19th-Century Folk Art Horse & Rider
Appraised Value: $40,000 - $60,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:16)
C. Wesley Cowan
Arms & Militaria, Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
GUEST: He was carved by a farmer in Iowa about 1864. And the carver was an elderly man, but he had a favorite mare, and at noontime, when they brought the animals in to feed, he would sit out in the feed yard, and he used that mare as his model and carved the horse. I bought it from the grandson of the man that had carved it.
APPRAISER: Now, do you know where in Iowa and the name of the gentleman?
GUEST: I believe the gentleman's name was Christian Anderson.
APPRAISER: Christian Anderson and somewhere in Iowa, and you think 1864. Now, who do you think this is astride the mare?
GUEST: Ulysses S. Grant.
APPRAISER: It sure looks like that to me. When you look at his face, you see that great beard, it sure looks like it could be Ulysses S. Grant. You think that it was carved in '64. I would guess that if it's Grant, it would have been carved in either '68 or '72 when he was running for president, because this is what he was wearing-- his stovepipe hat, during that campaign era. And my guess is that it might be a little bit later than '64. '64-- he was still a general, and he would have his Civil War uniform on. Regardless, we're talking about a fantastic piece of American folk art. All solid carved wood. The mane is human hair-- I don't know if you noticed that-- and the tail is horsehair. It's much coarser. His clothes are a little tattered and a little shredded. But you know what? That doesn't make a bit of difference. Everything about this is fabulous. You said when you bought it, it had a little leather bridle that was running through his hands. Because I notice there are a couple holes here. So when you got it, his hands were...
GUEST: Held the reins.
APPRAISER: Okay, one thing that I think we both noticed was that there's a shadow of where a saddle used to be. It's a little lighter here, so there was some sort of a saddle on there, but it was not there when you bought it, correct?
GUEST: I asked him to look for it, and I know he did.
APPRAISER: It's a shame it doesn't have the saddle, but it doesn't really make that much of a difference.
GUEST: Well, when I bought this, I bought the horse first, and then he said, "Oh, there was a rider that used to go with that."
APPRAISER: You're kidding me. So you bought this, and then how long did it take for him to find...
GUEST: About two days.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for it, do you remember?
GUEST: Seven dollars and 50 cents.
APPRAISER: When did you get it?
GUEST: About 1962.
APPRAISER: '62, you bought it for $7.50. I wish I could find something like this for $7.50.
GUEST: I saw a similar thing but not quite the same quality at an antique show maybe 20, 25 years ago, and I think they wanted 2,500.
APPRAISER: Twenty years ago, 2,500 would have been cheap for this. I did a lot of polling from a number of people here, and we all just were shaking about this piece. A fair auction estimate for this would be somewhere between $40,000 to $60,000.
APPRAISER: And I think that there's a very good chance it could sail past $60,000 if you had the right people bidding.
GUEST: Well, my kids are going to fight over it now.
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