Published: September 10, 2019
Review and Photos by Jackie Sideli
PORTSMOUTH, R.I – Mike Corcoran conducted one of his auctions at his Newport County auction gallery on August 28, just a few miles from Newport, R.I. Corcoran started his auction company with Gustave White in 1967 and has been presenting antiques and fine art auctions ever since. The firm is rare in the antiques auction business these days – Corcoran has no website and does not use the internet for his sales. The result is a full auction salesroom with standing room only.
This sale featured items from Four Winds, an estate in Newport, and nautical items from an estate in South Dartmouth, Mass. One of the highlights of the auction was an ornate sailor’s valentine, which sold to a left bid for $2,700. A whalebone swift in a box opened at $300 and achieved $660. A whalebone pie crimper brought $240, and a well-formed carved bone fist cane sold in one left bid for $1,200.
An elaborate whalebone pie crimper, which drew much presale attention, achieved a selling price of $3,120 to a left bid. An ornately carved oval balleen box sold for $1,560 to a customer at the sale.
A simple child’s whalebone walking stick made $120, and an octagonal carved cane with an ornate inlaid top achieved $480, selling quickly to a customer at the sale.
A charming pair of lighthouse andirons in old surface, which had been found in a Bellevue Avenue, Newport estate, opened at just $200 and went to a customer on the telephone for $360. Antique silver offered at the auction included a three-legged serving tray, which brought $480, and a sterling silver Tiffany bowl, which sold for $720.
An elegant pair of ornately carved marble urns found in a Newport estate saw action from the floor, phones and from left bids. The pair went to the bidder on the telephone for $1,800.
An elaborate sewing box, with a pin-cushion top in brown velvet sold quickly to a buyer at the auction for $480. A pair of whalebone knitting needles drew interest from the customers at the sale, bringing $480 after a round of competitive bidding, and a simple bone cane achieved $240.
Midway through the auction, a rolling pin, which was elaborately inlaid with ivory, made $360, and two oil paintings by American artist George Arthur Hays (1854-1945) were offered. Both were bucolic scenes of livestock in a field and both were presented in gold frames One, the larger of the two, brought $1,200, and the smaller achieved $480.
An antique grouping of four carved wooden Buddhas in old surface were found in a local estate. They were offered later in the sale and, after a round of competitive bidding, sold quickly for a solid $1,920.
A delicate and ornate miniature formal inlaid table opened at $200 and ultimately achieved $960. Among the several decoys offered at the auction was a simple wooden example, which sold for just $240. Antiques dealer Keith Funston from Sudbury, Mass., won a large rose medallion serving bowl, which brought just $180.
A pair of stylish Modernist chairs drew the attention of eager customers at the sale. Several attendees at the sale expressed the opinion that they might be the work of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965). Opening with a $500 bid, with competition from the floor and the phones as well as left bids, they quickly achieved the selling price of $1,400.
Corcoran’s long experience in the auction business is complemented by his phenomenal memory, which allows him to use first names only when a customer is buying an object. Once you have purchased an item, you will be remembered – and often during a sale Corcoran will shout out to a client, “Hey, how are you doing, anyway?”
His refusal to use the internet has created a fierce loyalty among his customer base, and his auction hall is packed with eager customers throughout the sale. He has had the able assistance of Elsie Lombard, his bookkeeper for 55 years.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For additional information, 401-841-5780.
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