Published: November 15, 2022
Historic documents and fine art dominated the Block this past week. In addition to a Lincoln-signed draft into the Union Army, an Edward Curtis portfolio of The North American Indian made five-figure sales. Paintings spanned the globe, from the north German countryside to a fishing village in India, to a chain gang in the American South. Read on for more results.
GLASTONBURY, CONN. – Summer-like weather drew a large and interested crowd of book enthusiasts to Connecticut River Book Auction’s November 4 event. The highlight of the evening was an 1857 copy of Mr Hardy Lee, His Yacht, Being XXIV Sketches on Stone, by Chinks. Authored by Charles Steadman, the lithography was done by Winslow Homer and was his first published work. This privately issued volume had a small printing and thus is hard to find. Fewer than a dozen of this first American book on the sport are presently known to exist. It sold to an in-house bidder for $1,265. For information, www.ctriverbookauction.com or 860-908-8067.
SANTA FE, N.M. – Two days of auction by Santa Fe Art Auction, November 4 and 5, dispersed the Cardozo collection of Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) photographs, the Sonett historic pottery collection, selections from the Loloma collection as well as Nineteenth through Twenty-First Century fine art. These were preceded on November 3 by a sale of a collection of Edward Curtis photogravures. The firm’s president, Gillian Blitch, said the $2.4 million grossed over the three days reflected a 91 percent sell-through rate and achieved a world record at auction for a Curtis portfolio. That was when Curtis’ Portfolio XII of The North American Indian, 1922, ignored its $14/18,000 estimate to finish at $61,000. Featuring the Hopi tribe of the Southwest and comprising 36 photogravures on Japanese Gampi tissue with original Van Gelder overmats, the portfolio was signed in the plate below image: E.S. Curtis. For information, 505-954-5858 or www.santafeartauction.com.
CHEVY CHASE, MD. – A graduated large South Sea pearl cultured pearl necklace with 18K white gold and 48 pearls sold for $82,550 at Sloans & Kenyon on November 10. Graduating from 15mm to 20.5mm and a 14.5mm ball clasp pave-set with numerous graduated brilliant-cut round diamonds, the necklace was 36 inches long and was retailed by Yafa Jewelry, New York, now Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Fla. For more information, www.sloansandkenyon.com or 301-634-2330.
NEW YORK CITY – Rare travel posters featuring highlights from the Victor Ryerson collection came up for bid at Swann Galleries on November 10, and sure as the change of seasons, one of the most iconic and desirable of all the early Pan Am flying boat posters, an image of a Boeing 314 Flying Clipper landing in a tropical lagoon, captured the imagination of travel-minded bidders. Flying high above its $8/12,000 estimate, Paul George Lawler’s (dates unknown) Fly To South Sea Isles / Via Pan American, circa 1938, landed at $40,000. The location shown on the 41-by-27¼-inch poster is an imaginary composite of several renowned bays throughout the South Pacific. Lawler most likely worked from photographs to derive a fantasy collage of a location, infused with realistic details from various islands. It is rare to find this poster with text; only three other examples have been found at auction. For information, www.swanngalleries.com or 212-254-4710.
DALLAS – Heritage Auctions conducted its Manuscripts of the American Revolutionary War and Civil War signature auction on November 10, achieving $400,094 with 289 lots. Chief among these was a draft notice signed by President Abraham Lincoln from 1863, following the Enrollment Act of that year, which made all men between the ages of 20 and 45 liable for service in the Union Army. The notice sold in a group with an engraved portrait of Lincoln by Johnson, Wilson & Company for $22,500. For information, 214-528-1425 or www.ha.com.
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. – On November 10, Peterborough Auctions conducted its Fine Art, Jewelry and Antiques, offering more than 500 lots, including many works by notable American artists from the New England Art Exchange. The highest selling of these, and in the sale overall, was an oil on canvas by William Preston Phelps (1848-1923) titled “Cattle Crossing.” In 1876, Phelps studied in Munich where he painted this scene, most likely en plein air. The canvas came with its original frame and sold for $4,200. For information, 603-933-9947 or www.peterborough.us.
BEVERLY, MASS. – On November 12, Kaminski Auctions conducted its monthly Estates Auction with more than 400 lots from collections in Boston and Chestnut Hill, Mass. There was a tie for the top lot between three sets of .925 silver French flatware from Jean E. Puiforcat (1897-1945) in the Cannes pattern, each containing 12 place settings and consigned from a Boston penthouse suite. The sets were estimated at $3,6/4,200, and all three bid to $24,400. Designed in 1928, the knives and forks from the Cannes pattern were included in the place settings at Puiforcat’s own wedding to Maria Estevez. For information, 978-927-2223 or www.kaminskiauctions.com.
MIDDLEBORO, MASS. – On November 13, almost 600 lots of all categories were up for sale from White’s Auctions at its Fall Estate, Antique & Collections sale. The top lots included a Tokheim Gulf gas pump clock and a 14K gold diamond and sapphire ring, but the highest selling object was “Fisherwomen,” a 57-by-29½-inch oil on canvas by B. Prabha (1933-2001). Focusing on the lives of rural women, Prabha was one of the most prominent Indian female artists of her time. She studied at the Nagpur School of Arts and the J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai and used her work to comment on the oppression experienced by women of all social statuses in her country. Signed and dated 1987, “Fisherwomen” is part of a series on the subject and was purchased directly from the artist’s family trust by a Texas collector in 2004. The painting bid to $17,080. For information, 508-947-9281 or www.whitesauction.com.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – After establishing the world auction record for Winfred Rembert (American, 1945-2021) at $282,900 in it’s Peter Tillou Estate auction on September 29-30, Brunk Auctions has again raised the bar for the self-taught artist, whose works on tooled leather tell stories from his life. Earning $295,200 and selling on November 12, “Chain Gang,” was accompanied by a personal letter by the artist describing his experience of working on a chain gang in the American South. Both trade and private collectors, bidding on both the phone and online, competed for the 31-by-23-inch work, which had been estimated at $80/120,000. A private collector on the phone prevailed. For more information, 828-254-6846 or www.brunkauctions.com.
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