Published: February 8, 2022
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Catalog Photos Courtesy Devin Moisan Auctioneers
EPPING, N.H. – It’s taken awhile for Devin Moisan to embrace internet bidding. But over the last two years, he has and one of the advantages of internet-only selling became apparent on Saturday, January 29, the first day of this sale. A live sale that day would likely have had no bidders in the room and would probably have had to be cancelled. Southern New Hampshire was hit with a heavy snowstorm and forecasts estimated 12-20 inches. But the sale was planned as an internet-only sale, with a week-long live preview, and it worked very well. Having an assortment of desirable merchandise drove the sale, which grossed about $730,000. At one point, more than 900 people were watching online.
Moisan had put together a sale with a number of collections: oil paintings, art pottery, Bennington and other Rockingham pottery, spatterware, redware, stoneware, a large assortment of early furniture, weathervanes, fine Continental porcelains, Arts and Crafts and midcentury furniture, toys, books, silver, coins, photographica, jewelry and much more. His online catalog descriptions, many done by Rebecca Davis, were comprehensive and multiple photos were included of each item. Condition reports were available with a phone call.
Bringing the highest price of the two-day sale – $38,750 – was a matched pair of White Mountain paintings, each 25 by 15 inches. Each was signed and titled on the reverse and identically framed. New Hampshire-born Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908), known for his luminist landscapes, produced many White Mountain paintings, as well as numerous maritime scenes. Many of his paintings were later reproduced as chromolithographs. One of the pair that Moisan had – a scene at Sawyer’s Pond in Livermore, N.H. – is an uncommon subject and was titled “Twilight, Sawyer’s Pond, N.H.” The second, titled “Twilight in November,” depicted a church steeple with the Presidential mountain range in the background. The price for the pair was more than three times the estimate.
There were only two flags in the sale, but one ultimately achieved $35,000, the second highest piece of the day. It was a parade flag with the great seal of the United States in red on a blue ground surrounded by 36 white stars. That dates the flag to 1865-67 as pro-union Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864. (Nebraska became the 37th state on March 1, 1867). Pennsylvania dealer and flag expert, Jeff Bridgman, bought it. After the sale he said, “There aren’t more than 12 – maybe 13 – of these flags with the eagle. I own two of them. To the best of my knowledge, there were only two flags with a red overprint like this one. The other was a Lincoln campaign flag. It’s one of my most cherished items. The price was more than I thought it would be, but it’s such a rarity that I decided I had to have it.”
Moisan has developed a following for art pottery, as well as midcentury studio pottery. The first day of the sale started off with a collection of Hampshire and other art pottery. Topping the category was an impressive matte yellow Teco jardiniere designed by Hugh M.G. Garden. It was stamped Teco, along with the shape number, 106, and sold for $2,625. Two early Van Briggle pieces did well. A carved “Virginia Creeper” vase impressed “AA” and “Van Briggle/ 1904/ V,” sold for $1,750; a molded 1905 “Mistletoe” vase with the “AA” logo, “Van Briggle/ 1905/ X,” earned $1,500. Most of the ten pieces of Hampshire sold in the $400 price range, with a blue molded vase, designed by Cadmon Robertson with overlapping leaves and marked “Hampshire Pottery” reaching $563.
The first day also included Arts and Crafts furniture and accessories. A Gustav Stickley #224 oak hall bench, with a lifting seat, realized $5,000, and a Limbert oak slant front desk and chair earned $1,000. There was not much lighting but a copper and mica rivet lamp, in the manner of Dirk van Erp, realized $4,588.
Nineteenth Century American ceramics, including several pieces of Bennington, or Rockingham, and a collection of spatterware and historical blue Staffordshire, were sold on the second day. Easily leading the selection was a large and impressive Bennington flint enamel figural spill vase with a recumbent stag in front of a tree trunk on a rocky base with applied “moss.” It was covered with splashed green, blue, orange and cream glazes and had the impressed mark “Lyman, Fenton & Co. 1849.” It was almost 11 inches tall, illustrated in Barret’s Bennington Pottery and Porcelain and it sold for $10,313, well above estimate. There were two finely molded pairs of poodles carrying baskets; one was in the traditional Rockingham glaze, circa 1850-58. Each dog was carrying a basket containing a bunch of blue grapes and two yellow apples; the pair was also illustrated in Barret’s book and earned $5,313. Selling for just a little less was the other pair, which had a white graniteware glaze and blue eyes; it brought $5,000. There were more than 15 lots of spatterware. Bidders gave the nod to a two color, rainbow pattern dinner plate, circa 1830, which realized $1,125 and a set of 12 dinner plates with floral designs that sold for $1,375.
An outstanding two-door dark blue canted-back chimney cupboard led the selection of early furniture, bringing $7,188 – far above the estimate. Prices for formal furniture were soft with a walnut New York Chippendale slant front desk with a simple interior, on ogee feet, selling for just $500, below the conservative estimate, and a Federal period Pembroke table with oval drop leaves selling for just $157. On the other hand, quality reproduction continues to do well. There were several reproduction pieces by DR Dimes. A tiger maple Chippendale-style four-drawer chest brought $2,250 and a 64-inch-wide tiger maple Queen Anne-style bed sold for $2,500.
A couple of days before the sale, during the preview, we discussed with Moisan how internet selling fits in with his business plan. “I know that I resisted using the internet along with live sales for a long time. This format, internet only, allows us to run larger sales in a reasonable amount of time. This one had more than 400 lots on day one and more than 500 lots on day two. We could never do that with a sale combining live bidding with the internet. We’re planning on doing two or three sales a year like this one, perhaps with some smaller ones if it seems appropriate. This type of sale is far more labor intensive. Our catalog descriptions have to be comprehensive and accurate, and we have to take many more photos. We have to respond to requests for condition reports. But it allows us to have a week-long preview and many more people are able to see what we have and, most importantly, tell their friends. We’re certainly reaching a broader audience – that’s good for the consignor and good for me. And we don’t have to worry about weather forecasts like the one for Saturday, which call for blizzard conditions in New Hampshire.”
After the sale, Moisan said “I was certainly pleased with the way it turned out. The $730,000 gross is a good number; we had a lot of online participation and some surprising sales. The framed CDVs were one of the surprises – I didn’t expect them to bring close to $7,200 and the pictorial Navajo rug was a nice surprise. The interest in the parade flag was unexpected. I didn’t see anyone looking at it during the preview, but the guy who bought it knows what he was looking at.”
For additional information, www.moisanauctions.com or 603-953-0022.
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