Published: November 12, 2002
How a $4.5 Million Sale Went ‘Soft’
Northeast Conducts New Hampshire Weekend Auction
By R. Scudder Smith
MANCHESTER, N.H. — “The sale was a little soft here and there, but we did $4.5 million and sold some very important things,” Ronald Bourgeault said following his two-day sale on November 2-3 at the Center of New Hampshire Holiday Inn. The 1,225 lots were gathered from a number of sources including property from the collection of Mr and Mrs Mitchel Taradash, the collection of James Moriarty, the collection of Amos Shepard, several New England museums, property deaccessioned by the Trent House Association, property from the Powder Major’s House in Madbury, N.H., and lustre ceramics from the Baltimore collection of Mrs Arthur Gutman.
Not every seat in the house was filled, but there was no shortage of bids. A total of 700 people were involved in the bidding process, some in the room, many on the phones, and a good number of left bids. The numbers listed in this review are the hammer bids and DO NOT include the buyer’s premium, except where noted. Northeast charges 15 percent on the first $50,000, and ten percent on the addition balance over $50,000.
The first 17 lots were from the estate of a descendant of Fidelia Bridges and included watercolors, photographs and oils. The second lot of the sale was 12 watercolors on silk of birds on branches, each 5¼ by 3¾ inches, selling to a phone bidder for $12,500. William Trost Richards was represented by an oil on artist board, “Beach Scene, Foggy Day,” 6¼ by 17½ inches, signed and dated 1885, for $43,000.
Interest stopped at $17,500 for a half-length portrait of a gentleman by Pompeo Batoni, 34 by 27 inches, oil on canvas in an elaborate carved and gilded frame, causing the lot to be passed. The low estimate was $20,000. An oil on canvas mounted on board, “Summer Afternoon” by John Fransic Murphy, 24 by 36 inches, signed and dated 1913 lower right, brought $10,000, in the middle of the estimates, and a bid of $27,000 took the oil on canvas by Fritz Thaulow, “On The Canal,” 18¼ by 21¾ inches, signed lower right. This phone bid was just over the high estimate.
Other works of art included an egg tempera on paper, “Ballet Student” by Paul Cadmus, 17 by 18 inches sight, for $18,000 to a phone bidder. A ship portrait by Peter Christian Holm and a China Trade painting of a view of Hong Kong were among the nautical works passed.
One of the surprise lots in the sale was a Dutch School oil on panel, “Poseidon and Bride in His Chariot,” 117/8 by 91/8 inches. Estimated at $2,5/4,500, Ron Bourgeault mentioned, “We are just getting warmed up” as the bidding hit $35,000. How right he was as competition between a bidder on the phone from Germany and number 43 in the room, Stanley Moss from Riverside, N.Y., continued. The phone finally won at $135,000, plus premium.
A collection of Classical sculpture numbered about 25 lots, with a carved marble head of a youth, eight inches tall, probably Roman, selling for $1,750, and a bronze figure of a crouching male nude holding a shell, eight inches tall, mounted on an oval base, selling for $3,000.
American furniture surfaced in the sale at lot 159, a set of five New England rod back Windsor side chairs with bamboo turnings, selling for $1,500. A left bid took the next lot, a Sheraton pine harvest table, 96½ inches long, with tapering legs and ringed cuffs. It opened at $6,000, the high estimate, and sold for $10,000. A Shaker red-painted poplar blanket chest with one drawer, cutout feet, sold for $3,000, and a New England country Federal tiger maple oval top stand with spider legs brought $1,500.
A Portsmouth Queen Anne side chair from the school of John Gaines, oxbow crest rail, Spanish feet, opened at $6,000 and sold for $10,000, and a nice early American blue-painted two-door wall cupboard, probably New Hampshire, 29½ inches high, went for $1,800.
Ron Bourgeault is not a fan of presale estimates, and this portion of the sale reflected that. Few of the rdf_Descriptions had them, and not many lots were passed as a result. The best piece of pottery in the sale was an English slipware plate with combed decoration in cream on brown, 93/8 inches in diameter, that listed Katherine Prentis Murphy auction, Roger Bacon in the provenance. It sold to a left bid for $5,000. A New England tall chest of drawers in cherrywood, 55 inches high, brought $3,250, while an English William and Mary walnut oval drop-leaf table with trestle base, 42- by 57-inch top opened, sold for $4,400. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was listed in the provenance of several pieces of furniture, including an English Jacobean oak three drawer chest with incised geometric patterns, narrow size, for $5,500.
Among the lustre was an English pink splash lustre black transfer-printed wash basin, Dixon & Company, 12¼ inches in diameter, for $1,300, and three pink lustre pitchers for $650. A sandwich cut pink double overlay fluid lamp, 12¼ inches tall, sold for $1,000, and a pair of whale oil lamps and a pair of peg lamps brought $450.
A set of seven Dutch-decorated scalloped-edge English creamware plates depicting the “Sacraments of the Church,” 9¾ inches in diameter, sold for $3,250, and a small painted and decorated game board with checkerboard design within a red border, 83/8 inches square, sold for $1,500 to Milly McGehee. Miniatures included a portrait painting of a lady on porcelain attired in an Empire-style white gown, 5½ by 5¼ inches, for $1,400, and $2,000 bought “The Last Shot,” a large folio hand colored lithograph by Currier & Ives, published in 1858.
