Published: June 25, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy of Nest Egg Auctions
BERLIN, CONN. – When nearly 200 lots of glass, silver plate, metal wares and paintings by artisans living and working in Meriden, Conn., in the mid- and late Nineteenth Century crossed the block at Nest Egg Auctions on June 8, it was not surprising to learn that some of the sale had been sourced from local collections. What was surprising, however, was the disclosure by Nest Egg’s auctioneer, Ryan Brechlin, that a significant portion of the sale had come from a single collection in Wisconsin. Arguably, the material in the collection might have done equally well sold in a well-publicized online auction at a house closer to the seller’s residence in Wisconsin. When asked, Brechlin said the collector was one he and his father had known for years, who knew of the firm’s reputation and long history selling items made just down the road in Meriden and who shipped them – without negotiating estimates – several boxes of objects that would comprise approximately 40 percent of the sale.
Speaking before the sale, Brechlin said the sale “has no fat; it is all good stuff.” He hoped to have a humidor – and the sale included about 65 of them – sell for more than $1,000 and said most of the interest was probably going to be from online bidders. Afterwards, he said online buyers won fewer lots than he typically sees in a Nest Egg Auction, with maybe 40 percent of the lots going to online buyers, the rest to bidders on the phone and in the room.
Pacing himself with a comfortable 85 lots per hour, Brechlin took just more than two hours to sell the sale. His podium manner was relaxed and jovial, and he was clearly having fun, cracking jokes and making editorial comments about various lots as they came up, despite the small attending crowd. As predicted, much of the sale sold to bidders who were not at the sale, with approximately 83 percent of the sale finding buyers and post-sale interest for lots that were passed. “I was thrilled to have so many of our longtime collectors participate and to make some new relationships,” Brechlin said a few days after the sale.
For those who have not made the trek to Berlin and like to bid in person, Nest Egg will make it worth your while to attend the sale, giving a significantly lower buyer’s premium of 15 percent to those who bid from the saleroom. Buyers bidding by absentee bids or over the phone pay an 18 percent premium, while those who bid online using one of three online auction platforms pay a 23 percent buyer’s premium. That can make a big difference in what a bidder is ultimately willing to pay.
“We’ve always sold things made in Meriden, but this was the first sale just of that,” Brechlin said. When asked if “Made in Meriden” sales might become a regular event at Nest Egg, Brechlin was optimistic, saying, “I think if more collections come to market, absolutely this may become a thing.”
The top lot of the sale was a group of five Handelware match holders that more than quadrupled expectations ($400-800) to sell for $1,955. When the lot came up, Brechlin said, “one of these is rare, five in one lot is insanely rare.” Commenting on the lot afterwards, he said, “I knew they were rare, but it’s nice to see there is demand as well!”
Two lots brought the second highest price in the sale: $863. The first to hit this price was a cigar humidor by C.F. Monroe that depicted a Native American chief with a peace pipe that went to an online bidder. About ten minutes later, a pipe tobacco humidor with sporting or hunting dogs decorated by P.J. Handel went to trade buyers bidding in the room.
A trifecta of lots achieved $805, the third highest price in the sale. First up was another C.F. Monroe humidor, this time depicting an owl that went to a phone bidder. The same buyer purchased the two other lots that achieved $805 – a Handel-decorated Limoges four-piece tea service that Brechlin thought might be the top lot that carried the highest estimate in the sale ($1,5/2,500) and a Handelware opal- or pearl-ware pipe tobacco humidor with three collie dogs, signed “Bauer.”
With so much glass and porcelain in the sale, the handful of paintings and other framed artwork provided a welcome change. Perhaps the most famous of the Handel Company painters was Frederick Matzow, and the sale had seven of his works, all finding buyers. Also featured in the sale were works by other Meriden artists and decorators, including Lila Yale, John Backstrom, Walter Wilson and Arthur Watts. The top painting lot was Frederick Matzow’s “Landscape with Figure,” which realized $547.
Prices cited include the 15 percent in-house buyer’s premium. They do not include any applicable additional premiums.
Nest Egg Auctions is at 758 Four Rod Road. For further information, 203-630-1400 or www.nesteggauctions.com.
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