Published: September 6, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Catalog Photos Courtesy Northeast Auction
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Northeast’s Summer Weekend sale, August 20–21, drew good-sized crowds both days, hoping to take home a variety of merchandise that included a large collection of historical blue Staffordshire, good American furniture, historical ephemera and prints, items of New Hampshire interest, Chinese Export porcelain, marine paintings, prisoner of war models and Ralph Cahoon paintings. The sale was under a tent and the setting could not have been better. Gross sales for the two-day event were $2,317,000.
The weekend started off with 134 lots of historical blue Staffordshire from the collection of Chester Creutzburg and David Martin. It was the final portion of the collection: the first part was sold in March of this year. Both collectors were present at the sale, chatting with friends and dealers. They had started collecting about 30 years ago and their interests focused on American views, especially those with eagles.
“After the first few years, we realized there were only so many views with eagles and we had to expand our collection to include the great people, inventions, happenings, buildings, battles, ships and cities that evolved from about 1795–1860,” they said. The collection included several rarities and some pieces that may be unique. While most of the pieces were in very fine condition, Creutzburg said, “Sometimes we had to compromise on condition to get examples of the very rare things.”
The top grossing lot of their collection, bringing $15,600, was a Ralph Stevenson and Sons jug, circa 1825-27, “Four Medallions, Erie Canal View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Little Falls and the Entrance to the Canal at Albany.” A teacup and saucer, cataloged as “possibly unique,” depicting the Great Seal of the United States, with the image appearing four times on the cup and once on the saucer, went to dealer in the room for $3,240, and a rare child’s mug with the great seal and a portrait of George Washington went to another dealer in the room for $5,640.
Many of the pieces in the collection included Bill and Teresa Kurau in the provenance, and they bought back several of the items they had sold to the collectors, along with other pieces. They were also major buyers when the first part of the collection was sold. After the sale, Creutzburg told Antiques and the Arts Weekly, “I’m satisfied. We lost money on some of the common items but we did OK on the rare stuff.” The collection grossed $166,560. Dennis Berard, Dennis and Dad Antiques, Fitzwilliam, N.H., bought some of the rare items. One was the George Washington child’s mug mentioned above. He said, “I’m really glad to get the mug. It is very rare, and now I have mugs with Washington, Adams and Jefferson — the first three presidents.”
Later in the sale, several lots of Chinese Export porcelain, much of it armorial, crossed the block. The top selling piece of the selection was an orange Fitzhugh oval platter, 14½ inches wide, decorated with a variation of the Great Seal of the United States. The spread-winged eagle held a purple-edged banner inscribed “E Pluribus Unum,” as well as arrows and laurel branches. There were four phone bidders competing, and one paid $10,500. It had belonged to the late dealer Elinor Gordon and brought over $18,000 when Sotheby’s sold her collection in 2010. A cup and saucer with the Great Seal realized $2,880, more than four times its estimate.
According to Chet and Sandy Cluthe, who have collected American market Chinese Export porcelain for more than 30 years, there are only about 12 American armorials and a rare pair of plates bearing the arms of Elias Boudinot was offered in this auction. Boudinot was a member of the Continental Congress from New Jersey and served as President of Congress in 1782–83. He was appointed Director of the US Mint by George Washington and served for ten years. His pair of plates earned $2,880, perhaps held back because of condition issues. A blue Fitzhugh basin was described in the catalog as “clobbered.” Ron Bourgeault explained the term, telling the audience that when blue and white Canton fell out of favor, many Chinese merchants had large inventories of it. Enterprising merchants sometimes repainted those pieces with newly popular colors, and this one had been done with famille-rose enamel coloring over the original glaze and then been refired. The brightly colored piece sold for $2,760.
Not surprisingly, there were several items of New Hampshire interest and several local collectors, dealers and museums were among the bidders. Gerry Ward, consulting curator for the Portsmouth Historical Society, added a rare Portsmouth sampler to its Sawtelle collection of Portsmouth samplers. That collection, on display at the society’s John Paul Jones House, includes about 30 samplers covering the period from 1741 to 1840, most of which were included in the 1996 book, revised in 2009, on the collection, In Female Worth and Elegance.
Ward said, “It was made by Henrietta Cutter of Portsmouth in 1821 and it is an example from a local needlework school. We’re glad to get it and it will be on display, along with the others.” It pictures a landscape with a brick house, trees, shrubs, birds and a dog, includes a verse, and it sold for $1,800.
A Portsmouth Federal mahogany and bird’s-eye maple veneered, serpentine-front chest of drawers, on baluster turned legs, circa 1800, realized $13,800, and two pieces of white-paint decorated furniture attributed to Judkins and Senter of Portsmouth each sold for $600. A rare engraved silver cann, by Nathaniel Morse, an early Boston silversmith, made for the Sherbourne family of Portsmouth, went to a local collector for $8,800. Paintings of New Hampshire interest included two White Mountain paintings by Benjamin Champney (1817–1907). A scene depicting “Artist’s Brook in North Conway,” reached $7,920 while a view of “Mt. Kearsarge from Artist’s Brook,” signed and dated 1856, went for $19,800. The New Hampshire collector who bought the second one said he was influenced by the fact that it had been included in a 1997 exhibit of Champney’s works at the Museum of New Hampshire History.
