Published: September 28, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Leland Little Auctions
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – In speaking with Antiques and The Arts Weekly after the auction, Leland Little said he continues to be humbled and grateful at the results his sales bring. He had good reason to be pleased; the firm’s 335-lot Signature Fall Auction on September 18 was about 98 percent sold. Not only did most lots successfully trade hands but the sale exceeded its high estimate and totaled $1.6 million.
“The market is still speaking loudly; people are still willing to bid competitively on things they want,” Little said. “The directors are doing a fantastic job of vetting what goes into the sales. We saw strength in all categories, which has not always been the case.”
The jewelry category was particularly strong, achieving seven of the top ten prices in the sale. Jewelry director Nancy Blount was thrilled, saying, “We got some strong prices” with good pieces “doing what we wanted them to do. I’m so pleased, and my consignors are so pleased as well.”
Blount was particularly pleased – and surprised – with the result of a platinum and diamond ring that, at $55,200, earned the top spot in the sale and more than doubled its high estimate. The ring, which featured a 6.06-carat O-P color and VS1 clarity round brilliant cut stone flanked by tapered baguette cut diamonds, was in a platinum setting and had come to auction from a local seller. Blount said it sold to a buyer outside of North Carolina.
Another ring also more than doubled its high estimate and brought $32,400. The bi-color cocktail ring by Buccellati featured a yellow sapphire central stone surrounded by diamonds on an 18K gold ground. The ring had been acquired from Buccellati in New York City in 1971 and descended in the family of the original owner, from Savannah, Ga., and Greensboro, N.C. It helped that the family had kept all of the ring’s original papers and box; Blount said it attracted “a lot of interest” and is going to a buyer in the United States.
The same seller of the Buccellati ring sold an Akoya double strand pearl necklace with platinum and 2.08-carat diamond set clasp that brought $26,400 from an out-of-state buyer. Blount described the necklace as luxurious, with a “phenomenal” clasp and “wonderful” pearls.
Fine art also held its own throughout the sale. Joan Miro’s color etching “Equinoxe,” which was from an edition of 75 in aquatint and carborundum, brought $45,600 from a phone bidder, earning it the second highest price of the day. Leland Little’s director of prints and multiples, Lauren Sanford, noted that it was the highlight of several works by Miro in the sale, which brought prices ranging from $3,840 to $8,400.
Walter Launt Palmer (American, 1854-1932) is known for his wintry landscapes and his “Snowy Landscape” outpaced expectations. Part of a small consignment from the Andrews, N.C., estate of Mr and Mrs Harry M. Trafford Jr, it brought $27,600. Other items from the Trafford estate included landscapes by Charles Harold Davis ($7,200), Henry Pember Smith ($4,560), Louis Orr ($4,560) and two works by Ferdinand Burgdorff ($4,320 and $1,560). An outlier from the estate was a four-piece Rosalie-pattern parlor suite by John H. Belter that sold to a local buyer for $5,040.
Speaking of American furniture, Leland Little himself was happy with the price realized for a New England Chippendale bonnet-top carved mahogany chest-on-chest that came from a private collection in Richmond, Va. According to Little, the collectors had acquired it about 20 years ago, during the heyday of American furniture. The top board of the piece was inscribed in graphite “S.F. Smith Newton Center Mass.” The provenance may have inspired bidders to take it to $7,800, a result Leland Little said was “a solid price for today’s market.”
Easily shippable “smalls,” as glass, porcelain and silver are often deemed in the business, have seen a surge of interest in sales conducted to online audiences and often do well regardless of vintage. A circa 1900 semiprecious stone and champleve dome lidded box by French painter, engraver and designer Armand Point realized $31,200 from a West Coast buyer bidding on the phone. According to fine art and silver director, Claire Fraser, the piece was “the finest example of one of his decorative objects coming to market,” noting that it was comparable in design to one at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. Measuring just 7 by 7 by 5Ã½ inches, the casket featured designs of Asian-style serpents in a vibrant blue and green field with gilt-bronze borders and a bird’s-eye maple interior; it came to auction from the Raleigh, N.C., estate of Benjamin W. Baker Sr.
The Baker estate featured other goodies that bidders competed on. A coin silver pitcher by S. Kirk & Son, that had been presented to Charles J. Baker Esq in 1873 topped silver offerings, bringing $13,800 from an online bidder in Baltimore. The pitcher stood more than a foot tall and was inscribed “Presented / to / Charles J. Baker Esqr. / by / The Board of Directors of / The Pittsburgh, Washington / & Baltimore R.R.Co. / in acknowledgment of his service / as a Trustee of the / Five Million Loan / September 1873.” Charles Joseph Baker (1821-1894) was one of the most successful businessmen in Baltimore, heading the family business, Baker Bros., & Co., which owned the Baltimore Glass Works.
The auction set a new world record for contemporary glass artist Toland Sand (American, b 1949). His 9-by-16-by-3½-inch dichroic glass sculpture brought $11,400, which Lauren Sanford said was from a North Carolina and Florida collector of “fine art glass, modern furniture and other items,” that had been “collected at galleries throughout the country.”
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include online bidding surcharges.
Leland Little’s next Signature Sale will take place December 4. For information, 919-644-1243 or www.lelandlittle.com.
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