Published: September 25, 2018
Review And Onsite Photos By Rick Russack
BEVERLY, MASS. – The first day of Frank Kaminski’s two-day sale, September 15-16, was devoted to pre-Columbian artifacts, furniture, a large assortment of American and European paintings, daguerreotypes, as well as a large collection of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century iron, weapons, paintings, prints and more from an aristocratic European family tracing its roots back hundreds of years. The second day of the sale was devoted to Asian material and included collections of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Chinese ceramics. One of those pieces, a Qing dynasty yellow enamel dragon vase was the top selling item in the sale, bringing $72,000. Also included was a selection of Chinese furniture. Internet and phone bids provided strong competition for inhouse buyers, but the dragon vase sold to a bidder in the room.
On September 15, several lots from the collection of the late Katherine Henrietta de Stuers, a descendant of Theodore Roosevelt and who was born in the historic Champvent Castle in Switzerland, built around 1250, crossed the block. Her father, Hubert, was ambassador of the Netherlands to France for many years and a close personal friend of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Both father and daughter were collectors, adding to collections formed by earlier generations of the family. Much of the material dated back to the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries and included some unusual items.
For example, a small silver engraved pomander with six compartments marked “kanel, rosmarin, rosen” (cinnamon, rosemary, roses etc.), had a bottom that would unscrew to reveal a small applicator. It was only 2 inches tall, estimated at $600 and it sold for $10,800. The collection included three pairs of early iron scissors that were the subject of competitive bidding. One pair dated 1788 and elaborately engraved with birds, a crest and Latin inscriptions sold for $3,900. Two Eighteenth Century Dutch silver teapots, one dated 1778 and the other dated 1784, each sold for $660. A silverplated, cone-shaped Moroccan tangine pot, used in preparing certain spicy meats, may have been a good buy, selling for just $180. A portrait dated 1612 by Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn (1572-1657), portrait painter to the Dutch court at The Hague, in a period frame, sold for $8,400. His works hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and numerous other museums.
The early material in the de Stuers collection came very close to winding up in a Florida yard sale. Kaminski learned of the collection from a Boston friend and was told that the collection was destined for yard sale on the coming weekend. Kaminski flew down that Friday and cautioned the family, a 60-year-old son of the collector and his daughter, that they were “not dealing with yard sale stuff.” He persuaded them to allow him to select the items that would probably do well in an auction.
Kaminski later said, “We worked well into the night to sort through the material. They had a feel for some of the things the family had collected, but not all of it. I’m glad we were able to get the stuff in front of knowledgeable buyers. I spoke to the consignors after the sale. Needless to say, they were pleased with the results.”
Two Tiffany lamps were the top selling lots of the first day. A fully signed tree trunk table lamp with a colorful wisteria shade sold for $25,200, slightly behind another fully signed table lamp with a poppy shade, which ended up at $26,400. This one, with colorfully mottled glass, was bought by Miles Freedman, a collector/dealer from Woodstock, Conn., who later said, “I just couldn’t swing buying both.”
Buyers seemed choosy dealing with a good collection of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. There were several images of African Americans. A sixth plate ambrotype of an African American woman with her two children topped the group, selling for $2,040. A sixth plate daguerreotype of an identified African America woman, “Martha Bearse, the mother of M.B. Coates,” brought $780. A sixth plate ambrotype of a black gentleman in a work jacket and top hat, identified as a “North Carolina slave overseer,” finished at $1,320. The collection had come from Falls Church, Va., and, unfortunately, there were a number of interesting images, including outdoor scenes, that failed to get any bids.
The second day of the sale was devoted to Asian material, much of which sold over the estimates. Topping the Asian selections, bringing the highest price of the two-day sale and selling to a buyer in the room, was a Qing dynasty yellow enamel dragon vase, done in the Eighteenth Century style, which sold for $72,000, more than three times the estimate. It was 23 inches tall, decorated with two three-clawed dragons flying among branches of lotus flowers above crashing waves. It was cataloged as having a “Qianlong six-character reign mark, of the period.” Bob Yang, Kaminski’s Asian expert, had expected the dragon vase to exceed the estimate, and he also believed a well-carved hardwood frame, currently holding a bronze gong, would exceed its estimate. He was right – it sold for $2,160, more than double the estimate. He said that its quality indicated that it probably had originally held a piece of carved jade or a decorated porcelain panel.
A set of four calligraphic watercolors by Weng Tonghe (1830-1904) brought $20,400. The artist was a Confucian scholar, calligrapher and tutor to the Tongzhi emperor, who ascended to the throne in 1873. A Chinese blue and white lotus vase with archaistic scroll handles, decorated in rich, cobalt-blue tones, went for $9,600, also well over the estimate. The Chinese selection included some less common items, such as a finely carved pair of Yixing cricket cages with scenes of camels and western traders, which brought $600, and an inkstone carved with clouds and waves and in its original covered hardwood case, which sold for $1,200. There was also a pair of Ming dynasty carved zitan wood cups with a floral pattern that finished at $2,760. Many of the Chinese items came from the collection of J.P. Miller, Newport, R.I.
A few days after the sale, Frank Kaminski told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “We’re still selling some of the items that were passed. So far, the total is more than $600,000 but that keeps going up. It was the kind of sale that I like. The first day had a good assortment of quality material, and I think that the variety helps the overall sale. Buyers see items that they hadn’t expected to see, or planned on buying, but because of the variety, they may wind up bidding on things they hadn’t expected to. Our brochure for this sale included a preview of our October 27 sale, which has hundreds of important paintings by artists such as Milton Avery, John Sloan, William Merritt Chase, Asher B. Durand, Emile Gruppe and many more. It’s the collection of William H. Trayes Jr, a well-known North Shore collector, and we’ll be conducting the sale at the North Shore Arts Association. Several buyers told me they’ll be attending that sale.”
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For additional information, 978-927-2223 or www.kaminskiauctions.com.
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