade figure to a ship's figurehead (Frederick Fried Artists in Wood, (New York, 1970), p. 225). Considered to be the most important auction of trade figures, the 1956 Haffenreffer Parke-Bernet sale featured many figures that are either attributed to or associated with the workshop of Samuel Robb. (Ibid., p. 238)
PROBABLY FROM THE WORKSHOP OF SAMUEL ROBB (1851-1928), NEW YORK CITY, LATE 19TH CENTURY