Published: September 29, 2015
30th Anniversary Launches Online-Only Format
Review and Onsite Photos by W.A. Demers,
Additional Photos Courtesy Fairfield Auction
MONROE, CONN. — When Rosie DeStories of Fairfield Auction started out in the auction business 30 years ago, the landscape was vastly different than it is today. Graduating in 1985 from the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, she entered a world where there were often huge crowds, no absentee or phone bidding — and certainly no online bidding. Today, in-house crowds are thin, and in an increasingly multitasked state, bidders are more motivated to click a mouse or touch a screen than raise a paddle.
So marking Rosie’s 30th year in the trade, the firm decided that with its September 20 estates auction it would offer the more than 550 lots of antiques and fine arts in an online-only auction that opened with a celebratory preview on September 18, complete with live music, champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and closed two days later on September 20. “We’ve shifted to an online-only format to allow more bidders more opportunities to buy,” said co-principal Jack DeStories. “Our system allows bidders to click to our website and bid directly while easily checking the status of any previous bids.”
During the preview, Rosie and her staff patiently explained the new system and set up accounts for some of the firm’s patrons who were unaccustomed to online bidding. It was time well spent, for she reported afterwards that the auction went surprisingly smooth with no major glitches. All future sales will now be online-only.
Jewelry is increasingly a popular auction category these days, and this sale was no different. Leading the selection and the day as a whole was a Tiffany & Co. platinum and diamond ring with a 2.96-carat solitaire. Featuring D/E color, the size 5 ring with hinged band sold for $48,000. Also notable was a 14K gold and diamond ring with brilliant cut diamond solitaire of 4.95 carats that realized $21,600.
All that glitters, however, was not the only attraction. The Philip Liverant collection of Wallace Nutting furniture was front and center, consisting of more than 80 pieces from the late antiques dealer and retired school teacher who died in March 2014 at the age of 90. Highlights included a maple Brewster chair, 42½ inches high, that left the gallery at $3,600, an imposing polychromed Pilgrim cupboard with open base that reached $6,000, an oak Hadley chest fetching $4,320 and a Sunflower blanket chest and cupboard, which were bid to $3,840 and $4,080, respectively.
Americana highlights were led by a William Pierce Stubbs ship portrait of the Harry A. Barry, an oil on canvas measuring 22¼ by 36¼ inches, that left the gallery at $6,000. A folder of historical data regarding the schooner, which sailed out of New Haven, Conn., in the early to mid-1880s, was included with the lot. The painting previously sold at Pook & Pook in October 2006, according to catalog notes. A matching pair of early Eighteenth Century Connecticut heart and crown side chairs with sausage-turned stretchers were from the coastal area and earned $4,800.
A grouping of antique clocks was led by a Seth Thomas jeweler’s regulator with an 8-foot-6-inch-high Renaissance Revival walnut case, silvered 14-inch dial date stamped 1889 and movement signed “Seth Thomas.” It finished at $6,600, while $5,280 was the final price on Ithaca bank regulator calendar clock, circa 1870, in the Renaissance Revival taste with black walnut case. A Jonas Alrichs Chippendale walnut tall clock with ogee feet and fluted corner columns made $3,360.
An impressive orchestral Swiss music box boasted an inlaid burled walnut case and gilt handles with 16-inch cylinder. The apparently unsigned device from the Nineteenth Century found a buyer at $2,760.
Asian fine and decorative arts buyers homed in on a Chinese painting depicting two children, one with a horse toy. The 41-by-12½-inch work on silk, possibly Ming, took $4,080, as did a Chinese table screen with a famille verte porcelain plaque depicting wild animals in a landscape, 30 inches high.
A selection of fine art was wide-ranging, led by a landscape by Wilson Henry Irvine depicting a Connecticut valley in spring at $7,200, and a Continental School Old Master oil on panel of the Madonna for $3,360, more than ten times the low estimate.
Twentieth Century design was well represented. Garnering $1,920 was a Tiffany Favrile candlestick lamp, circa 1900, 15½ inches high, with a 7-inch diameter shade, its base never having been converted to electricity.
A set of four Steuben Aurene goblets, each inscribed “Aurene 2361” closed at $480.
Modern furniture by Hans Wegner included a Papa Bear stool, $840, as well as a set of ten oak saw buck chairs with later black vinyl seats selling at $1,920.
Other notable highlights included a 1953 Yankees signed team ball with signatures of Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Mize, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Billy Martin on the Spalding ball, which went out $960, and a group of Lionel model trains comprising 11 pieces of rolling stock and including locomotives with tenders together with two transformers that reached $2,160.
Fetching $4,200 was a Georg Jensen sterling silver partial flatware set in the Pyramid pattern, including seven dinner knives, eight salad forks, eight dinner forks and 18 spoons (41 pieces total), and selling at $2,880 was a Gorham sterling silver flatware set in the Chantilly pattern, 202 pieces total.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 203-880-5200 or www.fairfieldauction.com.
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