Published: August 3, 2010
The picturesque old mill at Noone Falls is certainly an appropriate setting for New Hampshire paintings and furniture that crossed the block at The Cobbs July 10 sale. The 60-year collection amassed by Ben and Helen Prokuski of Goffstown, N.H., provided some tempting Americana offerings for collectors and dealers. The Cobbs will sell the shank of the Prokuski collection at an onsite auction in August in Goffstown.
Ben Prokuski spent his career in the textile industry and devoted much of his retirement to the Manchester (N.H.) Historic Association, the American Textile History Museum and the Boott Cotton Millyard Museum in Lowell, Mass. Other New Hampshire collections also provided objects of desire.
The 1881 oil on board view of “Mount Washington and the Ellis River at Jackson, N.H.” was signed and dated by artist Frank Henry Shapleigh. The picture came from a Massachusetts collection and realized $7,475 from an absentee bidder. Shapleigh’s 1878 “Winter Sunset, Lebanon, Maine,” a snowy roadside view with a horse-drawn sleigh, realized $5,750 on the phone. Signed and dated, it, too, came from the Massachusetts collection.
Alvan Fisher was a Massachusetts painter who was part of the White Mountain School. His oil on canvas portrait of his sweet-faced son, Alvan Josiah, flying a kite by the seashore with a ship in the background is a study in vivacity. The picture descended in a branch of the Fisher family and sold on the phone for $6,900. Information about the picture published in the Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin and in “26 School Street Home of Alvan Fisher, Artist and Descendents” was made available to the successful buyer.
The striking Twentieth Century New Hampshire watercolor by Roy Martell Mason of Wilton, N.H., depicting a hiker and his dog brought $4,830 on the phone after considerable gallery activity.
“Saw Mill, Ottawa River,” an oil on canvas by Quebec, Canada artist Berthe des Clayes depicting a snow scene with two draft horses and their driver, went to a phone bidder for $6,325. It came from a southern New Hampshire estate.
Two Cape Ann scenes by Emile Gruppe came from a central Massachusetts collection and had been purchased from the same source. The oil on canvas scene of fishing boats at the dock, “Gloucester, Mass.,” sold for $4,715. An oil on paper board of a Cape Ann village was unsigned and merely attributed to Gruppe. Although it was well painted, it was a modest $345.
A primitive Mexican or possibly New Mexican painting on yellow pine of Our Lady of Guadalupe supported by a winged child was decorated with a blossom in each corner. It attracted no little notice and brought $8,050. It came from the Prokuski collection.
From a southern New Hampshire collection came a landscape of a pond with two figures in a rowboat, perhaps fishermen, at the end of day against a fading florid sky by William Preston Phelps. Signed “WP Phelps,” it sold for $2,990 to a buyer in the gallery. As he hammered it down, auctioneer Charlie Cobb noted that the subject was a spot near a local reservoir.
A sprightly Nineteenth Century landscape of a farm house by a lake or river with figures, a horse and a cow (in the water), sailboats and a fisherman realized $2,530. A White Mountain School primitive landscape with sheep and cattle and mountains in the background was also $2,530. The oil on canvas was unsigned but retained the stamp, “From / A J Whipple’s Artist Supply Shop / 85 Cornhill / Boston.”
An Eighteenth Century Queen Anne tall chest of drawers in black over red painted pine with two-over-four drawers that was described as “probably coastal New Hampshire area” fetched $6,900. The drawers had later chased batwing brasses and the name “Mathew” was inscribed in chalk on the back. The piece, which came from the Prokuski collection, should turn out to be something very special.
More than 13 feet of mahogany in the form of a mid-Nineteenth Century New York or Philadelphia classical extension table with seven leaves was a very good value at $4,025. From a Southern New Hampshire collection, it went to a phone bidder.
An Eighteenth Century American or Queen Anne walnut veneer mirror with swiveling brass candle arms and an arched crest with a triple arched base came from a Peterborough collection and went to the phones for $4,600, while a New England Hepplewhite card table in a grain painted finish resembling mahogany had a bowed front above a conforming case and realized $2,875.
With six graduated drawers, and carved sunbursts on the top drawer and a quirky cutout apron and two more sunbursts, an Eighteenth Century New Hampshire Queen Anne pine tall chest realized $2,155. It had old refinish, which softened its result. A pair of French leather armchairs with deep seats had a very “Twenties” look, as if they came from aboard an ocean liner, and sold for $2,760.
Attributed to an artisan of the school of Pottier and Stymus of New York, a Victorian rosewood cabinet, circa 1870, had classical maple and mahogany inlay, concave sides, canted corners and a paneled front; the cabinet also had a bird’s-eye maple interior. It came from a Peterborough collection and went to an absentee bidder for $1,725.
A New England Chippendale pine tavern table with a breadboard-end top and a single drawer was thought to be an Eighteenth Century example and it realized $2,300. An Eighteenth Century New England pine and birch tavern table with an oval top above four splayed legs with button feet and half-moon cutouts along the skirt had some restoration and realized $805.
A George Washington armorial French porcelain cup and saucer decorated with the monograms “GW” and “MW” and a winged griffon on a crown above a shield with three red stars and three horizontal red stripes brought $920. The bowl of the cup was marred by a crack that had been mended at some time and it fetched $920. It was accompanied by a note indicating that it had belonged to Major General Samuel Holden Parsons of Washington’s staff and had descended in the family.
Two Nineteenth Century Gonic pottery vessels, a 6¼-inch jug with orange spots on a green glaze and an 8-inch covered jar that was incised on the lid and the bottom of the jar, sold for $1,150.
Redware pottery of interest included a charger with five horizontal wavy yellow slip lines on a brown ground and a plate with three horizontal wavy lines, both items with a serrated edge. The lot sold for $978. A loaf dish with a yellow curlicue slip border and a tree decoration with a serrated edge made $863.
From a New York collection, a Persian serape that was 9 feet 10 inches by 12 feet 6 inches brought $12,075 on the phone. Also going to the phone, for $3,450, was a late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century Kirman rug measuring 7 feet 8 inches by 9 feet, made with an overall design of trailing vines and roses.
Made by Velma Begay of Sweetwater, Ariz., a Navajo weaving with a central geometric design brought $2,990. It was accompanied by a certification from the Wind River Gallery in Santa Fe, where it was purchased.
By Mary Jane Simms, granddaughter of James Peale, a watercolor portrait on ivory of an Egyptian woman was signed and encased in a gold setting surrounded by pearls and realized $1,295. The piece, which came from a southern New Hampshire collection, could be worn as a brooch or a pendant.
The unidentified southern New Hampshire collection was also the source of a covered poplar wood bowl with decorated with feathers that sold for $2,645.
Polly Groves was 12 years old when she created a sampler in 1795 that featured a zigzag border with silk flowers surrounding a central alphabet. From a Peterborough collection, it drew $2,645 from a local buyer. Another textile, an Eighteenth Century butternut dyed linsey-woolsey woven in three parts and quilted, was offered with another similar fragment. The lot fetched $1,840.
Realizing $1,840 was a New Hampshire maple tall case clock with an arched bonnet top and a painted iron face had been refinished and was missing its fret. A walnut and poplar wood tall case clock in the manner of the Shakers at the Watervliet community with a rectangular bonnet, wooden works and a painted wooden dial was unsigned but elicited $2,530.
The auction was organized in two sessions, one at 10 am and the second beginning around 2 pm, allowing most in the gallery time for lunch or a stroll along the Contoocook River that runs alongside the mill.
All prices reported include the 15 percent buyer’s premium. For information, www.thecobbs.com or 603-924-6361.
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