Published: August 30, 2016
FAIRFIELD, MAINE — A good number of high prices were registered during the three-day auction of August 24-25 at James D. Julia, when 2,038 lots crossed the block. Lot numbers for the sale were not consecutive, with Wednesday starting at 1,000, Thursday at 2,000, and Friday at 3,000.
A bank of 15 phone bid-takers were on their feet when lot 2428 came up, a collection of 16 silhouette carved wood and painted shorebird decoys, originally cataloged as “unsigned.” When James Julia saw the lot he immediately recognized them to be by Elmer Crowell, but the catalog had been printed. The error was corrected on the web and by phone calls and, judging from the interest shown by phone bidders, people in the house and online participants, all the right people knew of the proper attribution.
The lot, formerly estimated at $1,000–1,500, opened at $15,000 and headed upward. Jim Julia moved into the center of the room, facing the phone bidders, and with both hands waving appeared to be conducting an orchestra. Bids came rapidly and finally ended, at $1,000 per jump, at $76,000 to the phones. With the buyer’s premium, the final price was $90,060.
An exceptional tobacconist figure of an Indian maiden, lot 2164 attributed to Samuel Robb, circa 1880, New York, was hammered down at $80,000; with the buyer’s premium it brought $97,200. According to the auction catalog, the figure is rare in that she is holding a rose in her left hand. These figures were created by Robb as a portrait of his wife Emma and carved as a tribute after her death in 1878 and is often referred to as “Robb Roses.” Only a handful are known to exist. This figure retains most of its original paint and measures 56 inches tall.
A complete review of the auction will be in a forthcoming issue.
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