Published: November 7, 2000
Market Declared Healthy, Dealers Clear Winners
Americana made its annual auction appearance in New York, Boston and online, sold by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Skinner in October, with several surprising results. At Christie’s, in a sale grossing $3,055,268, the top lot, a Chippendale mahogany block and shell tall case clock signed by Samuel Rockwell (1722-73), set a world auction record for an American clock at $611,000.
Purchased by dealer George W. Samaha, the clock, made for David Harris (1714-1797) of Smithfield and Providence, R.I., and recently discovered, is one of only five known Newport cases with a double cornice. The second highest selling lot in the auction, a Queen Anne walnut veneered high chest of drawers, Boston, 1725-35, which fetched $204,000, went to Israel Sack, Inc., and Leigh Keno’s $70,500 bid for a pair of Chippendale brass andirons, Philadelphia, 1770-90, consigned by a Florida family, set a world auction record for a pair of American andirons.
Other winners among the trade included Guy Bush, who purchased the Jeremiah Warder pair of Chippendale mahogany side chairs, Philadelphia, 1760-80, for $160,000; C.L. Prickett, who paid $94,000 for a Chippendale cherrywood chest on chest, Concord, Mass. area, and $64,625 for a Federal inlaid mahogany sideboard, New York, 1790-1810; and Nathan Liverant & Son, who acquired a Randall family Chippendale mahogany dish-top tea table, Massachusetts, 1760-90, for $70,500. One hundred fifty two of 183 lots found buyers at Christie’s, and the auction was 91 percent sold by dollar.
“New England Colonial furniture demonstrated its strength as seven of the top ten furniture lots from the sale were made in Newport and Boston,” said John Hays, head of the firm’s American decorative arts department.
Prickett, Keno, and Israel Sack, Inc., as well as Phil Bradley and John Blivins were also on hand for Sotheby’s Americana event, which featured silver, folk art and furniture and totaled $5,604,735, with 264 lots out of 312 finding buyers. Prickett was the winner of the top lot, a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany bonnet-top chest on chest, for which he paid $313,750. Leigh Keno was the buyer of the second-highest-selling lot, a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany dressing table at $247,750.
One of two Sotheby’s clock offerings was snatched up by Israel Sack for $225,750: a Neo-classical cast-brass and ormolu-mounted mantel example placing fourth in the top ten lots. Blivins went home with a Federal carved and verdigris-decorated mahogany cane settee at $203,750, while Bradley purchased a William and Mary carved and figured walnut tall case clock for $148,750.
John Nye, the gallery’s director of American furniture, commented that “in light of the ups and downs we have witnessed on Wall Street, the Americana market is still showing robust strength, particularly for the rarest and best quality rdf_Descriptions being offered.”
The highest-grossing auction of American furniture and decorative arts at Skinner was conducted in Bolton, Mass. over the October 28-29 weekend when sales reached $3,822,805. The event included rdf_Descriptions from the estate of Malcolm S. Burroughs and various owners. A final bid of $107,000, including premium, took a red stained birch paneled and carved desk and bookcase, New Hampshire, circa 1815, some 83 inches high. The desk featured a two-stepped interior of three pinwheel carved drawers, the central demi-lune carved one flanked by document drawers with baluster columns over seven small drawers. Original brasses also adorned the piece.
Also topping the event was a Currer & Ives, among several offered from the Burroughs collection. Highlighting this category was “The Road, Winter,” 1853, by Nathaniel Currier, publisher and Otto Knirsch, lithographer, which sold for $52,900. A jar with matching cover, also from the Burroughs estate, Massachusetts or Rhode Island, 1829, fetched $63,000. In ovoid form with mottled green and tan spotted slip glaze, a miniature jar forming the handle on the lid, the jar created great interest among buyers and may have been made as a wedding gift. It featured a comical figure waving a banner and the initials “S.A.B.” at the shoulder, with the base inscribed “Made in the year 1829 in June the 16th day on Sunday morning.” It descended in the family of Charles D. Cook.
Finally, found online at sothebys.com was Americana collected by Charles P. and Betty E. Hinshaw, which concluded on Friday, October 27. Offered by Internet Associate Dawson’s Auctioneers and Appraisers, this sale featured some 500 lots of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American decorative arts and furniture. Its total of $324,500 nearly doubled the firm’s estimates.
The Hinshaws began their collection in the mid-1960s after purchasing a stone house, built circa 1820, in order to furnish it with objects made before 1850. As Mr. Hinshaw stated, “Our passion was to fill [the house with] things from the period.” The Hinshaws searched country auctions and antique shops in Pennsylvania and New England. In all their purchases, they strove for pieces that were signed and documented.
Included among offerings was folk art and textiles; silver; brass, copper, iron and toleware; pewter; stoneware and redware; and physicians instruments. Among the highlights was an unmarked pewter Boston strap-handled mug which brought $7,150 (est. $1,6/1,800); a rare cobalt blue decorated incised stoneware pitcher that achieved $4,400 (est. $500/700); a grain painted gold stenciled continuous-arm Windsor chair that sold for $2,750 (est. $800/1,200); a pair of tall pewter whale oil lamps by Eben Smith which brought $2,228 (est. $500/800); and an American sampler that sold for $2,200 (est. $200/250).
A full report of Americana happenings will be provided in an upcoming issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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