Trash or Treasure? Sunapee Trout and a ‘Century’ Platter

Trash or Treasure? Sunapee Trout and a ‘Century’ Platter


Col—WatermanTroutQ. I have a very nice print of a “Sunapee Trout” and it has a signature by “Denton”.  Can you tell me anything about the artist and what it may be worth?
A. Sherman Foote Denton was born in 1856 in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He was a self-taught naturalist and artist, considered one of the finest natural history artists of the 19th century. He traveled widely with his father who was a geologist, professor and a lecturer. Denton was hired to work as an artist for the United States Fish Commission (precursor to United States Fish and Wildlife Service) in Washington, D.C. While there he developed and patented a method of mounting fish while preserving their natural vivid colors. The fish models were so lifelike, orders came from all over the United States from fish commissions and museums (including the Smithsonian). He mounted his own specimens and to accompany them, he painted watercolors illustrating each for the Fish Commission’s reports. It was then that the State of New York Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission hired Denton to use his talents to paint various North American species of fresh and saltwater fish, deer, lobster and pheasant. Originally painted in watercolor and signed in pencil, Denton produced 105 total including 99 fish. They appeared in the commission’s annual report which was printed in a cloth or leather bound book from 1895-1909. The prints were immensely popular, partly influenced by the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt and the evolution of the National Park System.

The market for Denton prints had a strong resurgence in the 1990’s when fly fishing became popular (again). Orvis became trendy. Movies like “A River Runs through It” added a lot to the fervor. With these influences, the prints became popular and dealers got smart coming up with a new way to sell these readily available books and began to sell the torn pages from the book as framed art.

Prints are readily available on EBay and there is a lot of availability through dealers who specialize in prints. There are certain fish which are more sought after than others. The most desirable are the Striped Bass, Bluefish, Brook Trout and the Brown Trout.  Also to consider are the species and where they originate from. These prints are more popular in the Northeast than would be in other parts of the country. Your Male Sunapee Trout with its bright colors would be at the higher end of the price range and is nicely framed. It would sell in the $250- $300 price range.

Col—WatermanPlatterQ: I have this clear glass platter I would like to know more about. Can you tell me what it is and how much it is worth?
A: Your platter is a souvenir pressed glass bread platter made in honor of the United States Centennial in 1876. There were a number of manufacturers which produced products in honor of the country’s birthday and many were sold at the Centennial Exposition which was held in Philadelphia (of course!).  Adams & Company made this platter. They originated in Pittsburgh and were in business from 1851-1891.
Pressed glass was designed for everyday use. It was durable, attractive and affordable, and most popular in the late 1800’s until the Depression—where “Depression Glass” got its name. There are plenty of people who collect “EAPG” or “Early American Pressed (or Pattern) Glass” and some patterns are highly sought after and rare.
Your platter based on overall condition would sell for between $30 and $50.  A nice piece of memorabilia to own and appreciate as we celebrate another year of the founding of our great country!

Karen Waterman is an antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, your give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to [email protected] Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.