Published: July 30, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Jackie Sideli
NANTUCKET, MASS. – According to notes from the catalog, the idea for Eldred’s to hold an auction on Nantucket was formulated a few years ago. “It was not until we established a charitable partnership with the Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT) that we felt that the timing for that was right. I feel very positive about our sale,” said Joshua Eldred in a postsale chat. “We’ll go back next year – and we are increasing our exposure in selective ways.” The Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT) is a nonprofit membership organization, dedicated to preserving the island’s unique architectural heritage and timeless sense of place. According to a presale press release, Eldred’s had pledged to donate two percent of the total auction proceeds to the NPT.
The top lot of Eldred’s Nantucket Auction was a monumental oil on canvas painting by American artist John Mecray titled “The Chase, Shamrock V,” which was signed and dated on the lower left, “John Mecray 1999.” The unframed painting, which measured 26 by 46 inches, sold to a buyer on the telephone for $67,650. According to the catalog, this was the fourth painting Mecray did of the Shamrock V, which is depicted sailing downwind in her last race before the 1930 America’s Cup.
There were a great many oil paintings offered at the sale, as well as special Nantucket themed items. An unsigned but framed Francis Seth Frost view, titled “Siasconset Beach – Nantucket,” measured a substantial 36 by 60 inches and brought $25,600.
A Francis Augustus Silva (American, 1835-1886) oil on canvas titled, “The Old Wreck,” signed on the lower left “Silva,” which measured a diminutive 8 by 15 inches unframed, brought $15,360. An oil on canvas by British painter Samuel Walters (1811-1882) depicting the SS Frankenfield, was signed and dated on the lower right “S.W. 1861,” measured 28 by 42 inches, and sold for $15,360. Another ship portrait that sold was that of the George H. Ames by Solon Francis Montecello Badger (American, 1873-1919). It was signed on the lower left “S.F.M. Badger ’99” and sold for $6,765.
A Napoleonic prisoner-of war model of the 100-gun ship-of-the-line, circa 1800, of the HMS Prince, had an insert baleen waistband and applied baleen between the gunports. The ship was displayed on a pair of bone cradles, on marquetry board, in a glass with mahogany base. The case measured 11¾ inches high, 14½ inches long and 6 inches wide, and brought $24,320. Another Napoleonic prisoner-of-war model of a British 80-gun ship-of-the-line, had detailed brass canons, bone veneer planked decks and water barrels, all displayed on a pair of mahogany cradles. It measured 14¼ inches high by 20 inches long and 8 inches wide and achieved $32,000 against an estimate of $12/18,000. An exhibition standard diorama depicting the December 29, 1812 meeting of the USS Constitution and the HMS Java, created by Ken Britten (1928-2013) circa 1975, sold for $7,380.
A pair of gracefully carved life-size contemporary swans, carved by the Bruffee family, had antique finish, and one swan was carved “BBB” on the underside. Measuring 48½ and 49 inches, they sold quickly for $5,760 to a buyer on the internet. A group of five carved sandpipers, mounted together on a driftwood base, signed and dated “Mark Holland 1981,” brought $2,560, also selling to an online buyer.
An exceptional Nantucket basket sewing table by Michael Kane was offered mid-sale. The two-tiered table, which had been exhibited at the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum, featured a removable sewing basket on the upper tier that was intended for sewing or needlepoint projects, and a smaller version on the lower tier. The larger basket was lavishly adorned with carved shells from various colors and types of wood. This unusual double basket table opened for bidding at $15,000 and quickly sold to an internet buyer for a solid $23,040.
A oil on board view of “Sand Beach – Mount Desert Island, Maine” by Joseph McGurl was also offered mid-sale, and was signed on the lower left, and dated 1994-95. Unframed, it measured 20 by 36 inches and achieved $7,380.
A Chinese export famille rose porcelain bowl measured 4 inches high and had a diameter of 9 inches and an estimate of just $400/600, but interest pushed the selling price to a solid $3,712. A pair of Chinese export reverse paintings on glass, dating from the late Nineteenth Century or Twentieth Century, both depicting a young woman with fanciful hair adornments, brought $1,088. A Chinese Rose Medallion porcelain hexagonal garden seat, with figural bird and flower decoration, which had an estimate of $1,5/2,000 brought $1,920, and a Chinese Rose Medallion porcelain hexagonal garden seat, dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century, sold for $2,176.
Another painting sold at the Nantucket auction was an iconic Ralph Eugene Cahoon (1910-1982) mermaid painting, depicting mermaids feeding the chickens and other mermaids holding bountiful baskets of vegetables. This colorful painting, complete with characteristic hot air balloons in the sky, was signed on the lower right “R Cahoon,” and measured 20 by 24 inches, unframed. After a round of competitive bidding, it brought $31,980.
The hall reflected the reality of a summer weekend on Nantucket and the majority of the bidders were active online and on the phones.
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house.
For additional information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.
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