Published: March 8, 2011
Brock Jobe, professor of American decorative arts at Winterthur Museum, waxed eloquent over a cache of previously unknown Portsmouth furniture. “I can’t remember when a more impressive group of Portsmouth furniture had come to market,” he said of a Federal serpentine front chest that was among a group of pieces sold at Skinner’s Americana sale on March 6. He described the chest that had book-matched flame birch veneer and high French feet as so rare that it was “practically unheard of.” Bidders agreed and it brought a rare $314,000 from dealer William Samaha bidding in the gallery against the phones. He shook his head at $260,000 but then jumped back in at $270,000 to win the piece.
The chest descended through the Simes family of Portsmouth and came most recently from a home on Casco Bay, Maine. The proceeds of the chest and other rarities from the same collection, a total of $428,107, will go to charity.
New Bedford artist William Bradford’s 1853 The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head , which auctioneer Steve Fletcher described as “perhaps one of Bradford’s best,” brought $248,000.
A full report of the sale will appear in a future edition of Antiques and The Arts Weekly. ⁆rances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo
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