Published: August 6, 2002
By R. Scudder Smith
OSSIPEE, N.H. — There could be no better description than “fresh to the market” for the pair of paintings sold by Gary R. Wallace on Monday evening, August 5. The oil portraits on wood panels by Asahel Powers were not hung at the time they were consigned, but were fully protected, tucked away in a closet.
“We did an auction for a family in New London,” Gary said, “and that family referred us to people who were selling a Civil War collection that had been stored in an attic.” That sale brought in more than $250,000 and thus Gary Wallace Auctioneers was the obvious choice when it came to selling the paintings.
The panels measure 26½ by 39 inches each and the sitters are Captain Daniel Cobb and Lucy Stevens Cobb, Windham, Vt., 1831. They were consigned from a direct descendent and were offered for the first time. The works have a strong provenance and have been exhibited at the museum in Springfield, Vt., and at Colonial Williamsburg, in addition to having been published.
The presale estimate for the pair was $100/150,000, “and that may be conservative,” Gary said three days before the sale. He indicated that the estimate was based on what research could be done on Powers’ works. The pair of paintings sold for $275,000 including the buyer’s premium. The buyer was Bill Samaha.
He noted that there had been great interest in the paintings, especially following the first advertisement. “However, we were still getting calls right up until the sale; one dealer flew in to have a look at them, and many dealers and collectors stopped by,” he said. All six lines coming into the auction gallery were reserved well in advance of the sale and a good number of would-be buyers were in attendance.
Gary Wallace generally runs his sales on Saturday nights, but held this one on Monday so as not to conflict with the sale Northeast Auctions was running in Manchester. And why were the paintings the first lot sold at 6 pm? “I am a country auctioneer, you might say a 5 and 10 dollar guy, and I would be too nervous if I held them off till later in the sale,” Gary said.
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