There may not have been any six-figure pieces of furniture in this sale, but there was some very nice furniture, with several pieces from Salem finding new homes. A set of six shield-back mahogany Federal period dining chairs, with backs carved by Samuel McIntire, achieved $33,000. The carving included a center urn, drapery swags, laurel or olive leaves, wheat stalks and a rayed sunburst. A detail of a chair-back with identical carving is illustrated in Dean Lahikainen’s Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style.
A Chippendale reverse serpentine-front chest of drawers, attributed to William King, Salem area, made $42,000. A circa 1770 carved Chippendale lowboy from Salem, with a fan carved center drawer and shaped apron, earned $29,400, and a rare inlaid mahogany pole screen with candle shelf, with its original flame-turned and gilded finial, brought $19,200. Furniture from other regions was included. A Pennsylvania Chippendale lowboy, with a center drawer carved with an elaborate shell and streamers, drew $9,000 from a phone bidder, and a Connecticut serpentine-front four-drawer chest on ogee bracket feet brought $9,900. A pair of Federal period inlaid card tables from Newburyport, each with the paper label of Joseph Short, ended up at $7,200. An unusual New Hampshire 8-foot-long birch drop-leaf harvest table went out for $16,200.
August sales at Northeast include a varied selection of marine paintings and other objects. This year, there was a wonderful group of carved prisoner-of-war models, led by a cased, fully rigged, polychrome-painted bone model of a 56-gun ship-of-the-line, which reached $12,000. A carved bone, two-tier guillotine automaton with a sliding blade and a lady victim, finished at $7,500, while a very elaborate carved and polychromed nine-figure spinning jenny with a crank-operated mechanism, sold for $9,600. Bourgeault termed it “the best I’ve ever seen.”
Marine paintings included a portrait of the paddlewheel steamer St. Johns of New York, signed and dated A. Jacobsen, 1880. The 36-inch-wide oil on canvas went for $30,000, while a slightly smaller portrait of the American packet-ship George Hurlbut, signed and dated by Jacobsen, 1918, went for $6,600 to an absentee bidder. Two Ralph Cahoon paintings with cavorting mermaids and buildings were sold. One brought $30,000, and the other brought $31,200.
Ryan Cooper, artist and marine arts dealer from Yarmouth Port, Mass., discussed his thoughts on the current state of market for marine arts. “The market is holding its own. As with other facets of the Americana field, some segments are stronger than others. The prisoner-of-war models, especially of the quality of the ones in this sale, are strong. Cased ship models, and most other models, are soft. Half hull models are coming back, and the better paintings by the better artists are strong.”
Folk art included Bellamy and other carved eagles, paintings and weathervanes. A 26-inch “Don’t Give Up The Ship” eagle plaque by John Bellamy led the category, realizing $18,000, while a 64½-inch carved eagle plaque, also by Bellamy, reached $7,800. A charming watercolor portrait of a woman in a black dress with lace collar and bonnet by noted Canadian folk artist Thomas MacDonald (1774–1862) realized $10,080. A basswood dome top document box, with a version of the Great Seal of the United States painted on the top, with the initials “AB” on the front earned $12,600. It was believed to have been made in the Albany, N.Y., area and had been in several prominent collections, including the Fendelman collection and the Barry Cohen collection.
Two important early American prints went to museums. A 1781 engraving by Amos Doolittle (1754–1832), “America Memorializing the Revolutionary War,” circa 1781, sold for $10,500 and a hand-colored mezzotint depicting the tarred and feathered British customs officer John Malcolm, in Boston, being forced to drink tea, reached $11,100. It was titled “A New Method of Macarony Making Practiced at Boston,” printed in 1774.
The grouping of historical documents included three lots relating to Dudley Saltonstall, who led the disastrous Penobscot Expedition in 1779. That was a 44-ship naval task force, with 1,000 soldiers, with the assignment of reclaiming mid-coast Maine which had fallen under British control. It turned out to be America’s worst naval disaster until Pearl Harbor as all 44 ships were lost. Saltonstall was court-martialed and dismissed from the service. The material offered at Northeast included documents relating to the court martial, a 1779 map of the battle and an extensive archive of about 120 manuscripts relating to Saltonstall. Collectively, the material sold for $7,320. Saltonstall’s naval commission, signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, sold separately at $8,400.
The sale included four lots of occupational shaving mugs, three of which, each having four mugs, sold at $480 or less. One lot of three included a mug, which, for a name, was identified only as belonging to “Ike The Jew.” It depicted a baseball game and the lot of three sold for $2,640. The underbidder in the room said, “I really should have gone higher — it’s very rare.” “Ike” was Ike Davis, who was the starting shortstop for the 1925 Chicago White Sox. It was bought by Jim Glazer, Bailey Island, Maine, bidding on the phone.
After the sale Ron Bourgeault said, “It was a good sale with a good gross. I’m glad that some of the real rare things went to museums. The preview for this sale was ten days long to make it easy for folks in New Hampshire for Antiques Week to see the stuff. I really enjoyed having that long a preview. It gave me the chance to catch up with old friends, make some new ones and talk about antiques in a leisurely fashion. I can’t do that at the three-day previews that we normally do.” When asked to comment on rumors concerning his retirement, his response was emphatic and definitive: “I’ll never retire. I may cut back some, but retire? Never. I’m having much too much fun.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, 603-433-8400 or www.northeastauctions.com.
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