The value of Maud Lewis paintings continues to rise as more of the Nova Scotia folk artist's works hit the market.
Tim Isaac's annual Thanksgiving art auction Monday in Saint John saw about 500 art enthusiasts pack into a room to bid on several items, including two Lewis paintings from the mid-1960s.
Isaac said in his 40 years in the business, he's only seen a handful of Lewis's works and all of them have appeared in the last few years.
The veteran auctioneer said the paintings are coming onto the market because people who bought them when they were new are getting old and cashing in.
Although Isaac is handling more of her art than ever, he said supply can't keep up with demand.
"If I only get one or two a year, and you have six or eight people wanting, you're going to have six or eight people bidding each time until the person gets what they want," he said.
Isaac said many of the people who originally purchased the paintings bought them from Lewis for about $5 a piece.
"The market is very strong," he said.
Strong art market
"The biggest thing of course in the market is to make sure they are real, that they are true Maud Lewises."
Despite talk of a struggling economy, Issac said, the Maritime art market has remained strong.
Lewis lived from 1903 to 1970 and died in her small home in Marshalltown, N.S.
Stephen Tonning is one of the art collectors who would have liked to have taken home a piece of Maritime art from the auction.
He eyed a Lewis painting with scenes of seagulls and a snowy covered bridge, but said it was out of his price range.
"But [it's] always fun to see how they do."
The two Lewis paintings available at Monday's auction went for $6,065 each.