Review & Onsite Photos By Rick Russack, Catalog Photos Courtesy Peterborough Auctions
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — On March 18, Molly Williams and Nick Prior conducted their third auction under the name of Peterborough Auctions. Their first two auctions did well, and the firm has moved into a new, larger gallery space within the same building, the historic Noone Mill, a restored textile mill on the Contoocook river that can trace its history back to 1813. There’s a scenic waterfall behind the building, which these days powers the circa 1950s electrical generating system, recently restored and now feeding power to the grid. Both said the larger space will make it possible for them to bring in furniture and larger items, which they did for this sale.
A few days prior to the sale, New Hampshire had its largest snowstorm in several years and Peterborough received about 34 inches. During the preview, Nick Prior said, “that wasn’t so bad – we had 40 inches at home.” Power was out for days, and the day we visited, there was still no power in most of the town and power was on and off in the gallery, but by the day of the sale, all was well. The sale included more than 50 lots of jewelry, numerous paintings, an excess of 150 etchings and prints, some furniture, books and a selection of sterling silver.
Peterborough’s cataloging is detailed, and numerous photos are used for each lot. Condition is usually noted for each item. There were five days allowed for previewing so, although the weather didn’t help, the number of people able to preview were consistent with past sales. Bidding was available on three internet platforms, and phone and absentee bids were processed.
A Rolex watch led the sale, finishing at $11,250. It was a 1993 GMT Master II Stainless Steel and 18K gold watch with two sets of hands, allowing the wearer to simultaneously keep track of the correct time in two different time zones. The technology was introduced in 1955 and this model was introduced in 1982. The face was marked, “Rolex, Oyster Perpetual Date, GMT Master II, Superlative Movement, Officially Certified” and the catalog noted that the bezel and crystal were newer.
Most popular of more than four dozen jewelry lots was a double strand of 8mm pearls with a 14K gold clasp set with seven diamonds, which was marked “14K IPS,” for the Imperial Pearl Syndicate. It sold for $1,063. A pair of 14K gold and Mikimoto marked pearl earrings went out for $406. Bidders also liked a pair of Gregg Ruth 18K gold and diamond drop earrings which realized $938. Bringing the same price was an 18K gold and diamond necklace with three hearts by the same designer. Rings included a vintage 18K gold and coral example that brought $313.
The sale included several paintings, one of which sold for $3,625, the second highest price of the day. It was an oil on canvas scene probably painted on Cape Ann by Rockport, Mass., school artist Charles Paul Gruppe (1860-1940). The scene showed three people sharing a picnic on the dunes under a turbulent sky. Another local scene, a circa 1890s summer landscape of four cows drinking from a stream sold for $2,125. It was done by Charles Franklin Pierce (1844-1920) who lived and worked in Peterborough and painted many scenes of the Monadnock region. Pierce grew up on a farm and cows were a favorite subject. While most of the paintings were of a more recent vintage, there was one cataloged as having been done in the Seventeenth Century. It was an oil on panel attributed to Dutch artist Jan I Peeters (1624-1680). The consignor had done a substantial amount of research to verify the authenticity of the attribution. The scene depicted several vessels in a storm swept harbor under a cloudy, threatening sky; it earned $1,875.
With more than 150 prints and etchings, the category was one of the strongest portions of the sale and several results exceeded the high estimates. The category also provided collectors with the opportunity to acquire works by major American artists at very reasonable prices, far below what oil paintings by the same artists bring. There were works by several well-known artists such as Frank Benson, Aiden Lassell Ripley, Hendrik Glintenkamp, Harold Kerr Eby, Stow Wengenroth, Leonard Baskin and others.
Leading the offerings was a 1915 signed drypoint etching by Frank Benson (1862-1951), titled “The Landing” one of an edition of 50, which brought $1,125, well above the estimate of $700. The setting was Fox Island on Penobscot Bay and showed seamen on shore with small boats in the water. In all, there were five of Benson’s prints, three of which depicted wildfowl taking off or landing. His unsigned proof, “Redheads Coming,” which showed several ducks over marshland, earned $500. A pencil-signed artist’s proof lithograph by Leonard Baskin, (1922-2000) “Sioux in Green Oval” reached $250. Of the three by Ripley (1896-1969), “Snipe at Dawn,” a 1940 drypoint etching, was the most popular. Pencil signed and titled, it finished at $531, also well over the estimate. The other two Ripley etchings of wildfowl scenes also sold above estimates. A finely detailed 1932 wood engraving by Hendrik Glintenkamp (1887-1946), showing Radio City Music Hall under construction brought $344, more than four times the estimate.
The new, enlarged gallery space allowed for inclusion of more furniture than previous sales. A set of eight vintage Hitchcock chairs, with bright paint, reached $469. The set, with rush seats, included two armchairs with scrolled arms. An inlaid Nineteenth or Twentieth Century walnut and pine Sheraton-style hunt board with six turned legs realized $438. Utilizing the expanded gallery space was a large Victor Victrola, which went out for $375. It was a large credenza model orthophonic phonograph with mahogany veneer. Its two doors opened to four drawers for record storage, and it stood on bun feet. A circa 1810 New England Federal period Sheraton sofa, with a slightly bowed front, on tapered legs, reached $375.
After the sale, Molly Williams said, “Our gross for this sale was about 50 percent higher than our last sale. That’s a good feeling — we’re going in the right direction. And we’re now using three internet platforms, Bidsquare, Invaluable and LiveAuctioneers, so together with our in-house preview, we’re reaching as many prospective buyers as possible. So much of the business is online.” Nick Prior added, “The larger space will really be handy for us, giving us the ability to handle larger items. And we love being in the historic mill building. The renovations underway will just bring more visibility and bring more people. Our next sale will be July 8 and we’re going to have some very good things for that sale.”
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.peterboroughauctions.us or 603-933-9947.