Published: September 27, 2007
Sotheby’s announced Monday, September 24, that a circa 1755 Philadelphia mahogany tilt-top piecrust tea table valued at between $2 million and $6 million will be a highlight of its Americana Week sales in January. The table will go on view in Sotheby’s main lobby, a first-time honor for American furniture, at 10 am on Saturday, September 29, prior to Sotheby’s October 4 Americana sale.
Coincidentally, the centerpiece of Christie’s October 3 sale, a Philadelphia mahogany tilt-top piecrust tea table estimated at $2/3 million, will also be on public view from September 29 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center showrooms, enabling collectors to view both examples.
“We decided to sell in October because we have three amazing pieces that we wanted to showcase together,” said Christie’s deputy chairman John Hays, whose firm is also selling a Philadelphia carved open armchair attributed to Thomas Affleck and a matching Queen Anne high chest and dressing table.
Though the piecrust tables came from different consignors, both descended in branches of the Fox Family of Philadelphia. Both have elaborate carving attributed to the Garvan Carver. Christie’s table is a new discovery. Sotheby’s table has long been known from William MacPherson Hornor’s 1935 Blue Book Philadelphia Furniture , where it is illustrated as Plate 223. Hornor called the piece “The Acme of Perfection in American Piecrust Tables.”
Sotheby’s specialists Leslie Keno and Erik Gronning drove the table back to New York after a deal was signed over the weekend. Both houses competed for the tables.
“I’ve been looking at that table my whole life in the pages of Hornor,” Keno said by phone Monday. “When I walked into the room and finally saw it, I understood. It truly is the acme of perfection. We are honored and ecstatic to represent the family.”
Sotheby’s is calling its table “the most fully-developed example of its kind.” A highly figured ten-segmented top surmounts a tripod base overlaid with 21 C-scrolls and rich organic carving.
Said Keno, “Its scale is grand, the top is of the best quality striped mahogany and the carving is incredibly crisp. The table has survived in remarkable condition.”
Keno said the broad estimate, $2/6 million, was consistent with the $2/5 million estimate Sotheby’s gave the Nicholas Brown tea table, auctioned for a record $8.4 million in January 2005. The auction record for Philadelphia furniture, set in 1990, is $4.6 million for the Thomas Tufft tea table, which has a rectangular top and a pierced skirt.
“It is a remarkable coincidence that these two tables will be coming up within months of each other. The market is big enough to absorb them both. Incredible masterpieces achieve the highest levels,” said Keno.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm