Published: January 19, 2021
Review and Onsite Photographs by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy Flying Pig Antiques
WESTMORELAND, N.H. – Less than two years old, Flying Pig Antiques operates a 40-dealer group shop open seven days a week and conducts regularly scheduled online auctions. The firm makes extensive use of social media to promote both the group shop and the auctions. The most recent sale was on January 11 and included a wide assortment of Americana: early painted furniture, stoneware, a collection of Noah’s Arks, blinking eye clocks, coins, toys, lighting and much more. The business is a partnership of Ian McKelvey, Paul and Kris Casucci and Roxanne Reuling. McKelvey and the Casuccis have long partnered and are well known in the antiques world, having shops and participating in numerous shows. Reuling grew up in her family’s auction business, Stanton Auctions of Hampden, Mass. The group shop and auctions build upon each of their strengths.
A few days before the auction, we spent some time previewing the sale, checking out the group shop and discussing business with three of the partners. Reuling said, “The auctions are a lot of work but it’s paid off for us, especially in the current business environment. We have about 400 items in this sale and we have more than 2,500 photos online, showing the items as accurately as possible. If someone wants more photos or more information, we quickly provide whatever they want. We do the same for the 150 or so items we have on Etsy for our group shop dealers – many photos and a good description. We pack and ship in-house, so we’re pretty busy after the auctions, but that really keeps costs down for our clients.”
Having said that the auction included a wide selection of Americana, the top selling item was not part of that selection. A salesman’s sample Louis Vuitton trunk topped the day. It was in the “Malle Fleurs” pattern and was just 11 inches long. Before the sale, McKelvey predicted that the small trunk would probably be the highest priced item in the sale, and he was right. It finished within the estimate at $7,200, going to an internet bidder. A well-used, hard sided Vuitton suitcase earned $960.
Early furniture was a strong category, with numerous items from which to choose. Bringing $4,800 was a circa 1680 Bermuda chest on frame. With heavily turned legs and a scalloped base, it was an unusual form, constructed of heavy, dense mahogany, cedar and satinwood. By the end of the Seventeenth Century, Bermuda had developed a major industry building small sailing vessels for service in the Caribbean, and most of this carpentry work was done by slave labor. It’s not inconceivable that the woodworking skills developed by slaves carried over into other woodworking trades, such as furniture making. Bidders liked a late Seventeenth Century New England turned ash and maple armchair with large, turned finials that had once been in the Catherine Prentis Murphy collection, much of which was dispersed by Skinner in 1983. The chair, which sold for $2,400, had an old but not original surface, and the legs had been ended out.
Murphy was an influential collector in the earlier years of the Twentieth Century, counting among her friends Henry Francis du Pont, Ima Hogg, Electra Havermeyer Webb, Joseph Downs, Israel Sack and many others. Much of the material Skinner sold in 1983 had been on loan to the New Hampshire Historical Society as well as the New-York Historical Society. She was a passionate, if somewhat controversial, collector of early New England furniture and used her collections to furnish “period” rooms in numerous institutions.
The partners in Flying Pig are known for offering furniture and accessories in old paint, and there were several examples in this sale. An especially nice one-drawer blue pipe box earned $600, while a green-over-old-blue tavern table with one drawer reached $570. Although conservatively cataloged as not being the original surface, a simple, blue Nineteenth Century Sheraton four-drawer chest sold for $2,040, and a gray Nineteenth Century one-door, counter-height cupboard brought $1,440.
In keeping with the Americana theme were some items that surprised all. The sale included three early, shaved brooms from a Connecticut collection, One, more than 50 inches tall, sold for $1,680 against a high estimate of $600, and a smaller, 21-inch example, less sought-after, finished at $390. A miniature one, just 9 inches long, finished at $450. After the sale Casucci said, “We had a couple of brooms in our last sale and they did well. I was certainly a little surprised at how well this group did, but people really like the shaved brooms.” A double-arm, tabletop, adjustable candleholder, 16 inches tall, brought $1,680, also exceeding the high estimate. A decorated miniature pair of painted tole candle sconces, only 6½ inches tall, realized $720, also well over the estimate, and an inked face, outstanding homemade cloth doll, dressed as a soldier or militia man, with sword and epaulettes, brought $1,560.
There were a number of early copper weathervanes. Most popular was a 48-inch spread-winged eagle, which sold for $3,600. It was perched on a gilt copper ball and had a zinc head. A running horse vane, just under 30 inches, earned $1,680, and another about the same size reached $1,400. An unusual example would have made a good mascot for the shop – a copper miniature pig, only 9 inches long on a tall stand, sold for $960. One couldn’t help but think of a flying pig.
Many folk art collections include a Noah’s Ark. This sale, however, included a collection of them, all with animals. A 14-inch example brought $570; a slightly smaller one with fewer animals brought $450, and a smaller one brought $330. There were more. Folk art offerings included a Pennsylvania fractur dated 1776. With flowering vines, it recorded the family history of Daniel Sieberling, and it sold for $1,200. A very folky oil on canvas with a pair of oxen dwarfing farm buildings reached $480. It was appropriately titled “Oxen” and signed E. Caset.
A few days after the sale, Roxanne Reuling commented, “We’re really developing a niche for ourselves and people are noticing. We had more than 1,000 prospective bidders register for this sale. That was an increase of more than 400 from our last sale. We all were impressed with that increase. The folk art did well. We had a lot of interest in the weathervanes. A couple of our customers commented that the small pig may have been a salesman’s sample. I don’t know, maybe it was, but the group did well. So did the collection of Noah’s Arks. We were conservative in our descriptions of painted surfaces. If we weren’t 100 percent sure that a surface was original, we cataloged the item as having possibly a later surface and let buyers make up their own minds. The small blue four-drawer obviously looked original to most people and the final price reflected that. We have a busy schedule ahead with a single-owner clock collection scheduled for late February or early March and another Americana sale right after that. We’re all pleased with the way the business is developing.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.flyingpigantiquesnh.com or 603-543-7490.
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