Published: September 20, 2011
As Hurricane Irene moved north pounding the East Coast, and mere days before reaching New England, Julia’s four-day Maine auction was held August 23′6, featuring antiques and fine art. The sale was described by department head Bill Gage as “a perfect storm” †referring to everything from the quality of the merchandise to the excitement of the bidders being aligned to effect record results.
For more than two decades of its 40-year history, James D. Julia, Inc has marked the end of summer with a huge antique and fine art auction of choice items. Julia’s most recent sale topped all its previous sales and ended the summer with a bang. Hailed as the division’s largest sale to date, the auction pulled in $5 million. With more than 1,700 registered bidders representing 29 countries, Gage stated, “We saw new buyers entering the market, which is a reassuring sign that the market is on the upswing.”
The sale was brimming with fine art, historical items, nautical pieces, folk art, furniture ranging from early to modern, clocks, jewelry and other antique accessories. The most popular and highly sought after items were from a large and diverse offering of Chinese and Oriental pottery and porcelain. Included were more than 150 lots from the private collection of Dorothy-Lee Jones. Jones was the founder of the Jones Museum of Glass & Ceramics in Sebago, Maine.
Jones spent the majority of her life studying glass and ceramics, but her joy was in lecturing and educating lovers of fine art glass and ceramics. This offering was highlighted by the little lot that could, amazing Julia staff and those in attendance.
The unassuming lot consisted of six small bowls from the Ch’ing dynasty of the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. It included one footed bowl decorated with red bats within green bands of clouds as well as other shallow more plainly decorated bowls. In a seemingly unending battle between numerous bidders in attendance and those on the phone, the lot multiplied its $300/500 estimate a thousandfold to ultimately sell for $373,750.
The stellar prices did not stop there. Also from the Jones collection was a lot of four Chinese polychrome decorated bowls from the early Twentieth Century. Emulating an earlier style, the two pairs of bowls were richly decorated with floral and berry vinery and delicate scrollwork. Surpassing an estimate of $600/900, the lot brought $71,875.
Joining the Jones collection were more than 100 lots of other porcelain and other Chinese artifacts representing a good cross section of works consigned from the private collection of the grandniece of the Last Emperor Puyi (reign 1906‱917) of the Qing dynasty, granddaughter of Puji and great-great granddaughter of the Dowager Empress Cixi (reign 1861‱908). Highlights included an important Qing dynasty carved rhinoceros horn Tibetan Buddhist tower with floral and foliate carvings, and silver mounts depicting a frog on a lily pad. Complemented by carved foo dogs on its pedestal base, the piece saw active bidding well beyond its $15/20,000 estimate to sell for $224,250.
An important natural crystal carving of tribute from 1894 depicting a bearded Buddha was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A birthday gift to Empress Dowager Cixi in celebration of her 60th birthday, the fanciful clear crystal carving changed hands at $115,000 against a $60/90,000 estimate. From the same collection came a rare Qing dynasty carved soapstone covered fruit dish. Deeply carved with a finely detailed dragon surrounded by bands of more stylized dragons the amber-hued dish sold for $78,200, leaving its $10/15,000 estimate in the dust.
The second session of Julia’s auction has traditionally been set aside for selling fine art. Enthusiasts were treated to approximately 670 paintings and bronzes, including a choice work by Abbott Fuller Graves. Depicting a young woman seated in a rural Maine flower garden setting, the fine oil on canvas brought $109,250.
This was joined by other American works such as Edward Mitchell Bannister’s summer landscape scene showing two women standing in the summer breeze that sold midway through its $15/20,000 estimate for $18,400. Theodore Wores’ portrait of a woman wearing a light colored kimono placing her hand on a fresco went out comfortably within estimate at $16,675. From the Frederick Woolworth estate came an oil on canvas scene titled “Apple Pickers of Pomona” by Waldo Peirce. It found favor among collectors, selling for $15,525, just over estimate.
Other highlights included Eric Sloane’s scene of an open barn door within a stone façade that shows a glimpse of the interior stairway. His use of light and dark and shadows draws in the viewer. It went over estimate at $15,525.
The auction continued with a variety of European art such as a French pointillist scene attributed to Henry Edmond Cross of a colorful row of trees overlooking the coastline. It brought more than ten times its low estimate, selling for $32,200. An abstract watercolor and graphite scene of trees by German artist Ernest Kirchner found a buyer at $19,550 versus its $5/10,000 estimate.
