Published: April 25, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Marion Antique Auctions
MARION, MASS. – Nearly 550 lots crossed the block in Marion Antique Auctions’ April 15 “Spring Splendor” sale, with more than 93 percent finding new homes and a total of $355,000 tallied. Co-owner Frank McNamee said he was generally quite pleased with how the sale performed.
“The Shaker stand was a nice surprise,” he said, referencing the sale’s top lot, a circa 1840 Shaker cherry wood turned tripod candlestand labeled “14” that burned up its $3/5,000 estimate for the robust result of $31,200. Though the private Shaker collector from Michigan who purchased it preferred to remain anonymous, he spoke with Antiques and The Arts Weekly about why it was such a special piece.
“It’s a classic Mount Lebanon candlestand, with a spider foot. The old, refinished surface did give me some pause but there are very few of these, and the #14 sticker on it is significant; it identifies which room this was in.”
Bringing $13,440, a price below its estimate but high enough to result in a second place finish overall was a cigar store trade figure that Marion Auctions’ associate, Nick Taradash dubbed “a very good buy.” He noted that while there had been some damage to the headdress, and there was evidence of “numerous re-paintings,” discovered in Norwalk, Conn., the statuesque figure sold to a collector in Ohio.
Fine art lived up to the “fine” characterization with a beautiful circa 1884 landscape by Robert Spear Dunning (American, 1829-1905) that attracted the attention and competition of two museums and a private collector, the latter of which prevailed to take it for an even $12,000. Depicting a scene from South Dartmouth, Mass., and titled “Russell’s Mills “The Picnic,” came to Marion from a local private collector and was in what the auction house believed to be its original carved and gilded frame with cornstalk border.
Another surprise in the sale was the $8,600 realized by a miniature portrait of a young lady, circa 1910, that was painted by Lucia F. Fuller (American, 1872-1924). “We discovered that Lucia Fuller was an associate of John Singer Sargent, which probably drove the price,” said Taradash. An online buyer from the United States won the lot.
Allen Whiting’s (American, b 1946) “Fall Landscape, Martha’s Vineyard” also appealed to bidders, ultimately reaching $6,400 from a private collector in North Carolina. Signed and dated 1984 and rendered in oil on canvas measuring 36 by 48 inches in its gilt frame, the presence of a telephone pole within the composition was the source of much discussion and interest from those who previewed it.
With its proximity to Cape Cod and the coast of Massachusetts, Marion Auctions usually has maritime and nautical artworks and antiques to tempt collectors of such objects. At the top of that category was the ship’s figurehead from the whaleship Planter. In the form of a well-dressed man, the carved figure had an old painted finish with crazing overall. According to the catalog notes, the Planter was built in Middletown, Conn., in 1818. It made 13 whaling voyages out of the port of Nantucket, Mass., between the years 1818 and 1856 before it was burned at Brant Point, Nantucket, in 1859. The figurehead had been acquired more than 100 years ago, on Nantucket, by the grandmother of the South Dartmouth, Mass., consignor. The figurehead was accompanied by an old print of the ship at a drydock in Nantucket, as well as copies of historic documents related to the ship. It sold within estimate, to a private collector in New York City, for $9,280.
Another nautical highlight was a boxed dry boat compass made by Walter Folger Jr (American, 1765-1849), who was a self-taught mathematician, scientist, astronomer, lawyer, inventor, clockmaker, and, from 1817 to 1821, a Congressman. The late Eighteenth Century brass gimbaled compass had a paper dial and had, at one time, been with noted maritime dealer and collector, Nina Hellman; it more than tripled its high estimate to sell for $4,864, to a trade buyer in Massachusetts.
Glass, silver and pottery were also on offer, with an early Dedham Pottery plate with repeating blue cat border, bringing an even $4,600, also from a Massachusetts trade buyer. A rare pattern, the 7½-inch plate had been exhibited at the Dedham Historical Society and Museum; it had been consigned by a local seller who wanted all the profits to go to a local non-kill shelter called “It’s All About The Animals.”
A client who had never purchased at Marion’s before prevailed over competition to take a 55-inch-tall Tiffany Studios counterbalance floor lamp with green cased art glass shade marked “Favrile” to the rim. It sold for $4,500, just a little short of its high estimate.
Another strong result Taradash pointed out was the $4,100 realized for a silver cann made by Boston silversmith Zachariah Brigden (1734-1787), which had provenance to the family of Samuel Henshaw (1744-1809) of Milton, Boston and Northampton, Mass. It sold to a private Massachusetts collector.
“The group of wicker brought some strong prices and several pieces went to Jim Buttersworth, a dealer from Nashua, N.H., who specializes in wicker,” noted McNamee after the sale. The last 90 lots of the auction featured wicker furniture and other objects from the collection of Mary Jean McLaughlin; it was the firm’s second round of offerings following nearly 125 lots offered in late November 2022.
The image that graced the cover of Richard Saunders’ Collectors Guide to American Wicker Furniture (Hearst Books, 1987) was a Victorian wicker settee or divan that appeared in the Heywood Bros Wakefield Co 1898 catalog. It was purchased for $4,200 by a collector who also purchased for $3,360 a wicker rocking armchair with rare banjo-pattern back. Taradash said that both pieces were promised donations to Trustees of Reservations.
After the sale, Frank McNamee said, “Our next sale will be in August and that one will have a lot of material related to New Bedford.”
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.marionantiqueauctions.com or 508-748-3606.
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