Published: May 10, 2016
Review by W.A. Demers;
Photos Courtesy Briggs Auction, Inc
GARNET VALLEY, PENN. — On April 29, Briggs Auction, Inc conducted an estate antiques and decorative arts auction, featuring a selection of period American furniture and decorative arts, designer Midcentury Modern furnishings, fine art, Asian export porcelains and decorative arts. Sourced from prominent Main Line and Delaware Valley estates, homes and collections, the sale included estate jewelry, silver and more.
There were 469 lots offered to an in-house audience of 300 patrons, along with nearly 1,200 registered bidders, with about 865 competing online.
A standout in the sale was a John Wood Philadelphia Chippendale tall clock that chimed at $12,980. Wood was active in Philadelphia from 1730 to 1761. The clock featured a moon-phase cast brass and steel dial inscribed “John Wood Philadelphia” and a formal, carved cherry case with ornate broken arch pediment and bracket feet. The case door revealed a paper describing decedent of this clock, created by one of Philadelphia’s most important clockmakers. Standing 8 feet 1 inch tall, the clock sported what appeared to be original finials. It had come out of the estate of Matilda Beasley-Bixby, an Old New Castle, Del., estate, and sold to a local collector in the salesroom, according to fourth-generation auction house co-owner Stephen Turner. “There were a lot of dealers, phone bids and online participation for the clock, but it was nice to see it go to a gentleman bidding in the gallery,” he said.
The clock was not the top lot in the sale, however. That distinction went to a 14K diamond and sapphire ring that was bid to $17,700, way above its $2,2/4,500 estimate. The yellow gold ring setting had two stones set in platinum prongs and contained a center approximately 2.92-carat natural blue sapphire flanked by two Old Mine-cut diamonds of approximately 1.35 carats each. “There was a lot of interest in this lot from the get-go,” said Turner, adding that it was won by a New York telephone bidder.
More American furniture turned in notable results as a Nineteenth Century Philadelphia classical Empire recamier was bid to $8,850. Considering its age, the piece’s frame was in remarkable condition. These were also known as “fainting couches,” their scrolled arm, footrest and curved back poised to support any light-headed lady of the period. This example featured classical silk brocade upholstery and elaborate and deep carved acanthus leaves and deep shell on footrest. Raised on paw feet, it measured 34½ by 85 by 25 inches.
Fetching the same amount as the recamier was a Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926) etching of “Mother and Child,” again far outperforming its conservative $200/400 estimate. The drypoint etching was signed in pencil Mary Cassatt under the plate, framed and matted under glass, measuring 10¾ by 7¾ inches. It came out of the Gladwyne, Penn., estate of Joyce C. Lewis.
Another fine art highlight in the sale, also from the Lewis estate, was Thomas Sully’s (American, 1783–1872) 30-by-24-inch oil on canvas portrait of Louisa Matilda Livingston, circa 1848, which attained $7,080. Biographical information on the back of frame stated “Louisa Matilda Livingston, Born June 23, 1823 at Livingston Manor, Hudson N.Y. Married Anthony Kennedy Joyce May 8, 1842. Died Jenkintown, PA. August 2, 1890.” The Sully portrait as well as the Cassatt were both won by bidders in the room.
A mystery was presented by a locked trunk with no key. A leather wardrobe trunk, inscribed “S.H. duPont, Wilmington Delaware,” 42 by 21 by 25 inches, piqued bidders’ curiosity to rise from its $100/200 estimate to a final price of $6,050. “This one amazed all of us,” said Turner, adding that its next stop would be to the residence of the successful German bidder, who won it on the first and only absentee bid.
Following the death on April 24 of George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, a visionary conservationist, philanthropist, talented artist and accomplished sportsman, there was much interested in two lots in this sale that were works by the artist whose landscapes, flower studies and portraits were shown in numerous exhibitions, including those at the Brandywine River Museum of Art. A watercolor of winter landscape with barn by Weymouth sold for $3,304. It was inscribed “To Kitty — much love on Christmas 1973 — Frolic, Anna, Mac.” Another Weymouth painting, this one a watercolor of snowy landscape with branch and hanging birdhouse, inscribed “To Kitty — much much love at Christmas 1975 — Frolic, Anna, + Mac,” was bid to $1,003.
Other noteworthy lots were a pair of large Chinese blue and white moon flask vases that took $4,720; a rare Finn Juhl modular sofa with gray upholstery garnering $4,484; a large Chinese hardwood and porcelain table screen finishing at $4,114; and a sapphire and diamond tennis bracelet going out at $4,012.
The family-owned and -operated auction house has offered weekly estate auctions every Friday evening since 1932. Owners John H. Turner, Janice Briggs Turner, William J. Briggs and John and Janice’s son Stephen currently run the business.
Stephen Turner said that the family was pleased with the results. “Everything from Modern design to Chinese porcelain — it all brought good prices,” he said.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
The firm’s next catalog auction is scheduled for September. For further information, www.briggsauction.com or 610-566-3138.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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