Published: April 28, 2020
MARLBOROUGH, MASS., & ONLINE – Virtual auction “rooms” packed with bidders competing from the safety and comfort of their homes on a few early New England spring days drove a $1.28 million result for two successful online auctions of American Furniture and Decorative Arts conducted by Skinner, Inc., on April 13 and 15. Overall, bidders embraced the online platform and operated with a familiar competitive vigor, often causing the bidding on a lot to extend far beyond its prescribed closing time. Satisfied consignors witnessed their property bring strong prices -good for any market – even in these unprecedented and uncertain times.
The April auctions presented material consigned to Skinner by numerous collectors and institutions from New England and across the country. These included a decades-old family collection from Chestnut Hill; a carefully chosen collection of Federal furniture from a gentleman in Salem, Mass.; a group of early decorative arts from an astute eastern Massachusetts collector; a selection of furniture approved for deaccession by the Board of Trustees of Historic Deerfield, Inc., which benefited the institution’s Museum Collections Fund.
More than ever, Skinner specialists’ observations, written condition reports, overall impressions and thousands of additional photographs added to the online catalogs, provided the needed information in place of in-person previews. “We see to it that our bidders, many of whom we’ve known for decades, are well informed,” said partner/executive vice president and department director Stephen Fletcher.
The sale that closed on April 13 featured a pair of extraordinary and colorful Eighteenth Century needlework pictures that sold for $36,250 and colonial silver, including an octagonal John Burt pepper pot dated 1720 that brought $12,500. A small box by the “compasswork decorator” of Lancaster County, Penn., made $16,250, and a labeled Simon Willard tall clock with an inscribed dial finished at $25,000. Furniture from the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries made up nearly 200 of the offered lots over the two sales and 89 percent of them sold, indicating continued strength in that market.
A variety of paintings also performed well. A portrait of a tavern in Ashburnham, Mass., by Samuel Lancaster Gerry of New Hampshire sold for $12,500, a folk portrait of a young boy by William Kennedy made $10,000, and a set of three China trade still life pictures in extraordinary carved frames realized $12,500.
A collection of Staffordshire Historical Blue brought nearly $45,000, and was led by rare and desirable examples of “State” pattern pieces – a small platter with the arms of Massachusetts ($5,000), a “Maryland” pitcher ($5,625) and a “Virginia” covered vegetable dish ($4,063).
A collection from Flushing, N.Y., brought more than $100,000 across the sales, led by a large cast iron Statue of Liberty figure, that made $6,875.
The April 15 sale, which closed Wednesday evening, was big in smalls – well over half of the sale in both lot numbers and sold value. But there were successes in categories across the board. A knuckle-arm Windsor fanback chair brought $5,938, the same price for an early Eighteenth Century turned-leg circular top table. Two early armchairs from Deerfield’s collection each brought $5,000 and a set of four rare Chinese export plates with magenta decoration and a painted cast iron greyhound carnival target also each achieved $5,000 in highly competitive bidding. A couple of Amish quilts in good condition and great color brought $3,750 and $2,250, respectively, and a Thomas Danforth pewter sugar bowl climbed to $2,500.
Prices include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Skinner Marlborough is at 274 Cedar Hill Street. For information, www.skinnerinc.com or 508-970-3000.
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