EAST DENNIS, MASS. — A yachting painting by James Edward Buttersworth that had been in the collection of Robert C. Eldred Sr, late founder of the Cape Cod auction house that bears his name, was the highlight of the July 18–19 maritime art sale at Eldred’s when it sold for $177,000. The 12-by-16-inch painting depicted racing schooners on a homeward course and went to a Cape dealer.
The sale was replete with interesting historical and maritime objects from various collections and estates. The collection of the late Benno Max Brenninkmeyer, eminent oceanographer, scientist, professor and collector, was the source of 240 lots that provoked strong bidding.
A highly detailed prisoner of war bone model of an 86-gun ship from the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century sold for $34,220 to the New York trade. It was made with a planked and pinned hull with baleen, a carved figurehead of a Roman and set on a planked bone baseboard with a balustrade. A second bone and horn example from another collection featured a helmeted warrior figurehead, three gun decks and 76 turned wood guns, detailed rigging and deck works and had a walnut parquetry base with bone and ebony inlay. It brought $29,500.
The Brenninkmeyer collection, which was wide and deep, was the source of a late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century carved wood ship’s hull, the deck of which lifted off to reveal the interior of a slave ship filled with African figures. Estimated at $200/300, it fetched $11,800. A cased Napoleonic prisoner of war bone model of a two-tier French guillotine with five soldiers and a client brought $8,850. An 18-inch Nineteenth Century whalebone and ivory double swift from the Brenninkmeyer collection was made with a whale ivory yarn holder and an ivory stem with tropical wood inlay on attached walrus ivory carved legs. It realized $5,310. A Northwest Coast walrus tusk was carved in the form of a hook with a figure at the end. Estimated at $250/350, it finished at $6,050.
Also from the Brenninkmeyer collection was an eight-volume set of The Voyages of Captain Cook, along with two folio atlas volumes, that sold for $18,880. The 1826 volume of hand colored plates in Vues Et Paysages Des Regions Equinoxiales Recueillis Dans Un Voyage Autour Du Monde by the Russian-born artist and explorer Louis Choris sold for $15,730. A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean and in Quest of a North-West Passage Between Asia and America; Performed in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779 by John Ledyard made $9,680. The book, the first publication and the first American edition, was published in Hartford, Conn., in 1783. Three books of Captain Cook’s voyages by William Ellis brought $6,655.
Brenninkmeyer’s nautical instruments inspired international interest, although the highlight, an Eighteenth Century English brass universal equinoctial ring dial used to determine the time of day, was rare and sold for $10,620 to a Massachusetts buyer. It was marked C. Lincoln, for Charles Lincoln, of Cornhill, London. An Eighteenth Century or earlier boxwood nocturnal with a heart-shaped handle incised “Both Bears”, indicating both constellations Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, brought $5,605. It went to California.
An Eighteenth Century boxwood backstaff quadrant with what was probably walnut with metal inlay was marked “Made by Pass Woodside for John Dickey,” with no further information. Dated 1751, it sold for $4,538.
The Brenninkmeyer collection also supplied a US Navy Mark V brass and copper diving helmet, along with a hand-operated air pump, a pair of diving shoes and a diver’s knife, among other accoutrements. The helmet was used by the Navy beginning in 1916 and only ending in 1984; it went out at $6,490.
Fine mid-Nineteenth Century scrimshaw found new homes. The phones chased a 6½-inch polychrome whale’s tooth with an allover design of a spread-wing American eagle and a red, white and blue stars and stripes shield, a 12-star American flag and acanthus to $64,900. It came from a New South Wales, Australia, collection. Another example, thought to be the mate to the prior tooth, and from the same collection, had a polychrome decoration of a woman seated in a caned chair wearing an elaborate dress above a red, white and blue shield. It fetched $16,520 from another phone bidder. Both went to scrimshaw dealers.
