Published: June 29, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy William Bunch Auctions & Appraisals
CHADDS FORD, PENN. – What’s the collective name for a group of auctiongoers? A bunch of bidders helped the June 15 Quarterly fine and decorative arts auctions at William Bunch Auctions & Appraisals to a total of about $400,000 with more than 93 percent of the approximately 450 lots successfully trading hands.
“We had really nice things in a variety of categories and the sale was reflective of improvements in our marketplace. When you have good and desirable things, there are buyers out there for that. The internet helps you connect with better markets and is a selling tool we’ve learned how to use very, very well. I’m very pleased with how the sale did,” Bill Bunch said by phone after the auction. “There were a few passes on things but not many on things that were really significant.”
An acrylic on canvas by Native American artist Kevin Red Star (Crow/Apsalooka, b 1943) titled “Crazy Dog Society,” which achieved $18,450 from a private collector bidding online was the top lot in the sale. The painting, which measured 60 by 48 inches excluding the frame, had been estimated at just $2/4,000 but that just served to push interest from bidders. Bunch said he had acquired it from a seller in Philadelphia who “didn’t think much of it.”
The result appears to have set a new auction record for the artist. According to the AskArt, the previous record for Red Star was $16,380, set in March 2019 for a painting of the same size of a Northern Plains Indian dancer.
In a sale of multiple categories, Asian works of art clearly held their own despite being a small fraction of the sale. A colorful circa 1930s Chinese Art Deco rug that measured 9 by 11 feet 7 inches featured a large butterfly among a field of flowers and flew to $14,160, more than 17 times its high estimate. The seller of the rug had been a friend of Bunch and he said “she’s thrilled” with the result. A bidder in Rhode Island paid the top price. He thought it was probably the biggest surprise of the sale.
A similarly strong result was achieved for a pair of Chinese cloisonne covered urns with pierced lids and foo dog finials. After considerable interest from bidders in both the United States and overseas, a bidder in Beijing won it for $11,210. The same price was realized by a Korean ancestor scroll, executed in watercolor on silk.
For collectors of Founding Father ephemera, two lots were of particular interest, including an indenture dated 1753 and signed twice by Benjamin Franklin when he was holding his first public office as Justice of the Peace in Philadelphia. Bunch said it was twice as large as most indentures of the time and that he could find less than a dozen indentures signed by Franklin; this brought $11,800, well ahead of its $4/8,000 estimate.
A discharge or furlough for James Denneson of the Seventh Massachusetts Regiment, signed by George Washington on June 11, 1783, and counter-signed by J. Trumbull, was in poor and fragile condition and had been rescued from being discarded. It also exceeded expectations, selling for $9,440.
A trade buyer purchased both documents.
A herd of carousel figures stampeded in front of the podium with results largely within or just above estimates. Leading the charge at $10,620 was a Muller carved and painted giraffe that had been restored. Of the carved wooden examples on offer, prices ranged from $1,118 for an unattributed white stander that had a broken leg to $7,670 for a Looff stander. All of the carousel figures were from one collection; two had been acquired from Bunch about 20 years ago. He said he thought they sold “quite well,” with two private collectors each taking two figures.
The next quarterly fine and decorative arts sale will take place in September, date to be announced.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include additional online bidding surcharges.
For information, 610-558-1800 or www.bunchauctions.com.
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