Published: January 7, 2020
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
STURBRIDGE, MASS. – D.L. Straight Auctioneers offered up 388 lots from six estates, including some from the estate of Laura and Richard May, on December 28 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel.
Anyone who has ever been to Brimfield will recognize that name from their eponymous field that opens each edition during the antiques megaweek, May’s Antique Market, which began in 1977 and hasn’t ceased yet. It continues today under the guidance from the next generation of Mays. The field is known for its one rule: no early buying. To this day, dealers keep their inventory under cover or in their vehicles until the bell rings out at 9 am on the opening Thursday.
Laura May passed away in July 2018 and was predeceased by Richard in 2007. The sale at the Sturbridge Host Hotel was close to home: a 7-mile drive from their field.
Prior to opening May’s Antique Market, Laura May ran the Sturbridge Antique Show in the 1970s, an event that raised money for the Sturbridge Rotary Fund and the Operation Friendship Fund.
Auctioneer David Straight remembered Laura walking through his tent every edition at Brimfield. “Laura would come by and buy a piece of stoneware from us, she always did. She bought like everybody else: a little here and a little there.”
For all intents and purposes, Laura and Richard May were passion collectors. They bought what they loved and did so unsparingly. The first sale from their collection at D.L. Straight was a month earlier on November 26.
“That sale went really well,” auctioneer Dave Straight told us. “We had a lot of unusual pieces of stoneware and some of the furniture sold well.”
Among the offerings from the December sale was the couple’s collection of Native American objects and textiles, country furniture and miscellaneous objects.
Following up with him after the December 28 sale, Straight related that he was pleased and that things sold well against their estimates.
Straight said that he had 114 bidders checked into his sale, with another 2,500 checked in on Invaluable.
The top lot of the auction was cataloged as a 1760-70 Philadelphia side chair, with extensive carving, that sold above estimate at $4,150 to a Nashville, Tenn., buyer.
It was followed closely behind by an A.L. Jewell running horse weathervane, circa 1850 and 32 inches long. It was in original condition, without bullet holes or repairs, and it sold for $4,025.
Country and formal furniture finished between estimates, with cupboards proving plentiful. An Eighteenth Century pine stepback cupboard in an early gray over sage green paint, with original iron rattail hinges and door latch, went out at $3,450. An Eighteenth Century William and Mary two-piece pewter cupboard in an old original surface sold for $748. In apple green paint, a Nineteenth Century stepback cupboard with a shelved interior and open top sold for $460. And from across the pond, a heavily carved English oak cupboard with original ball feet, only 61 inches high, sold at $460.
Two William and Mary ball foot chests would sell near each other. At $1,500 was the circa 1725 red-painted two-drawer blanket chest with replaced ball feet. And it was followed behind by another two-drawer example, this one in old black paint, circa 1700, likely Connecticut and with original feet, that brought $1,150.
In early furniture, an oak carver chair in all original condition, full 44-inch height, sold at $1,150. It was joined by a Seventeenth Century carved blanket chest, thought to be from New Haven because of the carved wave decoration border along the bottom skirt, that sold for $259. A circa 1690 pilgrim century linen fold cabinet chest went out at a modest $173.
“Certainly a lot of the things came from out West, the Mays had an affinity for going out there,” Straight said, of the Native American lots in the sale. Leading that category was a Nineteenth Century bird mask with a removable beak, still in its bright original paint, that brought $2,160 above a $400 estimate. It measured 11 inches high by 23 inches long. Right behind it was a Navajo blanket with a cross pattern, circa 1910-20, and measuring 56 by 89 inches. It brought $1,725. Another similar example took $1,000.
Straight’s next sale in February will feature more tribal offerings from the May estate, along with country furniture from a Hardwick, Mass., estate.
For additional information, www.dlstraightauctioneers.com or 508-769-5404.
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