Published: January 3, 2023
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Richard Opfer Auctioneering
TIMONIUM, MD. – Richard Opfer Auctioneering conducted its online Annual Egg Nog auction on December 15, which included estate silver and jewelry, fine art and decorative arts and other categories. There were more than 400 lots offered, with a heavy emphasis on tableware and serving ware. The total for the auction was $285,440, with a buy-through rate of nearly 100 percent. Bidders were a mix of collectors and dealers, many of whom were local to surrounding states, and others who were participating from Canada and overseas.
The top lot of the sale was a seasonal special of the rare books category. An 1843 edition of A Christmas Carol from Chapman & Hall with original illustrations by John Leech (1817-1864) achieved $14,950 over its $300/500 estimate. Written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and published in December 1843, A Christmas Carol revitalized the public conception of the holiday, and Leech’s illustrations provided the production design blueprint for hundreds of adaptations that are still being produced each year.
Sterling silver was the dominant currency of this auction. Each silver lot sold for over its estimated outcome, sometimes multiplying the estimate. The first of these was a sterling coffee service composed of six hand-chased pieces, some featuring fruit finals and others with figural animal head spouts. Each piece of the set showed a different scene, including a teapot with a boy pulling a girl on a sled, a covered sugar bowl with canoers and a creamer of a woman in front of a cabin. The set was made by Kirk & Son of Baltimore, Md., and is credited with introducing the American market to a chased floral repoussé pattern for silverware that is still known as “Baltimore silver.” The highest priced tea set of the sale was bid to $10,455.
Another coffee and tea service like this from the Schofield Company (1903-77), also known as the Baltimore Silversmiths Manufacturing Company, also did well in the sale at $7,995. The five-piece set showed matching chased repoussé castle scenes with a custom embossed “ECR” monogram, rams’ head handles and foliate finials. Schofield was best known for its Baltimore Rose flatware pattern.
The second highest silver lot was a sterling coffee service tray that was historically related to the Kirk & Son set; in 1979, the latter company was purchased by the Stieff Company, which renamed itself Kirk Stieff. Also showing a repoussé border and handles, the tray was stamped “Hand Chased/1000” with no monogram and a normal amount of wear. Bidding started at $750 and closed with just one more bid, surpassing its estimate to $8,610. Repoussé sterling from Baltimore makers was clearly in high demand, as a pair of Jenkins & Jenkins covered dishes in a floriate pattern also bid to $3,690.
Fine art was also favored in the Egg Nog auction. The category was led by a Nineteenth Century French bronze of Duchoiselle’s “Native American Brave in Canoe” that achieved $4,613. The bronze is an example of multiple forms of the subject for which the artist is known. An oil on canvas painting of George Washington laid down on Masonite sold for $4,305. The catalog distinguishes this painting from overpainted prints that were produced in the 1880s by citing the plaque on its frame, attributing it to Leon Cogniet (French, 1794-1880).
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Bidding closes for Richard Opfer’s Timed Online Only Estate Auction on January 19. For information, www.opferauction.com or 410-252-5035.
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