Published: March 16, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Americana Auctions
REHOBOTH, MASS. – A grouping of nearly two dozen lots of Arts and Crafts furniture offered outside of a dedicated design sale is an unusual enough occurrence that when such a selection crossed the block in the “Diverse March Estates Auction” at Americana Auctions on Sunday, March 7, bidders around the country took notice. Rare and unusual forms from perennially favorite cabinetmakers such as Limbert, Stickley and Roycroft inspired significant interest and bidding that the top four prices in the sale all went to Arts and Crafts pieces, and all to American buyers.
The 479-lot auction was conducted on three online platforms with phone and absentee bidding as other buying options; the sale was more than 82 percent sold and realized a total of approximately $350,000.
“The reception to the sale was pretty good,” said auction manager, Rich Shute. “People were really excited about the Arts and Crafts and carpets. You rarely get this many of those things together. We had a bunch of interest from China on the Chinese ceramics, and buyers in Canada and New Zealand, to name a few of the countries we had interest from.”
Leading the sale was a Limbert oak Arts and Crafts desk and bookcase cabinet with partial label that had been sourced from a local picker. Shute, who cataloged much of the sale, said he had researched the form, which he had personally never seen before, and found only two examples having been offered at auction in the past two or three years and both selling in the $6,000 range. He put an estimate of $1,5/2,000 on the one in the sale and was pleased to see it bring $10,980 from an Arts and Crafts dealer on the Eastern seaboard who was bidding on the phone.
An estate on Martha’s Vineyard was the source of several other pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture, including a circa 1904 nine-drawer tall chest designed by Harvey Ellis for Gustav Stickley that bore not only an early paper label but the red Stickley compass mark on the inside of the drawer. In his research, Shute found a similar example with more elaborate hardware that brought about $8,000 at Christie’s; the buyer of the Limbert cabinet bought this as well, outpacing competitors and the estimate at $7,198. It was the second highest price realized in the sale.
A bookcase cabinet by Gustav Stickley and possibly designed by Harvey Ellis was designed with a stop-molding behind which to hide valuables; also, from the Martha’s Vineyard estate, it was looked at by “all the major players” and sold to what Shute described as a “major Arts and Crafts dealer” bidding online, for $6,405. A private collector in New Jersey, bidding online, paid $6,222 for a Gustav Stickley smoker’s stand with copper hand-hammered hardware and interior compass mark. The other Arts and Crafts pieces that made noteworthy money included a small oak library table by Gustav Stickley that sold to a Delaware private collector for $4,270 and an Arts and Crafts trade buyer in Southern California ran a seven-drawer desk by Gustav Stickley to $3,050.
The Martha’s Vineyard estate was also the source of several antique rugs and carpets that, along with several from a Florida estate, made a larger-than-usual grouping and brought both trade buyers and private collectors onto the floor. Shute said that most of the antique rugs were from the Martha’s Vineyard estate and sold to trade buyers, while the rugs from Florida were of a newer vintage and generally sold to private collectors. A trade buyer paid the category’s highest price of $5,612 for a vintage Turkish pale-yellow palace-sized carpet with an open field with urns and flowers that measured 14 by 20 feet. Another dealer paid $4,880 for an antique Persian Serapi Heriz that measured 11 by 13 feet 4 inches; that was the same price paid for a room-sized antique Fereghan Sarouk that measured 10 by 13 feet 10 inches. The biggest surprise among rug lots came for a group of three antique Caucasian rugs that had been in a storage unit and sold for $3,172; Shute thought that one of the three was Eighteenth Century.
The sale was full of other surprises throughout. A small wall mirror that had paint decoration and worn silvering on the glass was determined to be a circa 1740 American mirror with its original decoration. Shute said four or five people came to the preview specifically to look at it and there were at least three phone bidders bidding on it during the sale; it sold to a trade buyer from Massachusetts for $5,246.
Another surprise came when a Nineteenth Century Grand Tour model of Napoleon’s monument at the Place Vendome in Paris crossed the block. Standing 26 inches tall, it was the largest model Shute had seen and it featured a thermometer as well as a dark verdigris patina. Competition on the bronze came down to two determined bidders but in the end, a buyer in Washington, DC, prevailed for $3,050.
An antique .800 silver tray with a Nineteenth Century Italian hallmark that had an engraved surface depicting dogs and deer and measured 28 by 15½ inches also incited a bidding war between two competitors. Underbid by a silver collector in Canada, it sold to what Shute described as a wealthy local buyer who collects “nice Continental things,” for $2,928.
Works of art by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi memorabilia are often passed over by auction houses but Americana Auctions has been selling in small sections a large local inherited collection. Offerings in this sale included two watercolor landscapes and a drawing by Hitler, as well as a monogrammed silver service plate, a glass tumbler and some autographed ephemera. Prices ranged from $397 on the tumbler to $2,928 for one of his landscapes. Shute said American buyers acquired all but one of the Hitler and Nazi-related lots, with one going to Europe.
Another grouping not typically found in many auctions was a group of five Presidential appointments, which Shute confirmed had all come from the same seller. Among the group were two signed by Ulysses S. Grant, one signed in 1876 which brought $1,159, the other had been signed in 1871 and passed. A United States commission document on vellum signed by President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of War William H. Taft in April 1908 for the appointment of George H. Torney for Colonel in the Medical Corps achieved $1,037. An 1894 appointment signed by Grover Cleveland made $458, the same price realized by one signed in 1913 by Woodrow Wilson.
Americana Auctions’ next sale is scheduled for late May.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Americana Auctions is at 380 Winthrop Street. For more information, 508-771-1722 or www.americana-auction.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm