This Old Thing: Butterfly Drawings Part of a Rare Book

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Q Our family collected frames that we used for family photos. A few years ago we found one at a yard sale that had a flower print on it, but when we took it apart we found this page of beautiful hand drawn butterflies underneath. The paper is old, about 25 by 20 centimeters (10 by eight inches), and looks like it was ripped from a notepad. On the back is handwritten “$45, P. Cramer”.

A. You have discovered a page from the last book of a rare four-volume set entitled “De Uitlandsche Kapellen”, published from 1779 to 1782. It contains around 400 pages of illustrations of butterflies, moths and skippers (the order of insects known as Lepidoptera). They come from Africa, Asia and America and many have now disappeared. The drawings in the book are so well done that they are considered to have the same value as an actual specimen. All of the complete books are worth several thousand dollars. The artist, Pieter Cramer (1721-1776) was a wealthy Dutch merchant and entomologist. The books were published posthumously by his entomological partner, C. Stoll. The outlines of the moths and butterflies were printed using an etched copper plate, then hand-watercoloured. The page you have is plate number 58 and is worth about $300.

Q This mechanical bank originally came with my grandfather when he emigrated from England in 1921 on his trip to Canada. Six generations have now enjoyed playing with it. The guard is 17 cm (6.75 inches) tall. It works by placing a coin on the gun barrel latch, pulling it back to set, and the head tilts down. By pressing on his right foot, the piece is thrown into the trunk of the tree. A percussion cap, placed inside the mechanism under the cheek of the guard, creates a “bang” when fired. The paint is worn from the many hands that have played with it. A base plate bears the title “Creedmoor Bank”.

Creedmoor Bank

A. J. & E. Stevens Co., of Cromwell, Connecticut, produced many of these cast iron mechanical banks, but relatively few have survived. Americans were the leaders in making these figurative toys – designed to inspire kids to save money and amuse adults. It was patented in 1877 and sold wholesale to retail stores for $10.50 per dozen. It was named after a shooting range owned by the Creedmoor family on Long Island, NY. These banks are avidly collected and rarely appear these days. The well-finished details and nominally worn paint of this original antique bank suggest a value of $750 today.

Q This painting originally belonged to my grandparents, but I discovered it in a box in my parents’ woodshed, covered in dust. This is a small oil painting of a Quebec scene signed by Jack Young. It measures 20 by 26 cm (eight by 10 inches.) I have always loved it, partly because our family is from Quebec.

Painting by Jack Young

A. Happy saving! Born in the United Kingdom, Jack Young (1894-1963) began his artistic career by studying at the Royal Victoria School of Art. You have an archetype of his favorite subject that reflects his life after settling in Montreal in 1913 — a Quebec winter landscape in the Laurentians with old houses and farmhouses. He was president of the Montreal Arts Club in the mid-1950s and also worked as a commercial artist with the Imperial Tobacco Company for about 40 years. His work does not appear often and he is not as well known in the recent art market. It’s a treasure in a collectors favorite size and subject worth around $900 today.

John Sewell is an appraiser of antiques and works of art. To submit an article to his column, go to the ‘Contact John’ page at www.johnsewellantiques.ca. Please measure your part, say when and how you got it, what you paid for, and list all identifying marks. A high resolution jpeg photo must also be included. (Only email submissions are accepted.) *Assessment values ​​are estimates only.*

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