Published: September 19, 2006
Over the years auctioneer Jim Julia has coined the phrase “spectacular” as an adjective for his annual summer Americana auction at the Samoset Resort. And it is with good cause, as this highly regarded auction is always filled to the brim with the quality and diverse assortment of spectacular antiques.
The three-day sale, officially known as Julia’s “Spectacular Maine Auction,” although commonly referred to as “Julia’s Samoset Sale,” August 22–24, once again presented a stellar assortment of items from numerous private collections. Included was the Woolworth collection of English and European silver, the Thulin estate, an institutional collection of documents and autographs, and Maine items from the estate of one of auctioneer Jim Julia’s personal friends, John Delph. A number of items in the auction had been consigned from the estate of well-respected art historian and curator Donelson Farquhar Hoopes and were sold as a benefit for the Eagle Hill Foundation, a nonprofit organization of the State of Maine.
Nearly 2,000 lots were offered during a three-day auction with the first session comprised of more than 500 paintings. The second session of the sale began with the Woolworth silver and moved into the selection of Americana. The third and final session featured silver, jewelry, lamps and Victorian furnishings.
The painting portion of the auction, conducted on Tuesday, always attracts a large crowd and bidding throughout the first session was spirited. Prices were strong throughout the session with an Emile Albert Gruppe dock scene titled “Fishing Docks, Naples,” being among the first lots to exceed estimates as it sold for $14,950. The lot was followed by a selection of paintings by Anthony Thieme that was highlighted by “Vermont Summer Landscape,” which also exceeded estimates, selling at $17,825.
The top lot of the painting session came as an Abbott Fuller Graves was offered. Titled “The Garden Doorway” and depicting a flower-filled entrance to a home, the painting carried an estimate of $30/50,000. Bidding on the lot was brisk with it selling at $80,500.
Another Graves to do well was an interior blacksmith scene titled “A Hot Shoe.” The serene painting depicted a white horse inside a dark and tidy shop with the smith shoeing the horse while standing next to the forge. Estimated at $20/40,000, the lot sold at the high estimate bringing $46,000.
Two Severin Roesen still life paintings of fruit attracted quite a bit of attention with the first of the lots depicting a compote of strawberries with cascading fruit, while the second displayed a grouping of group on an embroidered cloth. Both of the lots attracted considerable interest with each hammering down at $63,250.
A nice Luminist work by Thomas Hill titled “Sunset On Mt. Rainier” was another of the top lots from the session, selling at $51,750.
A Sir William Russell Flint tempera depicting two seated nudes and titled “Diaphenia and Hazel” was termed by the auction house as “an outstanding example of the artist’s work.” Provenance on the lot listed it as having been exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. Bidding on the lot was brisk with it selling at $51,750.
Animal themed paintings have spurred quite a bit of interest recently with more than one auction having been devoted solely to this theme. A nice selection of paintings depicting dogs were offered with a James Henry Beard depiction of two well groomed high society dogs seated next to a black scrawny dog with the trio awaiting their meal from a silver covered entrée dish. Titled “Poor Relative,” the painting realized $24,875. Other canine paintings in the auction included a Franklin Whiting Rogers oil on canvas of “Nip,” a black and white pit bull-type terrier that sold above estimates at $9,200.
Hudson River School paintings included a Thomas Moran oil on board that was dated 1871 and depicted a sunrise through a clearing in the woods that sold for $24,150.
French artists represented included Bernard Buffet, whose “Iris Bleues Saur un Verre,” a modernist depiction of irises in a vase, caught the attention of collectors with it selling at $34,500. A Parisian street scene at dusk by Edouard Cortes was also well received with it selling for $28,750.
A nice New York City winter street scene depicting 40s-style vehicles slowed by the storm with American flags flying from the buildings had been executed by Colin Campbell Cooper. The attractive painting was actively bid with it hammering down at $25,300.
The top lots of the auction came early during the second day of the sale as the Woolworth collection of English and European silver was offered. Founders of the chain of the F.W. Woolworth stores that were prolific during the middle of the Twentieth Century, the family had acquired a select grouping of items. Leading the lots was a set of four Charles II silver candlesticks, circa 1683, with octagonal bases. The low sticks, measuring just over 5 inches tall, were marked “WI” and had an engraved armorial lion on the base. Estimated at $15/25,000, bidding on the lot took off with several in the room chasing the lot along with a host of telephone and absentee bidders. Bids progressed rapidly with the lot ultimately selling for $106,375.
Fireworks erupted again a few lots later with a large George II silver footed punch bowl by Joe Hamilton, Dublin, circa 1725–1731, that also listed Woolworth provenance. Estimated at $10/20,000, the large 12-inch-diameter bowl was bid to $97,750.
