Published: November 1, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Everard Auctions
SAVANNAH, GA. – On October 19 and 20, Everard Auctions and Appraisals conducted a two-session sale of the collection of John and Virginia Duncan of Savannah, Ga., showcasing more than 70 years of collecting. John D. Duncan (1938-2022) was an author, historian and retired history professor who, with his wife Ginger (Virginia), established V&J Duncan Antique Maps in 1983. This sale of their shared, lifelong collection was truly an event for collectors of Southern interests, books and works on paper, American decorative arts, ethnographic arts and even a few curiosities. According to president Amanda Everard, “There was active bidding throughout with locals bidding against collectors and dealers from across the country with locals winning 55 percent of the sale.” The auction had a 98 percent sell-through rate, with a grand total of $530,356 that exceeded its estimate of $322,105/492,245.
Coming on the second day, the top lot of both sessions was a rare and important map of Savannah, “A View of Savanah as it Stood the 29th of March, 1734” by Peter Gordon, who delivered the map to London, where it was engraved by Paul Fourdrinier. Although Gordon’s name has become synonymous with the map, it was created through the efforts of three additional men; James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785), Noble Jones and George Jones in London. One of only 11 examples known – most in public collections with a few in private hands – the map is distinctive from other colonial views for its bird’s-eye perspective and detailed depiction of American wilderness surrounding the site. It sold for $109,375 to a local private collector.
Two other Savannah maps were included in the top lots, and each multiplied their initial estimates. Published by A. Ruger of St Louis, a “Bird’s Eye View of the City of Savannah Georgia” lithograph from 1871, from the perspective of Hutchinson Island, achieved $23,000 against a $1/1,500 estimate. The map included a reference key, river scene and detailed renderings of the city’s squares. The third highest selling map was a rare plan of “The City and Harbour of Savannah in Chatham County, Taken in 1818,” engraved by Hughes Curzon and Co and published by I. Stouf, which bid to $16,250 from a $2/3,000 estimate.
Part of the Duncans’ storied tenure in Savannah includes their association with, and cameos in the 1994 novel Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (b 1939), who met with the couple while researching for the book. Berendt later became friends with the Duncans, as did the local photographer of the book’s jacket, Jack Leigh (1948-2004). Best known for his photo of the “Bird Girl” grave in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, Leigh won numerous awards in the medium, published six books of photography and was the subject of a Savannah College of Art & Design retrospective in 2014. The signed and numbered silver gelatin print offered in the sale was also signed by John Berendt on the verso and sold for $7,500.
The first day’s sale also brought surprises with its eclectic catalog of fine art, decorative arts, African and Native American art. The top result was a mahogany phone cabinet purchased from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during renovations in the 1920s. The interior shelf showed a stamp which read, “Made for the American Bell Telephone Co and licensed to be used only with its telephones. Patented April 16th, 1878, January 9th, 1883, March 31st, 1891.” Estimated at $2/300, the cabinet was an unexpected top lot for this sale, ringing up $15,360 to an online bidder.
Fine art in first day’s sale was led by local artist Leonora Quarterman (1911-1979), a watercolor of the “Savannah City Market,” signed and dated from 1948. Quarterman was a painter, watercolorist and printmaker who completed many watercolor scenes of her hometown. The market scene, estimated at $2/3,000, sold for $11,250.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, 912-231-1376 or www.everard.com.
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
November 29, 2022
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