Published: August 26, 2003
Cape Cod paintings were the strength of the Robert C. Eldred Co.’s nearly 1,300-lot, $1.1 million summer sale beneath a tent on July 31 and August 1 as five Ralph Cahoon paintings brought top dollar from an absentee bidder from Hawaii.
“Hooper’s Landing, Cotuit, 1866,” with mermaids handling bushels of oysters at the Cotuit Oyster Co. observed by sailors and a hot air balloon, was the star of the day when it sold to a Hawaiian buyer for $50,600.
The same bidder also bought Cahoon’s framed view of two sailors and a mermaid logging the speed of a ship for $25,300 and a 1983 sailor’s valentine with shell work signed by Bernard A. Woodman of Marstons Mills, Mass., framing Martha Cahoon’s central painting of a mermaid and sailor holding hands for $21,850. Several Martha Cahoon crayon drawings, some of which were framed as the upper panel of mirrors, fell within estimate.
It was Ralph Cahoon’s framed “Canton Waterfront with the Steamer Spark… After Tinqua” that inspired auctioneer Robert C. Eldred to note that the 4 by 51/4-inch picture was “the most expensive for its relative size that I’ve ever sold.” The painting went for $12,650 to a Massachusetts dealer.
Ralph Cahoon’s painting of mermaids on a trampoline held by eight sailors went to a Massachusetts collector for $32,200. A Rhode Island collector was the successful bidder at $20,700 for another sailor’s valentine with shell work by Woodman surrounding a Ralph Cahoon painting of two cupids afloat in a pink sky. Cahoon’s double painting in a faux panel of “Partridge Shooting” and “Duck Shooting” went to a Connecticut buyer for $9,200. Martha Cahoon’s lively waterfront scene of mermaids, sailors and townsfolk, possibly of New Bedford, elicited $13,800.
Paintings by Charles Drew Cahoon, cousin to Ralph, have appreciated markedly in recent years. His 1932 view of Wychmere Harbor that would have brought a few thousand dollars a few years ago was $11,500, and his view of Old Mill Point in West Harwich, Mass., realized $11,500.
Other strong works included Thomas Hewes Hinckley’s 1838 portrait of a young boy from Milton, Mass., which came from a local home. Despite needing cleaning, the picture rocketed past its estimated $3/5,000 and went to a dealer for a gratifying $14,950.
An early Nineteenth Century American cherry four-drawer bureau attributed to Vermont maker George Stedman of Norwich with a reverse bombe front, fan inlay and slightly splayed French feet was of interest for its unique form and detail. It sold to a Vermont buyer for $21,850. An American Queen Anne cherry highboy that is thought to have been made in Connecticut was $17,250 to a Maryland dealer. A 42-inch Federal giltwood convex mirror with entwined dolphins forming a pediment was $8,050.
A couple of pictures brought respectable but not outstanding results: Guy Wiggins’ fine harbor scene of boats at a dock realized $19,550 and Caleb Slade’s signed picture of a couple harvesting went for $5,750.
Smalls were big, too. A telephone bidder hung on for a pair of framed oval miniature paintings of Lucy and George Bourne of New Bedford, Mass., by Nineteenth Century New Bedford painter Joseph Hathaway. The bidder bought the pair for $4,313 against an estimate of $800 to $1,200, as well as a pair of Battersea enamel tiebacks depicting Commodore Matthew Perry that went for $4,255.
An interesting Tiffany wine ewer with silver mounts attracted bids well above its $800 to $1,200 estimate and ended at $4,255.
Increasingly in the marketplace, dealers and collectors shake their heads as style sells over substance. No sale is exempt lately, and this one was not either. A set of ten Hepplewhite-style mahogany shield back dining chairs with white leatherette seats was estimated at $3/5,000 and fetched $7,188. A few lots later, a nice looking custom made, Hepplewhite-style two-part secretary desk made from old wood and old parts brought $7,820 from a dealer.
Among a selection of musical instruments were a couple of standouts: a circa 1926 double-bell euphonium by Conn in gold plate over brass, just like the one in The Music Man, went for $3,450. A Selmer brass B-flat tenor saxophone and case that came from a former leader of the Philadelphia Orchestra and friend of Eddie Fisher, sold for $5,750, against its estimated $1,500 to $2,000.
Finally, miniature birds carved and signed by James Lapham of Dennisport, Mass., continued the upward trend noted at Eldred’s sporting sale earlier in the month. A Canadian goose fetched $604, a ruddy turnstone brought $575 and a mallard hen and a ruby-throated hummingbird each went to $518.
Prices quoted above include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm