Published: November 27, 2012
Although the state of Maine was spared from the devastation that much of lower New England was subjected to from the downgraded hurricane, but still deadly, “Superstorm” Sandy, Thomaston Place Auction Galleries suffered the effects of the storm none the less during its three-day auction, November 3‵. While the auction house never lost electrical service during the storm, did not have trees falling on buildings or downed power lines due to the tropical winds, or experience any of the coastal flooding that was rampant throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, many of the clients that had reserved lines for telephone bidding were not so lucky.
The effects of the storm were felt by the auction gallery throughout the three-day sale as time and time again, Thomaston’s frustrated staff motioned auctioneer Kaja Veilleux to wait no longer and get-on with the auction as the clients that had reserved lines to bid via telephone could not be contacted. Sandy had left hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of tangled and twisted power lines behind her, strewn about the tri-state area. The end result was the vast majority of the telephone landlines throughout the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region were out of service and cellphone use was extremely limited as transmitters atop communications towers had been blown from their perches.
Veilleux and his staff marched along with remarkable poise and stamina, however, with three consecutive 600-plus lots days of auctioning. Prices were soft at times, strong at others; the end result another highly successful auction for Thomaston Place.
Prior to beginning the sale, Veilleux wished happy holidays to all those in attendance as the next scheduled auction will not take place until February.
The auction featured a diverse assortment of materials and included the collection of Marvin Sadik, whose collection spanned the centuries from Pre-Columbian masks, pottery and antiquities to Eighteenth Century wax portraits of dignitaries. The collection of Irving Bernstein, a former executive director of the United Jewish Appeal, featured antiquities from around the globe, including items collected by his friend Moshe Dayan. A large assortment of jewelry, some from the estate of Anne Bigelow Stern, was once again popular with bidders, and the third day of the auction was devoted to ephemera, with items ranging from a portfolio loaded with Old Masters drawings to an appointment signed by Napoleon.
More than 1,800 lots crossed the block during the auction, with 649 offered on the first day alone. The opening lot was an oval glass pendant with miniature watercolor on ivory mourning image of George Washington with plaited hair mounted in the verso. Estimated at $1/1,500, the lot was opened for bidding by Veilleux at $1,100 and he had just taken a bid of $1,200 when the bid was advanced to $4,000 by a fury of Internet action. Bids jumped back and forth among the Internet, a couple of telephone bidders and a buyer in the gallery, with it selling to the phone bidder at $7,187. “That’s the way to start off an auction. Let’s keep up the good work,” commented Veilleux to the amusement of the crowd.
Another oval miniature portrait to do well was attributed to Seventeenth Century artist Frans Pourbus the Younger and depicted a man with beard and ruffled white collar. From the Sadik collection, it sold at $3,450.
A good selection of American furniture was offered; an Eighteenth Century Philadelphia walnut tall case clock led the way. The clock listed a provenance of the prominent Garland family from Walnut Street, who had eventually settled in Maine. An engraved brass face was accentuated with moon phase works by David Paterson of Sunderland. With a reticulated broken arch pediment and rooster carved finial, the clock was attractive and it attracted a great deal of interest prior to the auction. Bidding on the lot was brisk, opening at $10,000 on the floor and selling to one of several telephone bidders for $28,750.
A New Hampshire Queen Anne flattop highboy from the Dunlap School featured opposing scrolls on the lower apron and a central fan-carved drawer. With attractively proportioned cabriole legs, the rare tiger maple highboy caught the eye of several in the crowd. Estimated at $6/8,000, bidding opened on the floor at $2,000 and the lot was chased by two determined ladies with bids coming rapidly. At $6,000, one of the ladies dropped from the action, but jumped back in a split-second before the lot was hammered down. The two went back and forth to $9,000, where the lady dropped out again, only to jump back in at the last moment. It was off to the races again until the lady received a stern “no” from her husband and relented. The highboy sold to the other lady at $12,650.
A rare and early Seventeenth Century child’s fall-front desk in original untouched dry red finish also did well, bringing $2,875.
A Louis Vuitton travel trunk was a hotly contested item. The gentleman’s trunk, circa 1920, was rare and complete with a front section that was hinged and two doors swung open to reveal a bank of two drawers. With minor wear to the exterior and an extremely clean interior, the lot opened between estimates at $6,500. Several telephone and Internet bidders chased the lot, along with a couple in the gallery. Bidding was fast- paced, with it hammering down to a phone bidder at more than triple the high estimate, realizing $24,150.
Several Arts and Crafts items were offered during the sale, with many of them having come from a cottage on Maine’s Sebago Lake. Veilleux explained that items had been left in the home by the previous owners and the current homeowners were in the process of redecorating. The item that attracted the most attention was a rare Gustav Stickley floor lamp with a massive oak base outfitted with wrought iron straps and a reticulated copper over slag glass shade. The piece bore Stickley stamped mark on one of the iron straps. Four telephone bidders were lined up as the lot opened at $3,000 and bounced back and forth rapidly to a selling price of $16,100, more than three times the high estimate.
A large Walrath art pottery vase went out at $5,175, while a copper Roycroft porch light sold for $1,725.
A 14-piece gold vanity set, comprising everything from makeup jars to hand mirrors, was engraved with the initials ABS, was consigned from the estate of Anne Bigelow Stern and was estimated at $8/12,000. Several in the crowd were determined to take the set home and they bid it to $15,000. It was a phone bidder, however, that ultimately claimed the lot at $18,400.
Jewelry included a platinum, emerald and diamond ring that went out below estimate at $33,925, while a pair of earrings with large drop pendant South Sea pearls and diamonds brought $8,625.
A Patek Philippe miniature music box in a tortoiseshell and gold case revealed a bird with iridescent feathers when opened. Estimated at $8/12,000, the lot went to $21,850.
A good selection of artwork was sold, with a Seventeenth Century oil on panel depicting an arrangement of brightly colored oranges and other fruit in a Delft-style bowl that was attributed to Gillis Jacobsz Hulsdonck leading the way. The smart-looking painting was another of the lots listing a provenance of Anne Bigelow Stern and it sold in the gallery at $28,750.
A ship’s portrait of the pilot boat Favorita under full sail was attributed to Conrad Freitag. The painting was termed unusual by Veilleux as a black man was depicted on the deck of the vessel. Bidding was quick-paced on the lot, with it selling above estimate at $10,925.
A Hamilton Hamilton oil on canvas titled “Spring Sisters” was another painting to catch the eye of bidders, selling at $8,625, while an oil on canvas depicting an icy, rock-strewn shoreline by Andrew George Winter brought $6,325.
A small collection of toys included a bunch of tin litho items, with several robots attracting the most attention. The first of the robot lots to be offered was a “Metamorph” by Marumiya that retained the original box. The robot, with a dragon’s head that split open to reveal a man, was hotly contested by Internet and phone bidders; it sold to the phones at more than double the estimate, bringing $8,050. A 12-inch-tall “Robbie the Robot” with the original box finished at $1,265.
Orientalia did well, with a large assortment of Chinese materials topping the list. A large ceramic guardian figure Lokapala in a sancai glaze attracted the most interest, selling at twice the estimate, bringing $19,550. An agate carving of overall white to vibrant red stone depicted a bat and peaches and sold for $11,500. A Chinese altar table with Nineteenth Century red lacquered base and puddingstone top realized $9,200, a carved jadeite covered urn in a blue-green brought $6,900, as did a Han dynasty carved wood and lacquered flask with bronze mounts.
Japanese items included a pair of bronze temple urns by Seikoku from the Meiji period that sold for $28,750, and a cloisonné floor vase at $4,600. Also sold was a Korean tea table in red lacquer finish with delicately carved apron and legs that fetched $6,900.
An ancient Greco-Roman bronze figure of a standing athlete, thought to have been made at the turn of the common era, stood just under 3 feet tall and went to an Internet bidder at the top of estimate, $34,500.
The third day of the auction featured a large assortment of ephemera ranging from works on paper by contemporary to Old Master artists, as well as signed documents.
One of the first lots to be offered was a Leonard Baskin ink drawing from 1964 that had come from the collection of Marvin Sadik. It garnered $1,955.
The next lot consisted of a bound volume of 58 Old Master drawings with a page of notations included for each and a title page with notation “To Sr, Jos. A Reynolds President of the Royal Academy, These etchings are Dedicated by his humble Servt I.H. Mortimer, 1778.” Another of the lots from the Sadik collection, this one attracted a huge amount of attention as it skyrocketed past the “humble” $1,5/2,500 estimate to sell for $48,300 and becoming the top lot of the auction.
A English large folio atlas from 1789 featured hand colored maps and sold for $6,325, while a book titled Umbra Vitae by Georg Heym featuring original woodcuts by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner brought $4,887.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged. For further information, 207-354-8141 or www.thomastonauction.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm