Published: December 6, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
THOMASTON, MAINE — The Fall Auction Weekend on November 18-20 at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries “went very well, there were some low spots as well as many highs, so overall we are pleased,” Kaja Veilleux said following the last day of the series of sales. He also noted that “attendance in the gallery grew each day and on Sunday, the biggest day, people stayed longer and most were in the gallery when the sale ended.” All prices noted in the review include the buyer’s premium.
Friday, the first of the three days of selling, was dubbed “Collector’s Choice” and featured 430 lots, including trade signs, banks, medical instruments, Native American pieces, typewriters and other office machines, pool cues, Swarovski glass and more. About 15 people were in the gallery, phones were set up at the rear of the room within full view of the auctioneer, and three online bidding platforms were in operation at the front of the gallery.
Some carnival memorabilia early in the sale included a vintage casino-style wheel of fortune, circa 1920, painted wood with cast zinc hub marked “Dailey Mfg. Co., St. Paul, Minn.,” hand painted numbers, that brought $292; a coin-operated barbershop dispenser for Wildroot Cream Oil Hair Tonic, circa 1950, sold for $994, over the $700 high estimate; a dance hall sign reading “Dance to your favorite Old Tunes,” circa 1940s, 20 by 84 inches, went for $380; and a pair of oxblood red apothecary bottles, mold blown, reverse painted black on gold labels, ground and polished pontils, brought $409.
Fifty-five mechanical and still banks were offered, with the first lot, Mammy With Spoon, red dress, circa 1880, Kyser & Rex, Frankfort, Penn., going for $2,223; the Bismarck Bank depicting Otto von Bismarck popping out of a cast iron pig, circa 1883, J&E Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., brought the same money; the painted cast iron mechanical frog bank, also by Stevens, realized $877, almost twice the high estimate; and the cast iron Shellout still bank, another Stevens bank dating 1882, hit $819, over the $600 high estimate.
A Native American dagger, Hudson Bay-style steel blade, bone handle, late Eighteenth Century to early Nineteenth Century, 7-inch blade, 13 inches overall, went to the internet for $3,394, within estimate, and a Native-made birchbark canoe model, two-man, cedar planked, Twentieth Century, 19 inches long, very good condition, went out at $351, below estimate. An antique Navajo wool “eye dazzler,” circa 1920, 40 by 63½ inches, tan field with brown, black and white figures, brought $1,111, just over the high estimate.
Also selling for just over high estimate at $760 were an antique Hopi Kachina doll, Northwestern Arizona, late Nineteenth Century, painted cottonwood root measuring 10 inches tall, and a round coil-built grass Navajo wedding basket, 13 inches in diameter.
An elephant cabinet albumen photo of President Ulysses S. Grant’s funeral precession, depicting his hearse on Broadway, August 8, 1885, 12 by 9¼ inches sight, went for $526, just under estimate; a selection of seven J.E. Stevens .22 rifles, all in generally good condition, made $936, and selling within estimate at $1,638 was a Persian percussion saddle rifle with bone inlaid mahogany stock, Nineteenth Century, 65 inches long overall.
A dual-use dental/medical chair in oak with iron frame, brass tacked leather upholstery, maker’s plate reading “The Harvard Company of Canton, Ohio,” was hammered down at $250, causing Kaja to say, “The chair went for about one dollar per pound.” Several lots later, a life-sized torso anatomical model by Denoyer-Geppert Company of Chicago, circa 1930s, figure of a man in painted hard rubber with cutaways revealing internal anatomy, removable parts, 37 inches high, sold for $936, over estimate.
Closing out the first day was a collection of 17 lots of Swarovski glass figures, including some birds, pictured, and a grouping of five animals comprising a grizzly bear, wolf, sister bear, little elephant and grizzly cub for $468, just below estimate. Day one concluded at 3:30 pm.
It was off and running at 11 am on Saturday, offering 680 lots of fine art and antiques, with lot 500, a Canada goose by A.E. Crowell of East Harwich, Mass., bringing $1,521, well over the high estimate and pictured in this review. It was followed by a Nineteenth Century figure of a grouse on a log by George R. Huey of Friendship, Maine, 7½ inches tall, that brought $936, above the $800 high estimate.
A pair of Nineteenth Century cast iron floor-standing torcheres, 66 inches tall, one over three over three sockets, sold within estimate at $936, while a set of six stepdown Windsor chairs in red washed finish, coastal New England, early Nineteenth Century, five sides and one arm, brought the same price, just under estimate. A two-sided game board, Parcheesi and checkers, mid-Nineteenth Century, 27½ inches square, showed great age and patina, went for $819, within estimate, and selling just over low estimate at $2,047 was an oil on canvas by Charles Gregory (English, 1810–1896), of an impromptu Royal Navy boxing match, 26½ by 31 inches sight, that has been cleaned and relined.
A pair of Hepplewhite-style bowfront stands, late Nineteenth Century, burled yew wood veneers, fine condition, fetched $3,802, over the high estimate, and a set of Centennial dining chairs out of an attic in Camden, Maine, Chippendale-style mahogany, two arms and six sides with pierced ribbon and leaf back splats, ball and claw feet, went under estimate at $1,521. An internet buyer spent $4,095 for an oil on board, “Pennsylvania Landscape,” by George Benjamin Luks (New York, 1867–1933), signed lower left, gold molded frame, 22¾ by 26¾ inches sight. A Nineteenth Century English butler’s cabinet in mahogany with bird’s-eye maple drawer fronts, reeded edge top, on hidden casters, measuring 29 by 32 by 19½ inches, sold for $1,053 to a phone bidder.
