Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Litchfield Auctions
LITCHFIELD, CONN. – When Litchfield Auctions sold the third and fourth session of the Boston collection of John “Parker” Prindle Jr, November 8-9, it exceeded expectations and realized more than $235,000 against a presale aggregate estimate of $107/197,000; more than 97 percent of the 560 lots offered found new homes. The sale was conducted on three online platforms: LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and the firm’s dedicated website, as well as via absentee and phone bids.
An avid collector of Twentieth Century decorative arts, furniture, fine and tribal art, Prindle’s collection of studio glass and ceramics amply filled his Beacon Hill neighborhood duplex apartment; Litchfield has been selling his collection since September 2022.
A career in banking followed naval service and Prindle was able to combine two passions for art and history and satisfy a lifetime of curiosity.
Prindle’s collecting interests evolved markedly over time: from Italian art glass to midcentury ceramics to Art Deco metalware to contemporary prints. He is described as having discerning eye, and he approached his collecting as exciting opportunities: opportunities to learn something new, opportunities to discover “hidden treasures” and opportunities to share his collection with the larger world. His library contained many hundreds of books on glass, pottery, Art Deco and Modern design, fine arts, ancient arts, tribal art, Asian art and more, which speaks to his interest not only to collect but to learn.
Multiplying its high estimate by a factor of more than 80 was a signed Loetz green iridescent glass vase, 10¼ inches tall, that bidders took from a $200/300 estimate to $24,700. The subject of enough presale interest that it was bid to $6,500 the morning of the sale, and $11,000 by the time it was up, it ultimately ended up with an absentee bidder from Connecticut, who did not purchase anything else in the sale.
If the results are any indication, Loetz had not only been a favorite of Prindle but also of bidders who came to the sale. A 6-inch-tall signed and etched iridescent glass cabinet vase finished at $1,430, the same price realized for a lot of two Loetz iridescent vases, the smaller one signed.
Another single lot invoice will be sent to the online bidder from Texas who paid $3,900 for a 15-inch-tall modernist ceramic vase by Marcello Fantoni (Italian, 1915-2011). Of abstract asymmetrical form, and with glazed earthtones, the vase was marked “Fantoni Pezzo Unico 0389.”
International bidders were active participants – even winners – of some of the sale’s top lots. A 6-inch-tall green budding vase designed by Axel Salto (Danish, 1889-1961) for Royal Copenhagen, will be returning to Denmark, to an online bidder who, like those previously mentioned, had been successful in just one lot. It blossomed to $2,860, more than seven times its high estimate. A similarly strong result of $1,560 was earned by two unsigned Loetz-style iridescent glass vases that a Czech Republic buyer, bidding on Invaluable, won on an absentee bid.
While the majority of the top lots were glass or pottery, the fourth highest price of the event was realized by a lithograph on paper by Frank Stella (American, b 1936). Titled “Carl Andre” from the “Purple Series,” the 1972 dated piece, numbering 25 from an edition of 100, had a blind stamp and sold to an online buyer from New York who purchased another work by the artist.
Litchfield’s proximity to New York City may account for the number of New York bidders who were successful buyers. One New York buyer, who was bidding on LiveAuctioneers, was successful in just one lot, a chrome lamp, designed by Paul Haustein for WMF, circa 1929. It sold within estimate, for $2,080. Another New York buyer, this one bidding on competing online platform Invaluable, had the top price of $1,820 for a Wiener Werkstatte pottery vase made by Kitty Rix (Austrian, 1901-1951). Another Wiener Werkstatte piece, a bust made by Gadrun Baudisch, attracted interest to $1,430.
Though most of the sale’s top prices were achieved on the first day of the auction, the second day also sported some strong results. Topping the day at $2,860 was a pair of Catalina Island Pottery flasks and a pair of salt and peppers, the latter in green and red glaze, which were one of ten lots purchased by a California trade buyer, bidding online.
Murano glass highlights were seen in a lot of three blue or green Cenedese Scavo glass bottles that were offered together with a large bottle, the large bottle standing 17 inches tall, which earned $1,430, the same price an unsigned Ercole Barovier Barbarico glass vase, circa 1955.
A representative for the auction house confirmed it will sell Prindle’s book collection December 6 or 7, with the remaining works from his collection January 24.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, 860-567-4661 or www.litchfieldcountyauctions.com.