Native American inlaid trade axe pipe believed to belong to the Shawnee chief and warrior Tecumseh, $41,000 (£32,300) at Amelia Jeffers’ sale of the Bruce and Vivalyn Knight collection.

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The two-day sale was conducted from January 5-6 in Delaware, Ohio under the banner of local auctioneer and appraiser Amelia Jeffers (20% buyers premium).

Distinctive for its German silver and brass inlay and curly maple handle, this tomahawk pipe – an ingenious combination of weapon and smoking pipe used in trade and diplomatic agreements between the white settlers and the Native tribes – is thought to have been taken from Tecumseh during a council meeting in Springfield, Ohio, on June 24, 1807. The episode is related in John Sugden’s biography Tecumseh, A Life (1998).

Tecumseh, born at a time when the far-flung Shawnees were reuniting in their Ohio homeland, promoted resistance to the western expansion of the US. On the basis that ‘your enemy’s enemy is your friend’, he died fighting for the British in the War of 1812 at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813.

Bought back

This was a piece of some personal significance to Bruce Knight. While a young dealer in the late 1960s he had bought it from a home in Springfield, sold it quickly to another dealer and had to wait until 2002 to buy it back. This time out it had an estimate of $2500-3500 but hammered for $41,000 (£32,300).

Knight was the man who put Springfield on the antiques map. He founded the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market, which became one of the largest of its kind in the country, and the Heart of Ohio antiques centre that is still the biggest in the US.

British folk connection


English mocha ware cider jug with tulip decoration, $6250 (£4900) at Amelia Jeffers.

Most categories of folk art were represented in the Knight collection.

It included, for example, more than 20 pieces of early 19th century English mocha ware. Several choice pieces brought four-figure sums with a 7in cider jug hammering for $6250 (£4920), close to double the top estimate. The decoration included a central band of iron red with a slip-trailed stylised tulip.


English mocha ware cider jug with tulip decoration, $6250 (£4900) at Amelia Jeffers.

Also popular was a simple child’s mug with the name Ann to a deep tan band and a jug with bands of decoration including earthworm and cat’s eye. They took $2400 (£1900) and $1800 (£1400) respectively.

A group of 19th century British livestock oils featured three canvases by or attributed to the Worcestershire painter Richard Whitford (fl.1854-87). All had been bought by Knight at auctions held by Leominster firm Brightwells and its former incarnation Russell, Baldwin & Bright.

Based primarily in the Cotswolds, many of Whitford’s pictures are of sheep. He seems to have travelled to the annual livestock shows all over the country, often painting the local gentry standing proudly beside their prize-winning animals.


Three prize-winning sheep in a pasture by Richard Whitford, $14,000 (£11,000) at Amelia Jeffers.

Offered here at $8000-12,000 and sold at $14,000 (£11,000) was a 2ft 1in x 2ft 6in depiction of three sheep in a pasture dated 1863 and titled 1st Prize & Silver Medal, London, Xmas, 1862.


Portrait of a prize bull attributed to Richard Whitford, $9000 (£7100) at Amelia Jeffers.

A slightly smaller portrait of a prize bull, unsigned by but attributed to Whitford, hammered for $9000 (£7100) against an estimate of $1000-1500 despite some patched repairs. The composition showed the prize beast standing four-square near a lake with a sailboat in the background.