Published: June 5, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Greg Smith
ONLINE – “Lot-wise, this was our biggest sale in two years,” said Jack DeStories, auctioneer at Fairfield Auction, as he surveyed his 700-lot May 23 sale. The auction featured consignments from local estates, brimming with fresh material that spanned genre and categorization, including a large collection of Moorcroft pottery, jewelry, coins, silver, fine art, Americana, exhibition posters, ephemera and others.
While the preview was well-attended and open to the public the week leading up to the sale, the action was all online, with bidding spread between both HiBid and LiveAuctioneers. DeStories related that this format is in keeping with the current trend, and the online-only aspect keeps all bidders on an even playing field, rather than having to prioritize bidders when a lot opens during a live in-house auction. The auctioneer mused that he just sold off his overflow seating to clear space in his storage room, signaling that he plans to stay in this format for a while.
“It was a very good sale,” DeStories said, when Antiques and The Arts Weekly caught up with him after the dust had settled. “As we seem to see with every sale, the very best tends to bring great prices against estimates.”
The $516,000 sale was led with a 3.61-carat European cut diamond ring that nearly doubled the $30,000 high estimate to hit $72,000. The stone featured a GIA certification and a measured VS2 clarity and E color, and was flanked by 12 round and marquise diamonds.
“It was a pretty serious diamond,” DeStories said. “It came from a local family.”
The real draw to the sale was the 200-odd lots of Moorcroft pottery from Brookfield, Conn., collector Jean Stauffer, who exclusively collected Moorcroft over a period of three decades after her first purchase of a Pomegranate pattern vase in an antique shop.
“She had a very good representation of most of the highly desirable patterns,” said DeStories. “What’s noteworthy is the whole collection was earlier pieces, pre-World War II, the golden era of Moorcroft. She had good, early examples of almost everything, with the most volume in the Pomegranate pattern, but also a lot of early exhibition pieces.”
The collection performed well, bringing $141,600 to an online audience of 60 to 80 active bidders. The cases that housed the collection were lit with a bouquet of colors between all of the various patterns, which included Claremont, Moonlit Blue, Hazeldene, Spanish, Cornflower, Eventide, Wisteria and Brown Chrysanthemum.
Leading the collection at $6,600 and over doubling the $3,000 high estimate was an 8-inch-high “Green Spanish” jardiniere. Following behind was a circa 1903 Claremont pattern Toadstool bowl with silver rim, 8½-inch-diameter, which sold for $5,280. A 10¼-inch-high vase in the same pattern, circa 1925, took $3,840. In the Wisteria pattern, a two-handled vase with plums, 7¾ inches high and circa 1912, brought $4,800. A two-handled vase in the Florian pattern, measuring 10 inches high and from 1903, fetched $4,320. In the Pomegranate pattern, two examples finished in the top earners, a 13-inch-high vase at $4,320 and a 12-inch-high vase, made for Liberty and Co., which finished at $3,600.
One of the only carpets in the sale, DeStories knew he had a winner in a turn-of-the-century room-size Heriz, which brought $9,600 over the $5,000 high estimate.
“It’s probably the best carpet we’ve had in the last four auctions,” he said. “It had a nice blue color on the border and background and nice abrush color variation.”
Fine art produced a number of top earners and included some exciting sleepers. The top lot of the category, though, was no surprise, as a Satish Gujral (Indian, b 1925) assemblage sculpture took $9,000. The 1974 assemblage featured an electric light inside tin panels and banding with found objects, measuring 44 inches high. Following behind was one of the hot sleepers of the sale, an unsigned and unfinished Spanish School portrait of a girl, 11¼ by 8¼ inches, oil on canvas laid on board. It finished at $7,800 on a $500 high estimate.
“It’s one of those cases where a couple people decided they had a pretty good idea what it was,” DeStories said. “It’s a lot of money for a little study, but it’s a sweet little painting, so clearly it was from a pretty good hand.”
Realist painter Frans Verhas (Belgian, 1834-1897) took a result between the estimates, fetching $2,880 for a 22-by-14½-inch oil on board painting of a lady in red. The subject was adorned to the nines and was shown in the final act of getting dressed, slipping her thumb into her silk glove as she stood in front of her vanity mirror. A vibrant Anna Speakman (American, 1868-1933) 8-by-10-inch oil on board painting, titled “The Flower Show,” caught $2,160. Written in pencil on the back was the original price of $12.
The sale also featured a Howard Terpning work from the artist’s first act as a commercial illustrator. Though he is now iconically known for his scenes of the American West and images of Native Americans, the first 25 years of Terpning’s career were spent as an illustrator, where he drew illustrations and advertising art for Reader’s Digest, Time, Newsweek and others. The work in this sale was commissioned by General Electric for a 1966 calendar and featured a Hawaiian scene of children forming an orderly line before a scene of modernized island buildings in the background. The 16-by-22-inch gouache took $2,040.
While this past week saw another nail in the coffin for film cameras, with Canon announcing that they will discontinue sales of their last film model, a group lot of vintage camera bodies and lenses quadrupled its estimate at this sale, bringing $5,760. The lot featured a Hasselblad 1000F camera body, two Nikon F cameras, a Nikkor zoom auto lens and others.
Gold coins were in high demand, appearing in both jewelry and bullion. A 1915 Austrian 4 ducat gold coin and a 1929 Mexico 50 pesos on an 18K gold 7¼-inch bracelet led the offerings at $4,800. In the same vein, a 1907 Liberty Head 10 gold coin in a ruby and gold bezel and a 1916 Cuba 10 pesos in a sapphire and gold bezel on a 14K gold bracelet took $2,400.
Four lots of gold bullion each finished at $2,400, including three identical sets of American Eagle gold coins from 1988 to 1990 in addition to a proof set of American Eagle gold coins in the $50, $25, $10 and $5 denominations.
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house.
Fairfield Auction will hold its next estate auction in July. For information, 203-880-5200 or www.fairfieldauction.com.
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