Published: January 31, 2017
Review and Photos by Andrea Valluzzo
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — EstateofMind’s January 21 auction, featuring the collection of the late Herb Goldfarb, saw two interesting pieces of American history find favor with buyers. Separated by 80 years and 430-plus miles, the two pieces provide a look at one of the country’s greatest land battles and a mostly forgotten ship accident.
Tying for top lot status was the broadside detailing the particulars of a Dutch ship tragedy off the coast of Boston on Friday, November 21, 1783 in rough seas that claimed the lives of the 300-some people aboard. The framed broadside attained $6,490 from a collector-dealer in Massachusetts and was the same price as a Franz Bergman cold painted bronze table lamp with hallmark that stood 12½ inches tall. The other piece of American history came in the form of a small brass button cut off the uniform of a well-known Confederate soldier who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. The button had a large star at its center and inscribed around the star was “Mississippi.” It fetched $4,720.
Auctioneer Darrell Dirr was pleased with the results, noting the market has been iffy. “It went well, but like all auctioneers, you go in with high hopes on one thing and it slips and falls through the cracks, and something right behind it that you didn’t have any concerns for brings a lot of money.”
The auction house has had several sales offering items from Goldfarb’s collection of fine porcelain, paintings, bronzes, silver, glassware, jewelry and decorative accessories that were hidden away for 45 years. The Broadway and stage actor who later owned antiques stores died in 2015.
The broadside contained an article combining a news account of the tragedy and poetic eulogy that read in part:
“In cheerful mirth from Texel’s stream
Th’ ill-fated crew set sale;
And Heav’n and Fate propiteous seem
And sent the gentle gale.
The sails expandd and catch the breeze,
To wait them o’er the main,
They leave the land — behold the seas,
They’re ne’er to see again.”
The morning of the sale Dirr said he expected the Confederate button to be a standout as it didn’t just come off any soldier. It was taken off the uniform of ex Mississippi governor and congressman, Brigadier General William Barksdale, who led the charge on the battlefield of Gettysburg and kept fighting even after being injured.
The button and the chevron-shaped piece of the dark blue uniform it was still attached to were accompanied by a period newspaper clipping relating to this incident.
According to the article, on the second day of fighting in July 1863, a Dr Marcellus H. Wygant of Saugerties, N.Y., came across Barksdale mortally wounded and lying on the ground in some bushes and gave him water and the two talked briefly, discovering they had a mutual friend in New York State. The next day, Wygant, accompanied by a Captain Walter Scott, went to find Barksdale again but found him dead. The article stated, “Dr Wygant cut the button he now wears from the officer’s uniform and asked Capt. Scott if he did not want one. The captain replied: ‘No, sergeant, before this night neither of us will have any use for buttons.’”
Bidding was mostly online for the button up until $3,500 but ended up going to a floor bidder who lives locally and is a regular here. “It ended up staying right here with a friend of mine who was in the audience. He wasn’t really buying a button, he was buying the history behind it,” Dirr said.
Leading the furniture category was a Hudson Valley painted pine, cant-back cupboard, Nineteenth Century in a pleasing blue paint, mostly original with a few areas of touchup, that earned $3,835.
Rounding out the sale were a Tiffany patinated bronze floor lamp, circa 1910–20, at $1,180; a US Army Indian Wars belt/buckles and sword hanger, circa 1840, at $1,652; and an alabaster sculpture, “Cupid’s Kiss,” also known as “Amor & Psyche,” that fetched $1,534. The piece, measuring 43 inches tall with the marble pedestal, was held back by some condition issues.
The next sales here are a book, paper, ephemera and jewelry auction March 4 and an antiques and fine art auction April 1 that will present three chip-carved fireplace mantels that came out of a local house.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.estateofmind.biz or 845-386-4403.
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