Published: February 5, 2008
“We had lots of interest, as witnessed by the packed salesroom, and even taking the stock market and today’s economic picture into consideration, we still saw great strength for great things,” said Leslie Keno, senior vice president and director of Sotheby’s American furniture and decorative arts department. This Important Americana sale, January 18‱9, offered 350 lots and was 70.6 percent sold by lot for a total of $10,409,192.
On Saturday morning, a one-owner sale took place (reported in the February 1 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly , page 22), the collection of Mr and Mrs George Fenimore Johnson, bringing in $3,470,253. The weekend totaled $13,879,446, including the buyer’s premium of 25 percent of the hammer price up to and including $20,000, 20 percent of any amount above $20,000 up to and including $500,000, and 12 percent of any amount over $500,000. The prices quoted here include the buyer’s premium.
The sale began on Friday with silver, an owl-form wine cooler, probably from South America and dating from the mid-Twentieth Century. It was 15¼ inches high, lift off head, yellow and black glass eyes, and sold for the low estimate at $5,000. Fifty-four lots later, an American silver “Bacchus” punch bowl, the design attributed to Eugene J. Soligny, Tiffany & Co., New York, circa 1875, sold for $121,000 against a high estimate of $100,000. The circular base was raised on tall paw feet headed by lion masks, with two fully modeled heads of Bacchus linked by applied grapevine. The overall length from handle to handle was 251/8 inches.
A Chinese Export wall sconce, circa 1740, 21½ inches high, painted with two bearded figures, both wearing long robes and one holding a flower basket, had a high estimate of $18,000 and sold for $49,000. John James Audubon was well represented with the hand colored engraving with etching and aquatint by R. Havell, 1838, of the common American swan (plate CCCCXI), selling for $61,000, double the high presale estimate.
On Saturday afternoon, a rare William and Mary maple slat back armchair, Philadelphia, attributed to Solomon Fussell, circa 1740, 46 inches high with what appeared to be the original finish, went for $43,000, just over the low estimate. An English large slipware mug, dark brown with white slip and the initials MC and dated 1789, went for $11,250.
The first fabric lot was a painted and stenciled homespun linen bed cover, Lucy Vilas, Windham, Conn., circa 1830, with trees bearing fruit in the center panel, surrounded by vines and clusters of purple grapes, 85 by 86 inches; it went for $37,000. It was followed by another Connecticut lot, a set of four Queen Anne cherrywood compass seat chairs, circa 1760, from Wethersfield. They appear to retain the original surface and slip seats and sold for $55,000 to Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn.
There was a good deal of competition for a set of three portraits by Aaron Deal Fletcher (1817‱902), including a little girl in dress with red heart locket, kitten and dog, dark-haired mother in lace collar, and young father in frock coat. They appeared to retain the original stretchers, modern frames, and measured 35½ by 26 inches, 26¾ by 26½ inches, and 27 by 26¼ inches. With a high estimate of $8,000, the portraits sold for $34,000.
Thomas Chambers’ view of the Constitution in New York Harbor with Castle Gardens in the background, oil on panel, 15 by 23½ inches, went over the high estimate of $25,000, selling for $43,000. It was followed by a large carved mahogany patriotic cookie mold, attributed to J. Conger, New York, circa 1830. Rectangular in shape, 19 by 37 inches, the center portion featured a portrait of George Washington under a large spread-winged eagle. The outer border of swags was engraved with the names of the 13 original states.
The Dawes-Morris family set of six Chippendale carved walnut side chairs, school of William Savery, Philadelphia, circa 1760, sold to C.L. Prickett of Yardley, Penn., for $193,000, well under the $300,000 presale estimate. The Pricketts were also the buyers of the next lot, the James family Chippendale carved and figured mahogany chest-on-chest, attributed to Thomas Affleck, Philadelphia, circa 1775. The piece appears to retain its original cartouche, surface and hardware and measures 93½ inches tall. The final bid was $337,000, in the middle of the $200/600,000 presale estimate.
Dealer David Wheatcroft bought the only Jacob Maentel in the sale, a portrait of a handsome dark-haired young man in black coat with black top hat in hand, watercolor on paper, 13½ by 10½ inches. It sold for $8,750, within estimate. A few lots later, Wheatcroft also bought a pair of family records.
