Published: June 14, 2011
Known for his seasonally large auctions, Thomaston Place Galleries auctioneer Kaja Veilleux made sure that his May 21′2 spring auction continued to expand the envelope. In its largest such sale to date and with 1,200 lots from estates in Maine and beyond, the firm showcased a wide range of fine art, antiques and jewelry. In the end, the two-day event grossed in the neighborhood of $1.6 million, according to auction manager Bob Graham. “Overall, we were pleased with the sale,” he said. “There were some things we’d hoped would go higher, but the results were above average for our May sales.”
The sale’s star was a dazzler †a circa 1910′0 vintage handmade platinum bracelet set with 262 diamonds weighing approximately 60 carats with a clasp stamped “Cartier, Paris” was featured among a 130-lot collection of estate jewelry. It sold for $97,750 to a buyer in England. Graham said there were between eight and nine phone bidders vying for the piece †both in Europe and in the United States †a number of absentee bidders and a few floor bidders who dropped out fairly soon after the piece opened at $60,000.
All that glitters gave way to soft earth tones when the sale’s second highest selling lot, an oil on canvas painting of an Irish wooded landscape by George Barret, R.A. (Irish/UK, 1728‱784), crossed the block. Attaining $63,000, the important work stemming from a Chicago, Ill., estate, had strong provenance and was included in the 1863 catalog of the famous F.A. Hall Collection. Another important work offered at the sale, “The Action Between the Macedonian and the United States in Mid-Atlantic, 12th Oct, 1812,” was painted in 1970 by Derek George Montague Gardner, R.S.M.A. (British, 1914′007). The 38-by-58-inch oil on canvas sailed to $60,375.
Surprises are the spice at any live auction †especially when the surprises are small things †and such was the case when a Faberge jeweled gold frame, estimated at just $5/8,000, caught the attention of bidders and rocketed to a final price of $57,500. Crafted circa 1910, the egg-shaped miniature portrait frame in gold by Dmitri Aleksandrov Pastukhov (active 1908‱925) measured 33/8 by 2 inches. Said Graham, “The frame was an outstanding example of Faberge from one of their top artists,” adding that he believed the high hammer price not only reflected the rarity and condition of the piece, but the fact that it was made by this particular artist.
“The Asian market continues to be very strong,” said Graham. That was reflected in the fact that although in terms of numbers of lots, Asian art comprised only ten percent, it accounted for some 20 percent of the overall sale’s gross. He observed, however, that interest in all-things-Asian is still a function of quality. Low- and mid-level quality items will languish at the expense of rare, high-quality consignments. And so it was when a floor bidder from Florida, who apparently was confident in the bona fides of a Chinese Qing dynasty temple vase that came up for bid with a $2/3,000 presale estimate, bid the doucai-style piece with Qianlong mark to $43,125. Decorated with scholars and featuring elephant head handles, the vase was 22½ inches tall with a 13-inch diameter.
A Nineteenth Century Chinese jade figurine of a sleeping dog with a bird on its back was carved in white jade with russet veining. It attained $17,250. Reaching $9,775 was a pair of famille rose porcelain baluster vases with Jaiqing mark, decorated with floral branches over the white body.
An unsigned oil on canvas painting attributed to Manuel Serrano (Mexican, 1814‱883) brought $24,150. In its original lemon gold frame, the 14¼-by-19-inch work titled “Vera Cruz” depicted travelers and tradesmen on the beach with the city in the distance.
Additional high-flying jewelry lots included an antique carved jade pendant mounted with 14K yellow gold fittings and two figures on one side and one on the other, which fetched $25,300.
Sparkling with rubies and diamonds was an antique handmade 14K yellow gold and silver necklace. Its fancy leaf design had six mogul-like cut natural rubies accented with rose and old mine cut diamonds. The attached diamond and ruby link necklace featured 44 rubies and 45 diamonds. It brought $23,000.
Garnering $11,500 each were a baroque period silver gilt bracelet set with 67 hand cut rubies and garnets, each oval panel with attached gilt rosettes and back leaf and floral engraved, and a baroque period handmade silver gilt necklace with silver gilt cruciform pendant set with 16 garnets and six small pearls.
If there are any creatures more iconically American than eagles and dogs, they kept a low profile at this auction. An American bald eagle sculpture by Maine artist Charles “Chippy” Creenough Chase (1908‱988) ascended to $13,800. Carved in black walnut in March 1974, the signed, titled and marked “No. 292” bird was 24½ inches tall and 21 inches at the base.
Canine-loving sensibilities were piqued by an oil on canvas primitive portrait of a dog in a seashore landscape, signed “S. Roberts” lower right, that had been painted on a stretched window shade, which went out at $16,100, while “The Proper Pooch,” an unsigned Victorian portrait, circa 1890, done in oil on academy board portrayed a small white dog on an upholstered tuffet. With fine overall crazing and a vintage bird’s-eye maple veneer frame with gilt liner, the 28-by-23¼-inch work drew a final price of $4,600.
Decorative accessories were the focus of spirited bidding. A set of 12 English sterling silver plates hallmarked London, 1799, by Robert Salmon were $10,925. The set’s shallow bowl had a banded wreath edge and an engraved coat of arms for Mullan, “Vivere sat vincere” (To conquer is to live enough).
Eight gilt sterling English plates also did well, achieving their estimate at $4,313. Hallmarked London, 1923, by makers Henry and Arthur Vander, the plates featured engraved coat of arms of Pratt, Royston Hall, Norfolk in the center, each 9 inches in diameter and one-half-inch deep.
A set of four English Corinthian column-form sterling candlesticks with weighted bases, London, 1772, mark of Thomas Whipham, settled down at $6,325. Their square bases featured beaded edge trim and swag and oval cartouche, and they stood 11 inches high.
Comprising six pieces, an Eighteenth Century English sterling tea service hallmarked London, 1787, by John Wakelin and William Taylor, sold for $6,900. They were not engraved, but had a central cartouche for monogramming.
Among the furniture highlights, a mid-Eighteenth Century English Chippendale carved mahogany wall curio cabinet done in Oriental motif realized $7,475. It had two doors with beveled side lights and an open shelf at the bottom and was topped by a fish-scale pagoda top with an inverted finial flanked by two winged griffins and a gargoyle face lower. A Queen Anne period Boston wing chair with walnut frame featured nicely turned out scroll arms, deep wings, a camel arched top and full down cushion. Measuring 49 by 34 by 29 inches, it found a new home for $5,520. Also, A Syrian mosaic marquetry center table, signed and dated “1908” in Arabic, worked in mother-of-pearl, bone and wood, took $7,705.
Stretching out to 12 feet 1 inch in length, a Whitehall sailing/rowing dory, sprit rig, built by Shrew & Burnham, South Bristol, Maine, cost $12,000 new when it left the boat shop. It left the auction gallery for about half that, garnering $6,900.
All prices reported include the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.
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