Published: March 22, 2022
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy Casco Bay Auctions
FREEPORT, MAINE – Andy Davis and his wife Megan formed Casco Bay Auctions in September 2019 and the company has succeeded in attracting good merchandise and good prices since then. A $1,400 walking stick was the most expensive item in the first sale, while in this sale, it was $38,400 for a rare 1775 book with some of the earliest maps of the Revolutionary War.
Another indication of the company’s success would be some of the other five-figure prices it has achieved since the first sale, including a Connecticut Queen Anne highboy that sold for $42,500, and the fact that in 2021 the Davises sold items to buyers in each of the 50 states as well as 30 foreign countries. These figures are similar to recent results at other New England auction houses. There have also been consignors from five countries. Catalog descriptions are thorough and, as the website states, “We carefully research each item to write a complete and accurate description. We have contacts with leading experts in a variety of fields, whom we consult with when an item is outside our areas of expertise.” Interestingly, Casco Bay’s website also has information for potential consignors, including fees, which is a subject most auction houses do not include on their websites.
Realizing $38,400, the highest price of the day and selling to dealer Graham Arader, was a complete bound copy of the rare 1775 first year of the Pennsylvania Magazine, with all 12 issues and the supplement. The publication was edited by Thomas Paine and Robert Aitken. It was the only periodical printed in America during that first year of the Revolution. It contained some of the most significant maps produced in America during the war. There were eight engraved plates and seven engraved maps, including a perspective view, A Correct View of the Late Battle at Charlestown June 17th, 1775, which came to be known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, maps of the American invasion of Canada, a map and two plates relating to the siege of Boston (one of which is the first printed map bearing information about the Revolution). Paine’s writings in the magazine led to publication of Common Sense in 1776, one of the most influential pamphlets of the period, inspiring many to join the Revolutionary cause. (Some of these details are noted from the websites of the William Reese Co and Boston Rare Maps.) The binding of this copy had become separated.
The first five-figure selling price of the day, $11,700, was for a walnut dressing table, cataloged as Delaware River Valley Queen Anne. It retained its original hardware, and the finish, though perhaps not original, was an old one. It had carved knees and cabriole legs with ball-and-claw feet. There were a number of nice Nineteenth Century pieces, including a bright New England grain-painted, lift-top blanket chest, which was the first item sold and it reached $4,680. An early New England one-drawer tavern table with old red paint over black went out for $3,000. Roger Bacon was included in the table’s provenance. A large inlaid mahogany sideboard, nearly 70 inches long, brought $1,875. It had three drawers over three cupboards, each with inlaid doors. It was cataloged as 1790-1810, and as having originated in either the Connecticut River Valley or the Blackstone River Valley.
In addition to the bound Pennsylvania Magazine, there were other early books and pamphlets. A well-worn 1706 copy of A Discourse Putting Christians In Mind To be Ready to Every Good Word sold for $960. It was written by Eliphalet Adams, an ordained minister who had graduated from Harvard in 1694, and the oration was delivered in Boston in 1706. It had a gift inscription from a mother to her daughter dated 1718. The sale also included A New Hieroglyphical Bible For the Amusement & Instruction of Children, published in 1794. It used numerous woodcuts to instruct the young readers and it sold for $470.
There was also an 1832 edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, which was originally published in 1783. In it Jefferson discussed the state’s natural resources and his thoughts about why Virginia represented the “good society.” It sold for $276. There were several other lots of early books and ephemera, including a clipped signature of George Washington, which surprisingly earned $3,120.
The sale included several lots of Chinese export porcelain, with bidders particularly drawn to a Nineteenth Century group of four plates, each decorated with a colorful central design of a fish, surrounded by other sea life. The lot earned $4,560. A repaired Eighteenth Century plate decorated with figures from Roman mythology generated $1,200. The figures were thought to represent Juno, Aeolus and the winds. There were more than 15 other lots.
Other interesting items included a colorful Pennsylvania fraktur dated 1762, attributed to Johann Otto, which sold for $2,500. It was decorated with birds and flowers and the text documented the birth of Michael Neu, who was born in “the year 1762, the 21st day of February at 11:00 o’clock in the evening. In proof of the praise, incorporated in the covenant of grace, and by Reverend Grever, preacher and servant of the word of God, was baptized and christened on the 11th of March, as named above. Above named was born in America in the province of Pennsylvania.”
An unusual item with a religious theme was “The Shaker Heritage,” a boxed set of ten phonograph records published in 1950 in an edition of 250 sets. When asked, Will Henry said, “That’s one of those esoteric items. It was songs and music recorded at the Canterbury and Sabathday Lake Shaker villages. It was published by Western Reserve University. They were doing a lot of Shaker research at the time, with the Shaker Society preserving as much of the culture as they could.” The set sold for $180. The internet locates only one set.
Davis said he plans to conduct about 12 sales this year, eight major ones and four others. Major Americana sales will be conducted in the summer, with one scheduled for August 15. He also said that he has recently purchased a 1789 church down the street from the gallery space that he currently leases. That building has living space and eventually, perhaps a gallery when renovations are completed. Final uses for the space are still being considered. The church, he said, has an interesting local history, having originally been built in nearby Yarmouth and moved to Freeport in 1814.
After the sale, he said, “We were quite pleased with the total, which comes to a bit over $200,000. I was a little surprised with the Chinese export plates with the fish and the 1706 religious text was a surprise. So was the clipped George Washington signature. Our next sale will be on April 23, and we’re calling that Dressed to Kill, Dressed to Till and it will include a fine collection of military dress.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.cascobayauctions.com or 207-370-4746.
September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023
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