Published: January 16, 2007
A green painted diminutive comb back Windsor armchair grabbed top honors at Freeman’s November 19–20 sale, with Americana presented on the first day and the second annual Pennsylvania sale on November 20.
The subject of intense scrutiny during the exhibition period, the chair soared to more than double its low estimate to $65,725. More than 700 lots of furniture, decorative arts, books, maps, manuscripts and modern design were sold over the two days, yielding a total of more than $1.8 million.
Saturday’s session reflected the strength of the American furniture market, particularly for fresh material. The day’s two top lots were from the estate of Robert Montgomery Scott — a Federal mahogany birdcage tea table from Ardrossan, the family’s Main Line home, sold for $55,000 and a pair of classical mahogany game tables reached $27,500.
Clients of Freeman’s South in Charlottesville, Va., consigned many of the weekend’s success stories, including a set of six walnut Queen Anne chairs (probably Virginia, circa 1740) that returned to Virginia for $23,900. A mahogany three-part banquet pedestal base dining table that descended through the Johns Hopkins family was another highlight at $21,500.
The Pennsylvania Sale, inaugurated in 2005 to commemorate Freeman’s bicentennial, began with 23 lots of furniture by Twentieth Century craftsman George Nakashima. Carrying a total low estimate of $165,000, the Nakashima section represented several private collections and was greeted with enthusiasm by Freeman’s buyers. The nearly triple low estimate total of $465,000 was led by a set of six Conoid dining chairs at $52,600 and a large credenza at $45,400. Following close behind were two walnut Conoid benches that sold for $40,630 apiece and a black walnut free edge coffee table at $34,655.
Windsor chairs were popular throughout the sale. Competing for attention with the green painted Windsor was a red painted bamboo-turned Windsor armchair (Pennsylvania, circa 1800). Estimated at $6/8,000, the chair attracted frenzied bidding from the room, Internet and phones, with a Massachusetts bidder finally prevailing at $40,630. Results for classical furniture were led by a stencil decorated card table made in Philadelphia, circa 1820, attributed Quervell. Having retained its original stenciling and gilding, the table skyrocketed past its $3/5,000 estimate to reach $20,300. Finally, a Shaker tiger maple ladder back rocking chair sold to a private New England buyer for $13,100.
Other highlights included a painting of George Washington and his family at Mount Vernon, which was unsigned but attributed to Bass Otis after a work by Edward Savage. The painting sold for $29,875 against a $3/5,000 estimate. A four-gallon incised and cobalt -decorated stoneware water cooler from the Somerset Potters Works sold for $16,730, and a Currier & Ives hand colored lithograph, “Trolling for Bluefish,” sold for $11,950.
Top lot in the books and manuscripts section of the sale was the first magazine printing of the Declaration of Independence at $16,730 followed by a pair of documents signed by David Hall that sold for $10,750. Hall came to America in 1743 as a journeyman in Benjamin Franklin’s shop and carried on the business as Hall & Sellers after Franklin sold his interest in 1766. These documents were William Sellers’ copy of the partnership agreement.
Freeman’s next sale of Americana will be in April with consignments now being accepted. Inquiries may be directed to Lynda Cain at 215-563-275, extension 3038, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, www.freemansauction.com.
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