A whale’s tooth was engraved with a scene on either side, one with a whale ship at sea above a scene of a whale being brought alongside for cutting in; the other side with a whale boat and six whalemen above a floral still life. The tooth was purchased on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1920s by the consignor’s grandfather and it took $34,220. A scrimshaw whale’s tooth was decorated with an image of a whaleship, two whaleboats harpooning a sperm whale and a pod of seven whales off the bow. It realized $5,900. Another example from the middle of the Nineteenth Century was decorated with a polychrome mourning scene with a woman in a sprigged gown seated at an Empire table and a man covering his face in sorrow. It went for $5,015.
A Nineteenth Century walnut sewing box was decorated with a central star on the top surrounded by sprigs and a scallop-form edge with abalone and ebony inlay the front with wood inlay and holes to accommodate thread, a drawer with a whale ivory knob and mother of pearl inlay of hearts and sprigs. The box was published in E. Norman Flayderman’s Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders and sold for $2,006.
Described as an “exceptional whale ivory, bone and shell watch holder,” a Nineteenth Century example sold for $10,030. The piece was made with two polished whale teeth, a central watch holder mount with shell and silver star inlay and three ivory finials and sat on a wood base with shell veneer and silver inlay. It came from a Chatham collection that was the source of a number of the ivory pieces sold.
An early Nineteenth Century China Trade view of the foreign hongs in a Chinese port was unsigned and sold for $17,700. It came from a Charleston, S.C., collection and went to a collector. The Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen portrait of the steam frigate Minnesota brought $10,030.
“The Beach Comber, Cuttyhunk Wharf,” an early Twentieth Century view by the New Bedford-born artist Clifford Warren Ashley, went on the phone for $15,340.
Of a group of Ralph Cahoon pictures, the highlight was the seaside auction scene, “Dick Bourne Sells a Rare and Very Important Marine Item” that sold to a Pennsylvania collector for $12,980. The lot for sale was a mermaid perched atop a lowboy as two sailors bid for her. Most recently, from the collection of a Rhode Island woman who bought at Eldred’s over the years, it had been a gift from the artist to the subject, Dick Bourne, whose auction gallery was in Hyannis for many years.
The Eighteenth Century full-length portrait of a boy with a dog and a parrot by R. Dellon and dated 1725 sold on the phone for $7,670. The elegantly garbed child was described on the back as “Ed. Newman. Drawn at 2.3 Old and Taken by Capt. Lowe at 3 months old….” Lowe was an Eighteenth Century pirate, gruesome and terrifying in his exploits. One of the ships in the background of the picture flies Lowe’s pirate pennant. A Nineteenth Century Continental oil on canvas of ships in a heavily trafficked shipping channel was unsigned and had some inpainting, but it attracted interest from several UK bidders. It sold to one of them for $7,260.
Signed W.S.J., a late Nineteenth Century woolwork of a clipper ship under full sale against a geometric sea and sky went for $4,130. It came from a collection just down the street from Eldred’s. A Nineteenth Century builder’s half-model of an American clipper ship with 18 lifts was $3,835.
Several bidders pursued a double octagonal sailor’s valentine with a central shellwork heart on one side and a shellwork sunburst on the other with the message “Think of Me.” It fetched $4,130.
A Nineteenth Century, 31-inch silverplated detailed model of a gaff-rigged sandbagger with decorative engraving on the prow, skeg, rudder and rub rail was mounted on a base with conch shell decoration, Victorian sun and flower design molding and dolphin forms. It brought $7,670.
One early Twentieth Century carved wood sperm whale weathervane had weathered nicely after what must have been many years outside, and whose upper fluke of the tail was glued on after it was found in a workshop. It went to a phone bidder for $5,605.
Two photographs of J boats by yachting photographer Morris Rosenfeld brought $2,596. One depicts the boats Endeavour I, Rainbow, Ranger, Endeavour and Yankee at the starting line of the 1937 America’s Cup race at Newport. The other is an image of the winner of the race, Harold S. Vanderbilt’s Ranger.
Two Bevin’s skiffs made by hand were sold to benefit the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis. One with a plywood exterior and mahogany framing fetched $531 and the other, made of spruce grain and marine plywood, sold for $590.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.