A carved and painted figure of Jenny Lind, attributed to John Mason, Boston, circa 1851, was well displayed at the front of the saleroom for all to see and examine. This ship’s figurehead, discovered in a barn in 1994, measured 66 inches tall and carried a presale estimate of $100/150,000. It was pictured in the January 25 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly and sold for $121,000.
One of the largest pieces of case furniture, a Chippendale carved and figured walnut chest-on-chest, Pennsylvania, possibly Lancaster County, circa 1790, sold over the $20,000 high estimate for $34,000. It measured 93¾ inches high, 45 inches wide and 22½ inches deep.
Among the folk art pieces was a cobalt blue decorated salt glazed stoneware crock, Nineteenth Century, J. Norton & Co, Bennington, Vt., that sold just under the low estimate at $3,438. It was decorated with a schoolhouse with flag on top and flanked by two trees. A rare stamped tin “Harwood Patent” horse pull toy, Merriam Manufacturing Company, Durham, Conn., circa 1875, 8 inches tall, yellow painted surface, sold for $8,125 to C.L. Prickett. A bidder in the third row was successful getting a rare red-painted tin octagonal tray, probably Pennsylvania, circa 1830, for $7,188. The rim was outlined in yellow with flower and leafage. It measures 6¾ by 85/8 inches.
A pieced and appliqué cotton Masonic quilt, initialed C.H.F., Tennessee, and dated 1885, 25 squares with Masonic symbols, 87 inches square, sold for $20,000. Lot 235 was the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard family Queen Anne figured mahogany tray top tea table, Goddard-Townsend School, Newport, R.I., circa 1760. With a high estimate of $60,000, it sold for $67,000.
A number of pieces of furniture were sold for the estate of J. Wells Henderson, including a rare Federal inlaid and figured mahogany work table, Oliver Parsell, New Brunswick, N.J., circa 1805. It appears to retain the original hardware and a label in the top drawer reads “Oliver Parsell, cabinet maker, Church Street, New Brunswick.” It measures 28¾ inches high, 19 inches wide and 14 inches deep, lists both John Walton and Israel Sack in the provenance, and sold for $31,000, with a high estimate of $15,000.
A rare Chippendale carved and figured mahogany bonnet top high chest of drawers, Salem Mass., circa 1770, with original hardware and finials, 65½ inches high, sold for $193,000, just under the low estimate. Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of Margaret Galbraith, oil on canvas painted circa 1780, 26 by 20¾ inches, sold to a Connecticut dealer for $37,000.
“The folk art objects in the sale went well, with no big surprises, but buyers were after good, solid things,” Nancy Druckman, head of the folk art department, said. And among the things that sold about where expected was a large molded copper rooster weathervane, American, circa 1880, 85 inches tall, including the directionals, and 50 inches wide. This version of the rooster, crowing with its head thrown back, came from a barn in New Haven and lists Fred Giampietro in the provenance. It fell within estimate at $121,000.
A Chippendale carved and figured mahogany five-legged games table, shop of Marinus Willett and Jonathan Pearsee, New York, circa 1765, sold for $277,000, within the estimate. According to tradition, this piece descended in the Delancey family of New York and Philadelphia, and then went through the shops of Israel Sack and David Stockwell. It was advertised by David Stockwell in the February 1973 issue of The Magazine Antiques .
A rare Chippendale figured mahogany diminutive serpentine front chest of drawers, probably by Felix Huntington, Norwich, Conn., circa 1790, sold for $121,000. It retains the original hardware and measures 32 inches high, 33¼ case width, 37½ inches wide top and 21 inches deep.
Among the decoys in the sale was a rare pair of hen and drake pintails, Midwestern, circa 1920, in a folky upright position with elongated necks and detailed bills. With untouched surface, the pair sold for $169,000, more than double the high estimate of $70,000.
The last high-priced piece of furniture in the sale was the William Ellery Chippendale block and shell carved and figured mahogany kneehole dressing table attributed to Edmund Townsend, Newport, R.I., circa 1760. With the original hardware, and a presale estimate of $750,000․1.5 million, it sold for $937,000.
All of the auction prices are available at www.sothebys.com . For information, 212-606-7000.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm