Did you ever get tempted by a sand-in-the bottle at a thrift store? You might want to check it more closely before walking away. A sand bottle by 19th-century Iowa artist Andrew Clemens sold for $800,000 in March at a Hindman American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction. The 10 1/2-inch-tall bottle was labeled “Pictured Rock Sand, Put Up By Andrew Clemens, Deaf-Mute, McGregor, Iowa” inside the bottle under the faceted stopper. The intricate sand art bottle was made five years before his death. One side depicts a coal burning locomotive stopped at a railroad station, with freight cars stretching into the distance. A single figure is seen handling a large piece of freight, with others stacked on the siding in front of a train station. The other side of the bottle is divided into two decorative panels. The top features a spread-winged eagle clutching arrows and green olive branches in its talons, and a patriotic shield and ribbon banner proclaiming E. Pluribus Unum. Below a sidewheel packet boat under a full head of steam is depicted with the name St. Paul in block lettering on the paddle box. The steamboat is set off from the rest of the bottle by a sharply delineated frame of sand grains.
This sale is the sixth time Hindman has sold a Clemens sand bottle for six figures, including the record auction price of $956,000 for the artist in September 2021.
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