Published: February 2, 2010
Americana Week 2010 for Christie’s included sales of American furniture, folk art, silver and Chinese Export porcelain. The combined total for the sales that ran January 21, 22 and 25 was $5,681,025, with 89 percent sold by value and 85 percent sold by lot.
A double portrait by Ammi Phillips of a young boy and his older sister that passed to auction from a direct descendent of the sitters attained $782,500 at Christie’s auction of important folk art on January 22.
The oil on canvas painting, “Double Portrait of Theron Simpson Ludington (1850‱922) and His Older Sister Virginia Ludington (1846‱865),” circa 1852, was estimated to bring $300/500,000 and was the cover lot for the auction catalog.
While single portraits by Ammi Phillips are well documented, there are fewer than ten full-length double portraits, according to the catalog notes.
Devoted collectors of early American antiques were able to recognize the great rarity of the Queen Anne carved walnut compass seat stool offered in the sale, and it realized $482,500, near the top of its presale estimate. One of only a handful of such pieces to emerge from Eighteenth Century Philadelphia, with its serpentine shape, shiplap construction and trifid feet, the stool is possibly the mate of a similar example sold in September 2008.
Last offered at auction more than 30 years ago, this beautifully preserved stool is believed to have been owned by members of the Waln family of Philadelphia and Walnford, N.J., who were descended from the renowned cabinetmaker Joseph Armitt.
A Chippendale carved and figured mahogany scalloped top tea table, Philadelphia, circa 1770, realized $266,500.
Highlights from the firm’s January 21 sale of important American silver included a monumental silver ewer, mark of Paul Revere, Boston, circa 1798, which brought $206,500.
Jennifer Pitman, head of sale, silver department, said, “The top price for the monumental silver ewer by Paul Revere reflected the importance of American church silver from the First Parish Church in Beverly.”
Beverly, Mass., played a central role in the nautical history of the Revolutionary War, serving as the naval headquarters for the colonial forces, and is often referred to as the “Birthplace of the American Navy.” The silver, through its donors, represents virtually every aspect of early New England history, bringing to life the important theological, political and intellectual movements of the colonial and Federal periods.
Silver, equivalent to currency in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, was originally given to the church in the spirit of financial support, and it was hoped that the sale of these bequests would help preserve this historical institution.
A rare silver miniature caudle cup, mark of John Hull and Robert Sanderson, Boston, circa 1665, realized $158,500. Hull and Sanderson, the first working silversmiths in North America, became the colonies’ first mint masters when the Massachusetts Bay Colony established a mint in 1652. In that year, they established a partnership producing silver objects as well as coins, most notably the famous “Pine Tree” shilling. Only 30 surviving pieces of hollowware and six spoons have been recorded from their 31-year partnership; the recent discovery of this cup by a Massachusetts family, descendants of the original owners, adds a 31st object to this group. While five full-size caudle cups survive, there is only one other miniature or “toy” caudle cup by these makers, which is currently in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Among the additional highlights of Eighteenth Century furniture was a Chippendale carved mahogany dressing table with original brass hardware, an example of Salem cabinetmaking that dates from 1765 to 1785. It sold for $158,500. Featuring a graceful cyma-shaped apron, carved pinwheel designs, peaked knees and ball and claw feet, the table is believed to be the mate of a high chest of drawers now in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. It was consigned by the estate of Mary Frances Bowles Couper, a prominent philanthropist and antiques collector, and a close friend of Ima Hogg, who donated her collection of Americana and her home, Bayou Bend, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
A Queen Anne carved and figured mahogany blockfront kneehole desk, Newport, R.I., circa 1760, fetched $92,500.
Additional silver standouts were a rare silver tankard, mark of Elias Boudinot, Philadelphia, circa 1742, $68,500; a pair of silver communion dishes, one with the mark of Paul Revere, Boston, circa 1801, $64,900; and a rare silver flatware service, mark of Tiffany & Co., New York, circa 1870, $62,500.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 212-636-2000 or www.Christies.com .
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