Published: September 14, 2010
There was much to celebrate at Rafael Osona’s Americana, fine arts and marine sale on August 7. Conducted in the American Legion Hall, which was filled throughout the sale with Osana’s usual customers †retail clients from the island †the auction consisted of just over 300 lots. A grouping of classic English and American marine offerings comprising whaling items, paintings and of course some wonderful Nantucket baskets crossed the block.
The top lot of the sale was a portrait by British artist George Chinnery (1774‱852), “The Portrait of Hou Qua” (Hou Qua virtually ruled the International Trade in Hong Kong at the time). Chinnery was the only Western painter of his era to make his home in Southern China. A customer bidding by phone from Hong Kong won the portrait for $98,600.
A prisoner of war bone ship model, which dated from 1800, was a model of a 106-gun ship with a full, detailed female ship’s figurehead. It sold midway through the auction for $87,000.
An oil on canvas by British artist William Callcott Knell (1830‱876), “In the Shipping Lane,” signed on the lower left, W.C. Knell, and measuring 31 by 47 inches, sold early in the sale for $3,190.
Another marine painting that sold well was the diminutive “View of American and British Ships Engaged in Battle in 1812.” The oil on panel was attributed to Thomas Whitcombe (British, 1763‱824), and measured just 5¼ by 8 inches. It sold for $2,610.
Among the many whalebone items offered was a sailor-made whalebone and whale ivory yarn swift, dating from the Nineteenth Century. Polychromed incised lines and tortoise shell inlay helped this swift realize $5,800.
One rare Nantucket Indian basket, circa 1840, with carved initials “C.H.L.,” measured 5 inches tall and had a diameter of 13 inches. It brought $2,320. A Nantucket basket was an oval, double-handled example with whale ivory stars as inlay in the pine base. Measuring just 4 inches tall, 11¾ inches long, and 8¾ inches wide, with one later replace handle, it went for $3,190.
A Nantucket sewing basket, dating from around 1900, had heart-shaped handles and ten concentric circles on the base. This sewing basket measured 3¾ inches high by 9¼ inches in diameter and brought $5,800, after some serious competitive bidding.
A “heroic size” whalebone sailor-made double block, carved out of one piece of panbone with whalebone shiv, which measured 7 inches high and 3½ inches wide, brought $5,510.
“Sailboats tied to Nantucket Dock,” an oil on artist’s board view was signed on the lower left E. Saltonstall. It measured 11½ by 15½ inches, and went for $5,800.
Other high notes from the sale included the Nantucket basket made by A.D. Williams, which had a round swing handle and a pagoda cover. A handwritten label that read, “Lightship Basket made by A.D&120 0 Nantucket” was still affixed to the base. This basket had never been on the market before and drew considerable interest, ultimately selling for $18,560.
An oil on Masonite by Anne Ramsdell Congdon (American, 1873‱958), was of an island view and was signed on the lower right “Anne Congdon, 1940.” Entitled, “Topgate,” there was a great deal of action on this painting, which finally realized $46,400.
All prices include the buyer’s premium.
For more information, 508-228-3942 or www.nantucketauctions.com .
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