Published: October 5, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Russum’s Furniture Auctioneers
SUDLERSVILLE, MD. – Contents from Beauvoir, the Trappe Creek estate of a prominent early Philadelphia family, were offered at Russum’s Furniture Auctioneers on Sunday, September 26. On offer were 496 lots from the Firth family, a Twentieth Century branch of the Livezey family, which descended from Thomas Livezey, an Eighteenth Century miller in Philadelphia. The Firths moved from Philadelphia to Beauvoir in the 1930s and the sale was the first of three auctions the firm plans to conduct and offered antiques, silver, gold watches and export porcelain, among other things. The second auction will include early bottles, toys, and the rest of the antiques. ephemera, books, photos and maps will make up the last sale.
Lots were unreserved and everything sold; JR Russum said the following two sales, which he is working on cataloging and scheduling now, will also be offered without reserves. He noted that the sale attracted both local interest as well as that from farther afield, particularly some of the more rare and unusual items. He thought that the ephemera that would be offered in the third session might attract some institutional interest. Bidders in the saleroom competed against absentee bids on one platform and live bidding through another; phone bidding was not offered.
“We had a great turnout. We had 150 bidders in the room but online there were times when we had more than 1,000 people watching the sale,” Russum said.
A few lots of furniture brought some of the highest prices of the day, with a flat-top walnut secretary desk, cataloged as possibly from Virginia, achieving the distinction of top lot. Tombstone arched paneled doors embellished the top section, while a stepped and divided writing interior and compressed bun feet were noteworthy elements of the lower section that was cataloged as “larger than normal.” Russum said that during the sale, one or two people said that they thought it was more likely from Philadelphia, from the 1720s-30s; he added that it sold to a buyer in Philadelphia, bidding in the room, for $8,338.
Large sets of chairs are hard to find so, when they come up, they usually command a good price. A buyer in Rhode Island paid $6,325 for a set of 14 mahogany saber leg dining chairs that had tablet crests and horizontal carved splats. Russum thought that the set might have been made in the late Nineteenth Century; he said he was happy and a little surprised at how well they did.
A Chippendale cherry chest on chest that had quarter columns on both the upper and lower case sold to a buyer from Annapolis, Md., for $5,175, a few bidding increments ahead of a cherry two-piece Dutch cupboard that ran to $3,910. For $1,265, someone walked away with a Chippendale walnut semi-tall chest of drawers.
The second highest price of the sale – $6,900 – was realized for a painted wood and iron chest cataloged as an “antique ship’s treasure chest.” According to the ledgers of John and Joseph Livezey, which Russum has been going through, the family owned ships that sailed to Bermuda, Jamaica and China from 1780 to 1820. He was not sure where it had been made but it had pierced metal island themed decoration on the inside; a buyer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore who was bidding in the room was the winning bidder.
An 18K gold and enamel snuff box with hunting scene that was marked CM and engraved “John Livezey / 1861″ also realized $6,900. The box measured 3Ã¼ by 1-7/8 inches and had enamel that the catalog described as “of rare quality.” Russum said it sold to a collecting couple who came to the sale specifically for the box, driving all the way from Richmond, Va.
“I was surprised at how well the license plates did,” Russum said. “Especially the early Philadelphia plates.”
The collection featured an unusually large number of antique and vintage license plates in porcelain, metal and even one in leather. The leather example was an early Fairmount Park license plate and Russum was told it was one of only six known to exist. Despite competition from an online underbidder, it sold to a collector / dealer for $3,795; the buyer told Russum that they planned to keep it. A 1903 Pennsylvania porcelain plate, numbered 1006, ran to $5,060, exactly twice the amount realized for a 1904 Pennsylvania plate that closed at $2,530.
A category equal in number to the license plates was that of pocket watches, with 19 on offer. Prices ranged from $46 for a Waterbury Series L example to $2,875 for a Patek Philippe 18K gold pocket watch that had been retailed by Bailey Banks & Biddle of Philadelphia. Russum said the Patek Philippe sold to a buyer in Australia.
“We had lots of interest on the watches. The neat thing was the number of gold ones; you usually don’t find that many in one collection,” Russum said.
Silver shone brightly in the sale, led by an early silver porringer with illegible marks that brought $3,795, an early silver tankard possibly by Philadelphia silversmith Joseph Richardson that made $3,335, and a six-piece hand-chased sterling silver tea set that topped off at $2,760. Russum thought that the porringer might have been made in Philadelphia; he said both the porringer and tankard sold to the same buyer.
More than two dozen cased daguerreotypes from the Firth and Livezey families were offered in six lots, with a single half-plate one of a soldier in uniform going out at $2,760. It was not identified in the catalog. The other half-plate daguerreotype in the sale featured a man on a horse that brought $1,150.
The date of the second installment of the Firth family collection is still being decided but Russum thought it would take place at the end of October or the beginning of November and no date has yet been set for the third and final grouping.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as quoted by the auction house. For additional information, 410-708-4676 or www.russumsfurniture.hibid.com.
October 20, 2021
October 20, 2021
October 20, 2021
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