Published: June 10, 2003
BOSTON, MASS. — A Portsmouth Federal secretary/desk topped the bill at Skinner’s Americana auction this past Sunday, June 8. The gallery reported a good sized crowd made up of old-time familiar faces and a host of new “30-something” couples that bid actively throughout the day.
The auction went over 95 percent sold with carpets making up the majority of the passed lots. Sales totaled well above the high presale estimate of $1.1 million with an impressive $1.7 million realized from the 450 lots offered.
The Portsmouth secretary/desk in mahogany, flame birch and rosewood veneer was attributed to Judkins and Senter, circa 1813. Skinner’s American expert Stephen Fletcher commented that the piece, boasting a single-family history, was “beautiful” and was in “wonderful condition” despite not retaining an original surface or brasses. Fletcher related that the secretary/desk had been discovered in a recently constructed contemporary home in Rye, N.H., and that the consignors were moving to Santa Fe, N.M. “Santa Fe is not the place for this piece of furniture,” commented Fletcher, who said that it was his hope it would stay in New England.
Bidding on the piece opened at $70,000 and bounced back and forth between the gallery and the telephones with phone bidder Todd Prickett of C.L. Prickett Antiques claiming the lot at $127,000. All prices include the buyer’s premium charged.
Prickett, of Yardley, Penn., who specializes in Chippendale and Queen Anne furniture, “but always aspire to acquire prime Federal examples,” commented that the secretary desk is an extremely rare form and further stated that he was very pleased with the purchase.
Other lots that did well included a selection of redware from the Charles Cook collection with a pitcher marked “Clinton Ware” and decorated with an eagle selling at $37,600, a portrait of the American steamer Puritan by Fred Pansing sold well above the $8/12,000 presale estimates at $52,875, and a pair of marine paintings featuring yachts, thought to be by Elisha Taylor Baker, soared past the $600/800 estimates to a selling price of $55,225.
A complete review will appear in a future issue.
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