The following day was highlighted by a trove of Boston Evening Post and other local newspapers from the Revolutionary War period collected by Eighteenth Century Boston merchant Harbottle Dorr. His collecting began in January 1765 in the midst of the Stamp Act controversy and ran every week thereafter for the next 12 years.
Dorr would write his comments and views on various articles in most of the papers, providing a continual “man on the street” perspective from the heart of the rebellion. Totaling 3,280 pages in four volumes, the offering in this lot represented Volume IV (with the first three volumes already residing in the Massachusetts Historical Society). This volume that contained the July 18, 1776 edition in which appeared the first public printing of the Declaration of Independence was a standout offering. It now joins the other three volumes in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collection for all to enjoy for generations to come. The lot, which provided a key historical insight and showed tremendous foresight and commitment, sold above its estimate to fetch $345,000.
This session also brought with it a large selection of folk art, including a molded copper full body weathervane of a Massasoit Indian with feather headdress and drawn bow. Discovered in a barn in New York State, it sold above estimate at $29,900. Other vanes included a fine flat copper gilt rooster example attributed to A.E. Jewell & Co. in untouched original condition for $27,600 against a $5/10,000 estimate.
The diversity continued with more folk art, nautical items, scrimshaw, marine paintings and Nantucket baskets. Of particular note was a pair of koa figural armchairs carved from the solid depicting Hawaiian native figures as integral parts to the back, legs, and arms of the chairs that sold for $16,675.
Nautical items included various scrimshaw pieces, such as an American two-sided whale’s tooth. Decorated with an image of the USS Columbia and American flags, it came from the Frederick Woolworth estate, estimated for $1/2,000 and sold for $7,187.
A selection of ship portraits included Antonio Jacobsen’s portrayal of the S.P. Hitchcock sailing right to left amid the choppy green sea. It brought $11,500, within estimate. Julian Davidson’s “White Island Light off Portsmouth, New Hampshire” was a fine scene of a three-mast ship rounding the Portsmouth lighthouse. It sold within estimate for $20,125.
The day continued with a selection of furniture, including early American. A George III burr walnut two-door linen press in original finish exceeded its $1,5/3,000 estimate to bring $10,350. From the auction’s fourth day was a four-piece Aesthetic Movement rosewood parlor suite attributed to Herter Brothers. Comprising of a triple-back settee, a pair of armchairs and an additional conforming armchair, the set was decorated with marquetry vine borders, elaborate carvings and ornate crest work. It went out at $23,000 against a $10/15,000 estimate.
This third session was further enhanced by a collection of Oriental rugs from various homes and estates. Included was an antique serape Oriental carpet from the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. Its center indigo and salmon medallion surrounded by arabesque patterns with floral and geometric accents helped to bring the final price to $18,975 against expectations of $6/9,000.
The fourth and final session centered on the clock collection of Dr Charles Bradley of Lubbock, Texas. Representing one of the finest collections of Victorian mantel, floor and wall regulator clocks to come to market, more than 150 examples were offered. Highlights included a rare Seth Thomas regulator Number 19 Santa Fe Railway System regulator clock with carved oak case and marked glass door. In a spirited bidding war between two phone bidders, only one was victorious. It was he who went to $111,550, ignoring the $30/35,000 estimate. A highly desirable Sidney advertising hanging wall clock that features rotating cylinders that advertised local druggists, jewelers and others exceeded its $7/9,000 estimate many times over to finish up at $29,900.
Also included was a large grouping of silver, including Tiffany. A pair of monumental sterling silver hand hammered candlesticks weighing in at 148 troy ounces sold for $16,100, within estimate. A Dominick & Haff Aesthetic-style repousse sterling silver pitcher was another standout. The square form with overlapping leaf and vine design was further enhanced by numerous butterflies. Bidding surpassed its $4/6,000 estimate to end at $10,350.
Julia’s upcoming auctions include a firearms and military memorabilia auction in October. Their next toy and doll auction, as well as a lamp and glass auction will follow in November. Julia’s next antiques and fine art auction will take place in February.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For information, 207-453-7125 or www.jamesdjulia.com .
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