Published: February 27, 2001
BOLTON, MASS. -Skinner’s American Furniture and Decorative Arts auction, conducted February 24, was highlighted by a circa 1760-80 mahogany Chippendale carved high chest of drawers, 84 inches high by 39 inches wide. Associated with cabinetmakers Job Townsend and John Goddard, Newport, R.I., the chest sold for $365,500 (est $40/60,000).
According to the sale catalogue, the refinished piece’s enclosed scrolled pediment centers a fluted plinth surmounted by urn and flame finials above two applied plaques over two short and three long graduated thumb-molded drawers. Frontal cabriole legs end in ball and claw feet; similar rear legs, however, feature pad feet. Old but replaced brasses adorned the chest.
The lot descended in the family of Mrs Charles E. Greenough, of Salem, Mass.
The aforementioned auction was preceded by the offering of the Folk Art Collection of Brenda and Ken Fritz at the gallery, where a molded copper polo player weathervane by an unknown maker, third quarter Nineteenth Century, realized $189,500 (est $30/50,000).
Illustrated in Time-Life’s 1990 Folk Art: Imaginative Works from American Hands, the weathervane measured some 26 inches high by 50 inches long and featured a fetching galloping horse, its rider poised, mallet in hand, to strike the ball. The lot, of patinated copper with verdigris surface and vestiges of gold leaf, included its painted wooden stand. Catalogue entries indicate it may have decorated a Maryland polo club.
And on Saturday, February 25, Skinner rounded out its Americana sales with the Folk Art Collection of Peter Brams, where a sum of $72,900 was paid for a pair of sack-back painted Windsor chairs, New England, circa 1790.
The chairs, with bowed crest rails above seven spindles, sported arms on vase and ring-turned supports and saddle seats on splayed legs. Stretchers, according to the catalogue, were painted yellow with a later coat of salmon and green paint.
Brams, both a collector of American folk art and contemporary art, decided to consign some 576 lots to Skinner, according to the catalogue, because he “[has] no more room.”
“I’m grateful I’ve been able to own these wonderful things, to learn from them for awhile, but space is a consideration,” he told the gallery.
Estimates were conspicuously absent from all lots. “[Brams] was happy to let the pieces speak for themselves,” Skinner American furniture and decorative arts specialist Martha Hamilton told us, “and let the bidding set the value. It made for an exciting auction.” And a lucrative one: only 34 lots failed to find buyers, for a total of $1.34 million.
Also highlighting the sale was a folding Parcheesi gameboard, circa 1870, Massachusetts, painted with an American flag as well as spade, heart, diamond and club motifs, which reached $40,000. The price matches the gameboard auction record set August 5 at Northeast’s offering of the Virginia Cave collection.
A full review of these auctions will appear in an upcoming issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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