This insert will give you a look at some rare face vessels that havent been seen on the open market since 1999. Mr. Gordon’s collection consisted of Edgefield, SC face jugs, Black Americana pieces of pottery, and a nice focus on early North Carolina and Georgia Face Jugs to include Burlon Craig and Lanier Meaders. The John Cordon Collection Grossed over 2.7 million in sales.
John Gordon, an expert on American folk art who amassed one of the country’s finest private collections of pots, whirligigs, weather vanes and paintings, died on Oct. 25 in the Bronx. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan. Mr. Gordon, who for many years maintained a gallery on West 57th Street, was at center stage of a market that blossomed from a quiet niche into a national phenomenon of raided attics, televised antiques shows and lucrative auctions. He grew up in Philadelphia and studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, enlisting in the Signal Corps just after Pearl Harbor. In the Army he painted murals and taught art to soldiers at a camp in Missouri. After the war he gave art courses at the Philadelphia Museum. He also worked as an industrial designer for the N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency before moving to New York in the early 1950’s as an art director for McGraw-Hill magazines. It was in the Philadelphia museum’s rich American Wing that his imagination focused on artifacts like redware pottery, colored by its high iron content. He started collecting and honed his knowledge at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., where he pored over its collection of Pennsylvania folk art.
”During the early years there were no art academies in the United States and few trained artists,” he once said in an interview. ”They came out of the craft tradition, evolving from craftsman to artisan to artist. Our early art reflected a democracy at work.” In New York he collected systematically and in 1964 opened a Gallery of American Folk Art in his second-story apartment on West 57th Street. In pursuit of fine Americana, he and and his wife, Leah Shanks Gordon, drove from New England to New Mexico, Pennsylvania to California, visiting auctions, antiques shows and dealers.
In the early 1970’s he moved the John Gordon Gallery to new quarters, still on West 57th and on the second floor.
He closed the gallery in 1980 but kept buying and selling privately until 1999, when 660 items from his collection were auctioned at Christie’s. Pottery, weather vanes and painted cabinets, as well as some idiosyncratic later art, brought a total of $2.8 million. In addition to Ms. Gordon, his wife of 42 years, who operates an East Side antiques store, Mr. Gordon is survived by two sisters, Rebecca Seidman and Florence Sandler, both of Philadelphia. Mr. Gordon bought his first piece, a $3 pie plate, as an art student. In 1977 he bought a Shaker trestle table for $26,500. He watched the market for (non-Native) folk Americana spread from wealthy eccentrics, like Dr. Alfred C. Barnes, who started the Barnes Foundation, to become crowd-pleasing commmodities at public auctions. When he oversaw the installation of 1,352 lots from his own collection at Christie’s, Mr. Gordon bade farewell to an unusual nonacademic treasure of American folk art, including 38 weather vanes. ”In Europe’s Catholic countries, it’s invariably a rooster — association with Christ,” Mr. Gordon said. ”Here, name a subject, you’ve got it on a weather vane: peacocks, locomotives. I’ve got a cow jumping over the moon.”