Antiques

Railroad Lanterns! Arctic Expedition Souvenirs!

Learn about these and other treasures in the latest installment of our Maine antique appraisal series.

BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
antique railroad lantern
Photograph by Mark Fleming

This railroad lantern was a gift from my dad, who was an antiques dealer in Maine. — Elizabeth Schoch, Biddeford

This is a circa-1900 kerosene-fueled switch lamp, probably manufactured by R.E. Dietz, of New York, says Bruce Gamage, of Rockland’s Gamage Antiques. At the time, a railroad switch would have been manually controlled by a switchman, who used a lever to change the position of the rails and guide a train from one track to another. Outfitted with a different colored lens on each of its four sides, a switch lamp was mechanically linked to the switch, so it signaled to the conductor which way the tracks were aligned.

Gamage’s appraisal: $350–$450

The Cliffs Near "The Ovens" print
Photograph by Mark Fleming

Twenty-plus years ago, I went into a print shop in London, where I came across this print, The Cliffs Near “The Ovens.” When we had it framed here in Maine, I was told this is one in a series, and they are not all in color. — Matt Schwach, Portland

The Ovens, between Salisbury and Hulls coves in Bar Harbor, have been the subject of prints, postcards, and photographs for decades. Centuries of crashing surf have eroded the cliff faces to create caves resembling large ovens. “Your image appears to be a chromolithograph from the late 19th century depicting visitors to the Ovens at low tide,” says John Bottero, vice president of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries. “The caption and the tombstone-shaped border around the image indicate it’s either a page removed from a book or a plate taken from a folio of similar images.”

Bottero’s appraisal: $100–$200

S.S. Roosevelt keel trimming
Photograph by Cynthia Love

This piece belonged to my grandmother, Marjorie Leach Robinson, who was born on Verona Island. It measures 4 x 4 inches and is a quarter-inch thick. — Cynthia Love, Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Admiral Robert E. Peary made two Arctic expeditions on the Maine–built S.S. Roosevelt, a first in 1905 and 1906 and the history-making second in 1908 and 1909, when he wired the New York Times, “I have the Pole.” Peary’s big news was made all the bigger by the fact that just days earlier, Frederick A. Cook declared that he’d “discovered” the North Pole — almost a year ahead of Peary. Historians have favored Peary, a more experienced explorer and the designer of the Roosevelt, at the time dubbed “the strongest wooden vessel ever built.” The McKay & Dix shipyard, on Verona Island, built it for $150,000 — the equivalent of $4.3 million today. This “souvenir” is likely a trimming from the keel during the Roosevelt’s construction, Bottero says. The lettering is pyrography (wood burning), popular in the early 1900s.

Bottero’s appraisal: $600–$800

Waldo Pierce portrait
Photograph by Kirsten Hellstrom

My mother, Pamela Small, is the little girl in this Waldo Peirce portrait. It was commissioned around 1953 and painted at Peirce’s home in Searsport. — Kirsten Hellstrom, Columbus, Ohio

The son of a Bangor lumber baron, Waldo Peirce was well known for both his paintings of children and his adventurous lifestyle. He lived in Paris in the 1920s, palling around with Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Berenice Abbott, and Ernest Hemingway. His lifelong friendship with Papa contributed to his reputation as “the Hemingway of painting.” Today, his paintings sell especially well in Maine, Gamage says, and this one, measuring  22 x 30 inches, “is a great subject.”

Gamage’s appraisal: $3,000-$4,000

SUBMIT YOUR ITEM! Have a Maine-y curiosity you’d like to know more about? Send a photo and description to [email protected]mes.com and we may feature it in an upcoming column.

SEE MORE ANTIQUES

Railroad Lanterns! Arctic Expedition Souvenirs!

Learn about these and other treasures in the latest installment of our appraisal series.

BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
antique railroad lantern
Photograph by Mark Fleming

This railroad lantern was a gift from my dad, who was an antiques dealer in Maine. — Elizabeth Schoch, Biddeford

This is a circa-1900 kerosene-fueled switch lamp, probably manufactured by R.E. Dietz, of New York, says Bruce Gamage, of Rockland’s Gamage Antiques. At the time, a railroad switch would have been manually controlled by a switchman, who used a lever to change the position of the rails and guide a train from one track to another. Outfitted with a different colored lens on each of its four sides, a switch lamp was mechanically linked to the switch, so it signaled to the conductor which way the tracks were aligned.

Gamage’s appraisal: $350–$450

The Cliffs Near "The Ovens" print
Photograph by Mark Fleming

Twenty-plus years ago, I went into a print shop in London, where I came across this print, The Cliffs Near “The Ovens.” When we had it framed here in Maine, I was told this is one in a series, and they are not all in color. — Matt Schwach, Portland

The Ovens, between Salisbury and Hulls coves in Bar Harbor, have been the subject of prints, postcards, and photographs for decades. Centuries of crashing surf have eroded the cliff faces to create caves resembling large ovens. “Your image appears to be a chromolithograph from the late 19th century depicting visitors to the Ovens at low tide,” says John Bottero, vice president of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries. “The caption and the tombstone-shaped border around the image indicate it’s either a page removed from a book or a plate
taken from a folio of similar images.”

Bottero’s appraisal: $100–$200

S.S. Roosevelt keel trimming
Photograph by Cynthia Love

This piece belonged to my grandmother, Marjorie Leach Robinson, who was born on Verona Island. It measures 4 x 4 inches and is a quarter-inch thick. — Cynthia Love, Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Admiral Robert E. Peary made two Arctic expeditions on the Maine–built S.S. Roosevelt, a first in 1905 and 1906 and the history-making second in 1908 and 1909, when he wired the New York Times, “I have the Pole.” Peary’s big news was made all the bigger by the fact that just days earlier, Frederick A. Cook declared that he’d “discovered” the North Pole — almost a year ahead of Peary. Historians have favored Peary, a more experienced explorer and the designer of the Roosevelt, at the time dubbed “the strongest wooden vessel ever built.” The McKay & Dix shipyard, on Verona Island, built it for $150,000 — the equivalent of $4.3 million today. This “souvenir” is likely a trimming from the keel during the Roosevelt’s construction, Bottero says. The lettering is pyrography (wood burning), popular in the early 1900s.

Bottero’s appraisal: $600–$800

Waldo Pierce portrait
Photograph by Kirsten Hellstrom

My mother, Pamela Small, is the little girl in this Waldo Peirce portrait. It was commissioned around 1953 and painted at Peirce’s home in Searsport. — Kirsten Hellstrom, Columbus, Ohio

The son of a Bangor lumber baron, Waldo Peirce was well known for both his paintings of children and his adventurous lifestyle. He lived in Paris in the 1920s, palling around with Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Berenice Abbott, and Ernest Hemingway. His lifelong friendship with Papa contributed to his reputation as “the Hemingway of painting.” Today, his paintings sell especially well in Maine, Gamage says, and this one, measuring  22 x 30 inches, “is a great subject.”

Gamage’s appraisal: $3,000-$4,000

SUBMIT YOUR ITEM! Have a Maine-y curiosity you’d like to know more about? Send a photo and description to [email protected] and we may feature it in an upcoming column.

SEE MORE ANTIQUES


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