Published: November 3, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Nadeau’s Auction Gallery
WINDSOR, CONN. – Six hundred and eight lots pulled from eight collections and dozens of other consignors formed the bulk of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery’s October 24 sale. The auction went 92 percent sold and grossed approximately $983,000.
It had its strengths and its sleepers, but not many weaknesses. The cast of consignors found within included the Marjorie and Howard Drubner collection of weathervanes and carousel horses, Middlebury, Conn.; the Lance and Irma Keller collection of rare Staffordshire, stoneware, antique furniture and miniatures, Bloomfield, Conn.; the estate of Michael Coe and his mochaware collection, New Haven, Conn.; Robert Cerciello’s collection of apothecary boxes, West Hartford, Conn.; a collection of Nineteenth Century physician portraits and busts from the New York Academy of Medicine; a collection of Connecticut furniture from the estate of Dr Thomas and Alice Kugelman, Bloomfield, Conn.; Connecticut furniture from the Vincent family collection of Fairfield, Conn.; and the estate of Diana Atwood Johnson which includes a collection of New England furniture, decoys, treenware, artwork and textiles, Old Lyme, Conn.
“It was kind of exciting to have several collections that melted together, and some good names in there,” said auctioneer Ed Nadeau. “It was the best American antique sale we’ve had in a few years. There was a lot of trade interest. Most said it was a wonderful sale and it was great to see fresh merchandise like that, which it was.”
American furniture and accessories were the strongest category in the sale, led by a Seventeenth Century American oak bible or document box attributed to Ipswich, Mass., maker Thomas Dennis, that sold for $36,600 to dealer Hollis Brodrick. The box featured a scrolled S design to the front with a chip carved lunette border along the borders.
“The size of this is spectacular. It’s decorated all over the place,” Brodrick said.
Brodrick said the all-oak construction and absence of a secondary wood was a giveaway that it was made in America, which was replete with oak trees in colonial times. While the dealer has seen other Dennis works with a secondary wood, he believed the small nature of this box, only 5-1/8 inches high and 13½ inches wide, enabled him to use oak without worry of excess. Brodrick notes that rive marks are still visible on the bottom panel.
The box came from the Vincent Family Collection of Fairfield, Conn., many things in which had reportedly descended from Henry Hammond Taylor (1878-1933), a collector, furniture restorer and eventual author who wrote an early work on collecting in 1930 titled Knowing, Collecting and Restoring Early American Furniture. Taylor was known to not only collect, but he would purchase as an agent for major collectors including Francis P. Garvan.
A group of four Queen Anne cherry side chairs from the Vincent collection that had provenance to Taylor sold for $4,880. Nadeau said two of the chairs from the same set are in the collection at the Yale University Art Gallery. They had descended in the Starr Hotchkiss family and were possibly made in New Haven or Stratford.
From the Seventeenth Century was a tavern table consigned from the estate of Diana Atwood Johnson that sold for $20,740 on a $4,000 estimate. The table featured an oak frame with one drawer, a molded skirt and stretcher, with turned maple legs and feet with some of its original paint showing. Johnson, who passed away in 2018, was an influential board member of the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and an ardent proponent of open space conservation. Works from her estate were sought-after, including another tavern table, early Eighteenth Century with a round maple top on scalloped apron set on turned splayed legs and box stretchers, that sold for $18,000. It went to the trade.
“When we took the round one out of the house, I said ‘This would be worth $30,000 a few decades ago, but nowadays its probably worth $15,000. So I was close, and I’m happy with it,” Nadeau said.
Still from the Johnson collection was a New England ladder back great chair, circa 1700 in old brown paint over green paint that went on to take $14,400. A 24-inch-long Nineteenth Century weathervane in the form of a jumping cat caught 29 bids before it sold for $8,540. A full-bodied copper pig weathervane with turned face, 33 inches long, sold for $6,100, while a life size cast iron dog, possibly by the Gray Foundry, brought the same price. Atwood had a small collection of penguins, led by a $1,586 result for a 23-inch-high carved and painted wood folk art example. Another, attributed to Charles Hart and measuring 33 inches high, sold off one bid for $610.
Nadeau said he had more property from the Johnson collection that will be included in future sales.
Furniture from the collection of Dr Thomas and Alice Kugelman sold well, including a $9,760 result for a Connecticut Chippendale cherry reverse serpentine front chest with shaped top and fluted columns on ogee bracket feet. It dated to 1765-85. Thomas and Alice Kugelman were Connecticut furniture scholars who published Connecticut Valley Furniture by Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries with Robert Leonetti in 2005 to coincide with the exhibition at the Connecticut Historical Society. Many of the couple’s important pieces were included in a 2013 sale at Sotheby’s, though this sale still included a number of examples found within their book, including a Queen Anne cherry flat top high chest, circa 1775-85 from either Glastonbury or Colchester, that went on to produce $7,930. A Connecticut Chippendale cherry kettle stand from the Eliphalet Chapin School in Windsor brought $7,320. It had intact provenance back to Frank Hale, who was a descendant of Nathan Hale’s brother. Taking $4,880 was a Chippendale cherry reverse serpentine chest signed by William Flagg on the back of the drawer. The Kugelmans collected a number of folk art portraits, including two by Aaron Dean Fletcher (1817-1902). An oil on canvas portrait of Henry Fletcher Barry showing the boy in a pink dress holding a pewter bowl with a goat to his side took $7,320. Fletcher’s portrait of Lucius R. Barry shows the boy holding a whip with a puppy at his side, and it brought $5,795.
The Wethersfield Historical Society deaccessioned a mahogany games table from the Federal period with carved dolphin supports over four carved dolphin feet. It brought $14,640.
A full-bodied copper cow with zinc head was the lead lot from the Drubner collection as it took $7,930. Measuring 40 inches long, the cow had an old red paint applied to it. Behind at $3,355 was a full-bodied copper horse in a worn gilt surface. The Drubner’s best carousel horse was a steeplechase “upset” example with a double saddle that brought $3,355.
Taking $13,420, over six times estimate, was an 1854 painting of a moonlit Hudson River scene by Regis Gignoux (1816-1882) that led the Keller collection. Though born in France, Gignoux emerged among the most important of the Hudson River School artists, taking sketching trips with John Frederick Kensett and Frederic Church while attracting patrons that included Baron Rothschild. The Kellers collected Staffordshire, though their highest selling piece of pottery was a 2-gallon jug with a cobalt eagle holding a banner decoration by Poughkeepsie, N.Y., outfit Riedinger & Caire that sold for $4,270.
Chinese porcelain provided two sleepers in the sale, led by a pair of dust green glaze vases drilled for lamps that brought $26,670. A cloisonne “Moon” flask with scepter-form handles and images of flowers and butterflies beat its $800 estimate to finish at $10,160.
Nadeau’s Auction Gallery has a general estates auction on November 21, a coin and stamp auction in late November or early December, and its annual New Year’s Day auction will commence on January 1. For information, 860-246-2444 or www.nadeausauction.com.
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