Published: October 24, 2000
PHILADELPHIA, PA. – Fine furniture and decorative arts, particularly marine art which brought record prices, according to David Donaldson of the gallery, were the subjects of an October 6 and 7 auction at Freeman’s, America’s oldest auction house. Following four preview sessions, a total of 405 bidding paddles were issued for the 337 lots offered. A gross of $646,400 was realized, against an early estimate of $405,000.
Realizing the highest bid of the day, an approximately eight-by-12 -inch oil on board by William Bradford (American, 1823-1892), “An Arctic Scene,” consigned from the Elizabeth Tukey estate, estimated at $6/8,000, reached $37,000. The painting depicted an Arctic scene with a whaling ship and icebergs.
A scrimshawed whale tooth offered featured the image of the ship Courier of New Bedford, a three-masted vessel, with hand-colored flags and an eagle above a spy glass. Depicting the 24 stars of the union on the reverse, and measuring seven inches long, circa 1821-1836, the tooth had also been consigned from the Tukey estate (est $2/3,000), and sold for $27,000.
A mid-Nineteenth Century American scrimshawed whale’s tooth – decorated with a sperm whale harpooned by the crew of a whaling ship – depicted on its reverse a masted vessel with an American flag, whales and smaller boats. Measuring approximately nine inches long and consigned from the Tukey estate as well (est $800/1,200), the tooth brought a stunning $21,000.
“It was a tremendous turnout of major maritime collectors, both present and on the phone, from across the United States and Great Britain,” said Donald Donaldson of the gallery.
A phone collector remarked that the sale of a whalebone busk reached a record at $4,200, having been estimated at $200/400. The 13-inch long lot, which was mid-Nineteenth Century, was engraved with whaling vessels and clusters of whales. A pair of Sèvres ormolu mounted urns, Nineteenth or Twentieth Century, with an apocryphal mark of “1757,” estimated at $2,5/4,000, made $11,000 for the ovoid form pair; two sailor’s valentines achieved $7,750 each; and two framed scenes done in fine silk realized $15,000 and $19,000.
Prices quoted do not reflect a required 15 percent buyer’s premium.
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