Pennsylvania Compass Artist boxes make $23,000 at auction

Two painted dome lid boxes by the mysterious Compass Artist of Pennsylvania have starred at a single owner sale of Pennsylvania German folk art.

Compass artistry, so called because of its use of a mathematical compass for creating artistic effects, was popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Compass artist box
The Pennsylvania Compass Artist box in better condition sold for $15,000

The Lancaster County-based artist, whose identity has been the subject of much conjecture, is thought to have produced around 60 pieces, circa 1800, the majority of which were dome topped boxes.

The two examples at the Pennsylvania auction on October 27, both bearing floral designs, sold for $15,000 and $8,000, respectively. They had come to auction with a combined estimate of $20,000.

Both painted in the commonly found Prussian Blue, the difference in price can be attributed to the superior condition of the more valuable piece.

A similar single box by the artist sold for $42,000 with the same auction house in 2009.

The boxes were one of several standout items from the collection of Paul and Rita Flack.

"Numerous objects came from local families, who Paul had been acquainted with for many years," said the auction house prior to the sale.

"Always involved in the historic community, the Flacks contributed significantly to local exhibits, lectures, and various publications."

Jonas Weber box
A circa 1840 Jonas Weber painted pine dresser box more than doubled its estimate

Also featuring was a circa 1840 Jonas Weber painted pine dresser box, which sold for $38,000, trouncing its $15,000 high estimate.

An Oley, Berks County dower chest made $24,000, just below its $35,000 high valuation.

View Paul Fraser Collectibles' English antique furniture for sale here.

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