Another of the silver lots to take off was a Charles II ewer, C.M, London, with an armorial crest that carried a presale estimate of $4/8,000. Bidding on this lot was also active with it selling for $54,050.
Americana was popular with a good selection of furniture topping the lists. Among the offerings was a Queen Anne walnut dressing table attributed to Philadelphia maker William Savery. With a nice scalloped skirt and elegant cabriole legs terminating in trifid feet, the lowboy carried a presale estimate of $8/12,000. Having been consigned from the Hoopes estate, the family had reported that a similar example is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bids came from several in the room with the lot, thought to retain the original finish, selling at $45,150.
Another dressing table, also from the Hoopes estate and similarly attributed to Savery, retained the original brasses yet had an old finish. With slipper feet, the lowboy sold for $21,275.
A nice Chippendale blocked serpentine front four-drawer chest on an ogee bracket base was thought to have been made in the Hartford, Conn., region. The attractive chest was in overall excellent condition with minor restoration to the feet noted. Bidding on this lot culminated at the higher end of the presale estimates at $18,400.
A nice Chippendale chest-on-chest with pierce carved bonnet top and carved center finial had been attributed to the Chapin school. The Hartford area case piece sold in the crowd for $11,500.
Country furniture included a stylish continuous-arm Windsor settee that had been discovered in a Maine home. In an old black paint over the original red, the bench was branded twice on the bottom “G&R Gaw.” The catalog noted that a similar settee is in the collection at Yale. The rare Windsor sold at the low estimate, bringing $23,000.
Among the numerous tall case clocks offered was a desirable David Wood, Newburyport, example. The mahogany case had a nice molded edge door and fluted quarter columns with brass caps. The brass works clock was featured a nicely painted dial with floral corners with a central exotic bird. Consigned from a “fine Downeast Maine home,” the clock sold for $20,700.
A Roxbury “Willard-type” inlaid tall clock with a fretwork hood also did well, selling at $25,875.
Marine art was popular with a Robert Salmon oil on panel depicting the ship “Lugger in a Wind” with sails up, 16 crew members aboard and flags flying off back masts. A small boat with sail down and three people was shown in the foreground along with a beach, two men, small boat and anchor. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $51,750.
Other marine paintings included two by Samuel Finley Morse Badger; a portrait of the E.I. White sold for $11,500, while a portrait of the Joel Cook realized $5,175.
A scrimshaw whale’s tooth with two-sided decoration of fashionable women did well selling at $9,775, while another tooth with figures and flags brought $2,760. An intricate double sailor’s shell valentine with a heart on one side and “remember me” spelled out in colorful shells hammered down at $4,600.
Folk art included a spread winged eagle with banner wall plaque by John Bellamy in original paint. Also consigned from a “Downeast Maine home,” the plaque, with a banner reading “Don’t Give Up The Ship” was bought-in at the auction, but sold immediately after for $51,750. A large carved and painted eagle plaque by John Walker was an attractive piece with it selling reasonably at $3,450.
One of the most unusual items in the auction was a rare folk art Victrola cabinet that had been built by Adelard Roy of Lewiston and Durham, Maine. The catalog stated that it took Roy 13 years and 44,300 pieces of wood to compete the folk art case, which was later exhibited at the Maine State Fair. The eight-sided case had inlaid pictures of famed Army generals including General Foch, General Pershing and pictures of the famous ship The Tuscania and other military equipment. The top of the case was fitted with a hinged eight-sided cover that opened to reveal a working Victrola. Bidding on the lot was spirited with the lot eventually selling to a museum at $63,250, well above the $5/15,000 estimates.
Another folky item to attract serious attention was a large carved and painted folk art seal that had a storage compartment incorporated into its back. Measuring more than 7 feet in length, the rare piece sold at $13,800.
A carved armored Parker carousel figure in great early paint was another of the items to do well from the selection of folk art. Dating from the early 1900s, the horse was in overall excellent condition and it retained the Parker signature metal horseshoes on all four feet that read “CW Parker, Leavenworth Kan.” Lots of telephone action was seen as this lot was offered with it selling at $19,550.
A selection of carved and painted fish trophy plaques by Lawrence Irvine attracted a great deal of interest, although in the end they were all purchased by a single individual. The eight finely carved and painted realistic examples offered included pickerel, salmon and numerous trout that sold for between $4,887 and $1,725 each.
Ephemera also attracted serious interest from collectors with the top lot of the offering coming as a Thomas Jefferson-signed letter from “Monticello, July 20th, 1818 to Mr. Walsh” was offered. “On my return from Polar Forest…I found here your favor of the 6th with the two vos. of the Analectic magazine, for which I thank you…” stated the letter. Estimated at $10/20,000, the rare item sold at $34,500. An Andrew Jackson-signed letter dated “Washington, April 8, 1824. To Iona Dayton of New Jersey” also attracted serious interest. The letter speaks of Jackson’s “power to be of some service & benefit to my country” and it sold for $14,375.
