Published: October 31, 2017
Review and Onsite Photos by Laura Beach, Additional Photos Courtesy Nadeau’s
WINDSOR, CONN. – Take ‘er easy there, pilgrim, as John Wayne might have said. Early New England furniture of the variety that used to be called “Pilgrim Century” appears to be enjoying a resurgence. Nearly three centuries after it was most likely made in Wethersfield, Conn., by Peter Blin, an early Eighteenth Century oak and pine Sunflower chest brought $32,400, including buyer’s premium, at Nadeau’s on October 21.
Add it to the Hadley chest sold by South Egremont, Mass., dealers Elliott and Grace Snyder at the recent ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show and a Guilford chest coming up in Brunk’s November 9-11 auction in Asheville, N.C., and we have a pre-Thanksgiving wave.
Nadeau’s chest – whose carved central panel features opulent, multipetaled blooms resembling sunflowers – is decorated with applied spindles and bosses and is inscribed on the underside of its lid “February 24, 1703/04.” The date is thought to correspond with the marriage of the individuals who may have owned the chest first, Ruth Hale (1681-1737) and Thomas Kimberly (1681-1729). From there the piece enjoyed a well-documented descent in several prominently intermarried Hartford and New London County, Conn., families, among them the Footes, Otises, Brainerds and Bulkeleys, before coming to rest in the Smith family. It is mentioned in the Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin of July 1970. Like many pieces of its age, it had been repaired, the auctioneer said.
“The chest was in Farmington, Conn., when it was appraised 20 or 30 years ago,” said auction house president Edwin J. Nadeau Jr, who recalled selling a Hadley chest as part of his September 29, 2001, auction of the estate of Hartford conservator Paul Koda. The Koda Hadley, conserved by Roger Gonzales, went to dealer Jonathan Trace.
Bidding on the Sunflower chest opened at $15,000 and progressed in $1,000 increments before selling to a bidder seated in the front of the room, Richard Everett. “I own a court cupboard. I’ve wanted a Sunflower chest for many years,” said the 87-year-old buyer, whose Seventeenth Century house in East Haddam, Conn., is filled with antiques acquired over the years. A blacksmith by profession, Everett fashioned replicas of early lighting, hardware and even a stove for museums and private collectors. “Zeke Liverant, Charlie Montgomery and Izzy Sack visited me. My apprentices went on to have careers in the antiques business,” he told us.
“Ballpark, we did very close to half-a-million dollars total. We were happy to get many smaller items off in the $800 to $2,000 range,” Nadeau said after the sale. Indeed, his sweet spot seemed to be $2,000, a price point representing equilibrium between sellers, happy to disperse estate goods, and collectors, loading up on goodies for their houses, or dealers seeking merchandise on which to turn a profit.
Nadeau’s annual New Year’s Day auction looks to be a special occasion. According to the auctioneer, “We will have more paintings than ever. Our lead lot is a Wayne Thiebaud lollipops painting. I think we have it estimated at $500/800,000. We have more property from the Credit Suisse corporate collection, which we have been selling for two years. Some wonderful prints just came in. We’ve got a great Hamden, Conn., estate with furniture in extremely fine condition. We have Victorian furniture; several pieces of great French furniture, some of it signed, that came through Sotheby’s and Christie’s; plus, items by Margolis and Fineberg.”
Prices quoted reflect Nadeau’s buyer’s premium, but not, where applicable, any surcharge for online bidding.
Nadeau’s Auction Gallery is at 25 Meadow Road. For information, www.nadeausauction.com or 860-246-2444.
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