Published: November 6, 2012
There was a time, and not too long ago, when just about every seat in an auction gallery had a tag attached, reserving a place for a collector or dealer to sit and bid for objects that were to cross the block that day. It still does happen, but not as frequently as in the past. Now bidders can rely on well-illustrated catalogs and websites to check out the goods, or attend a hands-on preview prior to the sale, and then register bids either through the Internet or a bank of phones.
On Sunday, October 28, Skinner had an important sale of American furniture and decorative arts, along with a separate catalog for “The Patriotic Americana Collection of Marilyn and Michael Gould,” and the gallery was not filled to capacity. Without question, some people stayed at home to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, but the sale was not lacking bids that came from the Internet, many absentee bids and a bank of eight phones that were constantly in use.
The Gould collection was offered toward the end of the day, about 4:40 pm, with about 20 people still in the gallery. However, there was no lack of interest in the collection from dealers and collectors both near and far who knew of Marilyn’s constant drive to put together patriotic objects and of the variety and rarity of many of the items. This sale, in addition to the patriotic Americana, included some Shaker pieces, cast and wrought iron implements found in the early kitchens, a selection of bookends and a few things, like all of us, they just had to have.
One of those things that the late Mike Gould said they really needed (and as Dick Button always says, “What has need got to do with it?”) was a one-of-a-kind sheet copper locomotive weathervane, American, late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, scratch-built and painted salmon, green and black. It measures 26 inches long and sold for $900, against a $1,5/2,500 estimate.
“That weathervane came into the New Hampshire Dealers’ Show, sometime around the late 80s, with Howard Oedel as the show was about to open. It sold on the floor to dealers Ron and Penny Dionne, then to dealer Joel Schatzberg, who was also exhibiting at the show, and then to Jim and Judy Milne as the show opened, who were not doing the show at that time, and all within about 15 minutes,” Marilyn Gould said. She added, “I don’t remember what we paid for it, but it was certainly more than that.”
All prices noted in this review include the buyer’s premium, 20 percent of the hammer price up to and including $500,000. For property purchased via Online Auctions, the premium will be in an amount up to 23 percent of the final bid price. The Gould collection grossed, including the buyer’s premium, $183,376.
The auction opened with lot 510, a montage of three sickles mounted on an apple dryer, American, Nineteenth Century, 26½ inches square, that went for $480, just under the high estimate. The catalog, which was very well done and pleased Marilyn, included many interesting notes recorded by the Goulds as to the provenance of some of the objects. Lot one had the notation, “First thing purchased from Paul and Margaret Weld. Paul put it together for display and I never changed it.”
Another purchase from the Welds was a Shaker wooden hay fork and shovel, late Nineteenth Century, the shovel reportedly made at the Harvard, Mass., community, that went for $270, just over estimate. A painted cast iron mechanical “Eagle No. 50” bell pull toy, attributed to the Gong Bell Manufacturing Company, East Hampton, Conn., late Nineteenth Century, with red, white and blue painted eagle atop a green painted pierced platform, sold for $1,560, almost double the high estimate. It was bought from Gemini Antiques.
A patriotic painted cast iron top hat spittoon, Nineteenth Century, red, white and blue, 11¼ inches in diameter, brought $1,046, double the high estimate, and a paint and gilt star-decorated wooden circus stand, American, last Nineteenth Century, 10 inches high and 11½ inches in diameter, sold for $1,440, with an estimate of $400/600. The provenance lists Tom Longacre.
There was a nice selection of wrought iron pieces, including a boot scraper with heart-shaped scrolling, late Eighteenth Century, measuring 10 inches high and 8 inches long. With a pause in the bidding, Stephen Fletcher commented, “Where’s Lillian [Cogan] when you need her?” The piece, with a Lewis Scranton provenance, sold for $660. Another implement with heart decoration was a hearth grill, American, early Nineteenth Century, 7 inches high and 12¾ inches in diameter, that went for $390, just under the low estimate. The provenance listed Grace and Elliott Snyder.
