Published: October 3, 2023
Images Courtesy of Fontaine’s
PITTSFIELD, MASS. — Lighting was definitely a bright spot at Fontaine’s blockbuster fall auction on September 23 and 24 that saw more than 800 lots cross the block for a grand total of just over $2.5 million, with strong offerings across the board. There were standouts and statement pieces both days with fine art, jewelry and decorative arts seeing strong interest and competitive bidding.
When it comes to lighting, there are several renowned makers towards which collectors gravitate, but few can reach the fandom levels that Tiffany Studios inspires. This auction boasted more than 200 lamps and more than 40 of those were sought-after Tiffany examples, led by a Curtain Border floor lamp, circa 1910, that lit up bidders, online and on the phone, all the way to $81,250.
The parade of Tiffany across the block continued with perennially popular lamps such as a circa 1905 Banded Dogwood that brought $56,250, a circa 1910 Daffodil going out at $50,000 and a circa 1905 Pansy at $46,875. The market for Tiffany lamps has never been soft and shows no signs of slowing. By the numbers, there were 11 Tiffany lighting fixtures that hammered over $20,000 each, accounting for more than $800,000 of the auction’s total.
Other examples of fine lighting included a Pairpoint Puffy Lilac table lamp going for $23,750, a Unique Art Glass & Metal Co Wisteria table lamp, doubling its high estimate to bring $18,750 and a Duffner & Kimberly Grapevine floor lamp that landed comfortably within estimate at $15,000.
The top lot of the auction is not something buyers at Fontaine’s, or anywhere, are likely to see again anytime soon. An exuberantly carved English tall case clock in oak, standing 11 feet 10 inches tall was whimsically carved with scenes from English folklore. Telling the rags-to-riches story of “Dick Whittington and his Cat,” the clock made $93,750.
The fine arts category was compact, with about a dozen paintings on offer. An oil on canvas by Birger Sandzen painting commanded attention when bidders drove it up to $62,500. “Between Showers,” an atmospheric landscape of the type he was well known for, was originally given to a Kansas school by the artist, who lived in Kansas. The school auctioned the painting many years later when Harold Wright, whose estate contributed several fine items to this month’s auction, acquired it.
The bidding was hot and heavy throughout the first session and standouts included a rare Black Forest carved wood figural umbrella stand that handily bested its high estimate to fetch $22,500. The figural stand was in the form of two cats on branch-form supports above two dogs, each with glass eyes. A Black Forest carved wood figural grandfather clock, carved with four bears, branches, chestnuts and leaves and having a movement by Meiringen Wood Carving Co, also earned $22,500.
When it comes to timeless American furniture, there are few that can beat the combination of Gustav Stickley and Harvey Ellis, whose fine work was showcased in a circa 1912 curly maple and inlaid vanity that earned $15,000. The furniture market continued to ride a high in this auction with two lots that doubled their high estimates: a Wooton Desk Co Extra Grade Number 8 rotary desk, “The Lawyer’s Own,” at $15,000 and an American Rococo Revival walnut recamier at $10,000.
Rounding out the auction, an 18K yellow gold Rolex Day-Date President men’s wristwatch, reference 1803, circa 1973, realized $12,500 and an Asian carved mahogany and mother-of-pearl inlaid “Puzzle” cabinet with dragons, which handily outperformed its estimate at $9,375.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. Fontaine’s Timepieces, Advertising & Collectibles auction will be on October 21. For information, 413-327-9686 or www.fontainesauction.com.
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