The Reverend Hartwell Family Collection Goes Up For Bid At Turner Auctions + Appraisals On November 18

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Online Auction Features 150 Lots, with a Focus on China

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 6, 2023 – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to present the Collection of the Reverend Charles Hartwell Family on Saturday, November 18, 2023. Offering 150 lots, the sale features a wide array of items, mostly from 19th-century China, including artworks, furniture, decorative arts, prayer beads, jewelry, books, clothing, textiles, family memorabilia, and more. Auction highlights include a Chinese lavender-blue ovoid vase, a pair of bowls with eight horses of Wang Mu, and a 19th-century ancestral tablet. Several items from other collectors round out the sale.

The sale’s items come from the family of Reverend Charles Hartwell, Congregational missionaries and philanthropists in Foochow (Fuzhou), China from the 1850s-1930s. Passed down through many generations, the family members’ items in this auction include Rev. Charles Hartwell (1825-1905) and Lucy Estabrook Stearns Hartwell (1827-1883); and their children Charles Stearns Hartwell (1855-1931), Emily Susan Hartwell (1859-1951), and Carrie Amelia Hartwell Tupper (1864-1959). 

Furniture items in the sale include armchairs and dining chairs, a curio shelf, cupboard panels, and carved mirrors. Among the artworks are Chinese paintings on paper, ancestor portraits, scroll and miniature pith paintings; several Japanese woodblock prints; and works by Emily Susan Hartwell and Neil Meitzler. From Japan are several woodblock prints, an art pottery vase, and Imari items. Many decorative arts are on offer, such as cloisonné, glazed, porcelain, celadon, and bronze vases; bronze vessels, beakers, censers, and libation cups; snuff bottles; decorative and carved stone objects; polychrome and terracotta figures; porcelain bowls and ginger jars; boxes of burl root, lacquer, and porcelain; gilt lacquered temple figures; a silk fan; metal tea caddies; several lamps; and blue and white dishes.

There is also an array of Chinese clothing and textiles: embroidery of gold thread dragon, silk collars and panels; a table runner; a fan; a man’s court robe, a silk short coat; and more. Of note are a selection of high-heeled and lotus shoes, including a booklet on Chinese foot binding made by a Hartwell family member to discourage the practice. Lotus shoes were worn by women in China who had bound feet – a very painful tradition that lasted nearly a thousand years, ending only around the 1950s. Books and publications include ones on Chinese art, textiles, and ceramics; Japanese sculpture; Asian art and rugs; and a signed copy of Baghdad by the Bay by Herb Caen. There are several lots of prayer beads and jewelry of jade, bone, hardstone, silver and/or metal. Family memorabilia includes a Charles Hartwell family archive, a Chinese stamp collection, and 19th-century photographs of China and England.

About The Hartwell Family

Charles Hartwell (1825-1905) was born in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He was a graduate of Amherst College and studied at the Theological Seminary at East Windsor, Connecticut. Ordained as a Congregational minister in 1852, Hartwell was appointed by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.), as a missionary to China in Foochow (Fuzhou), a Fukien Province city located across the Taiwan Strait from Taipei. He soon set sail for his new post, arriving in 1853 with his wife Lucy Estabrook Stearns (1827-1883), a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and an assistant teacher at Wheaton Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts. Their trip to China was a lengthy one that Lucy chronicled extensively: with just five other passengers, they sailed aboard the Talbot from the East Coast around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to China, a voyage that took five months!

After Lucy Stearns’ death, Hartwell married Hannah Louisa Plympton Peet (1823-1908), the widow of fellow American Board missionary Reverend L. B. Peet. Reverend Hartwell’s work and connections to China continued until his death and were carried on by his children, all born in China: Charles Stearns Hartwell (1855-1931), diplomat, Sinologist, and educator; Emily Susan Hartwell (1859-1951), and Carrie Amelia Hartwell Tupper (1864-1959). 

Emily Susan Hartwell in particular carried on the family tradition of good works and service to others. Born in China and educated in the U.S., she graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, then returned to her birthplace of Foochow, China. After the death of her mother in 1883, she returned to her birthplace to be with her father. There she became a teacher at Foochow College, teaching English for 20 years and expanding her impact on the local community. Miss Hartwell’s indomitable spirit, work, and commitment through the years focused on feeding, clothing, and teaching both boys and girls – and this during a time when, as a patriarchal society, China continued to value boys more than girls. Her efforts for children in need included starting an orphanage, an agricultural school, and an industrial school for girls, which focused on skills to foster self-sufficiency, such as carpentry, masonry, and weaving. 

