Published: June 24, 2008
A lot of people never thought they would see a final sale at the venerable F.B. Hubley Auction Galleries. It did conduct its last sale, however, and the June 4 auction marked the end of an era. It also denoted the end of antiques row, a several-block area in the shadow of Harvard Square that was once filled with dealers and auctioneers. Hubley’s was the last to go. Established in 1935 by F.B. Hubley, the gallery has been run since the early 1940s by his son-in-law Robert Cann, who turns 91 in December.
“I am disconsolate,” he said the day before the sale. “It is a very sad day.” A steady stream of well wishers representing the generations of Bostonians who bought and sold there over the years came through the preview. One even brought flowers. The final auction cleared out the archives and filled the former grocery store with buyers eager to have something from the auction gallery.
Cann’s son, Robert Jr, who works with his father, worked the sale with him. Cann’s daughter, daughter-in-law and son-in-law were also present, but the woman who has worked alongside Cann over the course of their 67-year marriage was absent. She had injured her back that morning. Robert Cann met Elinor Hubley on a 1937 trans-Atlantic voyage when each was headed to Europe for the summer. Each was traveling with a group of school friends and when Cann spotted her at breakfast the first morning at sea, the die was cast. They married in 1941 when he was graduated from Duke, and Cann joined his father-in-law F.B. Hubley in 1943.
Over the years, Cann said he had sold “everything you could imagine.” That included a horse he sold for a North Shore consignor. There were no horses at the final sale, but a few riding crops were offered combined in a lot of canes that sold for $55. A gold headed cane was $220, and a lot of two with ivory handles was also $220. A group of eight canes that Cann pronounced a “poor little wretched lot” was $33. Three shooting sticks drew $44 and a lot of parasols was $77. For the dapper, an opera hat made in London, along with its red leather case, sold for $165.
The “archives” of the gallery proved to be fine, yet varied, fodder for loyal bidders.
A summery painting of women in white and pastel dresses and hats and hatted men in white suits beneath a white tent sold for $1,265. A painting that had sold at Hubley’s some years ago had never been picked up by the successful bidder; this time it realized $358 and left the gallery.
A stereopticon viewer and cards sold for $715.
A lot of bronze figures sold for $468 and a group of iron and bronze figures was $303, while a lot of cast iron figures realized $220.
A lot of Russian boxes sold for $248
Two hand-blown amethyst glass bowls sold for $77. A lot of ten pieces of Wedgwood green majolica was $440, and three pitchers and leaf dishes in the same pattern was $413.
A lot of Chinese Export porcelain that comprised cups and saucers, creamers and sugars went for $330, and a lot of English bone china, including 20 cups and 19 saucers, was $154. A box of miscellaneous porcelain that included some early lustre was $468. A box of Rose Medallion lids drew $303, and a lot of Canton blue and white lids was $248. A lot of child’s and doll’s tea sets fetched $165.
Another box of miscellaneous objects included a fine Arts and Crafts clock and realized $358.
A group of mercury glass tiebacks brought $275, and a box of door knockers elicited $220. Three door stops sold for $165.
Several box lots of daguerreotypes included one that sold for $1,320 and another that was $303.
A box lot of gold fountain and other pens was $303.
Box lots proved worthy of investigation. One box lot of scrimshaw and tortoiseshell pieces sold for $660, and a lot of ivory, jade, quartz and soapstone carvings sold for $275, while a box of Asian carvings drew $165. A box lot of small teak stands sold for $330, and a lot of larger examples was $77, while a box of rosewood stands sold for $44.
A lot of three majolica cache pots attracted $253, and two others realized $198.
A box lot of books on furniture sold for $132, while a lot of candlesticks included one Seventeenth Century Dutch or Continental example that had been repaired and fetched $176.
Hubley’s will remain open for cleanup sales, but the gallery is for sale along with the two three-deckers behind it. Robert Cann Sr is looking around for “something to do.” Robert Jr will continue the Hubley appraisal business.
All prices quoted reflect the ten percent buyer’s premium. For information, 617-876-2030.
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