Antique Home Disgorges Treasures At John McInnis Auction

AMESBURY, MASS. — An early Nineteenth Century house in Ipswich, Mass., was the source of some 200 objects of historic interest at John McInnis’ February 22 sale at the Amesbury gallery. The late owner had purchased the house and its contents in the mid-1960s and had not touched any of it over the years.

The highlight was an 1849 half-plate daguerreotype of five prospectors from Ipswich that sold to a bidder in the gallery speaking on the phone for $33,063. It is headed to a photography collector in Ontario, Canada. The men, teenagers, really, are depicted in a camp where a building is identified as Agawam, the name of Ipswich before 1633. They are Henry Dunnels, Charles Brown, William Cogswell, Frank Baker and Ambrose Ross Perkins, and the image suggests the grim conditions under which the Forty-Niners lived and worked.

Another Ipswich object was the trade sign for E.J. Darling’s business, Darling, Photographer, which was conducted in the back of the house from which the material came. It sold for $2,530. Darling’s collodion camera and lens on stand sold for $2,185. Six daguerreotypes, including one posthumous example, sold for $1,725.

Probably the most remarkable result in the sale was the $16,100 that a Vermont collector paid for a carved Fish Market sign in blue paint that was painted identically on each side, and signed Browne, a Newburyport painter. The sign attracted bidding from all over the United States. It came from the Ipswich collection, as did a tambourine marked Ipswich Police with numerous signatures on the back that sold for $201.

A lithographed advertising poster by the American Lithographic Company in New York for the Republic Rubber Company’s “staggard” tires realized $10,350 from an area collector. Thought to be one of four known examples, it was found rolled up in the attic in Ipswich.

Chinese works of art from a New York City collection gathered in the 1950s and 1960s dominated the saleroom and much went to the Chinese trade in the United States and overseas. The highlight was a 12-panel Chinese hardwood screen, ten of which were each inset with nine famille rose porcelain tiles and two with ten famille rose tiles each, that sold for $34,500. Of the 110 tiles, one was cracked.

A Nineteenth Century 21-inch Chinese porcelain baluster-form vase in powder blue with gilt characters and decorations, and with two green five-clawed dragons on the bottom sold for $14,950, while a pair of famille rose garden seats was also $14,950. A Nineteenth Century Chinese porcelain bottle had a molded decoration of a horse, bees and monkeys and famille verte enameled lotus scrolls, the eight precious emblems and pomegranate. It sold for $13,800.

A famille rose porcelain fish bowl decorated on the outside with two five-clawed dragons, one in scarlet and the other in blue, and with goldfish on the interior sold for $6,900.

White jade is a perennial favorite: A white jade carved foo dog on a rosewood stand brought $16,100, while a white jade snuff bottle with a coral top fetched $10,350.

Three carved cinnabar panels finished at $5,175.

A carved rosewood screen with a carved hardstone panel depicting two lions sold for $4,200, as did a Chinese bronze tortoise box, while a Chinese enameled silver opium box fetched $3,900.

McInnis offered a selection of paintings from area estates that were well received. William Merritt Chase’s “Helen,” an unframed portrait of his daughter, came from a Salem estate, formerly in New Jersey, and realized $17,250 from a phone bidder. With a good cleaning, it will really glow.

“Modernist Still Life,” a gouache by Russian artist Robert Rafailovich Falk, was signed and dated Paris, 1931. From a North Shore collection, it sold on the phone for $11,500.

Three oil on canvas works by the Vienna-born American artist Josef Floch sold. “Coastal Landscape with Boats” depicted sailboats on moorings in a cove and realized $10,350 online; “Woman at Rest” a scene of a reclining woman, was also $10,350, also online. Floch’s “Mountain Landscape with Lake” drew $5,175.

Aldro Hibbard’s small oil on board snow scene “Vermont Winter” was framed under glass and realized $6,900 from the Internet, and Quebec artist Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor Coté’s oil on board “Soir, September 1908, Hommage a Mademoiselle B. Cloux, Oak Ridge Virginia” sold on the phone for $4,600.

Newark, N.J.,-born artist Matilda Browne lived next door to artist Thomas Moran, who encouraged the 9-year-old to experiment with paint, brushes and canvas in his studio. By the age of 12, one of her paintings was exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Browne was part of the Old Lyme school, and her oil on panel “Feeding Time” brought $4,600 online.

