Published: July 10, 2001
Rare Highboy with Eighth-Generation Provenance Reaches $55,000 at Willis Henry
By Rita Easton
MARSHFIELD, MASS. – Willis Henry Auctions held an Americana estates auction on June 16 following a two hour preview. One hundred eighty five bidding numbers were issued to those on the floor, with one buyer having flown in from California. Three hundred forty lots crossed the block, generating a gross of $311,000. Approximately 40 local estates and consignors were represented, including homes and individuals from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Starring with the highest bid of the auction, an Eighteenth Century highboy with eighth-generation provenance reached $55,000.of the gallery.
“Originally it was standing in Buckman Tavern in Lexington, Mass., owned by the family who owned the tavern. It was the main meeting place for patriots of the revolution. It’s pictured in a number of scenes with the British firing on the Americans. It had a great lot of history to it.”
It was passed down in the Rufus Merriam family. The piece was made of walnut with burl fronts on the drawers which had original brasses.
An interesting and important photograph album, “…which had been presented to Adjutant General William S. Hillyer, with compliments from Col. D.C. Anthony, containing close to 40 carte de visites of military officers, including 24 Generals, two or three of General Grant, who was one of William Hillyer’s best friends,” Henry noted. “They were close friends when they were both lawyers in St. Louis…..Hillyer became his associate and Adjutant during the war years…Many of the pictures were signed…..Photos included those of Stonewall Jackson, McClellan, Mead,….” he continued. The album included military scenes and a number of cartes de visites of P. T. Barnum and members of his travelling show. Hammer price on the album was $11,000.
A scrapbook on General Hillyer including his speeches and newspaper articles about him, and including signed US Grant military passes, made $2,000; five photographs of peonies signed by Minor White, done in the 1950s, brought from $2,000 to $2,500 each; a Hingham dwarf clock signed by Joshua Wilder, 50 inches high, went to a local private collector at $25,000; and an oil on canvas by Russell T. Hyde, done in 1916, measuring 20 by 26 inches, depicting a beach scene with bathers, went to a phone bidder at $12,500.
A Regency mahogany server with inlay, Nineteenth Century, reached $2,750; a Vermont scene by A. T. Hibbard, depicting a fall scene with a white farmhouse, 24 by 30 inches, realized $6,250; a 35 by 28-inch portrait of a child in a red dress did $2,250; and a 30 by 25-inch portrait of J. Pettingill, the ship’s captain of the “Matilda,” by Samuel Holmes, fetched $1,900.
Five Seventeenth Century English pub chairs made $800; four banister back chairs attributed to a Massachusetts maker, consigned from a Hingham estate, went for $1,500; and a pair of early Nineteenth Century bow back Windsor chairs in old black paint over green garnered $2,600. A pair of J. Davis, Boston, andirons sold at $3,000, and a pair of New York steepletop andirons, unsigned, was purchased at $2,000.
A Serapi style 10’8″ by 17’9″ rug went for $3,400 to a phone bidder; a Persian sennah, from a Norwell estate, 4’4″ by 6’3″, brought $2,750; and a French Bidjar, 4’7″ by 7′, did $3,000.
Prices quoted do not reflect a required 15 percent buyer’s premium.
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