The final session of the auction always features a grand selection of Victoriana, Arts and Crafts, silver and porcelains. The offering opened with a selection of silver with a Tiffany berry spoon with pierced bowl that sold above estimates at $575. A tomato vine pattern silver ladle followed with it selling at $2,530. Also sold was a Tiffany flatware set in a bamboo pattern that was actively bid to $9,200.
Other silver lots included a ten-piece Irish tea service that hammered down at $12,075, a Gorham 85-piece sterling flatware set in the Mythologique pattern brought $4,715 and a rare five piece Reed & Barton sterling tea and coffee set in the Francis I pattern realized $8,050.
As lot 1331 crossed the auction block, Julia paused as the sounds of a concerto emanated into the room from the hallway where an outstanding Steinway baby grand piano had been on display. Purchased in 1931 and retained by the same Bangor, Maine, family ever since, the piano opened for bidding at $4,000 with a couple bidders in the room chasing the lot. It was not long before the six active telephone lines took over and bids bounced back and forth as the music played on. A final bid of $12,650 took the lot and as the music subsided, Julia, a man of many talents, commented, “If I didn’t have to auctioneer, I would have gone out and played the piano, too.”
A good selection of jewelry was highlighted by a Tiffany fancy yellow diamond ring that had been designed by renowned Tiffany designer Schlumberger. The ring featured a natural intense yellow diamond weighing 2.87 carats and was surrounded by two swirling leaves encrusted with small full cut diamonds that were set in 18K yellow and white gold. Estimated at $25/35000, the ring opened for bidding at $14,000 with several in the room and more than a dozen phone bidders giving chase. Bids bounced back and forth between the room and the phones for a while, although in the end two persistent phone bidders competed all the way to a final selling price of $47,150.
The following lot also elicited strong action as a yellow gold and mosaic Etruscan-style necklace was offered. The revivalist necklace comprised of three different, alternating pendants each with mosaics was estimated at $10/15000 and sold for $14,950. A diamond and sapphire white gold lady’s ring with a sapphire weighing 5.52 carats surrounded by 24 small full-cut diamonds did well at $8,050.
Several KPM plaques were offered with a “diva vittoria-colonna” plaque, signed Greiner, selling at $5,060, a plaque of a nude slave girl brought $4,887 and a rectangular painted porcelain plaque depicting a young woman in black and white dress holding a book and standing on the stairs of a large building sold for $4,600.
A good selection of art glass lamps were offered with an unusual and possibly unique massive Handel lamp leading the way. The rare lamp was in a form “we have never seen before” commented Julia. With a sculptured hollow bronze figure of Atlas supporting a leaded glass globe of the world, the signed lamp sold for $28,750.
Another Handel to be sold, a macaw lamp brightly reverse painted realized $16,675, while a Tiffany linenfold table lamp brought $20,700. A rare Steuben millefiori lamp with blown glass shade and base of gold Aurene with green leaf and vine pattern did well at $17,250, a Loetz peacock lamp brought $10,350, and a leaded shade attributed to Duffner & Kimberly was hammered down at $7,475.
Two Tiffany studios floor lamps were sold with an example with a green shade bringing $8,625, while a gold iridescent example realized $8,050.
An early Rookwood vase attracted the attention of collectors as a monumental example decorated with panels of swallows and flowering trees against a blue and white background sold for $16,100. A large Amphora vase with a relief applied dragon with large wings, open mouth, jagged teeth and spiral horns also did well attracting a final bid of $14,375.
Victorian furniture included several lavishly carved examples including a walnut center table whose top was supported by four kneeling mermaids with outstretched arms and clasped hands. The table, with a carved apron featured putti, grotesque heads and lions, sold for $10,925.
A walnut three-tier sideboard with intricate carved seated putti, lions, seahorses and mermaids brought $16,100, while a lavishly carved walnut kneehole desk went out at $14,950. A massive carved figural china cabinet with carved grotesque mask doors also did well, selling for $14,950.
An important silver Kentucky Derby trophy from 1961 attracted quite a bit of attention. The covered handled cup sat atop a turned black marble base and was inscribed “Kentucky Derby jockey cup Churchill Downs May 6, 1961 won by Carry Back jockey John Sellers.” Strong interest saw the lot sell above estimates at $28,750.
A Whiting Company sterling yachting trophy inscribed “Cleveland Yacht Club Centennial Regatta August 13th, 1896, trophy won by steam yacht Enquirer, W.J. Konners, owner Buffalo, N.Y.,” sold for $3,600, while a Gorham sterling automobile trophy with horn handles brought $1,800.
Prices include the buyer’s premium. For further information contact Julia’s at 207-453-7125, or www.juliaauctions.com.
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