Published: April 6, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Hess Fine Auctions
ST PETERSBURG, FLA.- Hess Fine Auctions’ March 27 sale had a bit of everything. Vintage sports cards, American folk art, clocks, a Patrick Nagel seductress – are you intrigued?
The sale was led at $4,366 with a horseracing sporting portrait by Louis Ferdinand Malespina (1874-1940). The 28¾-by-40-inch oil on canvas featured the thoroughbred colt Pacha winning the 1941 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as he was presumably rode by jockey Philippe Gund.
Two vintage baseball cards rode interest to strong results. At $3,690 was an N173 Old Judge Cigarettes cabinet card of catcher Charlie Bennet. The card was graded PSA 5 and the firm noted it’s the only slabbed card of its kind in the population. Bennet is credited with creating the first catcher’s chest protector out of old mattress material, which he hid from sight from his teammates, wearing the protector under his uniform. His career ended in 1900 when he suffered the loss of his legs in a train accident. Behind at $2,706 was an N173 Old Judge Cigarettes cabinet card of Hardy Richardson, PSA graded 4.5, one of two in that grade in the census. “Old True Blue,” as Richardson was called, had a long career with the Boston Beaneaters where he played second base and outfield.
“When you bought a pack of Old Judge Cigarettes,” said auction coordinator Brandon Peck, “You would get a coupon and, if you got enough, you’d send away for a cabinet card. It was much larger than a baseball card, they weren’t common, even then.”
Two winter landscape folk art images by Forrest K. Moses (1893-1974) sold at the same price, $3,444 each to different buyers. Forrest was the son of famed American folk artist Grandma Moses, and both of these works were bought from the artist in Vermont in the late 1960s, shortly after they were painted.
Leaning back was an artist proof lithograph by Patrick Nagel (1945-1984), titled “Heidi.” From a numbered edition of 90, the work measured 30 by 20 inches and sold for $2,832.
Ticking to $2,829 was a Japy Frere annual calendar double dial mantel clock with a Renaissance Revival case. It needed some restoration to the case and dial, but bidders chased it regardless for 16 increments.
Seven paintings found in the sale were by French artist Yves Edgar Muller d’Escars (1876-1958). The artist studied under Lefebvre, Bouguereau, Constant and Robert-Fleury at the Académie Julian in Paris. He exhibited at the French Salon and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1903. All of the works came with documentation saying they had been acquired from the artist’s grandson. At $2,596 was a small-scale work, an oil on board measuring just 4¾ by 6-1/8 inches, centered on lovers in a landscape with a paint-decorated frame. Not far behind at $2,478 was an allegorical oil on canvas measuring 18 by 33½ inches, featuring frolicking women in an autumn landscape. The frame was also artist decorated. Peck said interest came from the United States on these, with the phones going just as strong as the internet. “They don’t come up too often,” he said. “He’s kind of esoteric.”
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.hessfineauctions.com or 727-896-0622.
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