Forty lots of historical blue Staffordshire were sold including a platter showing New York from heights near Brooklyn, Andrew Stevenson, 161/8 inches long, $2,700, and Chief Justice Marshall, Troy, plate by Enoch Wood & Sons, 10 inches in diameter, for $1,100.
A Massachusetts painted sleigh decorated with genre scenes was estimated at $1/1,500, and sold for $6,000. It was carried onto the floor from the hallway by four of the runners, with a young lady seated in the sleigh. A sailor-made two-tier whalebone inlaid mahogany sewing stand, nine inches high, square base with two stacks of drawers, brought $4,000; a New England painted wood and tin weathervane of a three-masted ship, 38 inches long, sold for the same price; and about half of the Toby jugs in the sale, about 14, were passed. Those that sold brought around $500, with a couple making it to $1,000.
A New York Sheraton three-drawer work table, by Duncan Phyfe or a contemporary of equal rank, circa 1800-1810, went over the high estimate of $10,000, selling for $12,000, and a Boston or Salem Chippendale mahogany oxbow chest of drawers with blocked ends, 34¾ inches wide, serpentine front and molded edge, went under estimate at $8,000.
The top lot of the sale was the Chippendale case-on-case shelf clock in mahogany, Newburyport, Mass., circa 1790-1795. It was by David Wood, who had a shop in Newburyport in 1792 on Market Street, and the clock was in a superb state of preservation. The estimate was $150/250,000, and it sold for $350,000, plus premium, to Bill Sahaha of Milan, Ohio. Bill was seated in the last row and did not get into the bidding until the very end, when he registered one bid and took the clock. It is pictured with this review.
Second in dollars was the Isaac Perkins family of Connecticut Federal eagle inlaid card table in mahogany, Hartford area, circa 1800-1815 (Lot is pictured). The high presale estimate was $120,000, and it sold for $185,000 to a gentleman standing on the left side of the room. It was underbid by Todd Prickett. This table retains an old, if not original, finish and an inlaid American eagle and shield, below 16 stars, is enclosed in a oval. This table was originally presented to Isaac Perkins, the State Attorney for the County of Hartford, by the Masonic Lodge Friends of St John’s.
A New England carved cherrywood flat-top highboy in two parts, 73 inches high, with pin wheel carving in the top center drawer and fan carving in the bottom center drawer, brought $11,500, and two lots later an American copper full bodied steer weathervane, 25 inches long, good surface, sold for $5,500. A Massachusetts Chippendale tray-top tea table in mahogany, branded “C.R. Boardman” in two places on the underside, 20- by 30-inch top, went for $4,500; a Boston Queen Anne walnut and giltwood secretary-bookcase with mirror doors, attributed to Job Coit, circa 1740, had a presale estimate of $30/50,000 and was passed; and a Timothy Chandler Chippendale tall-case clock, Concord, N.H., hood with swan’s neck crest with rosettes centering three brass urn finials, in as found condition, sold for $7,500. “The consignor brought the original weights here today, so all the parts are now there,” Ron said as the hammer fell.
A Federal painted and decorated tilt-top stand depicting Mount Vernon and Washington’s tomb, in maple, from the Cabot family in Boston, brought $6,000; a signed and dated 1840 work by Auguste Edouart showing silhouettes of eight figures in a painted interior of a classical drawing room, 23 by 29 inches, sold over the $12,000 high estimate for $22,000; and two lots later a New England Federal inlaid mahogany serpentine front sideboard, 70 inches wide, rectangular top with cut corners, sold for $8,000.
A rare pair of patinated bronze and Wedgwood Jasperware Argand lamps, loaned for the opening of the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1924, did not make the reserve and was passed at $22,500. The low estimate was $25,000. A Philadelphia Chippendale lowboy on ball and claw feet, walnut, rectangular top with molded edge and notched corners, sold for $13,000, and a Philadelphia Queen Anne armchair, carved mahogany, Savery School, serpentine crest with incised outline and vasiform splat over flaring armrests, moved rapidly to a selling bid of $29,000 thanks to two phone bidders. The chair was formerly the property of Mrs J. Amory Haskell.
An American Chippendale breakfront-secretary in mahogany, in three parts, the projecting molded cornice with applied Gothic details, 86 inches high, went for $23,000; a Southern pine corner cupboard with paneled doors, two raised panel doors opening to shaped shelves, complete with the lid of a tin can covering a rat hole in one of the back boards, sold for $1,700; eleven carved and paint duck decoys, including three pairs, brought $800; and a silvered metal figure of a game cock, 11 inches tall, sold for $600.
A George III inlaid mahogany sideboard of small size, brass splash rail above a drawer and kneehole inlaid with stylized shells, straight tapering legs ending in spade feet, went over the $10,000 high estimate selling for $15,000. A Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted plum pudding console desserte in mahogany, the D-shaped white marble top with pierced gallery, raised on stop-fluted circular tapering legs ending in brass thimble sabots, sold within estimate for $13,000, and a Chinese Chippendale style teak cabinet, rectangular top above four doors, raised on gadrooned base and ball and claw feet, 83¾ inches wide, went for $4,000.
The sale ended with lot 1225, a Staffordshire pottery white-glazed stirrup cup, molded as a bull dog head and mounted on a wood plaque, selling for $250.
Future Northeast Auctions are scheduled for March 1-2, May 17-18, August 2-3, August 16-17, and November 1-2. The August 2-3 sale in Manchester kicks off Antiques Week in New Hampshire and was to include the second part of the Collection of Isobel and Harvey Kahn. That portion of the sale has been postponed until 2004.
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