Emily Susan lived in China during tumultuous and perilous times – including the Boxer Rebellion, anti-Christian and Communist uprisings, and the war with Japan. However, her enthusiasm and commitment to her work never flagged. In 1918, at the request of the Governor of Fukien Province, she was honored with The Order of the Golden Grain (The Order of Chia-ho), an award instituted in 1912 by President Yuan Shi-kai for outstanding civil or military achievement. Presented by the President of the Republic of China, Xu Shichang, she was one of only 10 awardees – Albert I, the King of Belgium, and U.S. General John J. Pershing among them – and the only woman. Miss Hartwell continued her philanthropy work in China until the Sino-Japanese War forced her to evacuate in 1938. There, back in America, she continued her fundraising efforts for the Wheaton Hall orphanage and school for girls she founded near Foochow and speaking out about causes she embraced. She passed away in 1951. 

The Hartwell family were not collectors, per se: as a missionary family, the accumulation of personal wealth was not a priority. Instead, most items in their collection were bestowed as gifts from grateful recipients of their efforts and service; these were honored with appreciation and care by the family through the generations. With most items returning to America around 1900 during a period of unrest, the Hartwell collection was passed down the family line over the years, cherished along the way. Today, the collection has been safeguarded by Hartwell and Edmund Bressler, the great-great-grandsons of Charles and Lucy Hartwell. While the brothers still had a connection with the family’s China past through their great-grandmother Carrie, who died in 1959, their children and grandchildren do not have any relationship or memories of these long-passed relatives. Although the family has kept some possessions, many items are now going to auction, as the engaging history of past generations has drifted away and become more removed, and smaller homes with limited storage become the norm. With this in mind, the Hartwell family is pleased to offer many historical items that the family has treasured through the years, in hopes that others will find great interest, appreciation, and value in them as well.

Here are some highlights of the upcoming online sale (please see lot details in the online catalog):  

Lot 32:  Chinese Lavender-Blue Ovoid Vase. 18th/19th Century. The pale blue vase with three ear handles; six-character underglaze blue Yongzheng mark on base. 11 1/2in h. Good condition. Together with a Hartwell family photograph (undated; c. 1910s), showing the vase displayed with other gifts presented to Emily Susan Hartwell by Governor Sah; and a 1974 appraisal letter to Hartwell’s niece, Emily Hartwell Tupper. Estimate $1,000-$1,500. 

"Brought from China by Emily Hartwell, were a gift to her from a Chinese." Estimate $1,000-$1,500. 
“Brought from China by Emily Hartwell, were a gift to her from a Chinese.” Estimate $1,000-$1,500. 

Lot 42:  Pair of Bowls with Eight Horses of Wang Mu. Each bowl with hand-colored glaze depictions of the steeds in various postures, each having different color bodies and manes; blue seal mark on bases. 2 1/2in h x 5 1/4in diam. Condition: One is good; one with a small rim chip and 3/4-in hairline crack extending down from rim. Together with a Hartwell family snapshot showing the bowls together on a table (c. 1970s); and a family note that reads: “Brought from China by Emily Hartwell, were a gift to her from a Chinese.” Estimate $1,000-$1,500. 

Lot 52:  Chinese Foot Binding Booklet, Lotus Shoe, and Wood Form. The paper booklet was made by a member of the Hartwell family; it consists of three photo-illustrated plates with captions glued verso (wrap ties missing); accompanied by a 4 1/2 x 6in photograph of a subject shown in one of the plates, and a 1973 article on foot binding. Together with a single vintage embroidered red silk wedding/occasion lotus shoe with lacing at back (footbed 5 1/2in); a carved wood lotus foot form; and three assorted lotus shoe heel pieces. Estimate $100-$200. 

Lot 103:  Chinese Blue Dragon Decorated Covered Vessel. c. 18th/19th Century. The turquoise blue glazed bowl/vase with blue line dragon decoration; the base with underglaze impressed a six-character double ring mark. Height approx. 6in; circumference approx. 30 1/2in. With carved wood lid, central carved nephrite medallion; and carved wood stand; in fitted box. Good condition. Estimate $600-$800. 

Lot 14:  A Carved Wood Gilt and Red-Painted Chinese Ancestral Tablet, 19th Century. 18in tall with stand. Included is a family note which explains the tablet was “given to Mrs. Charles Hartwell by a woman living on the premises which she had purchased for S.(?) 1885.” Another note indicates the piece was loaned for five years in the 1940s to the University of Washington. This note identifies the tablet as representing the two wives (Chiu and Liu) of the dead father of an official, Chua Mao. This is in contrast to the previous note, which states it is the tablet of the giver’s mother, who was classed as a literary person. Estimate $800-$1,200. 

