Published: September 20, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Stair
HUDSON, N.Y. – “It was a great sale for great things!” Colin Stair said to Antiques and The Arts Weekly after Stair Galleries conducted its September 8 Americana sale, which offered 366 lots of American furniture, folk art, silver, pottery, glass and fine art that attracted interest from around the country. A total of just over $486,000 was realized, with the top lot, a copper steeplechase horse weathervane, earning $41,820.
Muffie Cunningham, Stair’s director of decorative arts, noted that the patina on the weathervane was “right, and it had all the bells and whistles people are looking for.” Demonstrating a dramatic form that had been illustrated in Robert Bishop and Patricia Coblentz, A Gallery of American Weathervanes and Whirligigs (1981), the vane related to two that were sold from private collections: one from the Howard and Catherine Feldman collection at Sotheby’s in 1998, the other from the Schnall Collection at Northeast Auctions in 2008. Consigned to Stair from a private collector in the Newport, R.I., area, it sold to a private collector from New England who was bidding on the phone.
In the late Nineteenth Century, wealthy New Yorkers who had houses in the Hudson River Valley embraced the Gothic style for their homes and furniture; the sale offered more than a few pieces of Gothic Revival furniture, most notably a hexagonal carved rosewood marble top table that was further embellished by additional Gothic tracery that Cunningham said “elevated the quality.” She confirmed that it was being sold by a private collector in the Hudson Valley but won’t be traveling far, as it found a new home in the Hudson Valley with a collector who paid $27,060 for it, nearly twice its high estimate. The price is nearly the same as that paid for an identical table from the collection of Judith Hollander, which Stair sold in April 2016.
Other Gothic Revival pieces of note include a carved oak upholstered armchair attributed to A.J. Davis of New York City that a Manhattan collector took to $9,840 and a carved rosewood and marble etagere, identical to one at the Brooklyn Museum, that brought $8,610.
Good examples of Classical furniture also found favor with buyers. Earning $9,840 from an online buyer in New England was a Classical ebonized and stencil-decorated caned Grecian sofa that had been made in Philadelphia. The sofa came from the same collection that sold a set of six Classical ebonized and stencil-decorated Klismos-form side chairs, also made in Philadelphia. The chairs will not be staying with the sofa as they were purchased by a decorator in North Carolina, for $7,995.
It is often said that great results beget more of the same. Stair has garnered strong interest in recently sold lots of “Views of North America” wallpaper by Zuber & Cie. Those results caught the eye of the seller of an incomplete set of approximately 18 woodblock panels printed in colors on heavy paper in a variety of sizes. Depicting Niagara Falls, the Natural Bridge of Virginia, New York Harbor and Boston Harbor, the lot will be going to a new home in New England, for $14,760, the third highest price of the day.
Interesting and unusual things tend to bring out the best in bidders and that was the case with a folk art carved oak figure of a drum majorette that had been found in an Manhattan apartment. A private collector in New England, bidding by phone, marched it to $11,070. Falling under the same category was a 40-inch-tall American school cast iron model of Mr Peanut that was likely produced in the 1920s-30s and probably in the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company factory in Suffolk, Va., as it relates to one made there that was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History by Kraft Foods for a 2015 exhibition. A New England phone bidder paid $9,225 for the model.
Stair’s next Americana sale has not yet been set but Cunningham thought it would most likely be in August 2023.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.stairgalleries.com or 518-751-1000.
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