Published: December 1, 2015
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith
Catalog photos courtesy Freeman’s
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Ten years ago, Freeman’s, America’s oldest auction house, marked its bicentennial with a celebration that included a published history of the firm and the launching of The Pennsylvania Sale, all under the direction of the chairman, Samuel M. “Beau” Freeman II. Highlights of that auction were a painted and decorated candle box that sold for a record-setting $744,825, from the collection of Esther H. Ludwig, as well as the first public printing of the US Constitution at $207,225.
On November 10, The Pennsylvania Sale celebrated its tenth anniversary with 239 lots, followed the next day by the sale of American furniture, folk and decorative arts, with 310 lots. Combined, the auctions brought in $1.7 million, including the buyer’s premium. Adding heavily to that total was the property from the Red & Barton Archives, the Linda Abegglen Trust, property from the estate of Nancy duPont Reynolds Cooch and the estate of William F. Hamilton.
With Beau Freeman wielding the hammer, The Pennsylvania Sale got off to a fine start with 19 lots of furniture by George Nakashima, including a special Minguren coffee table, 1990, English walnut and rosewood, signed with client’s name, Benson, and measuring 16 inches high, 44 inches wide and 30 inches deep. It sold within estimate for $32,500.
Several lots of silver from the Mutual Assurance Company were offered, the first a fine silver sugar caster by Richard Humphreys (1750–1832), Philadelphia, circa 1775, octagonal baluster form with removable pierced cover surmounted by knob finial and measuring 7 inches tall. It sold just under the high estimate for $4,375 and the provenance lists the Green Tree Collection, Philadelphia. Lot 31, the beginning of the decorative arts section, was a Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, an oil on panel, framed, measuring 35½ by 32¼ inches sight, after Gilbert Stuart. It was property from the estate of Nancy duPont Reynolds Cooch and sold just under the low estimate for $1,430.
A Chippendale carved walnut side chair, Philadelphia, circa 1755–75, 41 inches high, sold just over the low estimate at $5,625, while a Chippendale walnut chest of drawers, also Philadelphia, circa 1770, 37½ inches wide, went over estimate for $4,688. One lot later, the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters Chippendale-style vitrine, Bears Maker plate “O.E. Mertz & Co., Designers and Furnishers, Philad,” sold for $4,250, within estimate. The brass plate inside the case reads “Information in regards to pieces of miniatures may be obtained from the office of Miss A.M. Archambault, 1714 Chestnut St. Philadelphia.” The vitrine measures 70 inches high, 45 inches wide and 26½ inches deep.
A carved and painted “Sunburst” whimsy by John Scholl (1827–1916), Germania, Penn., circa 1895, 21½ inches in diameter, sold under estimate at $7,500 and listed in the provenance were Adele Earnst and Cordelia Hamilton of Stony Point Folk Art Gallery. Bringing the same money was the following lot, a grain painted tulip poplar blanket chest attributed to the “Deep Run Artist,” Bedminster, Bucks County, Penn. It dated circa 1830 and measured 26 inches high, 38½ inches wide and 197/8 inches deep.
Selling for the low estimate of $1,000 was a group of carved and painted birds fitted with wall mounts, probably Pennsylvania, Nineteenth/Twentieth Century, all with wire legs. The birds were followed by an ochre and brown painted pine and tulip poplar 41-drawer apothecary chest, Pennsylvania, early Twentieth Century, 50¾ inches high, that brought $5,625.
A pair of wrought iron tulip-form blanket chest hinges, southeastern Pennsylvania, 10¼ inches tall, went $500 under the low estimate, bringing $1,500, while a fraktur birth record for Jacob Hofer by Henry Young, Buffalo Township, Union County, Penn., sold for $7,800, just a bit shy of the low estimate. It measured 13¼ by 8½ inches sight.
The bank of a dozen people fielding the phone bids was back in line on Wednesday morning for the American furniture, folk and decorative arts, including property from the Reed & Barton Archives, portion of the sale, which kicked off at 10 am with lot 250, a Britannia metal creamer and covered sugar bowl, Babbitt Crossman & Company, Taunton, Mass., circa 1827–29. The two pieces were sold, together with a conforming teapot marked to underside “Dixon & Son,” for $438, under the low estimate. Several lots later, a view of the Reed & Barton factory, Taunton, Mass., ink and watercolor on paper, framed, signed lower right “J. Brammer,” 17½ by 23¼ inches sight, brought $2,625, surpassing the $1,500 high estimate.
A silver plated model of a horse and sulky with rider, attributed to Henry Reed of Reed & Barton, circa 1875, 12 inches high and mounted on a 12-by-29-inch base, sold for $3,375, just under the high estimate. A large collection of sterling silver Francis I pattern flatware and serving pieces, Ernest Mayers for Reed & Barton, comprising 85 pieces, went for $4,063, just over the low estimate, and another Reed & Barton lot, a fine and rare four-piece .950 standard silver Art Nouveau tea and coffee service, comprising a tea and coffee pot, creamer and sugar, each in the Martele-style marked to the underside, went for $12,500, well above the $7,000 high estimate.
The decorative arts section started with a portrait of Lucy Clayton Williams of Virginia, attributed to Charles Bridges, an oil on canvas measuring 49 by 38 inches sight. It sold for $8,450, within estimate. An absentee bidder took a set of four Chippendale side chair in mahogany, Massachusetts, late Eighteenth Century, for $1,750, slightly over high estimate, and selling within estimate at $13,750 was a Queen Anne flat-top high chest in cherry, probably Connecticut, possibly Glastonbury area, circa 1760, measuring 77½ inches high. The central drawer has a double shell construction, with a small convex shell applied over a larger flat shell.
A Chippendale blockfront, slant front desk in mahogany, Boston, circa 1780, the property of Nancy duPont Reynolds Cooch, exceeded high estimate at $10,000. Among a selection of miniature portraits, one by Elkanah Tisdale (1791–after 1834) of Caleb Halstead of Connecticut, circa 1820, watercolor on ivory in a gilt locket case with woven hair and gilt initials “CCH” on verso, 2¾ by 2¼ inches sight, sold for $8,750, well above the $1,200 high estimate.
Two Federal inlaid mahogany Pembroke tables, New York or New Jersey, single drawer and tapered legs, went for $2,080, followed by a framed oil on canvas portrait of a girl with a dove, Nineteenth Century American School, 28¾ by 23¾ inches sight, brought $4,063, over the $2,500 high estimate. A rare Chinese Export porcelain Monticello plate for the American market, circa 1810, 91/8 inches in diameter, with a vignette depicting Thomas Jefferson’s historic estate, sold just over the high estimate at $6,875.
Selling for a hair over the high estimate at $8,125 was a Federal cherry tall case clock with works by Timothy Chandler (1762–1848), Concord, N.H., and case by David Young (1746–1836), Hopkinton, N.H. The dial is signed “Tim Chambers Concord” and the clock measures 87 inches tall. A Black Hawk copper and zinc weathervane attributed to J.W. Fiske & Co., New York, including the original post and directionals, went within estimate at $5,000, and selling at the high estimate, $2,000, was an engine and tender sheet metal weathervane, late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, on iron stand and measuring 17 inches high and 40 inches long.
“We were thrilled with the results for the Twentieth Century Design section of The Pennsylvania Sale and equally delighted wit the results achieved by exceptional examples of Americana, such as the portrait of Slator Clay and the ‘imperfect masterpiece,’ the Spitler blanket chest,” Lynda Cain, head of the Americana department said.
For additional information, www.freemansauction.com or 215 563 9275.
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