Published: April 18, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Eldred’s
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – A few lots shy of 600 were offered in Eldred’s Spring Sale, conducted in two sessions April 6-7. Fine and decorative arts, household furnishings and collectibles were on offer, with consignments sourced from both near and far.
“I thought it was a great sale overall, I’m very pleased,” said company president and chief executive officer Josh Eldred, who confirmed the sale made “just over $1 million. We had a lot of new bidders. One was furnishing a period house; it warmed my soul to see them buy period things. They bought a few pieces of furniture and some paintings. Their parents have been customers in the past, years ago.”
At the top of the sale was an 1859 gold and silver mounted dress Bowie knife from the California Gold Rush, which Eldred said came from a local Cape Cod collection. Featuring a bone and silver coffin-form handle with engraved 18K gold shield on both sides, the sheath had a cutaway horn inset with a rectangular 18K gold plaque engraved “Sacramento May 1859.” Estimated at $9/12,000, the knife reached $68,750 from a buyer in California.
Fine art can usually be counted on to bring high prices; several lots not only helped boost the overall total but dominated the leaderboard. Achieving a second-place finish at $30,000 was “Sunset over Rolling Waves” by William Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905). Measuring 20 by 40 inches and featuring the artist’s signature, the oil on canvas, which had been consigned from a collection in New Haven, Conn., will be going to a private collection in Florida.
One of the most popular paintings in the sale – “The Red Palace” by Oliver Dennett Grover (American, 1861-1927) – sold for $18,750, a price Eldred said “didn’t quite hit the record but wasn’t too far off.” Depicting a Venetian canal scene, the 1913 oil on canvas composition was housed in a Newcomb-Macklin frame that measured 38 by 49 inches. A New York City buyer had the winning bid, a result that put the painting in third place overall.
The same result of $18,750 was achieved for “Evening Glow, Vermont” by Emile Albert Gruppe (American, 1896-1978). A Cape Cod collector who was downsizing gave Eldred the 25-by-30-inch oil on canvas, which had a Rockport Art Association label on its reverse. A buyer from Maine prevailed over other interested bidders.
Eldred said “Glare” by local Massachusetts artist Joseph McGurl (b 1958) was “a great example of what he does, a wonderful local artist who is a master with light.” Depicting Monhegan Island looking at Manana, the 2000 oil on Masonite composition, 12 by 24 inches, will be staying in Massachusetts, acquired by a local buyer for $8,125.
“We’ve seen an uptick in her work since she died, and will have more of her pieces later in the summer,” Eldred said of Elizabeth Mumford (Massachusetts, 1950-2020), a local Cape Cod artist who was represented in the sale with just one work, a 1999 oil on board bird’s-eye view of Osterville and Centerville, Cape Cod. It sold to a Cape Cod buyer for $7,500.
Modern and contemporary art saw strength in several works, notably a painting of six rabbits by Hunt Slonem (American/Indian, b 1951), which came out of a Provincetown, Mass., collection and hopped to a buyer in Georgia for $17,500, more than twice its high estimate.
Charles Green Shaw’s (American, 1882-1974) “Converging Forces,” an unframed abstract oil on board composition was part of the artist’s estate, which Eldred said the auction house had been handing over the past six or seven years. He confirmed it sold to a buyer in Nebraska, for $8,125.
More than 50 lots in the sale were fire-fighting collectibles and antiques from the collection of Jan and Chuck Deluca, who was the author of Firehouse Memorabilia, A Collectors Reference (1990). Eldred’s had sold Deluca’s collection of marine and maritime antiques in a previous Marine auction.
Coming in first place in the firefighting collectibles category at $16,250 was a Nineteenth Century silverplated collapsible speaking trumpet. Measuring 16 inches and engraved with a steam fire engine, hydrant and shield, the piece also featured the inscription “Presented to Chief Engineer ER Campbell by Independence Steamer Co. No. 5.” Estimated at $7,5/9,500, it sold to a buyer in Florida. The same buyer paid $10,625 for a 3-inch-tall fire department badge that dated to circa 1850 and was engraved with a horse-drawn steam fire engine and inscribed “Boston Fire Department Asst. Engineer.”
Other highlights from the Deluca collection include a Nineteenth Century silver presentation parade torch for Fire Company #24, which earned $5,625. Several helmets were included, topped at $5,000 by a white-painted pair of Nineteenth Century examples with eagle holders that held shields inscribed “Asst. Engineer Kearney Fire Dept. E.H. King” and “Presented to Erling H. King by the Arlington H&L Co. No. 1 1901.”
The furniture category saw some ups and downs but was topped by an impressive Chippendale blockfront kneehole desk, made in Massachusetts circa 1760, which came to Eldred’s from a house in Massachusetts. Despite having a later refinished surface, the piece was largely original and sold within estimate, for $9,375. Eldred said it would be staying in Massachusetts.
Also discovered in Massachusetts and destined to stay local was a Dunlap-family style chest on frame made by Eldred Wheeler in the Twentieth Century, that exceeded expectations to bring $6,875.
For local interest, it would be difficult to beat a Nineteenth Century pocket watch trade sign for J.E. Baxter of West Dennis, Mass. The 29-inch-tall sign was accompanied by a Cahoon Studio photograph of Captain J.E. Baxter and two reproduction photos of Main Street, West Dennis, circa 1890, showing Baxter’s shop with this sign hanging outside. Eldred said it sold to an unidentified institution for $8,125.
Eldred’s next sales include a May Antiques & Accessories sale May 16-17, and the firm’s annual Summer Sale, July 27-28.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For more information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.
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