NEW YORK CITY — Important Americana was offered at Sotheby’s on May 22, with strong prices posted throughout the session. The auction offered 327 lots with 290 of those finding buyers resulting in an 88.7 percent sold rate and grossing an impressive $3,816,580.
The auction was buoyed by several extremely desirable pieces of Americana with some of the lots fetching prices in excess of more than 20 times the high presale estimates.
The top price realized during the day came as a private American collector bid an “extremely rare and important canvas work picture,” ‘The Fishing Lady,'” well beyond the $30/50,000 presale estimates to a selling price of $467,200.
These needlework pieces have provided collectors with excrdf_Descriptionent for almost a century with pieces from the “Fishing Lady” series first being published in 1921 by Wallace Nutting in Furniture of the Pilgrim Century, where it was misidentified with a Seventeenth Century date. The origin of the “Fishing Lady” embroideries, of which 17 are now known, would remain a mystery until 1941 when an article in Antiques Magazine by Nancy Graves Cabot revealed that they had been executed by young girls in Boston boarding schools.
The rare needlework, executed in finely wrought red, coral, green, blue and gold wool stitches, was framed in the original rare double arched ebonized and gilded-slip frame with the original glass. It had been part of the collection of noted Connecticut collector Henry Wood Erving (1851-1941), a friend of Wallace Nutting’s, and had been consigned, along with numerous other top lots from the sale, by descendants of Erving’s family.
A painted pine ship’s carving, which according to tradition came from the packet ship Congress, Maine, circa 1840, depicting Lady Liberty also did extremely well, handily exceeding estimates. The seated figure with one hand resting on a spread-winged eagle’s head, her opposite arm resting on an American shield with 13 stars and a Liberty cap atop a pole extending from the crook of her arm, carried a presale estimate of $200/300,000. The piece measured 37 inches in height and sold after an impressive bout of bidding for $388,800.
Other rdf_Descriptions with a nautical theme included an overmantel oil on panel, measuring 26 by 76 inches, depicting the Southeast view of Boston harbor and lighthouse, 1789, by Jonathan Welch Edes that was hammered down at $220,800, while a John Belamy American eagle plaque, one of the largest examples known — measuring more than eight feet from wingtip to wingtip, sold at $120,000.
An extremely rare stoneware flask attributed to Henry Remmey, from the Erving collection, soared past the $3/5,000 presale estimates on its way to a selling price of $120,000. The rare piece, though to be of New York origin, measured only six inches high and little more than six inches across and less than two inches wide. It was decorated with an incised and blue filled bird and foliate on one side and three birds among foliate on the other with the name Henry Edoson and a date of 1804 on the reverse.
A carved and painted Punch cigar store figure, American, late Nineteenth Century, also did well bringing a premium price of $120,000 against an estimate of $25/35,000, selling to an anonymous buyer.
Furniture in the auction attracted its fair share of attention with a Chippendale mahogany secretary bookcase attributed to either Job Townsend or John Goddard selling between estimates at $96,000, a Queen Anne Connecticut cherry dressing table attributed to the Wethersfield area exceeded estimates at $72,000 and a Federal inlaid and highly figured mahogany serpentine front sideboard attributed to John Shaw also surpassed estimates bringing $51,000.