Published: December 4, 2001
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Furnishings from Europe, Asia and America appealed to a wide range of tastes at Weschler’s November 9 and 10 auction, with highlights in American silver, books and letters, Chinese export porcelain and Italian furniture.
The most hotly contested lot of the two-day sale was a pair of Italian Neo-classical parcel-gilt and cream painted pier tables. The late Eighteenth Century tables carried a $5/7,000 pre-sale estimate, which was quickly surpassed as bidders on the phone and in the room pushed the final price to $35,350.
Other continental furniture that fared well includes an Italian baroque walnut serpentine small commode which made $4,600 against a $2/3,000 estimate. French furniture surpassing pre-sale estimates include four Louis XVI style needlepoint tapestry upholstered fauteils en cabriolet; they brought $11,500 against an expected $4/6,000.
English furniture exceeding expectations include a George III style mahogany slant-front secretary bookcase which realized $8,050 against a $5/7,000 estimate.
American furniture that brought higher than expected results includes a Chippendale walnut tall chest of drawers from Chester County, Penn., which brought $8,050 against a $3/5,000 pre-sale estimate; a Federal mahogany serpentine bureau sideboard made $4,140, above the $2/3,000 pre-sale estimate; and a Classical mahogany drop-leaf breakfast table from Philadelphia realized $3,450, more than double the pre-sale estimate.
American decorations of note include a decorated leather fire bucket which realized $1,955 against a $500/700 pre-sale estimate; a needlework sampler dated 1836 from Danville, Va. made $4,140, nearly four times the pre-sale estimate. A cased carved bone and brass-mounted painted wood model of an American frigate sailed to $3,680, three times the pre-sale estimate.
Silver collectors had more than 120 lots to choose from; competition was keen for a Tiffany & Co. sterling center bowl, which brought $11,500 against a $6/8,000 pre-sale estimate. Another popular American piece was a Daniel Van Voorhis teapot. The circa 1780-1782 Philadelphia piece reached $8,050, more than treble the high pre-sale estimate. A four-piece tea service by Andrew DeMilt of New York brought a within-estimate $3,910.
English silver was highlighted by four Elizabethan-Commonwealth spoons from the mid-Seventeenth Century which brought an above-estimate $5,290. A delicate George III silver teapot by Hester Bateman realized $3,220, slightly above pre-sale estimates. An exotic Russian silver gilt tankard also sold slightly above expectations to bring $3,220. Other metalwork was included in a collection of religious artwork from a local estate.
Comprising ivory and wood carvings, chalices, reliquaries and Eucharistic articles, all of the more than 30 pieces in the collection found buyers. Of note were two pairs of continental gilt and painted wood putti which brought $4,370 against a $1/1,500 estimate; an ivory group of the crucifixion which sold for a within-estimate $2,300; and an Austrian jeweled gilt silver chalice which sold for $2,070, nearly double the pre-sale estimate.
A collection of autographed books and letters from the estate of Philip Bonsal, America’s last ambassador to Cuba, drew the attention Hemingway collectors. A signed first edition of Death in the Afternoon, inscribed by Ernest Hemingway in red lipstick, more than doubled its high pre-sale estimate to bring $7,475. A letter to Bonsal from Hemingway discussing the bullfighting season in Spain was knocked down at a within-estimate $2,990.
Asian porcelain made a strong showing. A Chinese underglazed blue and enamel painted covered ewer (Daoguang mark and seal, 1821-1850) made for the Persian market realized $4,370 against a $1/1,500 estimate. Export was particularly popular, with all but two of the more than 30 lots finding buyers.
Of note was a Mandarin palette 33-piece assembled tea service which more than doubled its high pre-sale estimate to bring $2,530 and a Qianlong period (1736-1795) Mandarin palette assembled dinner service which sold slightly above estimate at $5,750.
Other Asian pieces that exceeded expectations were a Gandharan grey schist figure of a standing Buddha more than doubling pre-sale estimates to realize $8,050 and a Japanese bronze figure of a boar bringing $2,530 against a modest $500/700 pre-sale estimate.
Continental decorations featured two lots of Derby pictorial cabinet plates, which sold within estimate at $1,265 and $1,495. A Meissen “nodding pagoda” figure brought $2,300; its modest $400/600 pre-sale estimate was due to condition problems.
A Pierre-Jules Mène bronze figure of a stag attacked by three hounds sold within estimate at $2,760; a piece after Mène, bronze figure of the Derby winner, brought $2,530 against a $1/1,500 estimate.
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