Published: March 12, 2002
Banking on Recovery: Market Rebounds with $6 Million Total at Northeast
By Laura Beach
MANCHESTER, MASS. – Reports that the recession is over and the recovery is underway were bolstered by results at Northeast Auction on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, where sales reached $6,056,382 including premium. The total was the Portmouth auctioneer’s largest yet for its annual March event, and just shy of Northeast’s all-time record, $6.25 million.
Enhancing the hefty bottom line was property from the estate of Sherwood Smith, auctioned on Saturday for $2,629,492. Three magnificent albums – two containing Chinese Export watercolors, the other filled with Audubon chromolithographs – added another $717,000 to the total.
Auctioneer Ron Bourgeault, who held forth at the podium for five and half hours before taking his first break, said he was “delighted” with the results. He added, “March is always good for us because dealers are inventorying for shows. We also had tremendous retail participation.”
Sherwood Smith Collection
Inspired by installations at Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur, the late Sherwood Smith restored and furnished a Colonial home south of Boston, filling it with American furniture and American, English and Chinese ceramics.
Porcelain was Smith’s first love. “It is fair to say that his expansive collection of Chinese Export porcelain for the American market is the most important to be offered in recent years,” noted Bourgeault, who sold to Smith first as a dealer and, later, as an auctioneer.
Not too long ago, Bourgeault expressed an interest in seeing Smith’s collection. “Someday you will,” the very private man had enigmatically replied. Smith died not long after, leaving instructions that the 570 lots offered on Saturday be “recirculated,” so that others might enjoy them as he had.
Smith bought some damaged Chinese Export and had it painstakingly repaired. Prices were nevertheless high across the board, experts said, especially for Orange Fitzhugh, rdf_Descriptions decorated with eagles and other patriotic details, and Canton in rare shapes. The competition drew the steady participation of both collectors and dealers, the latter including Julie Lindberg of Pennsylvania, Gary Ludlow of Ohio, Henry Moog of Georgia and Rusty Donohue of Maryland. “The quantity and variety is impressive. It is an exceptional opportunity to buy,” noted Lindberg, who stocked up on the finest rdf_Descriptions.
Formerly in the collection of Mrs J. Amory Haskell, a five-piece garniture for the American market sold to a dealer acting on behalf of a historic house museum for $28,750. The design, known as the “Quaker” pattern, is believed to be based on a drawing by Mary Morris of Philadelphia. “You typically see this pattern in black or grisaille. It’s pretty unusual to find a set done in colored enamels and beautiful, as well,” the dealer explained.
Other rdf_Descriptions of American interest included a punch bowl decorated with two American ships, $18,400; an eagle-decorated 7 ¾-inch plate from the John Paul Jones service, $9,775; five eagle-decorated tea wares, $5,175; and an eagle-decorated part tea service, that sold to collectors in the room for $8,338.
Leading sales of Fitzhugh was a very rare Brown covered strap-handled soup tureen and tray, $28,750 ($12/15,000). Desirable Orange Fitzhugh included a cut-corner salad bowl, $7,130; a pair of monteiths with coats of arms, $14,950; a strap-handled jug with lid, $8,500; a strap-handled covered soup tureen, $8,740; a pair of scalloped serving dishes, $5,175; and an eagle-decorated plate, 9 and three-quarter inches, $12,650. Two Blue Fitzhugh monteiths from the Thomas Handasyd Perkins service fetched $11,500 and $14,950.
Collectors rarely have the opportunity to buy more than one at a time, so the appearance of five square Canton covered jars in graduated sizes caused a stir, the lot selling for $19,550. Three Canton graduated covered punch pots went to a dealer for $6,325, two matching tea caddies fitted as lamps brought $8,625, and a pair of garden barrels garnered a bid of $34,500 from Philip W. Bradley of Downington, Penn.
Rounding out sales of export china was a large pair of Rose Mandarin covered jars, $16,100, and a pair of cachepots, $13,800. An unusual jug decorated with arms and the motto, “Soccess to Bombay,” fetched $18,400.
Smith also fancied Sandwich glass and Historical Blue Staffordshire, more of which was sold on Sunday. One rarity in the Sandwich category was a tin candle lantern with a ribbed, cranberry-colored glass globe. It sold to Cape Cod native Josh Eldred for $7,360. More common fare included a pair of dark amethyst tulip vases with octagonal bases, $9,430, and a pair of electric-blue dolphin candlesticks with petal sockets, $4,225.
Staffordshire highlightsincluded a leaf-form dish in the Arms of South Carolina pattern by Thomas Mayer, $7,475; a Mount Vernon tea set, $3,105; and a 19-inch platter in the Castle Garden Battery pattern by Wood, $2,990.