Lot 95: Mayuyama, Seventy Years (2 Vols.), with letter. MAYUYAMA, JUNKICHI. Mayuyama, Seventy Years. Vol. I and II. Tokyo: Mayayuma & Co., LTD., 1976. First edition. Large 4to. Gray cloth boards. English/Japanese. Vol. I: 14 color plates; 1446 monochrome plates. Vol. II: 14 color plates; 677 monochrome plates. Condition: Very Good; lacking slipcase; light soiling/staining to cloth; ends of spines bumped, tiny tear at head of one spine; light toning, mostly to margins/edges.  TOGETHER WITH: Mayuma & Co. letterhead TLS from Junkichi Mayuyama to 

E. H. (Emily Hartwell) Tupper dated 1st May 1976. The letter accompanied the two-volume edition produced specially for clients of the preeminent Tokyo art gallery (founded in 1906); 11 1/4in x 8 1/2in; two folds; good/clean condition. Also included are the printed “With Compliments” card from the gallery, and the 1976 Japanese Customs Declaration Card. Tupper, daughter Carrie Amelia Hartwell Tupper, was the Curator of Textiles (1966-1972) for the Seattle Art Museum and authored museum publications. Note: Some of Tupper’s notes are also included in the back of Vol. II. Estimate $800-$1,200. 

Lot 145:  Manchu Man’s Dragon Brocade Court Robe, c. Early 20th Century. The semiformal court robe of blue silk brocade with contrasting sleeve segments; overlap closure with metal buttons; cuffs lined in blue silk; blue silk border lining inside; open shoulders, chest approx. 24in, length approx. 55in. Condition: Overall, very good; blue staining of brocade at bottom of robe, and scattered soiling. Estimate $500-$700. 

Lot 10: Charles Hartwell Family Archive [China]: Family Photographs / Ephemera, 1850s-1930s. A collection from the Hartwell family descendants, consisting of cabinet cards, cartes de visite, and various other portraits of the Hartwells, several China photographs, and assorted ephemera relating to the family’s history/works, including material by/concerning Hartwell’s daughter, Emily Susan Hartwell, a noted philanthropist, educator, and artist; approx. 60 pieces total. Estimate $600-$800. 

Lot 47:  Two Chinese Gilt Lacquered Temple Figural Groups. One group depicting a seated woman with a fan, being attended to by a man with a vessel, both overlooked by an owl in a tree; the other with a flowing bearded man with pointed raised arm, and woman carrying a basket of flowers. Tallest group, 10 5/8in. Estimate $300-$500. 

Lot 41: Chinese Ceramic Mythical Beast Figure. The white-painted mythical creature with a dragon-like face, a single horn, holes in its ears, diagonal stripes across its body, and cloven feet; marked on base; 4 14in h x 5 1/2in l. Condition: Old repairs to all the legs. On a wood stand, in a fitted silk-lined box. Estimate $400-$600. 

Lot 11:  Chinese Stamp Album, with Ephemera, 1920s-1930s. Chinese Postal History, 20th Century. A silk brocade commemorative postal stamp album, c. 1929. 7 1/2in x 11 1/2in. The album includes a color-illustrated frontispiece featuring the mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925). The album consists of four leaves, each with a four-stamp set of the 1929 Sun Yat-sen mausoleum series (adhered to the page). One set is plain, and the other sets are overstamped, indicating different provinces. Very Good condition. Estimate $300-$500. 

Lot 78:  Chinese Porcelain Floral Bowl, Late 19th Century. The bowl with pink vining flowers on orange-red ground, the center interior with circular bands of pattern; unmarked. 4in h x 8in diam. Condition: overall good; three very faint/slight hairline cracks at rim. Estimate $200-$400. 

Lot 39:  Chinese Burl Root Lidded Box on Stand. The box formed of a natural root with shaped legs, and a decoratively carved wood lid; with a natural form wood stand. Total 8in h. Condition: the box with breaks, losses, and old repairs; the lid with an old break/repair. Estimate $100-$150. 

Lot 123:  Chinese Jade, Bone and Hardstone Objects. Comprising a carved jade bird motif pendant with chain, a hardstone bi disk spinning prayer wheel, bone bookmark and nail grooming tool; diameters: 2 ¼ and 2 1/2in, lengths: 3/8in. Estimate $200-$300. 



Based in South San Francisco, Turner Auctions + Appraisals was founded by Stephen Turner to expand and complement the capabilities of Stephen G. Turner Associates, an auction and appraisal consulting firm founded in 2004. Turner Auctions + Appraisals presents online auctions in diverse categories of personal property ( Among them are Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, Asian Arts, Toys, Jewelry, Militaria, Ethnic Arts, and others. The company offers a range of auction and appraisal services for buyers, sellers, and collectors. Online auctions are held several times a month. Working with leading live and online auction houses on the West Coast since 1991, Turner is a professional appraiser of personal property and seasoned auctioneer. His areas of expertise include fine art, decorative arts, antiques & residential contents. The company welcomes consignments and appraisals.

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