Published: March 3, 2020
Review and Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
NEW MILFORD, CONN. – Nestled equidistant between the Housatonic River to its west, and New Milford’s idyllic town green to its east, is Litchfield county’s newest auction house: The Auction Barn. Located at 99 Railroad Street, the firm occupies two buildings formerly owned by H.H. Taylor & Son, the local hardware store and lumber yard that continues to maintain an adjacent storefront.
The owner, Brian Corcoran, acquired the building in the fall of 2019 and conducted his inaugural sale on Sunday, February 23. The downstairs of the main building functions as the main office, preview space and the saleroom, where sales are conducted live online on LiveAuctioneers and HiBid platforms, with listings also posted on AuctionZip. The second floor of the main building provides ample preview space while an adjacent barn offers considerable viewing and storage space for larger items. Corcoran plans to eventually conduct mostly no-reserve sales once a month and weekly sales of household furnishings. During the warmer months, he will hold sales of table lots in the barn.
Corcoran has considerable experience in the antiques business. Originally from Ireland, he started his career as a porter at Bonhams, London, in 1993. After a short period, he decided to move to the United States and settled in New York. He has worked for a number of auction galleries, including Doyle Galleries in New York City, as a co-owner of C&C Auctions (which is now known as Clarke Auction Gallery), Smith and Watson, and until November, 2019, was the director of Hayloft Auctions by Doyle, the Bronx, N.Y., -based subsidiary of Doyle. During his tenure at Hayloft, Corcoran was responsible for the start-up operations and the day-to-day running of the auction gallery online across the Northeast Region.
A frequent visitor to the Elephant’s Trunk, New Milford’s weekly April-to-November flea market, Corcoran saw an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream to own his own auction house when he learned that the buildings in downtown New Milford were available. He left Hayloft in November 2019 and began accumulating property for his inaugural sale, which he said was sourced from Connecticut and New York collections and estates. Corcoran is looking for a wide variety of antiques, Midcentury Modern, architectural items, vintage cars “and the quirky.” For the moment, Corcoran is a one-man show but has help during previews and sales and will expand with staff as growth dictates.
The Auction Barn’s inaugural sale of 280 lots was nearly 92 percent sold by lot. It attracted “quite a bit of trade” and Corcoran said “about 50 people” from New Milford as well as Litchfield and Westchester Counties attended the auction on the day of the sale. After the sale, Corcoran said he had some international buyers.
The top lot in the sale was an Oushak carpet measuring 9 feet by 7 feet 8 inches that nearly tripled expectations to sell for $1,680. It came from the Hamptons. A dozen sterling silver wine goblets that crossed the block towards the end of the sale realized $1,440, not only the top price for a silver lot in the auction but enough to earn the designation of the sale’s second-highest price. Rounding out the leaderboard was another Oushak carpet, also from the Hamptons – this example bringing $1,250 from an online bidder.
The first lot in the first sale has some symbolism to it and surely it is a sign of good things to come that the lot with that distinction – “Provence” by French Outsider artist Robert Tatin (1902-1983) – nearly doubled its high estimate to bring $1,140. Further highlights of fine art include Howard Finster’s “Antopollo” that brought more than double its low estimate to bring $468 from an online buyer, and a Dutch School painting of a farmer with livestock tripled its low estimate when it sold for $300.
A house in Avon, Conn., yielded several of the top lots, including a group of 15 glass paperweights and marbles that made $720, and a group of three Staffordshire porcelain lurchers that bidders chased to $531, more than twice its high estimate. The lot of paperweights and marbles was one of a dozen lots, all from the same collection, that featured pieces by William Manson, Steuben, Kosta Boda, Backstrom, Caithness Scotland, Lundberg Studios, Murano and Ken Rosenfeld, to name just a few makers represented.
“They liked the Vaseline glass,” Corcoran said, when asked what bidders seemed particularly interested in. The sale featured three lots, all of lime-green glass in a variety of forms, that achieved a total of $318.
Topping the offerings of furniture was a pair of metal and beige upholstered settees that received 18 bids and sold online for $750. Two tramp art dressers – one with a mirror, the other with a towel rack – brought $450 and $390, respectively. An Anglo-Indian white-painted carved hardwood tub chair made $240 and a wrought iron bench with fantastic grapevine crest decoration seemed a steal at $240. Among offerings of reproduction furniture, a Georgian-style mahogany dresser by Baker finished at $270, the same price realized by a Theodore Alexander four-drawer console. A Beacon Hill breakfront did not find a buyer despite an estimate of $200/300.
Items that one does not see every day included an English gilt-brass desk stand modeled after a coach that sold for $390, a wire basket with stone and ceramic fruit was snapped up for $270, and a British nautical flag from a Greenwich, Conn., collection, received ten bids before surrendering at $240. A souvenir from World War I was a pair of brass artillery “trench art” vases, 13¾ inch-long shell canisters with later decoration that sparked interest and closed at $210, more than four times the low estimate.
Corcoran has not yet fixed a date for his next sale but anticipated it would be toward the end of March.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.theauctionbarnct.com or 860-799-0608.
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