Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Butterscotch Auction Gallery
BEDFORD, N.Y. – “It was a great sale. We had lots of good online turnout, which is typical, as well as a lot of people at the preview,” said Brendan Ryan, Butterscotch Auction Gallery’s appraiser and auctioneer. He noted the nearly 650-lot sale tallied $661,876 with a sell-through rate of 84 percent.
At the head of the sale was, literally, a Cypriot limestone head that had at one time belonged to the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, General Luigi Palma di Cesnola (1832-1904). Dating to the Third or Second Century BCE, and measuring just 10½ inches tall, the head had passed from di Cesnola’s collection to that of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where it remained until 1997, when it was sold in an antiquities sale at Sotheby’s May 31. It had been exhibited at SUNY Albany in 1974 and published in Mary B. Comstock & Cornelius C. Vermeule’s, Sculpture in Stone: The Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1976). Ryan noted that there had been considerable interest from both United States and international bidders; by the time the gavel fell, an international bidder was triumphant at $26,670.
Right behind the head in price at $24,400 was an antique moonstone ring that featured an impressive approximately 30-carat oval cabochon moonstone centered by four ¼-carat old mine cut diamonds in a border of antique full-cut melee diamonds, all set in platinum and 14K yellow gold, replete with a fitted antique box. Though the ring was not marked, it was accompanied by the original receipt and a handwritten note, both by London jeweler Edward Good (Oyved Moysheh). The documents discussed that the ring had been crafted from a brooch previously belonging to Princess Alexis Dolgorouky of Russia, purchased June 14, 1928, from Good’s Cameo Corner at 1 New Oxford Street in London.
“The jeweler was famed in his time,” Ryan said. “It was purchased by a collector in the room – a husband who was buying it for his wife. They waited through the bidding and she gleefully put it on her finger when the sale was over.”
On March 20, 2022, Butterscotch sold for $34,160 a circa 1930 33-piece porcelain service, decorated with scenes of Richard Wagner’s operas by Ambrosius Lamm for Dresden. The result made such news that Butterscotch was approached by a collector in Pennsylvania who had 29 pieces of the same service. The same buyer, from California, came to the table in this sale, beating out other bidders to enlarge their collection for $23,750.
An abstract composition by Clorindo Testa (Italian-Argentine, 1923-2013) was the first work by the artist that Ryan has handled. It came from a Park Avenue collection and found a new home with a buyer from Florida for $17,780.
The first lot of the day was Herbert E. Abrams’ (American, 1921-2003) “Arts Students League,” an oil on canvas composition Ryan said was “probably one of best paintings, certainly one of the nicest to come to market. We knew it would do well but didn’t anticipate it would go that high.” Abrams, who attended the Art Students League from 1948 to 1953, was one of the leading portrait artists of his era and was known for his style of traditional realism. His works included the official White House portraits of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. During his prolific career, he painted more than 400 portraits. Estimated at $1,5/2,500, the 24-by-20-inch painting found a new home in North Carolina with a buyer who paid an even $10,000 for it.
The sale featured nearly two dozen lots of Chelsea ship’s clocks, all from a local single owner collection. A private collector paid for the categories top price of $5,750, for a “yacht-wheel” mantel clock signed “Webb C. Ball Co. / Cleveland” on the dial.
The next sale for Butterscotch Auction Gallery is scheduled for March 26 and will feature more of the Chelsea clock collection as well as a large collection of antiquarian cookbooks.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, 914-764-4609 or www.butterscotchauction.com.