Published: January 19, 2016
Review by Andrea Valluzzo,
Catalog Photos Courtesy Copake Auction
COPAKE, N.Y. — However they celebrated the night before, nearly 200 people were awake and alert on an otherwise quiet morning January 1 as they crowded into Copake Auction’s gallery for its annual New Year’s Day auction. The traffic outside getting here was light but inside the audience was primed and excited. Some 2,000 bidders registered overall, including online, in-house and phone bidders. Copake’s New Year’s tradition is quite popular and its biggest sale of the year for good reason.
Every seat in the house was taken in the auction gallery the morning of the auction, and plenty of people were standing up in the back of the room and in the hallway. The father-and-son team of Mike and Seth Fallon took turns calling bids and regaling auctiongoers with anecdotes and stories about items crossing the block.
Copake is well known for Americana and weathervanes and this sale featured both categories in spades. The top lot of the auction was a William Matthew Prior (1806–1873) oil portrait on panel of a little girl holding a black cat, 16¾ by 12¾ inches. It performed well at $23,400, nearly doubling its low estimate. Another standout painting was a wooded landscape by William Louis Sonntag Sr that sold just under its high estimate at $18,720.
Among weathervanes was a horse and sulky said by the Fallons to be the best horse and sulky they have sold. Mike Fallon noted before the sale that he had his eyes on this for years. It came out of the Potter estate in Greenfield, Mass., and measures 31 by 16½ inches (base not included) and went out well over its $10/12,000 estimate at $17,550. Other top vanes were a cast iron polychrome painted rooster having a carved wooden tail that doubled its high estimate to bring $10,530, a leaping stag also doing better than expected, at $6,435; and a Blackhawk horse by A&L Jewell & Co, in a verdigris patina at $5,850. A rare squirrel vane with scroll and arrow and its original directionals, found in Columbia County, N.Y., was made by a blacksmith of heavy gauge sheet metal, and seen in Bennington Museum’s 2012 exhibition, “Bennington Collects.” Buyers went nuts over this vane, driving the price over estimate to $5,557.
Oft-said of late is that it’s a great time to buy furniture at auction but several pieces here performed quite well. A Nineteenth Century two-part corner cupboard in a fine paint combination of yellow, green and black, 56 by 36 by 89 inches, came from a Pawling, N.Y., collector who had a keen eye, and it sold well over estimate for $5,265. Among traditional furniture in finish was an Eighteenth Century Chippendale Massachusetts, mahogany, block front, four-drawer chest with bracket base that did just over estimate at $6,435 and a Nineteenth Century, two-drawer stand with turned legs in original paint decoration, from the same Pawling collector, going out above its $250/350 estimate at $4,972.
Folk art was another strong category here as an important early folk art rocking chair in original paint, attributed to Moses Ogden (1844–1919) with carved heads and duck heads, fetched $5,265, while a hooked rug attributed to James and Mercedes Hutchinson of New York City, circa 1940s–50s, brought $5,557, and an early polychrome painted Simmons-type bird tree, 11 by 7 inches ($300/500), went out at $5,265.
Other folky standouts included a lifesize polychrome painted wooden eagle sculpture, 47 by 25 by 25 inches, attributed to James Elginton (1862–1942) that more than doubled its estimate to attain $4,680, while a rare carved wooden ship’s figurehead model, 48 by 13 by 13 inches (pictured page 18 in Jean Lipman’s book American Folk Art in Wood, Metal and Stone), also earned $4,680.
A few pieces of contemporary art made their way across the block, both items were the third examples of their type to sell here and from the same estate, having been bought by the consignor’s husband in the 1980s. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Rat-Shits,” an oil stick and pencil on paper work measuring 8½ by 11 inches, fetched $18,720, while a Keith Haring felt pen on plexiglass work depicting a barking dog and dancer, 1986, 15½ by 16¼ inches, made $5,850.
Rounding out the sale were a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk, 43½ by 21½ by 21¼ inches, at $8,775; an Osgood Carleton map of Massachusetts, circa 1801–02, that bested its $800–1,200 estimate to realize $4,972 and a pair of French iron garden gates selling just under its high estimate at $4,680.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 518-329-1142 or www.copakeauction.com.
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