An internet buyer bid $8,190 for a Cycladic figure of a man, Syros, Greece, circa 2600–2300 BCE, alabaster, 9½ inches on a museum mount, shortly followed by a pair of early Continental Louis XV-style fruitwood carved and parcel-gilt armchairs, old rose velvet upholstered seats, second half of the Eighteenth century, that went over the $1,800 high estimate, bringing $7,820 from an internet buyer. Coming from the New Hampshire School of artists was an oil on canvas depicting “Mt Washington, Viewed From Lead Mine Bridge,” unsigned, 14 by 23½ inches sight, that sold to a phone bidder for $2,808, over the $1,500 high estimate.
“This is a good place to buy rugs today,” Kaja said as he hammered down a Shiraz measuring 5 feet 4 inches by 6½ feet. The rug had an ivory octagonal center on a tomato field decorated with birds, rosettes, dogs and flowerheads. It went over the $700 high estimate, selling for $1,053. Several lots later, another Shiraz, measuring 4 feet 3 inches by 6 feet 5 inches, with a stepped octagonal medallion in navy blue and ivory, set on a red field decorated with trees, rosettes and flowerheads, brought the same price.
A Boston home yielded an Eighteenth Century Chinese export porcelain famille rose rum bowl, Mandarin pattern, 10-3/8 inches in diameter, for $1,872. It was followed by a Chinese export charger in cobalt blue and white, 21¼ inches in diameter, that sold for $3,510, above the $2,000 high estimate.
A circa 1910 Hepplewhite-style dish cabinet with molded cornice and urn and swag boxwood inlaid frieze, two glass doors, wooden shelves and glass sides, 70¾ inches tall, brought $1,755, over the $1,200 high estimate, and at 5 pm, an Eighteenth Century figured maple New England country Chippendale two-drawer blanket chest crossed the block, selling for $1,404, just over the high estimate. The chest had remnants of old red surface, handles on sides, shaped skirt and feet, and measured 36 inches high, 38 inches wide and 18½ inches deep.
It was about 5:30 pm when a selection of early documents came up, including a rare English proclamation banning horse racing, dated 24 Feb 1654, that sold for $4,972, over the $3,000 high estimate. By now there were about ten people left in the gallery, but the internet and the phones were still very active.
When lot 1082 came up, a pair of Chinese ancestral portraits, Qing dynasty, Eighteenth Century, Qianlong governor and his wife in rich interiors, both depicted holding opium pipes, 22½ by 20¼ inches sight, an internet bidder from China took the pair for $1,170. The internet also claimed a Ming porcelain blue and white sleeve vase, transitional period (1644–55), decorated with a single bird and insect over a lotus pond and under a full moon. It sold within estimate for $6,435.
At 6:30 pm, and with only five people left in the gallery, the phone and the internet kept up the bidding pace, with a Chinese porcelain imperial yellow deep bowl with flared rim, decorated with three raised dragons, 6-1/8 inches in diameter, sold for $1,287, twice the high estimate, followed by a large blue lacquer panel in hardwood frame with gilt bronze hanger, showing flower vases, fruit and antique furniture, 57¾ by 39-5/8 inches, for $6,435, just over twice the high estimate. The last bid of the day, $1,111, took a set of six Chinese export plates from the late Eighteenth Century, famille rose, featuring riverside domestic scenes, unmarked, 8½ inches in diameter and in very good condition.
It was an 11 am start again on Sunday, with 578 lots ready to be sold, and close to 80 people in the gallery ready to compete against the phones and the internet. Early in the sale a commemorative bronze charger for the members of the 1936 Berlin Olympics US Hockey Team signed by Maurice Osmond (Germany, 1875-?), otherwise unmarked, depicting two players facing off, warm chocolate patina, went within estimate for $1,170. The third piece of furniture for the day was a glass front bookcase, circa 1900, Chippendale style in mahogany with painted floral detail on the frieze, molded bracket feet, measuring 71¾ inches high. It was in very good condition and brought $1,521, a hair over the high estimate.
Forty pieces of Tiffany & Co. sterling silver flatware in the American Garden pattern, service for eight, 76.48 ounces total weight, fine condition, sold for $3,978, within estimate, and also selling within estimate at $8,428 was a 1920s Louis Vuitton steamer trunk with stenciled monogram canvas, wood slat and brass trim, the interior with folding hanging section and four drawers over a shoe compartment. The final bid was $8,428.
A bid of $4,387 took the Thomas Moser credenza, custom made of solid cherry by Maine Master Craftsman and in near mint condition. Selling for $7,312, within estimate, was a pair of high karat yellow gold handmade Etruscan Revival design bracelets, 1820–40, each consisting of eight delicate woven gold chains connected by solid end pieces, 7 inches long, and in fine condition. A circa 1900, tabletop 15½-inch disc player in a fancy mahogany case with marquetry inlay, with 40 discs, fine condition, brought $1,755, just under the high estimate.
A rare 18K white gold Art Deco Gruen 50th Anniversary open face pocket watch with engraved edges, shield on back, carried an estimate of $800–$1,200, and sold for $4,095, while an oil on canvas by Sergio Roffo (Massachusetts, b 1953), “Afternoon Sail on Somes Sound,” signed lower left, title verso, measuring 23-1/3 by 35½ inches sight, in gold molded cove frame, went within estimate at $3,042.
A few lots later, a Chinese champleve enamel bronze torchere, originally kerosene and now wired for electricity, good condition and measuring 84 inches tall, went for $1,404, the high end of the estimate, and two lithographs on paper by Stanley William Hayter (NY/UK/France, 1901–1988), including an untitled abstract and “Unstable Woman,” both in fine condition, sold for $4,797, well over the $1,500 high estimate.
At the end of each day Kaja announced a special two-day auction for February 11–12, featuring a 60-year-old collection of Americana that comes from a New York State home. He noted, “This will be one of the greatest collections ever sold in New England, and there will be no reserves”.
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