Published: September 12, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Courtney Auctions
MILLBURY, MASS. — Tom Courtney was flummoxed. His September 2 sale was in progress on LiveAuctioneers yet he couldn’t find a way to log in to watch what was going on. Such are the exigencies of modern auctioneering. Old School auctioneers stood behind the podium in control of the room, taking bids and hammering the procession of lots. Three days after his auction closed, Courtney said he was still trying to understand the results. This was Courtney Auctions’ next generation of estate auctions. It is still the family business begun by Courtney’s father Bob Courtney more than three decades ago, supplying collectors with an array of antiques, monumental lighting and rarities. The firm went on a nearly 10-year hiatus, closing its doors on May 12, 2013.
This most recent event was Tom Courtney’s debut as an online auctioneer, advertised as a sale where “you can find a little of this and a little of that.” The eclectic online-only sale offered everything from New England-style treasures and collectibles to Victorian and Midcentury Modern furniture. Also included were industrial items, chandeliers, wall sconces, oil paintings, Royal Doulton figurines, Fiesta stemware and more.
Top lot in the 297-lot sale was an antique carved mahogany RJ Horner winged Griffin partner’s desk with Northwind face side panels. Victorians prized these top-of-the-line desks that presented all panels and drawers with carved faces, massive carved claw feet and a carved top edge. This particular desk, circa 1880, came with a custom-made 3/8-inch-thick glass top and measured 57 inches long, 36 inches wide and 30½ inches high. It finished at $4,370.
It was literally “chandelier bidding” when three fixtures in succession crossed the block, each selling for $2,300. The huge antique 41-inch-diameter bent stained glass dome light chandeliers featured turtleback shields on their top crowns. Catalog notes explained that the first two were hanging in a mansion in the New Haven, Conn., area in which someone created a cross-bar style socket cluster. The last one was stored and had all its original parts. Each chandelier consisted of 70 white and pink bent glass panels separated by brass channeling, and then there were 14 turtleback-style bubble glass sections at the top creating a shield motif. In between each of the shields was a garland drapery motif.
Antique lighting, indeed, was on bidders’ shopping lists. A Victorian Renaissance pair of pierced bronze three-arm gas and electric wall sconces with figural “Lady Bust” shades went out at $1,754. They were 100 percent all original with the gas arms still having the original burner. Both electrical center arms had been rewired sometime not too long ago using new brass sockets. Catalog notes surmised that judging by the style of casting and two-part wall plate, the sconces could be attributed to being early E.F. Caldwell wall lights, circa 1895.
Two pair of antique restored and electrified gas wall sconces earned $1,336 and $886, respectively. The first featured pressed and single etched shades. This pair of wall sconces along with some others came from a mansion in the New Haven area. These had been restored approximately 20 years ago by electrifying them with a candelabra socket and polishing the brass with a clear coat. The second pair came from the same New Haven area mansion and sported floral single-etched shades.
Besides the R.J. Horner desk, furniture of note included a Victorian burled walnut bedroom suite, circa 1880, complete with marble tops, wood toggles and porcelain wheels, which drew a bargain $874 bid against its $2/4,000 estimate. The suite’s marble top commode had a backsplash and shelves, and the marble top three-drawer dresser had a mirror. The high-end Victorian bedroom set came out of a Victorian home in Grafton, Mass.
Fetching just $316 was a large Victorian two-tone walnut pedestal/lectern base with stars, possibly Masonic.
Of course, one would want an awesome Black Forest cuckoo clock to add to the décor, and this sale offered an example with music box, deer, trees and acorns. It was 36 inches tall, all carved wood, possibly walnut, with a large deer head mounted on top, and deer within a field with pine trees, acorns and leaf carving throughout. Striking on the half hour with the bird cuckooing and the music box playing on the hour, it had a little man who emerged from a door. It was believed to be an older reproduction, circa 1970, perhaps, and realized $863.
More lighting, both quirky and utilitarian, crossed the block. On the quirky side was a rare Victorian gas wall sconce and cigar lighter, with a lady’s hand holding an acid-etched shade. Circa 1860, it had been electrified, wired with 22-gauge lamp cord running through the gas key. An $863 bid took it home.
A set of five antique restored and electrified swing arm gas wall sconces with white pressed glass shades sold for $633, while an antique Victorian Renaissance four-arm gas chandelier with star cut shades that had been electrified took $633, and a pair of antique Victorian two-arm gas golden wall sconces with winged lion head, also electrified, left the gallery at $575.
The high side expectation for an early Roxbury tall case grandfather clock was $20,000, but it brought just $575. Said Courtney in his catalog notes, “I have done hours of research on this clock trying to figure out the maker, my hypothesis is a Roxbury clock maker, not only because of the style but also because the family history is that this clock had stayed in their family for generations and the family was from Roxbury, Mass. I have also seen Willard clocks having cases similar to this but uncertain if Willard ever used wood movement. However, while trying to research this clock, I cannot find even one with the cast bronze Corinthian caps. While using a flashlight I discovered a whole bunch of signatures barely visible on the door. These signatures are really only visible if the light hits it right and apparently most names are the family named Howard. One name I could clearly make out was Mary A. Howard.” Probably from the early 1800s, the clock had a pierced broken arched pediment with three solid brass finials, cast bronze Corinthian cat fluted columns with bronze bases and fine bronze pieces within the fluted part of the column. Both doors were adorned with a fine banded inlay. “I believe the case is either cherry or mahogany,” opined Courtney. The clock face was hand-painted with decorative corners and a bird on top. After the sale, Courtney said, “We had 23 watchers, but it went to an absentee bid. This one disappointed me a bit, I thought this had the potential to take off.”
Rounding out the sale’s notable lots were an antique salt-glazed stoneware moonshine jug, reddish to brown and tan in color, at $575; and an Art Deco 1927 penny coin-operated gum machine by Stoner Manufacturing that had a $293 payday.
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Courtney said he’ll present another sale at a date to be determined. For information, 508-581-7645.
October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023
October 3, 2023
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