Published: July 24, 2001
By Rita Easton
SMITHTOWN, N.Y. – Eric Nathan Auction Company held a two-session auction of the Charles Embree Rockwell estate, Woodcrest, comprising 24 acres overlooking the water, on Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8.
Saturday’s sale was catalogued with 485 lots, and Sunday’s was uncatalogued with 375 lots of “barn and attic” lots. The event took place under a tent on the lawn at the Smithtown Historical Society on Long Island, following previews at 8 am each day, and a Friday preview from 3 to 5 pm.
“Charles Embree Rockwell lived and died in the same place, was born in the same bed he died in, and the estate contained many generations of property,” said Nathan. “It was very unusual to have a sale with such a historic point of reference, and the local people really turned out and supported it.
“The Rockwells were one of the founding families of Smithtown, Long Island. [Charles] was a pilot in his professional life. He held the record for coast-to-coast speed for a propeller plane. He flew for American Airlines. He was philanthropic when it came to local interests. Every museum and historical society in the area knew him.”
The starring lot was an embroidery by Sara Smith, a descendent of the family, done in 1819, in fair condition, with some deterioration around the edges but the figures being bold and beautiful, measuring 30 by 37 inches, going to the trade at $14,300. The same buyer also purchased the stretcher, which apparently the embroidery was originally on, in red paint, at $400.
An amber glass one pint flask with a 13 star flag, circa 1860, from New Granite Glass Works in Stoddard, New Hampshire, “rare and in good shape” said Nathan, went to the trade – “the king of the trade” said Nathan – “with competition from California, Virginia, New Hampshire. It was rare and special”), at $8,250. A York chair, otherwise known as a fiddleback side chair, deftly turned with good patina, had provenance to a Captain Philetas Smith, in the Long Island military regiment in 1770, and sold to the Long Island Museum of Antiques in Stony Brook at $7,700.
A pine desk with an early Smithtown provenance with slightly slanted lid brought $4,400; a secretaire a abattant brought $3,080; a pierced tin lantern sold at $1,320; two sideboards were purchased at $2,640 and $1,980, both mahogany; a 1953 Farmall tractor with a few attachments sold at $3,950; and lots of 5 or 6 tools each went out in the range of $150 to $300.
A four-piece parlor set comprising three chairs with oval backs and an oval back settee, having applied ormolu, in matching cream upholstery, did $1,540; an early floral theorem, 10 by 12 inches, signed Sara Smith, brought $3,310; and a second theorem by the same hand brought $2,090. A dish top candlestand realized $2,100; and a two-drawer inlaid server, inlaid with ebony and ivory in a star pattern, good patina, light mahogany, made $3,300.
Mirrors ranged from $200 to $1,200; four thumb back chairs did $550 for the set; and a Sheraton mahogany secretary desk, having double six light doors over a slant lid over three long drawers, garnered $2,200.
Prices quoted above reflect a buyer’s premium of 10 percent buyer’s premium or 12 percent with Visa or MasterCard.
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