Published: September 24, 2019
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Leland Little Auctions
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – Leland Little Auctions offered its Important Fall Auction September 21 and it did not disappoint. The sale was anchored by a notable selection of Southern offerings – in antique furniture from along the Eastern seaboard including North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland to paintings from Claude Howell, Louis Mignot and Herb Jackson. The sale would gross $1,591,907.
President and principal auctioneer Leland Little told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “It was a pleasure to see interest across all categories. Sometimes certain categories develop and others don’t, and what I saw – which I am grateful for – from our wine to the antiques, specifically even our brown furniture, to the jewelry and the modern art, the glass to the silver, jumping from department to department, we had at the very least stability and at the most strength and encouragement.”
The auction was led by a group of five Arts and Crafts lights made by Ohio craftsman Dard Hunter (1883-1966) for the Roycroft Inn that sold after 103 bids for $94,000 to a private buyer. The lights – a three light hanging fixture, two cylindrical shades and a pair of square copper-topped light fixtures – were of copper frames with cut out and applied white metal swirl decoration in green and lavender stained glass panels. The group came from the collection of Mary Wells, an antiques collector who worked for years staging store displays while amassing a considerable personal collection. Leland Little offered her single owner collection of advertising and Americana in August. She had reportedly acquired these in Pennsylvania over 25 years ago. Part of the Roycroft Campus, the inn opened in 1904 as a hotel with a restaurant and lobby bar. Dard Hunter was foremost an authority in paper, printing and papermaking in low-batch handmade techniques.
“They are just flat out rare,” Little said. “Typically things like that, those that do well, also speak to historical significance for that genre.”
Southern furniture carried some exclamation points, including a Queen Anne walnut carved tea table that sold for $57,000 on a $10,000 high estimate. The piece sold to a private buyer. Leland Little said the work dated to the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century and hailed from Southern Virginia or Northeastern North Carolina. It had a one-board molded top with overhang and notched corners, a shaped and scalloped skirt with center relief carved shell, the upper leg with molded corner above a turned and tapered lower leg terminating in ball and claw feet.
“It was early – Eighteenth Century,” Little said. “It was a very rare form and that does not come to market often. The execution and gracefulness would be classified as excellent. This was a work of art that the cabinetmaker was capable of creating. The visual lines were very appealing. And this unit had those beautiful slender turned and tapered legs terminating in the diminutive ball and claw feet. Topped with the drop carved fans and the notched corners. So it really came together nicely. It was also fresh to the market, coming from a Caswell County historic home, where it had been in the family for hundreds of years. So when you have things coming to market for the first time, it’s always exciting for those collectors.”
At $11,000 was a Federal mahogany serpentine sideboard from the early Nineteenth Century, either Virginia or Maryland. It featured an old pencil inscription to the underside that read “B. Brummond.”
Twenty-seven lots in the sale hailed from a private southern collection of furniture, fine art, rifles and accessories. Little said the consignor was a friend he had known for 20 years and the family was downsizing. Top among them was a carved ceremonial armchair, which brought $13,000 above a $5,000 estimate. The chair was from Eastern seaboard Virginia or North Carolina, circa 1780-1800. Another southern Federal mahogany sideboard, this one from Virginia with inlaid drawers, went out at $10,000. Also fetching $10,000 was a Virginia Federal inlaid walnut desk and bookcase attributed to the Shenandoah Valley, circa 1800-10; and at $9,000 was a Federal inlaid walnut corner cupboard from Harrison County, Virginia, now Marion County, West Virginia, circa 1800, and attributed to the workshop of Jacob Shinn. The collection would gross $85,100.
“We saw strength in southern inlaid furniture – we had a North Carolina sideboard in March that brought $25,000. We had inlaid pieces here that also did well, so I’m seeing that market sustaining, there’s still demand, collectors and appreciation.”
In fine art, a pastel on card street scene by German artist Lesser Ury (1861-1931) led the way at $42,000. Ury was associated with the Berlin Secession. North Carolina artist Claude Howell (1915-1997) caught two works in the top results: “Trawlers,” a 29½-by-19½-inch oil on canvas from 1953 that brought $16,000 and “Currituck Sound,” a 37¼-by-51-inch oil on canvas that took $15,000.
For additional information, www.lelandlittle.com or 919-644-1243.
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