Published: May 8, 2007
Fine art brought robust prices and the smalls were stellar, although there was not one category that dominated Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ March 31⁁pril 1, 2007, auction, and auctioneer Kaja Veilleux could not be more pleased.
The 980-plus-lot auction that grossed just over $900,000 had it all: furniture, sculpture, fine art, jewelry and dozens of exceptional items from Maine homes. Diversity was the word of the day for this event.
“The sale overall had real strong interest, we had a packed house both days,” Veilleux said. “There was strong bidding from all avenues: online, phone and live.”
The sale got off to an outstanding start with the first lot, a folky cat carrier in a mustard yellow paint, made by a local veterinarian, circa 1890‱910, surpassing estimates while fetching $1,540.
The top lot of the auction came halfway through the first day’s session when a Chinese rhino horn libation cup crossed the block. The late Qing dynasty (Seventeenth⁅ighteenth Century) cup was carved with a lotus flower, branches and pomegranate in deep relief in a butternut patina and drew vigorous bidding from about a dozen people. Bidding began slowly but determinedly up to $6,000, at which point an impatient bidder jumped the lot with a $5,000 advancement. The cup swiftly advanced until it was claimed at $24,200.
Fine art was actively sought throughout the day with the top lot of the offerings coming as an ink drawing of a reclining nude woman by Isamu Noguchi (1904‱988), crossed the block. Signed and dated 1930, from the “Peking” series, the rare drawing sold at $17,325.
Several oil on canvas paintings brought top dollar, including “Summer Meadow” by Hugh Bolton Jones (Boston, 1848‱927) at $16,500, and “Guarding The Day’s Bag,” by John Morris (British, active 1865‱924) that fetched $13,750.
Nautical themes among oil paintings were popular and a broadside view of the three-mast ship Brynhilda by Samuel Badger (Massachusetts, 1873‱919) sold for $9,350, while two views of the paddle wheeler Ho-Nay by Nicholas Chevelier (Australian, 1828‱902) took $12,100 and $7,700 (side view), respectively.
Russian art was represented in the auction with an oil on canvas painting of a summer landscape with flowers by Arkadi Alexandrovich Ryloff (1870‱939) at $15,400, and a Russian guilloche and shaded enameled egg with gilt interior over silver base by Dmitrii Nikolaevich Nikolaev. Despite minor losses to the enamel, the 2½-inch-long egg brought $4,290.
Bigger is not always better when it comes to furniture as evidenced by a diminutive Queen Anne drop leaf mahogany table, circa 1730‵0, that achieved $13,200. Both the table and an Eighteenth Century continuous arm Windsor high chair, spindle back, were gifted from the Manor of St George, Long Island, and came to the auction from a Bangor, Maine, estate. The high chair took $4,400.
Furniture highlights included a pair of Regency mahogany, oversize demilune inlaid console tables that realized $9,350, and a set of ten Sheraton period mahogany dining chairs that sold for $8,800.
A highlight of the second day’s session was a prime collection of antique and estate jewelry that had been squirreled away in a Camden, Maine, bank vault for years, comprising more than 60 lots of bracelets, rings, brooches, earrings and necklaces. “There was great interest in the jewelry, it was a fabulous collection of period jewelry,” Veilleux said.
While jewelry seemed mostly to sell to the phone, the auctioneer said, there was equal interest in the gallery.
Tops among the jewelry was a lady’s platinum, sapphire and diamond bracelet, circa 1940, that fetched $18,700. The bracelet dazzled with a 6-carat star sapphire within a diamond plaque and five rows of sapphire beds and diamond spacers.
While the bracelet brought the highest price in the collection, the underdog was an Art Deco rock crystal, platinum, diamond and sapphire brooch, estimated at $1,000, that soared to $6,930. The brooch had an open work hexagonal rock crystal with the terminals set with 16 old European full and single cut diamond melee.
Other jewelry lots that performed well included a platinum, sapphire and diamond double clip brooch, circa 1940, set with 20 cabochon sapphires and 248 diamond melees, that brought $12,430; and an Art Moderne 14K white gold and aquamarine necklace at $8,525.
Late in the second day, sculpture was well represented in the sale and led by a marble bust of an attractive young woman in Renaissance costume with a pearl necklace that achieved $14,300.
“It came out of a house in Milton, Mass, and we had some lovely things from there,” Veilleux said, noting that an Eighteenth Century Chinese blue and white palace vase, scrolling vine and leaf pattern, nearly 4 feet high, also came from the large estate. The vase fetched $8,800.
A bronze, “Cheyenne” by Frederic Remington, originally cast in 1901, this one being a later cast inscribed as a memorial to Benjamin Stoddert, the first US Secretary of the Navy, dated 1904, sold for $4,950. A Nineteenth Century marble sculpture of a young, barefoot peasant boy carrying a water pitcher and a bundle of flowers took $4,400.
Carpets and textiles offerings included a palace-size Kashan carpet, circa 1920, white field with scalloped edge round medallion, 10 feet 6 inches by 18 feet 5 inches, which brought $11,000, and a 9 foot 10 inch by 12 feet 8 inch Oriental pictorial carpet from a New York home depicting deer, birds and trees with floral sprays, which sold for $4,125. A Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century fragment of a handwoven Flemish wall tapestry realized $5,225.
“Decorative arts did really well, anything extremely rare did really well,” Veilleux said. Highlights included a Georgian period oval teapot, English hallmarked by Hester Bateman, at $3,300, while a Pairpoint puffy glass lamp shade with a reverse painted rose blossom pattern fetched $3,740. A 6-by-6-inch art pottery tile, unmarked but attributed to Grueby, sold for $1,980.
A 20-year-old collection of 39 butter stamps and molds from Buxton, Maine, fetched mostly in the hundreds with a few exceptional pieces achieving four figures. A butter stamp with a carved bird design, possibly Amish, circa 1750‱850, pictured in the book, Butter Molds and Prints , 1985, led the group at $2,035, while a handmade Pennsylvania Dutch hardwood lollipop butter stamp †a fine example of a tulip, heart, swirls and stars †brought $1,375.
Several Nineteenth Century medical items were featured in the sale, including a monorail stethoscope in ivory and mahogany at $4,400 and a Civil War era surgeon’s kit, circa 1860, that achieved $7,150.
Of a Civil War memorial cane that brought $2,200, Veilleux said, “A lot of the interesting little things did really well. The sale was all over the place, the trick is good †good stuff brings big money.”
Found in a Bath, Maine, home, a circa 1790 cherry cased Chippendale tall case clock by Isiah Eaton, Walpole, N.H., brought $7,700. “There was a lot of interest there, evidently a rare maker,” he said of the clock that sold to the phone.
A whimsical hall tree, circa 1880, Black Forest German figural with a mother bear and a cub, sold to an eBay bidder for $6,050.
A collection of Coquilla nut snuff boxes and flasks was led by a rare snuff box in warship form, Napoleonic era, from an estate in Paris, that brought $2,365, and a late Eighteenth Century French snuff flask, probably sailor carved, at $2,035.
A collection of firefighting equipment from a local resident included a fire engine lantern of the first pumper in Rockland, Maine, that fetched $5,775. “He had always had it and was downsizing. It’s a fabulous piece and a very rare thing in that condition,” Veilleux said.
A group of eight offset color litho prints of “Huckleberry Finn” by Norman Rockwell dated 1972, brought $7,040.
All prices include a ten percent buyer’s premium.
The auction house’s next event will be its major summer auction Memorial Day weekend, again featuring a diverse offering including more than 150 paintings, a collection of ancient Roman glass and pottery, and rare African items.
For information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.
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