Published: April 17, 2007
Items from several estates provided a varied assortment of offerings at Nadeau’s Spring Estates Sale on March 23′4, although it was materials consigned from two of them that created the most excitement throughout the day. “There was more response to this auction than we have ever had,” stated auctioneer Ed Nadeau after the sale, “and it turned into one of our highest grossing auctions to date.” The 650-plus-lot sale grossed an impressive $1.5 million.
Often times it was the items that had previously slipped through the cracks elsewhere that brought the big money at Nadeau’s, including the top lot of the auction. Items retrieved from basements also brought big dollars.
Despite a large crowd on hand, Nadeau reported that just under three-quarters of the items sold throughout the Friday evening and Saturday sessions went to absentee, phone bidders or the Internet.
Regularly scheduled to coincide with the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, Nadeau postponed the auction for a week. The auctioneer commented that he originally felt they were “light on furniture” so he pushed the dates back a week to try and fill out the sale. While a good grouping of furniture did arrive in time to be cataloged, it was the stellar selection of smalls that stole the show.
The auction got off to a quick start on Friday evening with an 18K gold Patek Philippe open faced pocket watch selling at $1,725, while a Rolex stainless and gold trimmed Oyster Perpetual Date sold for $2,760. Other jewelry offered during the session included a platinum engagement ring with a 1.1-carat diamond that was hammered down at $4,312.
A collection of coins was offered during the evening sale with an 1908‱929 Indian $2½ gold set, a total of 15 coins, being actively bid to $11,212, while the same set of coins in slightly less condition sold at $6,037.
A large selection of cents and dimes were sold near the end of the night, with each of the lots bringing between $1,380, and $2,070. Included was an 1851 seated dime in choice condition, an 1859 Indian Head cent, an 1858 half dime and a silver 1856 three-cent piece in choice condition.
The first lot to be offered on Saturday would set a quick pace for the auction as the lot opened for a couple hundred dollars and was quickly knocked down at five times the presale estimates. A pair of Georgian knife boxes with serpentine fronts and sloped lids, estimated at $800․1,200, ended up selling for $7,187.
The top lot from the furniture came as a pair of rosewood Revival chairs, missing their upholstery and attributed to the Herter Brothers, was offered. Estimated at $2/3,000, bidding for the lot was frantic, with it selling for $23,000.
The top lot of the auction had been consigned from a Salisbury, Conn., estate and had been discovered by Nadeau tucked away in a storage locker. Having been previously appraised two different times with the same results, the believed English needlework apparently did not hold much promise for the owners.
“I kept looking at it and a light went off,” said Nadeau, recognizing the piece as a rare crewel embroidered Fishing Lady school canvas work picture that had been created in Boston, and not England, as previously believed.
Identified by the forms of the figures and the positioning of the house, animals and flying birds, this example proved similar to Fishing Lady school needleworks in the collection of Winterthur and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Only 17 examples were known prior to Nadeau’s discovery. In excellent condition and believed to retain the original frame, Nadeau had removed the paper backing and replaced it with Mylar, making the verso readily accessible for viewing.
Bidding on the rare crewel needlework opened to the floor at $10,000 and was instantly hit by a telephone bidder. Another phone bidder jumped into the action and the two phones took the lot all the way to a selling price of $86,250, going to a Connecticut dealer. Needlework specialist Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., confirmed that she and her husband Stephen were the successful bidders.
Several lots consigned from an estate in West Hartford did well, with a bronze of Nathan Hale by Bela L. Pratt garnering the top price. The rare bronze, cast by the Roman Bronze Works, measured 35 inches in height and depicted a young Hale with his coat blown open and one hand behind his back. The bronze retained a tag from 1966 that related that it had been sold during an auction of the Havermeyer estate and that the collectors had paid $600 for the lot. Described by Nadeau as “major collectors during the 60s, 70s and 80s,” the bronze proved to be a wise investment for them as it was bid to $74,750, selling to a Manhattan dealer.
Another lot from the estate to do well was a Seventeenth Century oil on panel depicting a Madonna and Baby Jesus scene. Rescued from the basement and in poor condition, the rare painting was actively pursued, with it selling at $23,000.
Also from the home was a Gorham Martelé sterling silver loving cup with raised lily design that soared past the $7/10,000 estimates as it realized $17,250.
A Massachusetts bombe mahogany slant front desk was capturing the eye of all of the Americana dealers, especially after a bombe desk brought $1.2 million at Sotheby’s during Americana Week this past January. While that desk was in excellent original condition, the desk at Nadeau’s had replaced ball and claw feet. The final price for what was still an attractive desk in an extremely rare form? $15,525.
A Nineteenth Century Black Forest carving depicting a reclining, but alert, Labrador and her four pups garnered attention from around the globe. Retrieved from a Darien estate, the large piece measure 37 inches in length, 14 inches high, and it had been executed in exquisite detail. Having never seen one before, Nadeau was stumped as he cataloged the carving and attempted to assign a presale estimate. “We put $3/5,000 on it and thought it might bring as much as $15,000,” commented the auctioneer. “But then everyone and their mother began to call about it, including a lot of people from Europe, as well as people from Connecticut to Colorado to California.”
Nadeau stated that 12 people were on the telephones and that he had to start turning people down as numerous others requested additional lines. Bidding on the lot took off, with it eventually selling to a phone bidder from Colorado for $43,125.
A rig of six Mason challenge grade black duck decoys that had come from a Connecticut shoreline home did well. With 12 phones lined up for the rare decoys, bidding was pushed to $37,775. A Joseph Lincoln self-bailing scoter decoy in excellent original paint also did well, selling at $3,737.
Other lots of interest included a Chippendale chest on frame with short cabriole legs ending in ball and claw feet that sold for $6,900, a Queen Anne mahogany lowboy, $11,500, and a Federal mahogany sideboard believed to have been made in New York, $14,950. Continental furniture included a Louis XV bombe mahogany commode that sold for $5,750.
Several tall case clocks were offered, with a Pennsylvania example marked Griggs that measured 8 feet, 9 inches despite the missing feet bringing $10,925; a Timothy Chandler, Concord tall case clock with engraved brass and silvered dial selling at $5,750; and a John Whitear, Fairfield, tall case realizing $7,475.
Artwork in the auction included a monumental J.A. Hekking oil on canvas depicting a Hudson River Valley scene that sold for $24,650, a J. Francis Murphy oil of a pastoral landscape titled “A Good Afternoon” that fetched 13,800, and an Abstract Modernist painting of a female figure signed Kinley, which hammered down at $14,950.
For further information, 860-246-2444 or www.nadeausauction.com .
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