Published: December 13, 2011
It was the final sale of the 2011 season for auctioneer Kaja Veilleux and the crew at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, and in fitting style, the two-day event, November 5 and 6, saw active bidding from the large crowd in attendance. Phone bidding at the sale was heavy at times, with as many as six lines tied up for select lots, and Internet bids came in steadily throughout both days, claiming many of the lots in certain categories, such as Asian materials.
Veilleux approached the auction block right on schedule on Saturday morning after several days of preview. Chummy with his patrons, the auctioneer took the time to wish happy holidays to all in attendance, as this would be the last auction of the year.
Veilleux commented prior to the auction that the “fall auction has always included the finest of art and antiques,” and further stated that this auction was “certainly no exception.” More than 200 lots of Asian materials, marine paintings, jewelry, silver and Native American artifacts would be offered among the 1,100-plus lots.
Veilleux offered up the first lot of the sale on Saturday, a small Eighteenth Century porcelain snuff box in the form of a cat’s head. Estimated at $500/700, Veilleux took an opening bid of $300 from the front of the gallery and hammered the lot down moments later for $862.
A nice Federal carved mantel was offered a couple of lots later, with the ornate piece more than doubling estimates at $3,450.
Maine painted furniture was going out at bargain prices, with a smoke decorated six-drawer blanket box bringing only $488, a grain painted box with boot-jack ends realizing $690 and a two-drawer blanket chest with folky Maine paint garnering only half of the presale estimate, bringing $1,380.
It was not long before the selection of Asian materials was offered, and while the first of what was presumed to be one of the major lots failed to attract any attention, the next lot created quite a stir. Opening at $40,000 to a bidder seated in the gallery, a pair of a pair of Japanese Meiji Period bronze urns with gold and silver wirework inlay was actively bid. Cataloged as from the studio of Suzuki Chokichi, the rare mixed metal urns featured archaic-themed enameled champleve decoration, gold and silver wire work and foo dog handles with extended tongues terminating in pendant gilt rings. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with the action bouncing back and forth between the telephones and a bidder in the rear of the gallery, until it finally went to the gallery at $80,500.
A Chinese Nineteenth Century yellow and green dragon bowl with Qianlong mark shot past the $600/800 presale estimate on its way to a selling price of $16,100. An iron red decorated Chinese porcelain dish with Yongzheng mark also performed well, bringing $14,950. A Chinese white jade covered censer with archaic relief decoration, reticulated phoenix handles and domed top went out at $14,950, against a 2/3,000 estimate.
A signed Chinese painted narrative scroll telling the story of three women musicians sold for $11,500, a pair of Chinese two-tone cinnabar four-sided vases with Kangxi marks brought $10,925, two Nineteenth Century embroidered silk court robes achieved $8,050, a Chinese Qing dynasty ink bottle carved from a single piece of rhino horn was $6,900, and a Chinese Daoguang (1821‱850) bottle-form porcelain vase with luck symbol flange handles sold for $6,325.
Paintings also performed well, with the surprise lot of the auction coming as a surprise to the auctioneer †and the consignor as well. Veilleux commented as a group of three Mexican oils were offered that the paintings were discovered quite by accident while on a house call. “We were in Christmas Cove on a house call,” said the auctioneer, when he asked the homeowner if there was anything in the attic. “I don’t thinks so,” responded the homeowner, “nothing that you will like anyway.”
Veilleux pulled the three paintings of colloquial scenes out and gave them a modest estimate of $2/3,000, attributing them to Miguel Cabera. Five telephone bidders were lined up as the lot crossed the block and bidding started in the gallery at $1,000. The price rapidly escalated, with the telephones dominating the action and at the $20,000 mark, Veilleux jumped the advancements to $1,000. The action never slowed until it hit the $32,000 mark, where it appeared to be over until one phone bidder cut the bid to $500, ultimately claiming the lot at $37,375.
Veilleux quipped after the hammer fell on the Cabera paintings that the homeowner was wrong; “I like them a lot,” he said with a smile, then added that if anyone else had some Mexican paintings in their attic they should give him a call as he would be interested in selling them.
A well-executed Prior-Hamblin School portrait of a Nineteenth Century sea captain, Rufus S. Fales of Thomaston (1812‱858), generated strong local interest as it hammered down at $23,000.
The cover lot of the sale, an amusing French painting by Jean Delcour from 1861, was another lot to do well. The oil on panel painting depicted children parading on the beach and opened for bidding at $10,000, selling to a phone bidder moments later for $23,000.
Russian items did well; a Faberge gold bracelet set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires sold at $17,250, a boxed cut crystal and gold perfume bottle by renowned Faberge goldsmith Henrik Wigstrom achieved $9,775, and a pair of Faberge gold basketweave pattern earclips set with rubies and diamonds went out at $5,175.
Several Native American pieces saw enthusiastic bidding, with a Sioux flathead beaded papoose selling above estimates at $7,187, while an Eighteenth Century French iron trade tomahawk peace pipe brought $5,750.
Furniture continued to see mixed results, although an Eighteenth Century cherry Chippendale highboy with fan carved center drawer and slender cabriole legs struck a positive note with bidders and brought $8,625.
A fine Chippendale cherry corner cupboard with provenance of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, and king of Naples and Spain, who took refuge in the United States in 1815, sold for $6,325; and a diminutive Hepplewhite bowfront sideboard in mahogany veneer and marquetry realized $5,750.
Other lots of interest included a sterling English stirrup cup in the form of a fox head, circa 1771 and made by London silversmith Thomas Pitts, that sold for $13,800. A pair of classical bronze Argand lamps brought $8,625, while two globes by J. Wilson & Sons of New York set in wooden stands realized $8,625.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged.
For further information, contact Thomaston Place Auction Galleries at 207-354-8141 or www.thomastonauction.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm