Published: February 1, 2011
Leigh Keno is no stranger to Antiques Week in New York City. As a dealer, he was an active buyer at the auctions and at the Winter Antiques Show, later becoming one of the exhibitors there and holding down booth number one at the right front of the Park Avenue Armory. This year he entered the fray as an auctioneer, conducting his second sale, the first in the Big Apple.
On Saturday, January 15, he filled the major portion of Wallace Hall, 980 Park Avenue at 84th Street, with antiques and works of art, sharing space with Stephen O’Brien of Copley Auctions. A three-day preview period proceeded his Tuesday, January 18, sale, and he has already announced a sale in May in Stamford, Conn., and then back to the city next January.
As for this sale, he speaks of it in his usual brand of enthusiasm, citing the highlights and making no excuses for the lots that did not do well or were passed. Including the buyer’s premium of 22 percent, the sale brought in $2.6 million, between the low estimate of $1.86 million and the high of $3.23 million.
He kicked off the sale at 11 am, offering eight assorted Stiegel-type flip glasses, all late Eighteenth to early Nineteenth Century, that sold for $671, under the $1,000 low estimate. A golden amber glass flask depicting Washington and Taylor and an olive green blown glass flask depicting cornucopia, mid-Nineteenth Century, together sold for $3,416, in the middle of the estimate, and a powder horn depicting a man on horseback, winged mermaid, tree and bird sold at the low estimate for $3,660.
Among the stoneware sold from the collection of Joseph D. and Janet M. Shein was a salt glazed cobalt blue decorated stoneware crock depicting a lady in profile, impressed “Evan R. Jones / Phiston PA” Nineteenth Century, 73/8 inches tall, that sold for $7,320, almost twice the high estimate. Also from the Shein Collection was a squirrel millweight, American, 17½ inches high, that brought $3,660, twice the high estimate. A copper and zinc cow weathervane, American, late Nineteenth Century, 27½ inches wide, also sold at twice the high estimate, bringing $6,100.
A Chinese Export carved oval eagle plaque, polychrome and gilt decoration, late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century, 13 inches high, 15¾ inches wide and 11/8 inches deep, with history on paper label verso, sold well over the high $4,000 estimate at $19,520. A John Bellamy carved and painted eagle, with the inscription “Don’t Give Up The Ship,” Kittery, Maine, 26 inches wide, went for $15,860 against a high estimate of $9,000. A Nantucket friendship basket with applied ivory whale decoration, Jose Formosa Reyes, signed by the maker, 91/8 inches wide, sold in one bid to the absentee bidder for $3,904, and a copper and zinc galloping horse and jockey weathervane, possibly Fiske, circa 1895, 31 inches wide, went for $32,940.
A Pennsylvania dealer bought the pair of cast iron cowboy andirons, 19 inches high, early Twentieth Century, for $6,710, well over the $1,200 high estimate, and a diminutive paint decorated blanket chest in pine, attributed to Robert Crosman (1707‱799), Taunton, Mass., circa 1726, far exceeded the $4,000 high estimate, bringing $14,640. An assembled set of four William and Mary leather-covered maple side chairs, Boston, circa 1715‱730, went for $9,780, while a Queen Anne mahogany high chest of drawers, Boston, circa 1735-1755, leaf carved shell drawers, original Birmingham brasses, went for $34,160, just over estimate.
A set of cabinet paintings, “The Four Seasons,” 1900, oil on canvas by William Trost Richards, titles inscribed in ink on paper labels on the reverse of each painting, each signed and dated †”Winter” and “Autumn” measuring 12¾ by 8¼ inches and “Spring” and “Summer,” 13¼ by 8¼ inches †sold for $700 under the high estimate at $79,300.
Toward the end of the sale, three Toby jugs, including one with lid, English, circa 1815‱835, sold for $7,320, well over the high estimate of $1,200, while a Dieppe jewel-mounted carved ivory figural triptych of Moses and a Dieppe jewel-mounted carved ivory figural triptych of an Italian noblewoman, Continental, late Nineteenth Century, 9 inches tall, went for $8,540, over the $3,000 high estimate.
Of special interest was the sale of the Andrew Wyeth sketchbook, circa 1940, and some loose sketches that were removed from the book and sold separately. Nine pages remained in the sketchbook and that lot brought $14,640, one bid, against a $20/40,000 estimate. The most popular sketch was of the Olson house and farm, Cushing, Maine, with a pen and ink sketch of a hunter in a dory, verso, 8¾ by 12 inches, that sold for $41,480, just over the $40,000 high estimate.
After the hammer fell on the last lot, number 372, Leigh Keno said, “I am pleased with the sale, we passed a number of lots that I thought would sell well, but we came in between the high and low presale estimates and people seemed pleased with their purchases.” He noted, “We will continue to sell a very broad range of things, and we are building our interest in American art with more paintings, watercolors and drawings.”
Of all days, the sale was on a bad one, with the streets of New York wet with rain and a brisk wind blowing. Shortly after the start of the auction, Leigh confirmed the continuation of the poor weather, adding that he had ordered in lots of sandwiches, sweet treats and drinks, which would be spread out in the adjoining kitchen for anyone hungry or thirsty. “It’s on me,” he said, “not only to feed you, but to keep you here.” It was greatly appreciated by those attending the sale.
And one last note, that got a laugh. A number of lots were passed, and each time, early in the sale, Leigh said, “Passed, thank you,” and went on to the next lot. After a number of those he looked up at the bidders and said, “Why am I saying ‘thank you’ when I pass a lot.” He didn’t do it again.
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