Andrew Clemens Sand Art, ca. 1880

Value (2002) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
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GUEST:
Well, it's a... we're not really sure what to call it, but it's colored sand in a jar. And it was presented to my great-grandfather around the end of the Civil War. He was a sergeant in the Union army, I believe from New York, and they moved to Hot Springs after the Civil War and settled here. And this was a gift from two of his friends, and it's been in my family ever since.

APPRAISER:
And what do you do with it now?

GUEST:
We look at it, it sits on the bookshelf, and we enjoy it.

APPRAISER:
Do you keep it in a safe place?

GUEST:
No, we keep it high enough where my four-year-old granddaughter can't reach it.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, please do. Well, let's start with, you know, what it is. It is... it's sand in a jar. But what sand in a jar. It's an incredible piece of sand art. Let's start with who your great-grandfather was. He didn't come from New York, he came from Illinois.

GUEST:
Close enough.

APPRAISER:
And he spent most of his Civil War career in the Hot Springs, Arkansas, vicinity. The real interesting thing about this remarkable piece of sand art, though, is just what you see here. Not only is his name on it, but on the back you see this wonderful eagle with the 36-star flag. You spin it around, you see his name is written in script, there's a mortar and pestle. All of this is done with individual grains of sand. And when you flip it up, the label on the bottom says, "Pictured rock and sand by A. Clemens, deaf-mute" from McGregor, Iowa. While you were sitting back in the green room, on a whim, while I was finding out about your grandfather, I went to the internet and just typed in "McGregor, Iowa, sand." And bingo, we got a hit.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
On A. Clemens, the guy who made this. When he was five years old, he had what his family called "brain fever." And he went to the deaf-mute school in Iowa, and would come home in the summers, and he started going to this spot on the Mississippi River in McGregor, Iowa, and collecting sand, and sort of experimenting with making these bottles. He used a big fishhook, a great big oversized fishhook, and, like, a popsicle stick. And he would take the sand that he'd collect along the Mississippi River, and then he would pack it in this bottle, and manipulate it with the fishhook. He gained national fame for making these, and today, there's an exhibit on this guy at the Iowa State museum.

GUEST:
Is that right?

APPRAISER:
It is a remarkable piece of folk art. On today's market, I would guess that it's between $4,000 and $6,000 is what we'd estimate.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
It might bring more than that in the right auction-- great piece.

GUEST:
That's great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH
Appraised value (2002)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Hot Springs, AR (July 13, 2002)
Category
Folk Art
Form
Jar
Material
Glass , Sand

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