Maud Lewis ‘Lobsterman’ Painting Once Traded for A Tie Tack Fetches more than $50,000 at Auction



The late London, Ontario artist John Kinnear traded his Maud Lewis (1903-1970) painting titled The Lobsterman to jeweler John Ellington for a sapphire tie tack in the 1970s.

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New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada, November 4, 2023 — A rare Maud Lewis (1903-1970) painting, traded by a London, Ontario artist in the 1970s to a London goldsmith for a tie tack, recently sold at auction for over $50,000.

The late artist John Kinnear, a snappy dresser, was reeled in by a blue sapphire goldsmith John Ellington had in his Richmond Street shop and so the two men agreed to a trade: one custom sapphire tie tack for “any painting” Kinnear had on his studio wall down the street.

When the time came to make the trade, Ellington shied away from Kinnear’s own paintings, which were appealing but too large. Instead, he set his eyes on the only Maud Lewis on the wall – a small, delightful painting of a pipe-smoking lobster fisherman. Kinnear initially resisted, saying that was his favorite painting, but Ellington reminded him he’d said “any painting”, so in the end they happily did the swap.

Ellington enjoyed The Lobsterman painting in his home for roughly 50 years before consigning it to New Hamburg-based Miller & Miller Auctions for their Oct. 14 Folk Art sale, where it sold for over $50,000 (including buyer’s premium). This is the second Maud Lewis painting obtained through a noteworthy barter arrangement with Kinnear. In May 2022, Miller & Miller Auctions sold one of Lewis’s paintings, Black Truck, for a record-breaking $350,000. Kinnear had traded that painting to the owners of a London restaurant for a few grilled cheese lunches.

For more information, please contact Ethan Miller at 1-519-573-3710, or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. online at