Published: October 11, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Americana Auctions
REHOBOTH, MASS. – Billed as its “Super Estates & Nautical Auction,” Americana Auctions delivered the goods, with 540 lots of fresh-to-the-market antiques and collectibles that was more than 87 percent sold by lot.
Richard Shute, speaking after the auction, said the house “was feeling good about the sale,” noting the nautical material was from various estates from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. More than 200 registered buyers participated in the sale, including a few who had never bid with Americana Auctions before.
Nautical was the leading category, topping the sale with a rare Nineteenth Century narwhal’s tusk that measured 8 feet 3 inches and pierced its $8/12,000 estimate with a $23,750 result. With a shaft of typical barley twist, it had a threaded brass insert at the end, which measured two inches in diameter. It sold to a local scrimshaw dealer.
There were three China Trade paintings in the sale and one of them sold for enough to earn a second place finish at $22,500. Of notably large size – the catalog described it as monumental at 40 by 58½ inches in its giltwood frame – an oil on wood panel depicted Hong Kong harbor full of many ships with American, British and Chinese flags, all set against the backdrop of Victoria Peak. According to the catalog note, the painting, was cataloged as in very good condition and described as having “hung in the Commodore & Flag Officer’s Chart Room in 1963.” An interior designer in Massachusetts had the winning bid.
The two other China Trade paintings were ship portraits; an unidentified or attributed US Clipper ship portrait sailed to $2,000, while that of a British ship did not sell on the day of the auction.
Prior to the sale, the auction house had promoted two yacht race paintings by James E. Buttersworth (American, British, 1817-1894). The first to cross the finish line depicted three yachts at sail and measured 20 by 32 inches; realized $10,625, just above its high estimate. The second one, following right behind, was of similar size and composition but did not command as high a price, going out at $7,813, just shy of its low estimate. A trade buyer on the West Coast won the higher-priced example; the other sold to a private collector outside of Massachusetts.
Another nautical painting that had carried high expectations going into the sale was Louis Dodd’s (1943-2006) vintage historical rendering of a Hawaiian harbor titled “Donad McKay’s Clipper Sovereign of the Seas Arriving at Honolulu to Take on Whale Oil from the Pacific Fleet, showing ships Nantucket & James Loper & Lagoda, 1853.” It earned $5,250, enough to place it in the top 12 lots of the day.
Clocks were in plentiful supply, with more than 30 lots to be had. Standing tallest – both literally and figuratively – was an American Federal circa 1800 inlaid mahogany tall case clock by Simon Willard (1753-1848), additionally marked “Warranted for Mr James Mackie,” a Boston mariner. Estimated at $10/15,000, the clock had provenance to a doctor’s collection in Newport, R.I., and Jonathan Snellenburg in New York City; who had advertised it in 2003 in The Magazine Antiques. It made good time, finding a new home with a Washington DC private collector, for $15,000.
The Willard family of clockmakers made some of the best early American clocks and the bidders clamored for a circa 1820 bride’s mantel clock made by Simon’s brother, Aaron Willard (1757-1844). Characterized as rare, the clock had reverse painted or eglomise tablets of flowers and a girl feeding chickens as well as Willard’s name. Standing 30 inches tall, it found a new home for $5,750.
A notably strong result was seen with a Nineteenth Century chess set made from whale teeth, on a board made from whalebone and wood. Complete at 32 pieces, the sailor-made set was handsome and in good condition, so it was perhaps no surprise that it brought $12,500, five times its high estimate.
Americana Auctions’ next sale will be in January, dates to be announced.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.americana-auction.com or 508-771-1722.
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
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