By Jackie Sideli
EAST PROVIDENCE, R. I. -To get to the most recent site of the Nino Scotti Associated Appraisers, Inc auction, one had to go through residential neighborhoods surrounding the city of Providence. For this auction, the firm had rented a warehouse in the rear of a semi-abandoned-looking industrial complex, in the very off-the-beaten-track City of East Providence.
Scotti is a bit of an anomaly in the antiques business. He has been running antiques sales for a very long time, and always marches to his own drummer, in every way. Scotti does not charge a buyer’s premium, which is in his advertisement in bold print thusly: “Of course no buyer’s penalty ever charged”. He does not have very many sales at this point, no more than one a year. It was worth waiting for, as it always is.
For this auction Scotti unearthed some rare, and very fine, artifacts. He advertised that this sale had property for sale from several Rhode Island towns, including Portsmouth, Little Compton, South Kingston, Cranston and Barrington, as well as five houses on Providence’s fashionable East Side, and also Cape Cod, Mass.
This was an old-fashioned sale, with tons of interesting and quality material, and no catalog to refer to. There was no buyer’s preview the day of the sale, and in order to preview the lots, one had to visit the all-day preview on Sunday (the sale was held on a Monday).
The most striking rdf_Description in this auction, was, by far, the huge, and colorful Balch School silk embroidered double mourning picture, which was “Wrought by Susan Harris 1807.” In remarkable condition, the sky was done in silk split stitch of deep azure blue. There was considerable interest in this artifact, and Scotti told me just prior to the sale that he had only seen several from this school of this quality. Antiques dealer Gary Langenbach from Kingston, Mass., went home with the lot, for which he was delighted to pay $10,500.
The other period needlework picture, a Rhode Island house sampler, by Harriet W. Johnson, 1829, with history sold for just $650.
Other outstanding rdf_Descriptions that surfaced at this auction was the large, black on black “very important Maria pot” as described in the advertisement, bought from the famous potter herself by Professor W.H. Kenerson. Native American specialist Mark Brightman, from Lunenburg, Mass., who had come to sale to acquire the pot, paid $2,100 for it.
There were several very stylish leaded glass bookcases, which Scotti sold individually. One was the double, which was in great condition and brought $1,600, from a buyer at the sale, and the others were singles, and sold for $950, the pair.
The other outstanding thing offered at this auction was the large folio Audubon colored lithograph, “White Head Eagle, Male,” a “No 7 Plate 31,” R Havell and Son, London, 1828, which opened for bidding $5,000, sold to a left bid for $6,000.
Several times during the auction Scotti would scold the crowd, “You’re asleep!” when he felt something was being sold too reasonably. Auctioneer Ed Tessier, from MV Auction Company in Cape Cod, bought a lot of diminutive bird carvings for $650. Tessier also underbid the scrimshaw tooth, with carving on both sides, with one side depicting a tall ship. The tooth sold to a left bid for $1,800.
This was a very intriguing auction, with tons of material, fresh from houses. In the dark, poorly lit auction hall, it was hard to see, and indeed, this made it all the more attractive to those who love the hunt. Attendance was good, the hall was not completely full, but there was a pretty substantial group of dealers and collectors who had come, hoping to go home with some good “stuff.” And they did.