Published: August 25, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Public Sale Auction House
HUDSON, N.Y. – There’s a new auction game in Hudson. On August 15, Gabriel Constantine and Tarah Gay, life and business partners and the owners of Public Sale Auction House, conducted their premier sale that featured more than 475 lots and raked in nearly $125,000 with 94 percent of lots selling. In-person previews were available for three days the week of August 3 and three days right before the sale. Bidding took place mainly online, exclusively through LiveAuctioneers, while phone and absentee bidding was also an option. Constantine reported about 1,000 registered bidders, including some international bidders.
“Our first sale was really smooth. We all felt it was a great success and did exceed our expectations,” Gay said. “We wanted to have something for everyone. A lot of people who came in said we curated a really nice auction. We are already looking forward to our next sale.”
Gay and Constantine are not new to the antiques field but this is their first foray into conducting auctions after launching a still-successful restaurant-and-antique-store, Outdated Café in Kingston, N.Y., – in 2012. It was the kind of place you could get a scone and a cup of coffee, and before you left, buy the table and chairs you enjoyed them on. “We used to go to auctions and spend all night; we wanted to bring some entertainment value back to antiques,” Constantine said.
A few collections anchored the sale so significantly that the couple blogged about them on the firm’s website (www.public-sale.com/stories). Perhaps most important of these was the more than 300 lots from longtime Hudson dealer, Vincent Mulford, whose eponymous shop was a fixture on Warren Street for 30 years. “Vincent stopped by when we were renovating our building. He wanted to be supportive so when he sold his building during Covid, he gave us the key and let us sell what was in it.” Another unusual part of the sale were contents – more than 20 lots – from a Warren Street printing shop that had closed its doors after 25 years and included press blocks, signs and letterpress paper samples.
The space that Public Sale Auction now inhabits was previously a Chinese food buffet restaurant. Gay and Constantine spent eight months gutting and renovating the 6,000-square-foot space to bring it back to its original roots as an Oldsmobile dealership. It is fitting that the first lot in this first auction for Public Sale was a red painted Chinese lantern that hung in the building when the couple acquired it. Bidders took it to $81.
The top lot in the sale was a lot of eight Twentieth Century sackback Windsor armchairs that made $4,200, selling to a local buyer bidding online. The chairs were from the Mulford estate but had at one time been the property of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County in Youngstown, Ohio. Another lot of chairs – one with a modern look – was a set of six Danish modern teak dining chairs designed by Arne Vodder and made in Denmark for France & Daverkosen. Despite damage to the caning, the set received good interest, finally selling for $1,725. Another piece of furniture that did well was a Midcentury Modern wicker sofa that brought $575. “We want to thank (the buyer of) the wicker sofa for immediately picking up! Even though it was almost midnight that we finished the online auction, he was so excited that he picked it up that night,” Gay said.
The expansive space of the auction house was the perfect place to sell Mulford’s things. “Vincent always had big things,” Constantine said. “We could really spread things out. We put things together that we thought would look good together. A lot of people liked how we set things up.”
More than a dozen lots were cataloged with the descriptive “huge,” including a pair of architectural iron sconces with mica shades warranted an appropriately oversized price of $1,783. Bidders chased a Chinese carved jade or stone sculpture of a rhino, also deemed “huge,” to $748.
Among some of the oversized pieces from Mulford’s shop was a giant drop leaf gateleg table that was arranged with a pair of large curved leather-upholstered benches. The table sold for $1,380, while the benches topped off at $2,185. Three pairs of oversized paneled wood and glass panel doors – each standing 10½ feet tall – were offered in separate lots and each sold for $1,035. “Vincent had used the doors to screen off a portion of his store as an office; he had never really tried to sell them,” Constantine said, adding that a local trade buyer had purchased all three lots.
Two sign lots warranted postsale comment from Constantine. The “open-closed” sign that had stood in Mulford’s doorway for years, “did above expectations,” bringing $805, while a paint-decorated Christmas sign finished at $230. “That was interesting because it originally hung in Vincent’s building when it was originally a department store,” he said.
The sale was supported by many local buyers and sellers. “We had lots of local people,” Constantine said. A metal tete-a-tete that came from Mulford’s home sold to one of Constantine and Gay’s neighbors for $920, while a butcher block coffee table consigned from a local family exceeded expectations and was knocked down for $747. “The family stopped in the day after the sale to say how excited they were watching the auction online and how happy they were.”
In the Covid-era, many auction houses have found particular success with clients who prefer easily packable and shippable smalls. Public Sale obliged with several offerings that filled four showcases and were arranged on top of larger pieces of furniture. Among notable results for smalls was a lot of four pieces of ironstone pottery that turned out to include a scarce footbath; it made $518. A pair of small carved Black Forest wooden deer or stag heads featured plastic antlers and were snapped up for $1,438.
The biggest surprise of the sale was a dollhouse-sized architectural model of a rococo-style room. It had been made by a local craftsman with amazing attention to detail. Measuring 27 by 24 by 19 inches, it brought the not-dimunitive price of $1,208, selling to a trade buyer from Columbia County.
Among unusual items were several theater spotlights – each sold separately – that realized prices ranging from $748 to $115; a set of seven period Arts and Crafts mica shades achieved $489, while a contemporary paint-decorated wooden plumber’s trade sign – in the form of a spigot – ran to $863.
A feature of each sale will be to have a local designer or dealer make their “top picks” from the auction. Jonah Meyer, owner and designer of Sawkille Furniture, started the tradition, noting that his favorite lots were a brown-toned Native American rug ($58); a yellow-painted industrial steel work cart ($374); a mirror with carved swag detailing ($546); a metal clad wooden-spool industrial side table ($81) and adjustable green-painted industrial plant stands, of which there were two pairs sold separately, which made $546 and $518, respectively.
Public Sale Auction House’s next sale will take place September 26 and will feature “modern, eclectic and more,” including items from New York City designer Mark Zeff and consignments from local homes in Columbia County, N.Y.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium but may not include additional internet bidding surcharges.
Public Sale Auction House is at 90 Green Street. For information, www.public-sale.com or 518-966-7253.
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