Published: September 21, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers
PHOENIXVILLE, PENN. – Wiederseim Associates mounted a special two-day fall sale on September 10-11 to disperse property from several Pennsylvania estates, including that of John Graham Harkins Jr of Devon, the estate of Esther Altmann of Glenmoore and the estate of Ann J. Wood of Bryn Mawr, as well as a Chester Springs collector and others. The sale totaled north of $400,000 with a 98 percent sell-through rate and was joined by more than 3,000 bidders on three online platforms, phones and left bids.
A naval battle scene and a Chinese ritual vessel both crushed estimates on the first day to lead the 525 lots on offer over the two days. By Xanthus Russell Smith (1839-1929), a 26-by-65½-inch oil on canvas depicting the Civil War naval engagement between the Confederate raider cruiser CSS Alabama and the USS sloop of war Kearsarge with the rescue of the crew by the Deerhound topped out at $106,250 against a high estimate of $7,000. The painting was signed lower right and verso, dated 1869 (the Alabama was sunk June 19, 1864) and came together with a framed and matted print, published by Johnson Wilson Co., N.Y. The painting went to a private collector bidding by phone against heated competition from four other phone bidders.
Also estimated on the high end at $7,000, a cloisonné ritual ding tripod vessel deemed to be from the Nineteenth Century and measuring 21 by 14 inches overall went to an internet bidder for $40,625. Ted Wiederseim said he was very pleased with the strong results. “It’s nice to see the market coming back,” he told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “It’s a lot easier to sell good things than it is bad things, and when you have a lot of good merchandise that’s fresh to the market, you’re going to have good results.”
There were some choice furniture pieces on offer that exceeded estimates. On the sale’s second day, a custom made Charleston library bookcase made of mahogany in two parts finished at $11,875 ($2/3,000). Its upper section with broken arch bonnet with dentil molding and floral inlays crested above four mullioned glass doors, a shelved interior and a lower section with center pull-out shelf over a serpentine front with inlaid doors and drawers all resting on bracket feet. Made by Kinloch Woodworking Ltd., Unionville, Penn., in 1994, the piece stood 92½ inches high.
Also bringing an upside surprise, bid to $10,000 versus an estimate of just $200/300, was an Asian bronze vase, probably Twentieth Century. It came mounted on a wood base and measured 17½ by 14 by 7½ inches.
More Asian material came to the fore with two large framed Chinese calligraphies, each 58¼ by 20 inches, with frame, going out at $8,750 and an Asian side table, probably teak wood, from the Twentieth Century with scroll carvings and pinned construction leaving its $150/200 expectation in the dust to realize $6,250.
Fetching the same amount was a Herend, Rothchild Bird pattern china service totaling 115 pieces. The catalog noted that a cup and bullion bowl in the set had cracks, but otherwise it was in very good condition.
Bidders liked a rare pair of Philadelphia Tucker pitchers, each decorated with similar colorful flowers, circa 1820, and took them to $5,313, more than double the high estimate.
And a “Sonambient” sculpture, 59 inches high, by contemporary artist Val Bertoia titled “Upside-Down for Good Sound,” made of two columns of 26 beryllium copper rods on a silvered to brass base, numbered B-2481, sold for $4,688.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next sale will be conducted the second week in November, date to be announced. For information, 610-827-1910 or www.wiederseim.com.
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