Published: September 9, 2021
MARION, MASS. – The Marion Antique Auctions’ showroom, “Atlantis,” lived up to its moniker this past June during the firm’s auction. The more than 500 pieces up for sale covered nearly every surface, and the display gave attendees the feeling of stepping into a hidden palace. Unlike its previous sale, this auction boasted lots from a number of different estates, with subject matter and item type varying greatly. Items ranged from the Eighteenth Century to the middle of the Twentieth Century, from furniture to paintings, to jewelry, palace-size rugs to miniature ship models and everything in between.
The auction grossed roughly $650,000 in total, and saw approximately 3,000 bidders across bidding platforms LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable, along with left bids, phone bids and 100 in-gallery attendees.
The lot that brought the highest sum was a mid-Nineteenth Century oil painting by Duncan McFarlane depicting the packet ship City of Montreal, which sold for $39,680. The painting carried with it a weighty provenance, having long resided in the historic Carver home that once belonged to William Savery, a businessman and merchant, as well as a direct descendent of the ship’s master, Eli Cooley Bliss. Additionally, the painting came with an original Nineteenth Century carte de visite of Captain Bliss, as well as interesting 1947 correspondence about the painting with a fine arts dealer. The calm waters the painting depict are especially ironic when one considers the near-death experience the captain and crew survived. While carting 500 tons of railroad iron and other general goods, the City of Montreal encountered a terrific gale that ripped apart the canvas sails. However, despite being injured, Bliss survived, as did his crew.
Coming up closely behind the McFarlane was a small oil painting on canvas by Fairhaven artist Charles Henry Gifford. With the actual painting size at just 8¼ by 12 inches, its expertly painted dusky sunset and local Fairhaven skyline looked regal in an elaborate frame. This piece of art brought $33,920, and it seems that pieces with strong ties to New England history took the show at this sale. This fact is evident when the third highest selling lot was itself also produced by an artist once based on the North Eastern coast. A rare mid-Nineteenth Century doll, made by Izannah Walker of Central Falls, R.I., brought $26,240, and came directly from the private collection of one of the East Coast’s most experienced collectors of antique dolls. The doll’s hair and facial features were hand painted on a stockinet pressed head and showed no repainting. Her tiny ears were intact, as was her indigo roll printed calico dress. Perhaps most endearing was the evidence that she was loved and cared for during her mid-Nineteenth Century heyday, as one of her legs shows an old repair.
Other notable lots included a 3.2-carat diamond and 18K gold ring, which brought $10,625 and came along with many other pieces of gold jewelry from a prominent New Bedford estate. Among the other pieces of jewelry was a large gold spider brooch, set with pave diamonds and ruby eyes. A massive mid-Nineteenth Century painting depicting the three sons of Minor S. and Elmira Lincoln, circa 1834, by Fisher of Boston sold for $5,000. Interestingly, the piece was painted after the youngest child, Charles, passed away, and was completed using his death mask.
“I was extremely pleased with the response to this auction,” Frank McNamee said. Many auction houses have been struggling with in-person attendance, but he said he was happy this did not seem to be the case for this sale. “Not only was there a strong interest from local southeastern Massachusetts collectors and dealers, but there was international interest brought to us over the two bidding platforms.” McNamee added that “the live audience loved the new facility, which was built in 1914 by Marconi for his wireless communication.
“The future for this auction house is extremely bright,” declared McNamee. “Marion Antique Auctions intends to expand its number of sales, as well as our reach throughout New England.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next auction is scheduled for November 13. For more information, www.marionantiques.com or 508-748-3606.
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