A lady toward the middle of the gallery put her paddle up and left it there until she had purchased lot 594, an eagle and floral carved tortoiseshell lady’s hair comb, early Nineteenth Century, with 21 small stars, center with a relief-carved eagle and shield, flanked by pierced and carved flowers and foliate It measures 7½ inches high and sold for $1,680, just over three times the high estimate. The provenance lists William and Teresa Kurau.
An American Centennial memorial Parian vase with eagles and shields, W.T. Copeland & Sons, circa 1876, made for the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876, 91/8 inches high, brought $3,120 against a high estimate of $2,500. Rob Hunter is listed in the provenance. Selling for $1,320, estimate $600/800, was a polychrome transfer decorated “Arms Of The United States” pitcher, Enoch Wood, English, early Nineteenth Century, 5 inches high, and inscribed under the spout “Free Trade And Sailors Rights.” The provenance lists ex Richards collection with label on base, purchased from William and Teresa Kurau.
A gold-painted cast iron eagle architectural element, late Nineteenth Century, cast in the full round with outstretched wings, perched on a rectangular plinth, 21 inches high and 19 inches wide, went for three times the high estimate, selling for $2,520. Charles Wilson was in the provenance. Another cast iron eagle, polychrome painted architectural plaque, 21 inches high and 33¼ inches wide, eagle clutching a Union shield and arrows and olive branch in its talons, was purchased from Tom Longacre, carried an estimate of $800․1,200, and sold for $7,200.
A regular feature outside the Wilton Antiques Shows run by Marilyn Gould always stood a “Get Tickets Here” booth, paint decorated and dating from the Nineteenth Century. It measures 40¾ inches high and was estimated at $1,5/2,500. It sold for $3,600. A painted sheet iron carnival arcade rooster and chick, with a Walters-Benisek provenance, reportedly New York State, a two-part target that when the rooster is hit, the chick pops up, 15½ inches high, sold well over the $800 high estimate for $3,900. A painted wooden optician’s trade sign, New England, circa 1900, with polychrome painted spectacles and banner reading “H.N. Weil Optical Parlor, 2nd floor,” measures 103/8 by 225/8 inches and sold for $2,040 against a $600/800 estimate.
Two cast iron eagle carnival arcade targets were in the sale, the first a flattened figure with remnants of red and silver paint, wings straight up, 15 inches high, sold for $900, while the second one, 14¼ inches high and 22¼ inches wide, wings out-spread, old white painted surface, went for $1,169. Both had estimates of $400/600 and the provenance lists Arne Anton.
A selection of cast iron eagles in various shapes was toward the end of the sale, including an eagle and Union shield plaque, late Nineteenth Century, depicting a spreadwing eagle with banner inscribed “E Pluribus Unum,” 26½ inches high and 20 inches wide, that sold for $2,040. It was purchased from Tom Longacre and the estimate was $600/800. A few lots later a black painted cast iron Columbian Press eagle, Philadelphia, early Nineteenth Century, spreadwing full-relief molded figure grasping thunderbolts of Jove, the olive branch of peace, and the cornucopia of plenty, 23½ inches high and 17½ inches wide, brought $1,800, just over the $1,500 high estimate. The provenance lists Harold Corbin.
An eagle architectural medallion, American, late Nineteenth Century, with spread wings and an American shield, arrows and olive branch against a rayed background, diameter of the medallion 18 inches, went for $1,800 and was purchased from Steven Rowe. The high estimate was $1,500.
Stephen Fletcher, head of the American furniture and decorative arts department, said after the sale that “the sale went well, but there were a few disappointments here and there.” Marilyn Gould said just about the same thing, noting, “Some of the pieces that I thought would do real well didn’t make the grade, but there were some surprises that helped make up for it.” She added, “I thought Skinner did a wonderful job with the catalog and very professionally handled all details of the sale.”
Marilyn is planning to relocate to Florida where she just might get back into the show management business. At present she is house hunting, having sold the couple’s collection of paintings at Doyle New York, the Arts and Crafts material at Rago, and now the Americana collection at Skinner. “I am starting a new life,” she said recently, and we all wish her well.
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