Published: March 23, 2021
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy Casco Bay Auctions
FREEPORT, MAINE – Andy Davis conducted the 12th sale for his recently formed Casco Bay Auctions on March 13. The business, which he runs with his wife Meg, has recently moved into new quarters in Freeport, a major tourist destination not far from Portland. The merchandise the company is offering is steadily improving and there’s enough that they are able to plan a sale every two months or so. The sale just completed offered some good, formal, American furniture, some Shaker boxes and carriers, a good collection of gameboards, Asian material, trade signs, paintings and more. The next sale, May 8, will be devoted to Twentieth Century art and design.
Maine Covid-19 restrictions allowed about 15 bidders to be in the gallery. Internet bidding was available, as well as phone and absentee bidding. The sale grossed $210,000.
The three highest grossing items were pieces of early American furniture – a block-front desk, a tall case clock and a corner chair. The corner chair was the highest priced item in the sale, bringing $15,200, far above the estimate. The Eighteenth Century Massachusetts mahogany chair had urn-form splats, one ball and claw foot, with the three other legs ending in pad feet. Perhaps the conservative estimate was due to the fact that it was cataloged as having replaced corner bracing. The cross-stretcher base also had been repaired. Those condition issues did not deter bidders, and it took off quickly. The chair came from a local home and was the only piece in the sale from that now happy consignor.
The Massachusetts block-front desk, which Davis had thought would be the highest priced item in the sale, did well but finished in second place. The mahogany, circa 1770 Boston desk had a scalloped apron and bracket feet. The prospect drawers were inscribed Joseph Brown, but the meaning of that is not known. The desk had appeared in a 1959 The Magazine Antiques advertisement by Florene Maine. With replaced hinges, it sold for $10,238. Selling for $2,925 was a late Eighteenth Century tiger maple chest-on-chest from Massachusetts. A reproduction of a decorated four-drawer Taunton chest on bun feet sold for $234, well below the estimate. It had been made by Jamie Juckett, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., whose work has been reviewed in Early American Life and other publications.
The sale’s third highest price was achieved by a tall case clock made by Concord, Mass., clockmaker Daniel Munroe. The mahogany clock, just shy of 8 feet tall, was signed on the dial and there were remnants of a paper label. The case was stamped twice with the initials WM. William Munroe, Daniel’s younger brother, was the cabinet maker for the company, which also included a third brother, Nathaniel. Their partnership existed from 1798 to 1804. With attractive fretwork and three brass finials, the clock sold for $9,360, continuing to reflect a trend towards showing an uptick in the prices for quality early American furniture. The details on the Munroe clock are taken from the website of John Delaney, which also notes the family’s involvement with the American Revolution. A family member died at the Battle of Lexington, and another family member was one of the 13 patriots who participated in the Boston Tea Party. Delaney’s website has more information. Finishing just out of the top three items was a 266 troy ounce, incomplete Cesi SC Allesandria silver dinner service for 12 with additional pieces. It reached $3,510.
The Shaker items in the sale were well received by buyers. A chip carrier with original red wash, which had been illustrated in John Kassay’s The Book of Shaker Furniture, finished at $3,159, and a red butternut carrier from the New Lebanon community finished at $1,580. Its provenance included the Andrews collection. A round pantry box in old yellow, about 12 inches in diameter, earned $732.
The sale included a good collection of more than a dozen gameboards. Bidders were choosy, as they were with a collection of trade signs. The favorite gameboard was a red, green and white chessboard with an applied, molded edge. The chess pieces were hand carved and it sold for $1,814. Another good buy from this collection, finishing at $574, was an unusual octagonal gameboard, 27 inches wide. It was a green and black board with a number of small circular game pieces. The center of the board was raised, and it had an applied molded edge. An early, primitive fox and chickens board with a hand painted pattern went out for $340. An equally primitive black and white checkerboard was on the reverse. From the same collection as the gameboards came a painted miniature, early Nineteenth Century blanket chest, only 14 inches tall. It was cataloged as a Vermont piece and was decorated in red and yellow on a blue/green background. It brought $2,048.
The trade sign that took top honors, as it should have, was a late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century sign for O.F. Davis Mason, who, among other things, did brick-work and plastering. The worn, pinkish sign included a hinged door inviting customers to place their orders. It sold for $965 and may reappear at a show later this year with a substantially higher price tag.
The morning after the sale, Justin Thomas’ redware and stoneware blog noted a particularly interesting Days Ferry, Maine, redware jug had been included in the selection of redware and stoneware. According to Thomas, it had been made by John Corliss, who was probably apprenticed to his uncle, a potter in North Yarmouth, Maine. He moved to Days Ferry in 1820. It was included in a lot of three that realized $410. Thomas said that examples of Corliss pots have sold for substantially higher prices. Thomas believed that there were some very good buys in redware. He noted an Essex county pitcher, almost 9 inches tall, that sold for $94. and said that he was surprised to see a “great” Middlebury, Vt., jar passed at $70. There were also more than a dozen pieces of stoneware. A 5-gallon butter churn made in Gardner, Mass., was the highest priced piece in the collection, finishing at $878, far over the estimate. It portrayed a milk cow surrounded by tree-like flourishes.
A few days after the sale, Andy Davis commented, “The corner chair was certainly a nice surprise and made for a very happy consignor. There were other pleasant surprises like the last item in the sale, which was a painted eight-fold Chinese screen. The $3,750 selling price was well over the estimate. We didn’t know much about it and the pair of tin sconces, which brought more than $3,500, was also a surprise. The gameboards were a little softer than I thought they’d be, but the final figure of more than $210,000 for the sale was very satisfying. Looking forward to the next one.”
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house.
For information, 207-370-4746 or www.cascobayauctions.com.
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