Published: March 5, 2002
By Laura Beach
MANCHESTER, MASS. – Northeast Auctions may be better known for American furniture, but on Sunday, March 3, the Portsmouth, N.H.,-based auctioneer hit the jackpot with works on paper. Three lots alone added $717,000 to the weekend’s take, which reached $6,056,382, including premium, in two days of sales.
Two albums of Chinese watercolors, one showing the manufacturing and decorating of porcelains, the other depicting the growing and processing of tea, sold in the room to a Boston collector underbid by dealer G.W. Samaha for a combined total of $406,500, including premium.
Made for the Danish market, the rare, circa 1740 paintings are thought to be roughly a half-century earlier than similar gouaches showing the various Chinese trades. A porcelain volume virtually identical to the one sold was published in 1965; the tea volume is the only one of its kind known.
A complete edition of the rare Bien edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, reissued in 1859 by the artist’s son, J.W. Audubon, fetched $310,500 from a phone bidder. Consigned by the Norman Williams Library in Vermont, the well-known volume had been kept in a vault for years after having been stolen and recovered by the FBI.
Earlier in the day, auctioneer Ron Bourgeault knocked down a set of six Philadelphia Queen Anne carved walnut side chairs for $255,500 to Downingtown, Penn., dealer Philip W. Bradley. Cataloged as School of William Savery, the chairs, the top furniture lot of the day, descended in the family of Samuel Allinson (1731-1791), a prominent Quaker.
Dealers David Wheatcroft and Don Heller had their paddles in the air for a gilded eagle, 621/2 inches wide, perched on a polychromed American flag. The folk art carving sold to a phone bidder for $107,000.
Saturday’s session featured the estate of the late Sherwood Smith, a noted collector of Chinese export porcelain. The 570-lot selection, which included miscellaneous furnishings, grossed $2.3 million, plus premium, and featured a five-piece mantel garniture for the American market, $28,750; and an armorial cider jug for the Indian market, charmingly inscribed “Soccess to Bombay,” brought $18,400. Buyers couldn’t get enough Orange Fitzhugh: a single plate with an American eagle soared to $12,650.
Look for a complete report in a forthcoming edition of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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