Published: June 22, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy John McInnis Auctioneers
AMESBURY, MASS. – The estate collection of Jack “Jacques” and Grace Weil was offered over two days at John McInnis Auctioneers June 11-12. The Weils operated the Jacques H. Weil Antiques Shop in Marblehead, Mass., for decades in the mid-Twentieth Century, becoming specialists in pewter, American artifacts and Americana.
“[They] were very successful old-fashioned antiques dealers in Greater Boston… Their Marblehead shop was the go-to-place on the North Shore to find rare Americana from folk art and textiles to paintings and formal furnishings,” the auction house wrote. “When they closed their landmark store in the 1970s, all their own personal collection and all the extras stored throughout their home remained untouched.”
Jack passed away in 1983 and Grace in 2019.
“Jack was an interesting guy,” auctioneer John McInnis said. “In the 1950s, they lived in Pittsburgh, and he was an executive in the early days of TV commercials. He just loved the antiques and left that world and came up to Massachusetts, moved his family here and became an antiques dealer. He was buying stuff and hanging on to it.
“It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to meet Grace prior to her death,” he continued. “She was one of the kindest, sweetest ladies and loved life surrounded by beautiful things in her home. Her dying wish was to know all of her things were on a way to a new home. It was so bittersweet, she passed away at age 90 in her home just days after we finished cataloging. That was her life’s work. It made her so happy to know that all the things she cared for were going to go to new caretakers. It put her at peace.”
The auction was an online-only format, though McInnis noted that the preview at his gallery beforehand was “mobbed.”
The sale was led at $22,140 with a leather military strap featuring an engraved shoulder badge depicting a cavalry officer with horse rampant. It did well over its high estimate of $800. That was the case for many of the American artifacts that featured somewhat scant descriptions and high results. Bidders knew what they were looking at and pursued them accordingly.
McInnis said he believed the badge was American. “It just had a great luster, great surface,” he said, “It was so original, no one ever tried to clean it or anything, which is what buyers love.”
At $6,765 was an early Nineteenth Century Salem Artillery shoulder belt plate measuring only 2½ inches high. A Confederate Regiment, the Salem Flying Artillery was originally raised from Roanoke County, Va., as an infantry company with the Ninth Regiment in May 1862. It was transferred to artillery and saw action in the Maryland Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg the Petersburg Siege and finally surrendered at Appomattox.
Continental militaria artifacts would prove desirable as well, including $4,675 paid for an Eastern European cavalry sword with wooden handle and brass guard. The firm said the sword dated to the Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century with a blade that was likely Polish in origin. An Eighteenth Century English hammered brass gorget engraved with a shield flanked by a lion and unicorn sold for $4,305. On it was written, “God and My Right.”
Low estimates caught high results in pewter. A group of seven American plates from various makers served up $3,444. Included here were three smooth and molded brim plates by Cornelius Bradford, one from Edmund Dolbeare, another attributed to J. Applebee and one from Giles Griswald. Four pieces of pewter from Thomas Danforth II and III were grouped with a sugar bowl by Rosewell Gleason – they would take $2,706. The Danforths were a prominent family of Eighteenth Century pewterers in Connecticut; Danforth II fathering six sons who all became pewterers.
Notable documents included a 1775 Committee of Safety Document written in Salem, Mass., pertaining to the apprehension of deserters. The handwritten document sold for $2,952. Ahead at $4,305 was an 1801 Thomas Jefferson ship paper, printed and inscribed by Jefferson allowing passage for Captain John Hooper and his schooner, The Powder Point.
In fine art was an 1853 watercolor by George Burgess depicting a California gold mining operation, which sold for $14,760. At 10 by 14 inches, the scene depicts the bustling activity of panning around the Mokelunme River, which served as a major gold-producing stream during the Gold Rush. Found on the back of the work was a handwritten receipt dated 1849 for one share of a California adventure from George H. Sprague.
Early American prints were led by two hand colored mezzotints memorializing the death of George Washington. The mezzotints were originally published in Philadelphia by Edward Pember and James Luzarder following Washington’s death on December 14, 1799. One mezzotint features Washington on his deathbed being attended to by Doctors Craik and Brown, the other is a memento mori featuring the ladies, Columbia and Liberty, mourning at Washington’s grave. The duo sold for $3,690. A lithograph featuring the early American Mayhew family tree would take $2,952. At the base of the family tree was Thomas Mayhew, who established himself as Martha’s Vineyard’s governor in 1642. The original artwork, from which this lithograph was produced, was drawn by an F. Mayhew in 1826.
Collectors of early glass were drawn to an amber blown molded glass hat-form inkwell that sold for $9,840. It measured only 1¾ inches high and 3-7/8 inches wide.
Ceramics were led by English examples, including a $4,305 result for a Nottingham stoneware mug with bands of crushed pebbles and vertical comb work. It had a few rim chips but bidders did not mind. At $2,952 was a Liverpool pitcher featuring a satirical image of Buonaparte, Jefferson and John Bull pulling at all ends of a cow. A Liverpool pitcher with a similar image is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Though these were the high-flyers, much of the 800-plus lots sold below $300, making the offering affordable and dispersed.
“Buyers loved the iron, the pewter, the primitives. Glass did well. Needlework… everything,” McInnis said. “Everything was strong, with the exception of furniture. It is a good time to buy furniture, it’s very reasonable.”
McInnis will hold a fine art sale June 26.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For information, www.mcinnisauctions.com or 978-388-0400.
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