Presentation Is Everything: Rare Table Reaps $1.2 Million for Small Massachusetts Auction House
By Steve Sundlof
NORTHFIELD, MASS. – Ken Miller & Son, Inc. sold a circa 1760-70 mahogany Chippendale porringer flip-top game table for the hammer price of $1.2 million ($1.32 million including buyer’s premium). Within four or five days of advertising the June 4 sale all the major players came or were represented as previews of the table reached a feverish pitch.
Brought in from a Florida estate, the table was primarily mahogany, with secondary woods of oak and tulipwood, had a flip-top and a swing leg with full-carved skirt. The center had reverse clamshell drop, rear cabriole legs with acanthus carved knees; and front legs rendered with large taloned ball & claw feet.
Auctioneer Paul Gorzocoski III, stated, “The scene building up to the sale was incredible, we knew it was a strong piece and this was confirmed by all accounts as each faction of prospective buyers scrutinized the originality of the table. I thought perhaps this was a $100/200,000 table and in the very back of my mind, wondered if this could be a million dollar piece, but didn’t really dwell on it for too long “
“As the auction unfolded, the crowd was absolutely quiet and electric and as the price told, it was clear how special of a find this was; the table, except for hardware, looked as if it had been tucked away in the back of a barn and forgotten. I did not sleep until 4 am that night and felt the whole experience was surreal.”
Vying for the piece were Albert Sack of Israel Sack, Inc., New York City, Bill Samaha, under bidder at $1 million, and Wayne Pratt of Woodbury, Conn. Gorzocoski felt, “The sale proves small auction houses with a special piece, if presented correctly, can do as well as any of the New York City leaders. This was the best piece we have ever sold and it will probably remain the best piece we will ever sell.”
The buyer, Albert Sack, replied, ” Examples of Philadelphia School furniture are replete with masterpieces, usually high boys, desks, and the like, but there are only a handful of masterpieces like this one. The form is superb, the finish, gorgeous. The original unblemished rose-head nails are all present; there is perfect oxidation and no additional blocking. You turned the piece over and were afraid to look for another 10 seconds.”
Sack said, “I was flipping through the paper (Antiques and The Arts Weekly), and was looking at the images in each ad and did not see anything really of interest, but Ken Miller’s ad (page 81; June 1) caught my eye as I read the first line telling the table was released late by the heirs and no image was available. Immediately, I said, ‘We’re going for a ride’, and off we went to Northfield, Mass.
This is such an incredible example of the scope of the American field and competes with the great art of France and England. I have 67 years of seeing behind me and have had so many great gems, not mediocre pieces but true jewels- this is certainly one of them.”