Nineteenth Century Boston and Appledore Islands’ artist Ross Sterling Turner painted the marsh scene “A Calm” in 1887 and exhibited it at the Chicago Exposition and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. From a Cambridge estate, it sold to a phone bidder for $5,175. “The New Boy” by Victorian artist George Smith was signed and dated 1859 and realized $4,600.

“Composition dans un Cercle, No. 5,” an aluminum piece by Alsatian artist Jean Arp, was signed and numbered on the back and was accompanied by the original Lucite stand. Retaining the original gallery labels from the Dominion Gallery in Montreal, it came from a Palm Beach estate and sold online for $6,900. Another sculptural piece was the Lalique figure of two carp, “Deux Poissons,” that sold for $1,380. An Austrian cold painted bronze figure by Franz Bergman of a blackamoor wearing a red fez sold for $4,075, and three bronze miniature figures of a dachshund, a Scottish terrier and a rabbit, the latter of which was signed Dubucand (French artist Alfred Dubucand) sold for $1,840.

A ceramic pair of faux bronze mythological figures brought $2,588.

The Nineteenth Century footed box with a classical micromosaic decoration of vines and putti brought $10,063. An Italian paperweight with eight micromosaic sections, each depicting an architectural ruin, sold for $3,420.

Bidding on an assembled collection of signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence opened at $10,000 and the lot sold on the phone to a private collector in Florida for $12,650. It was fresh from the Ipswich attic, in as-found condition, and the signatures had been mounted on a piece of cardboard in the Nineteenth Century. John Hancock’s was the central signature.

A carousel stander horse was attributed to Dentzel, Stein or Goldstein and had “good bones,” retaining the original paint and an untouched surface, with a horsehair tail and one glass eye. It sold online for $4,888.

A small powder horn was carved with geometric and fanciful designs and zoomed from an opening bid of $300 to $6,900. An Inuit cribbage board carved from a tusk realized $1,150, and an Eighteenth Century carved wooden busk went to the phones for $920. A cobalt blue blown whimsy in the form of a top hat in cobalt blue may have been made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. It elicited $1,725 from a phone bidder. A Santa Claus figure from the 1920s holding a silver Christmas tree in the right hand and made of felt, paper and composition was a candy container. It sold on the phone for $2,760.

The boxed collection of Roe family miniatures included an oil on copper image of the Seventeenth Century Andrew Roe, an oil on copper of the Eighteenth Century John Roe, an Eighteenth Century watercolor on ivory of Andrew Roe and another of Phillip Roe and a watercolor on ivory of the Eighteenth to Nineteenth Century John Roe. It went to an absentee bidder overseas for $5,750.

A ten-piece ivory dressing set marked “Tiffany & Co., Union Square” belonged to Boston industrialist Albert Cameron Burrage and was used aboard his 1902 263-foot steam yacht Aztec. Each piece was marked in gold with Burrage’s initials and bore the burgee of the New York Yacht Club and the Burrage house flag. It sold for $1,495. A pair of Gorham bronze bookends in the form of steer skulls was copyrighted 1915 and sold for $2,300. Other decorative accessories of interest were a Moser Art Nouveau enameled punch bowl with a silver rim that brought $1,035 and a Moser Art Nouveau pitcher that was $403.

New York maker John Henry Belter’s laminated rosewood slipper chair with pierced carved roses, lilies, acorns and acanthus leaves was a rare form and sold for $3,163, and a Victorian walnut and walnut burlwood cylinder secretary bookcase with two glazed doors and an interior with fitted cubbyholes and two inlaid drawers was $2,875. A Nineteenth Century mahogany banquet table was a good value at $1,725.

An Eighteenth Century pine corner cupboard with two glazed doors, some panes of which were original, with square nails and pegged construction, brought $360.

A homespun linsey-woolsey quilted coverlet made around 1780 was accompanied by a note stating that it descended in the Coffin family. Found in an Eighteenth Century blanket chest in the Ipswich house, it brought $3,600.

A Steinway L grand piano from 1924 sold for $7,475.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 978-388-0400 or

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