Published: September 11, 2007
Northeast Auction’s omnibus Summer Americana Auction produced highs and lows over three days of selling, as unexpected bargains gave way to some spectacular prices. By the close of the sale on Sunday, August 5, more than 2,000 objects changed hands for a total of $8.8 million.
Auctioneer Ron Bourgeault began at 11 am on Friday, August 3, with mocha pottery from the collection of Jonathan Rickard.
“I’d be happy to be buried with my collection,” joked Rickard, cheerfully explaining that expenses prompted him to begin selling in 2001. Rickard, who continues to collect (he scored big at Mid*Week in Manchester on August 8) made two large consignments to Skinner and is planning a third sale at Northeast.
Of Friday’s results, he noted, “There are some new mocha collectors. That made it fun for me.” Highlights included a dipped fan-pattern pint mug. Dark brown, bright yellow, rust and cream, it came from Pennsylvania dealer Bea Cohen and sold for $25,520. A barrel-form jug with undulating blue slip trailing and blue and white cat’s-eye decoration achieved $19,720. The 100-lot selection started with a bang, with two “Empire bulge” form jugs, 8 inches and 6½ inches high, selling for $18,560 each.
Friday also saw the disposition of Part III of the Charles V. Swain collection of pewter. Swain, a Bucks County collector and uncle of Winterthur curator emeritus Donald L. Fennimore, a metals expert, was a serious student of American and English pewter for 50 years.
With dealers Don Herr, Melvyn Wolf and Wayne Hilt in the salesroom, an engraved communion flagon made for a church in Penns Township, Northumberland County, Penn., by William Will in 1795 went to a phone bidder for $248,000. The accompanying chalice is at Winterthur.
“It is undoubtedly the best Will flagon,” said Herr, who included it in his 1995 exhibit, “Pewter in Pennsylvania Churches.”
For a client, Hilt bought a William Will teapot for $47,560. “It is a Federal form of the best design, particularly nice because it retains its original wood handle,” said the Connecticut dealer, noting the survival of a letter and cancelled check putting the price of the vessel at $7.50 in the mid 1930s.
On Saturday, August 4, the cataloged, single-owner sale, reviewed separately, of folk art from the collection of Dinah and Stephen Lefkowitz generated $2.1 million.
The second session on Saturday featured items from various owners with an additional 450-plus lots offered.
Identified simply as “property of a Texas collector,” a rainbow-colored stack of 12 oval boxes gave the Shaker market a jolt when Olde Hope Antiques acquired the assembled set for $209,500 against an estimate of $70/90,000.
Northeast produced more folk art from the Isobel and Harvey Kahn collection, dispersed in Manchester over the past several years. Top lots included a much published primitive townscape of a New England seaport, sold to Suzanne and Michael Payne for $55,580. Published scholars, the Paynes invite readers to forward their thoughts on the identity of the artist.
“We believe that the 1850 date described in the various texts may be too late, as a close examination of the figures shows them to be in 1780 to 1800 costume. We have some thoughts about a possible attribution to an artist but will need to do more research,” Michael Payne wrote in recent correspondence.
Also from the Kahn collection, a voluptuous cigar store Indian maiden, 56 inches tall, left the room at $89,900.
Atlanta dealer Deanne Levison acquired an oil on panel overmantel view of Framingham, Mass., for $84,100. Formerly in the collection of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, the painting fetched $43,125 in October 1994, when it came at the tail end of Sotheby’s two-part auction of the Little trove.
Northeast began the Sunday session with 187 lots from the estate of Betsy Trace, who died at 91 last October. Antiquarian book dealers, Trace and her husband Timothy were well-known to the trade. The objects they chose to live with reflected their love of early furniture, brass, pottery and prints. Of note was an Eighteenth Century Hudson River Valley oval hutch table with a 40-by-50-inch scrub top. It sold to Lancaster, Penn., furniture consultant Philip Zimmerman for $104,400. G.W. Samaha claimed a William and Mary tavern table with splayed legs and a box stretcher for $40,600.
Another contested item was a watercolor on paper illustrated with vignettes depicting slavery, accompanied by long, handwritten poems. The unusual narrative folk art went to Maryland dealer Milly McGehee against strong competition for $17,400.
Rare books from the Trace library were a relative bargain. “This usually sells for $1,700,” protested backup auctioneer Peter Coccoluto, as a lavish, 1956 edition of J.A. Lloyd Hyde and Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva’s fine press volume Chinese Porcelain for the European Market was hammered down for only $464.
The auctioneer had better luck with delft pottery from the collection of Donna Simon. A circa 1675 London footed salt in unembellished white glaze with three ram’s horn ears sold to the phone for $20,880.
Leading the way among 18 lots consigned by descendants of Edward Augustus Holyoke, a Salem, Mass., doctor, was a 1771 pastel portrait of Dr Holyoke by Benjamin Blyth, $35,960, and a portrait of Boston merchant Jonathan Simpson by Joseph Blackburn, $165,500.
Furniture buyers were of divided opinion on the day’s major lot. A Boston or Salem blockfront chest of drawers went to a phone bidder for $204,000, selling below the $250/350,000 estimates.
Quakertown, Penn., conservator Alan Miller authenticated a rare, possibly unique, Philadelphia china table from the Swain collection, writing that he and his research partner, Luke Beckerdite, gave the name of “Spikey Leaf Carver” to the artisan who contributed its acanthus leaf decoration. Missing the gallery that once circled its top, the table went to Richard Lammert of Thirteen Stars, LLC, in St Louis, Mo., for $116,000.
Clark Pearce said he was pleased to get a set of six shield-back dining chairs, including four sides and two arms, for $51,040. The set had been estimated at $6/9,000. “The tacking evidence and proportions confirmed that the armchairs were right. Chairs like these were made in Salem, Newport and New York. These came out of the Ticknor house, a Federal mansion at the corner of Beacon and Park Streets in Boston, so they were a good buy with great provenance,” said the Essex, Mass., dealer.
Prices include buyer’s premium. For information, 603-433-8400 or www.northeastauctions.com .
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