A private collector hurriedly left the room after securing a North Shore or Concord, Mass., figured maple bonnet-top chest-on-chest, possibly by Joseph Hosmer, with a bid of $178,500 ($40/60,000). A virtually identical chest is illustrated in New England Furniture at Winterthur. Rounding out the Smith session was a Rhode Island Queen Anne tiger maple flat-top highboy attributed to Christopher Townsend, sold to an absentee bidder for $71,250; a New England Chippendale carved mahogany easy chair, $61,900; a Boston Chippendale carved mahogany blockfront chest, $54,625; a New Hampshire Queen Anne tiger maple highboy attributed to John Dunlop, $42,550; a Boston blockfront slant-lid desk, $40,250; a Queen Anne carved cherry bonnet-top highboy, sold to the phone for $28,750; a Philadelphia Chippendale carved walnut dressing table, $25,875; and a carved mahogany two-drawer work, possibly from the McIntire shop, sold to Josh Eldred for $13,800.
A Philadelphia Queen Anne tiger maple carved dressing of about 1730 went to Philip W. Bradley for $43,125. “The top isn’t original, but it’s rare to see a dressing table of this quality of development that is so early,” the dealer said.”
On Sunday, a Boston collector seated in the room bought up a storm, claiming two rare portfolios of Chinese watercolors, $217,000 and $189,500; a portrait, $24,150, and a tall-case clock, $20,700, that had descended in his family, the Huidekopers of Philadelphia; and an interesting late Federal Boston sideboard attributed to the shop of John and Thomas Seymour, $28,750. The portrait, by John Neagle of Harm Jan Huidekoper, depicts the Holland Land Company employee who helped develop western Pennsylvania and Ohio. The clock, in a carved walnut Chippendale case, is by Joseph Thomas of Montgomery Township.
The Chinese watercolors were two of the more unusual lots ever consigned to Northeast Auctions, which normally sells China Trade material in a specialized auction, but offered them earlier in the year to settle an estate. Northeast consultant and noted China Trade authority Carl L. Crossman first saw the two albums seven years ago, when friends brought them to him while he was working at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, N.H.
The paintings were made for the Danish market and are from the same workshop and time period, about 1740. The first album, one of two similar works known, contains 34 plates and depicts porcelain manufacturing. The second, thought to be unique, contains 32 watercolors illustrating the processing and packaging of tea. Both albums feature landscapes and maritime scenes executed with a spontaneity and originality not seen in later China Trade gouaches.
A third album brought Northeast’s sales of works on paper to $717,000. Housed in its original leather binding and marbleized boards were 150 chromolithographs from the Bien edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, reissued in 1859 by the artist’s son, J.W. Audubon. “This was their first venture. It wasn’t too successful because the Civil War came along. It put Audubon’s son into bankruptcy,” noted Bourgeault, who sold the book over the phone for $310,500 ($60/90,000).
Against competition from a bank of phone bidders, Phil Bradley claimed a set of six Philadelphia Queen Anne carved walnut side chairs for $255,500. Thought to be from the Savery shop, the set was made for Samuel Allinson (1731-1791), the New Jersey patriarch of a prominent Quaker family. Bradley said he purchased the chairs for a client. He explained, “It’s rare to find chairs that are that pleasing, still intact as a set, and have a lengthy descent in a prominent family. All of that added up to a very special lot.” Bradley said the type of chair was not uncommon: “There have been a couple of single chairs on the market just recently.” The dealer also bought a plainer version of the chair, also thought to be from the Savery shop, for $8,338.
Bradley was again active on a pair of Federal mahogany Pembroke tables with serpentine-shaped tops and molded leg, which he bought for $71,250 against competition from New Jersey dealer Fred Nadler. Several wing chairs sold in the mid-five figures. One, a Massachusetts Queen Anne walnut example, left the room at $63,000.
Attributed to Joseph Rawson & Son of Providence, this eye-catching worktable in figured maple and mahogany went to a phone bidder underbid by Josh Eldred for $42,550. Massachusetts dealer Clark Peirce bought a New York ball-and-claw foot drop-leaf dining table with beautiful color and shapely ball and claw feet for $29,900.
A New Jersey chest-on-frame owned by Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, sold to an absentee buyer for $24,150; a phone bidder made off with an inlaid cherry pembroke table from New York or Connecticut, $25,300; a Connecticut Queen Anne cherry flattop highboy with china steps went to an absentee buyer for $23,000; and a primitive stepback cupboard in blue paint was a surprise hit at $23,000;
A consignment of clocks from a Midwest collection produced a David Wood of Newburyport shelf clock, inlaid with an eagle, which sold to Massachusetts dealer John Delaney for $25,300. Maine dealer Nathan Tuttle claimed a Benjamin Snow of Augusta, Me., tall-case clock for $23,000; while a New York tall-case clock in a Gothic case fetched $17,250, the same price paid for a Robert Ingraham of Preston, Conn., tall-case clock.
What little folk art there was prompted vigorous competition. Carved, gilded and perched on a red, white and blue flag, a spectacular eagle with a 62 1/2-inch wingspan sold to the phone for $107,000. A carved and gilded eagle on a pedestal, 37 by 62 1/2 inches, also sparked bidding, again selling to the phone, for $29,900.
Failures included a fancy painted pier table attributed to John and Hugh Finley, passed at $70,000; and five Massachusetts Chippendale shell-carved side chairs with ball-and-claw feet, passed at $37,000.
Northeast Auctions returns to Manchester on August 3 and 4, when it will offer Important American Furniture and Folk Art, including the Collection of Isobel and Harvey Kahn.
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