Published: January 14, 2020
Review and Onsite Photos by W.A. Demers
COPAKE, N.Y. – Mike Fallon, co-owner of Copake Auction, recalls stepping through the door in 1986 and asking himself “Who would ever come to a New Year’s auction?” Back then, the turnout surprised him; the auction gallery was packed, and sales of antique furniture were impressive, including with a Hudson Valley kas that brought $9,000 and a pair of Hepplewhite chairs that fetched $14,000. At the time, he was not affiliated with Copake and was there only to bid on antiques.
As he has learned over the years, however, the concept has staying power. In fact, the sign out front at the auction house’s location, just off Route 7A in this Columbia County, N.Y., town advertised its 40th annual New Year’s Day auction. Although it’s a sparser scene inside than the heady days when the gallery would be packed with upwards of 350 patrons, father and son team Mike and Seth Fallon greeted a sizeable and spirited crowd who arrived on a relatively balmy January 1. It’s an event that both they and their regular customers look forward to every year, and, as in years past, the sale featured great diversity and choice items saved throughout the year just for this sale.
“We used to charge $10 a seat, refundable with purchase,” recalls Seth Fallon, Mike’s son and the firm’s co-owner. “Two to three years ago we started to notice attendance falling off, so we discontinued that.”
The approximately 750-lot sale began at 10 am and finished late afternoon, grossing about $550,000. “I thought it was very strong,” said Seth. “We knew folk art would do well, but furniture also did well. We saw regular faces; there were dealers in the room. For me, it was one of the most pleasurable sales we’ve had, with a lot of purchasers leaving happy.”
Seth Fallon said the general rubric of such auctions seemed to be at play. “We sold to about 400 individual buyers, some successfully bidding on more than just one lot. But for that to happen you need about 10,000 people participating. And we had buyers from all over the world – Belgium, China, France and more. We also had about 3,500 absentee bids.”
“Half price, that sounds about right,” quipped Seth Fallon as he hammered down a pair of Nineteenth Century dumb stoves for $11,800. A decade ago, at the firm’s New Year’s Day sale, the pair – George Washington and Lady Liberty in polychrome paint surface – had performed solidly within estimate, selling for $22,600 to the current consignor. The circa 1843 figures were made by Alonzo Blanchard, Albany, N.Y., and both stand 48¾ inches tall.
There were multiple collections and single consignments on offer, including items from the Philip and Kathy Seibel collection in Catskill, N.Y. The furniture component was rich: 40 cupboards and hundreds of primitives. The auction house will offer these spread throughout upcoming auctions.
There were more than 50 pieces of period furniture, including five highboys, chests of drawers, card tables, slant lid desks, sets of chairs, tavern tables, stands and more. The top furniture lot was a rare Eighteenth Century Queen Anne mahogany New York turret top card table, circa 1740s, which got the auction off to a great start, crossing the block as the first lot and bringing $11,800. Believed to have been made by Gilbert Ash (New York), the 32-by-16-by-29½-inch (closed) piece was part of the collection of Mrs J. Amory Haskell, and in fact was stamped on the underside “Property of Mrs J.A. Haskell.”
Haskell (1864-1942) owned one of the largest and most distinguished collections of American furniture, according to catalog notes. Items from her collection can be found in the collections of several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Winterthur Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery.
The same buyer, a Midwest collector, purchased a set of eight Chippendale carved mahogany chairs for $7,965. There were six side chairs and two arm chairs.
An Eighteenth Century Boston mahogany serpentine chest of drawers with ogee feet and original brasses was bid to $4,250.
Attracting a lot of appreciative looks at preview was an Eighteenth Century Chippendale chest aswirl with grain decoration. With an upper part with three short and four long drawers, base with three drawers, the 40½-by-21-by-71-inch piece was conservatively estimated $500/600 but soared to $3,998, won by a collector in Rhode Island.
It was at this point, about 150 lots into the sale, that Mike Fallon took over auctioneering duties, but not before cake. In honor of Copake’s 40th anniversary, a tasty sheet cake was rolled out for Mike to cut and for patrons to enjoy as the sale continued.
Fine art highlights included a painting attributed to Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), a portrait of Charles I, that found favor with a Dutchess County, N.Y., collector who paid $12,300 for the 11-by-8¼-inch oil on wood panel, a tenfold result over its high estimate.
Folk art is always a staple at Copake Auction. This year, the sale featured more than 50 weathervanes, a big portion of which came from a gentleman in Pennsylvania who was downsizing, including a Statue of Liberty, horses, ram, bull, squirrel, fish, grasshopper, eagles, pigs and more. During preview, the collection was on view in a separate room in the gallery. There were four high-fliers among the sale’s top performing lots, including a goat, 21 by 20 inches, stand included, that sold for $8,260; a horse jumping through a ring, landing at $5,015 to the trade; a horse and jockey going to a European collector for $7,380; and a leaping stag snagging $4,920 from a collector online.
More artwork included early portraits, including two attributed to William Matthew Prior and a naive Charle Walquist (American, mid-Nineteenth Century) aerial view of a mill town and falls on the Hudson River, probably one of five that he did in the 1920s, signed lower right and inscribed “Kinderhook, 1830,” fetching $3,540 from a local collector.
Almost as soon as the gavel dropped on the last of the 750 lots, the Fallons were gearing up for the firm’s next sale, one of its regular estate auctions set for Saturday, February 15.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For more information, www.copakeauction.com or 518-329-1142.
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