Published: July 18, 2023
Review By W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Blackstone Valley Auctions & Estates
SUTTON, MASS. — A 1980 Turbo Trans Am pace car sold without reserve for $45,500 at Blackstone Valley Auctions and Estates inaugural summer auction on July 8 is motoring off to Texas. According to the firm’s co-owner Keith Downer, the star antique item, however, was a late Seventeenth Century or early Eighteenth Century Bible box that rose to $14,045. The snipe hinge colonial bible box measured 20¼ by 12½ by 7½ inches with floral carving to the front panel.
This sale was live and online featuring a collection of personal estate items, and just in time for Brimfield Flea Market week, it had something for everyone. Like any “shakedown” cruise, the firm’s first sale was a good way to work out the kinks, according to Downer, such as a delayed start on an online platform and a good number of items that for whatever reason did not get an opening bid. “Our September sale, though, will have some great things and we’re looking forward to it,” said Downer.
Asian porcelain, an assortment of country antiques, some military historical material and fine art entertained much of the bidding. A lot comprising three Chinese items nearly doubled the high $600 estimate to sell for $1,150. Included were a small antique bronze Tibetan buddha, possibly Sixteenth Century, a small famille rose octagon cup with a figure on each side, possibly Tangxi period, and one small wood carved spirit tablet panel on a stand.
A large Eighteenth Century Chinese export punch bowl decorated with a Colonial trade scene met its estimate and brought $650. Impressive in its proportions at 11¼ inches diameter by 4¾ inches high, it rang like a bell when tapped but may have had some restoration at some point, since its glaze had some shiny spots. And an antique Chinese silk embroidered panel, alive with decoration of flowers and plants with vases, 28 by 30 inches, more than doubled its high estimate to earn $475.
Art, arms, antiquities and collectibles are in the firm’s wheelhouse, and there were several notable military items crossing the block in this sale. A complete World War II US Army-Air Force pilots head rig and sheepskin pants flew to $825, the lot comprising skull cap with radio ears, goggles, oxygen mask and flight pants. A couple of lots before that a World War I Navy pilots uniform came to attention at $1,075. In great condition, it consisted of a tunic with flight wings, pants, hat, boots with pulls and socks. In the pocket of the coat was an ID for aviator Jason Westerfield, an ensign from New Jersey.
Fetching $780 was a rare USS Arizona battleship Navy flat cap. Aka the Donald Duck, it was a poignant memento of the famous USS Arizona (BB-39) a Pennsylvania-class battleship that was sunk during the attack of Pearl Harbor, losing 1,177 crewmen that fateful day. The hat belonged to a sailor of that ship and was faded with dirt and grime to the surface. From World War II came a US Army medic’s helmet with white painted liner Red Cross medic symbol painted on all four sides. It sold for $535.
Fine art highlights were led by a Venetian scene that was cataloged simply as “Painting signed Vivian.” It brought a within-estimate $780 and depicted a canal scene with figures in a boat. The oil on canvas signed in the right lower corner “G. Vivian” and the frame had an artist plate affixed at the bottom indicating the same name. It measured 33½ by 23½ by 1¾ inches overall with frame.
Another tersely titled painting — “Painting signed Greco” — made $560. It was a nicely done oil on wood panel still life of flowers paired with a nice matching frame and was signed in the left lower corner “Emilio Greco” (Italian 1913-1995).
R.C. Gorman (Navajo, 1931-2005) fans chased a signed artist proof serigraph depicting a Native beauty communing with sunflowers and a butterfly to $535. Titled “Lady with Sunflowers,” it was signed by Rudolph Carl Gorman “R.C. Gorman 1993 / A.P. #19.”
Furniture was not a big factor in this debut auction. Still, there was a nice figural tiger maple Eldred Wheeler tea table with slide trays that sold for $650. With cutout apron skirts, tray top molding and two slide-out side candle trays fitted with brass knobs, it was a good example of custom handmade Wheeler tables. Appreciation was shown for an antique American Classical mahogany rolled arm tub chair, circa 1815, which settled in comfortably for $535.
A firearm of note was a .31-caliber Manhattan pepperbox engraved pistol. These exceptional Civil War-era mid-Nineteenth Century revolvers featured multiple barrels, each barrel holding a single shot. This five-shot pistol retained its blueing to its cast steel frame and was marked “Manhattan Arms F.A. Mfg Co / New York” on the hammer. It sold for $650.
Rounding out this sale’s top highlights at $710 was a folky lot comprising 14 handmade vintage train display buildings. Sure to make any model train enthusiast happy, the scratch-balsa wood and cardboard buildings in the Art Deco era 1930s style featured Sleepy Hollow, Quakerbridge and Hudson station with terminal, city tenement houses, a church, a coal tower and industrial buildings. Some bore applied Pepsi, Coke, 7-Up and other advertising. Likely made in the 1950s the set was well made with the largest building measuring 29½ inches wide and the tallest was 14 inches.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Downer and crew are currently assembling material for the next sale, which will be conducted in September featuring some historical military material, including items from the famed Tuskegee Airmen. For additional information, 508-434-7223 or www.bvauctionsandestates.com.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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