Published: December 6, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Kaminski Auctions
BEVERLY, MASS. – For more than 25 years, Kaminski Auctions has hosted a Thanksgiving weekend sale; this year, the “favorite tradition,” as Frank Kaminski calls it, took place Saturday and Sunday, November 26-27. With “something for everyone,” the two-day event sent more than 900 lots across the block, ultimately making about $700,000, a number Kaminski said was inching upward with post-auction transactions taking place at press time.
One might think that so many sales might run together in one’s mind, but this auction will stand out for the firm in one significant way: it took place on the 90th birthday of the firm’s senior appraiser, Mary Westcott. Westcott, who has worked for Kaminski for more than 32 years, began her career as an educator but, wanting to do something else upon retirement, took an appraisal course and the rest is history. She met Kaminski in the 1980s and began to work for him as an appraiser, cataloger, auction consultant and auctioneer.
Frank Kaminski enthused, “On Sunday, at noon, we stopped the auction for about five minutes and brought out a big birthday cake for Marie to celebrate her 90th birthday. I once told her, ‘Marie, if you decide to turn in your resignation papers, I won’t accept them. This is a lifetime position!'”
A bronze bush sculpture by Harry Bertoia (Italian American, 1915-1978) came to Kaminski because he had been friends with the consignor, the late George Johnson of Montecito, Calif., who had been an executive at Knoll International and who had been friends with many of the designers for the firm. The 12-inch bronze had been given to Johnson by Bertoia and was accompanied by a letter, written in 1974, by Bertoia to Johnson. It brought the top price of the sale, $41,820, from an online bidder who outlasted competition from four phone bidders.Clocking in at third place, with a result of $25,000 was a 19½-inch-tall bronze bust of Maria-Therese Walter (French, 1909-1977), signed by Pablo Picasso (Spanish French, 1881-1973). Made circa 1932 and with a gold and brown patina, the head is part of a group of works Picasso made of his lover in the 1930s and discussed in Lael Wertenbaker’s The World of Picasso 1881- (Time-Life Books, 1967). It came from a collection in Boynton Beach, Fla., and sold to an online bidder.
A vibrant landscape of a woman in a field of wildflowers, painted by Hugues Claude Pissarro (French, b 1935), came from a Del Mar, Calif., collection and will be staying on the West Coast, going to an online bidder there for $16,250, more than twice its high estimate. The painting had been handled at one time by Sutton Galleries in New Orleans; a certificate from the gallery accompanied the painting.
A local collector from Gloucester, Mass., consigned nearly two dozen lots to the sale, many of which had been purchased from auction houses in New York City. Among these – and offered consecutively – were two Indian miniatures, either gouache or watercolor on paper, that had each been acquired from Sotheby’s New York’s March 25, 1987, Fine Indian and Persian Miniatures sale. A buyer in London, bidding on the phone, acquired both, paying $7,200 for a circa 1840 Punjabi portrait of Sadar Hari Singh Nalwah, and $10,800 for a mid-Nineteenth Century depiction of a nobleman riding a stallion, from Patiala.
Arthur Dryhurst Budd (1882-1965), who ultimately rose to the rank of Colonel in the US Army, served as a Lieutenant Colonel during World War I; he received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in action while serving with the 311th Infantry Regiment near Grand Pre, France, in October 1918. His family gave Kaminski a few things that Budd had owned, including two Louis Vuitton trunks, which were offered in sequential lots. While Louis Vuitton trunks are perennial favorites, Kaminski thought the provenance really helped the results. A 14-by-44-by-22-inch cabin trunk with serial number 753094 made $8,125 from an online bidder, while a larger cabin trunk, 20 by 40 by 21 inches, found a new home for $16,250.
A pair of cloisonné dragon vases, which had been cataloged as Chinese and modestly estimated at $350/500, might have, Kaminski said, be Japanese and quite early, Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century. The 10½-inch-tall vases were from an estate in Palm Beach, Fla., and sold to a buyer in the United Kingdom, bidding online, for $37,500. It was the second highest price of the weekend.
Other Asian lots attracted interest and strong results. An online buyer, bidding on Invaluable, paid $7,500 for a celadon russet jade paperweight from a private collection in Bar Harbor, Maine, that had been cataloged as “magnificent and rare.” Measuring 7 inches long, it was carved with a dragon reclining on a crest of waves. Kaminski thought that among the things going for it were its color and form.
A sizeable selection – nearly 100 lots – of the sale were from the nearby Rock Edge estate, a 17-room, 28,000-square-foot “Gold Coast” mansion originally constructed in 1911 for Mrs Marion Sargent, but whose most famous resident was sportswoman and society hostess, Eleanor R. Sears (1881-1968). Topping lots from Rock Edge was a pair of Nineteenth Century Meiji period Japanese bronze urns that sold for $5,000 to an online buyer.
Also from Rock Edge was an antique brass ship fire hose nozzle that overshot its $350/450 estimate to land at $4,500 from a trade buyer bidding online. According to Kaminski, it is a rare form that the buyer was happy to have.
Kaminski Auctions’ next sale will take place towards the end of December, date TBD.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For additional information, www.kaminskiauctions.com or 978-927-2223.
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