Under sunny skies and a festive green and white striped tent covering the courtyard, Robert Eldred and company kicked off yet another highly successful version of their annual August Americana, paintings and sporting art auction conducted August 1″. The colors of summer were readily apparent, not only in Bob Eldred’s seasonal attire, but also in the colorful assortment of wares and paintings offered in the auction.
The summer series of sales is a highly popular event at Eldred’s, not only with locals and seasonal residents on the Cape, but also with dealers and collectors throughout New England. The three-day auction began on Wednesday morning with a selection of silver, followed by decoys and guns. Thursday and Friday both featured a stellar selection of art, folk art, smalls and Americana.
A good-sized crowd was on hand as auctioneer Bob Eldred climbed the podium and several people manned the table where telephone bidding would be conducted. Looking dapper in his bowtie and whale embroidered pants, Eldred called the crowd to attention and offered the first lot, a cased sterling flatware set by Towle that sold moments later at $3,776. Another Towle flatware set followed, with it going out at $2,360, followed by a four-piece repousse sterling tea service by Reed and Barton at $4,720. A cased set of 12 sterling water goblets by Wallace did well at $2,006, a pair of sterling Nouveau-style candelabra by Reed and Barton went reasonably at $1,770, and a partial Gorham flatware service realized $2,478.
Decoys and shorebirds began with a small collection of James Lapham life-size carvings and miniatures with a lesser sandpiper first off the block at $605. A chickadee was next and brought $726, a miniature canvasback hen, $295; and an old squaw drake fetched $354. A nice pair of mergansers by an unknown carver sold at $1,003, a George Boyd miniature godwit $1,770, and an oversized canvasback drake, believed to be by a North Carolina maker, went out at $1,452.
The top lot of the decoys came as a rare yellowlegs shorebird decoy by an unknown Cape maker was offered. With shoe-button eyes, carved wings and the original bill, the rare shorebird retained the original dry paint. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $8,850.
A selection of Elmer Crowell miniatures crossed the auction block, with a golden eye drake bringing $885; a golden wing warbler, $826; an oven bird, $885; and a hooded merganser, $767.
A contemporary crooked-neck Canada goose decoy by Mark McNair was another decoy to see spirited bidding, with it going out at $1,694.
Highlighting the vintage rifles and shotguns was an Iver Johnson Skeeter side-by-side 410 shotgun that sold for $2,832.
Thursday morning’s auction saw a larger crowd in attendance with several buyers standing around the rear of the tent as Eldred got the sale underway. A quick pace was established when the auctioneer set a Fred Daniels oil on panel depicting a sailing yacht underway, selling after a rapid bout of bidding at $1,452. A Jerome Howes portrait of the paddlewheeler Nantucket followed, bringing $2,006. A long panel painted with numerous sailing vessels outfitted with colorful sails by Howes found a buyer at $1,888.
Day three at Eldred’s was dominated by paintings, with a couple of surprises thrown into the mix.
The star lot came as a Blanche Lazzell white-line color woodcut print was offered, “Sail Boat.” Depicting two men about to launch a sailboat from the shoreline between piers, the colorful print, measuring 13½ by 11 inches, was titled on the lower left in pencil and signed lower right and dated 1931. From an edition of eight, the iconic woodblock print was dominated by blue water and skies, with the red and yellow sailing vessel in the foreground. Presale interest was keen, and as the lot opened for bidding, Eldred moved back and forth between the crowd and the telephones, with the lot finishing at $106,200.
The art of Ralph Cahoon is always popular at Eldred’s, and this sale saw several paintings bring strong prices. Leading the way was “Shocking Incident on Route 28 Cape Cod,” a busy painting that depicted a yellow 1920s roadster filled with mermaids that had crashed head-on into a Model T filled with sailors. The harbor in the background was filled with sailing ships, hot-air balloons and two mermaids riding on the back of a whale spouting water. Bidding on this lot was also active, with it realizing $56,050.
“A Sailor’s Wedding,” another Cahoon, depicting a happy couple (the bride has legs) celebrating with friends outside of the harbor-front Mermaid Inn with sailing vessels flying American flags entering the port, signed “R. Cahoon Pinxt,” oil on Masonite, brought $29,500. Achieving the same price was a painting depicting a whaling crew bringing in a fresh haul of mermaids in a fishing net. A whale in the background goes unnoticed by the sailors, including the captain coming ashore in a dory from the whaling ship in the background.
Another painting to attract a fair amount of attention was a Fern Coppedge oil on canvas depicting a harbor scene, “most likely Gloucester,” stated Josh Eldridge. The Impressionist view, estimated at $6/9,000, was actively bid, and a final price of $15,340 was achieved.
A large oil on canvas by contemporary painter William Davis, “Yachting Off Block Island,” measuring 20 by 36 inches and bearing a Quidley label on the verso, saw competitive bidding, with it going out at $14,160. A George Elmer Browne painting titled “Provincetown from Telegraph Hill” did well at $11,800, while “Dock Scene, Provincetown,” an oil on canvas by Gerrit Beneker that retained the original Newcomb Macklin hand carved frame, sold for $10,030.
A couple of surprises included an American School oil on canvas depicting a baseball game that soared past the $2/4,000 estimates to bring $14,160 and a small oil on board, offered just a few lots before the end of the auction, an unsigned beach scene reminiscent of Potthast, shot past the $500/700 estimates to bring $6,490.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.