Published: February 1, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Stair Galleries
HUDSON, N.Y. – A total of 254 lots comprising the private collection of Dr Wynn A. Sayman and Dr Elizabeth F. Sayman crossed the block at Stair Galleries on January 19. An English polychromed creamware “Green Tea” teapot and cover stole the show, bringing $12,800. It sold to a US private collector, and there was competition with the UK trade as well. The unmarked teapot measured 5¾ by 8¼ by 4½ inches.
“Out of the 254-lot sale, only two lots failed to find buyers, with more than half of the sale selling above the high estimate,” said Lauren Anderson, Stair’s director of exposition sales, who curated the auction “We also saw an increase in new buyers with more than 180 phone bids executed and strong participation from the internet. I don’t think we’ll see another collection of this caliber for a long time. The Saymans both had a wonderful eye for special objects.”
The sale total was $383,753 with 122 registered bidders. Stair followed Sayman the next day with Old World New York: A Collection from the Dakota with a sale total of $475,370 and 132 registered bidders in which only one lot failed to find a buyer. “This sale was almost exclusively bought by private collectors, rounding out a successful week at Stair,” said Anderson.
The Saymans of Richmond, Mass., were well-respected physicians, parents and community members, as well as English ceramics collectors. In 1980, they began Wynn A. Sayman Antiques specializing in Eighteenth Century English ceramics and traveled across the United States to antiques shows to promote the business. The name became well known in ceramics circles as a guarantee of quality and connoisseurship. “The sale was a nice surprise,” said Anderson. “It was a nice testament to their collecting, and we saw both trade and private interest.”
Stair traveled to the Saymans’ home in Richmond. “A beautiful Nineteenth Century country farmhouse. It was wonderful and idyllic, and you could see that they lived such a nice life” said Anderson.
The second highest selling teapot in the sale was an English polychrome creamware example, again unmarked but exuberantly presenting lively red, green and blue decoration, with a red spout seemingly emerging from a vegetal form and a crisscross green strap handle anchored by floral motifs. Measuring 5¼ by 7¼ by 3-7/8 inches, it was propelled by 44 bids to a final price of $10,240, far above its $300/500 estimate.
The collection included a variety of forms, individual pieces and services. Also fetching $10,240 was a Neale & Co. puce decorated creamware part service comprising six pieces, including a pair of melon-form tureens with impressed marks and covers on fixed stands, a larger melon-form sauce tureen on fixed stand, ladle and a pair of plates. The larger tureen and cover was 5¼ by 10 by 7 inches. Shell-edged wares and other enameled rim-decorated wares in turquoise, puce or black, often embellished with a central transfer-printed panel, constituted a sizable portion of the decoration on creamware produced by the Neale pottery.
Three Chelsea porcelain silver shape oval dishes also outperformed, rising from a $1/1,500 estimate on 34 bids to finish at $9,225. With painted iron red anchor mark, the trio comprised two dishes decorated with flowers and another decorated with birds. Each measured 8¼ by 6½ inches.
For the same amount, a bidder won an exuberantly decorated Staffordshire glazed earthenware “Cauliflower'” coffee pot and cover. The unmarked piece, estimated at $800-$1,200, measured 8¼ by 7¾ by 4½ inches.
Also unmarked was a Staffordshire white salt glazed earthenware quatrefoil teapot and cover, 5½ by 7½ by 3½ inches, that was bid to $7,995.
With rich green ground and measuring 5 by 7¼ by 4¼ inches, a Staffordshire salt glazed stoneware spherical teapot and cover, unmarked, also took $7,995. A spray of colorful blue and red blossoms decorated its central lozenge. It had minor wear with some abrasions and losses to the decoration. The cover finial had minor nicks, as well as the rim and spout, which showed small areas of restoration. That was no deterrent to it surpassing its $800-$1,200 estimate to go into a new collection.
A single Chelsea porcelain flower dish forming a handled leaf with large blossom featuring orange edging and lavender center, unmarked, brought $7,040.
The Bow porcelain factory (active circa 1747-64 and closed in 1776) was an emulative rival of the Chelsea porcelain factory in the manufacture of early soft-paste porcelain in Great Britain. Like its rival Chelsea, the company catered for the luxury end of the market and produced figural pieces known for their warm, creamy bodies and glaze tending towards ivory. This sale featured two choice examples among the top sellers, the first being a white glazed porcelain figure of Kitty Clive, unmarked at 10 by 7 by 6½ inches, realizing $4,920. Catalog notes state that the rare figure of Kitty Clive is dressed as Mrs Riot from David Garrick’s farce “Lethe.” Clive appeared in this role in 1749 at Drury Lane. The figure is modeled after a mezzotint by Charles Mosley after a drawing by Thomas Worlidge published in 1750 and is considered one of the earliest full-length portrait figures in English porcelain. Kitty Clive spent her later years living on Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill estate.
Another Bow figurine earned $4,480. It portrayed an actor, Dr Boloardo, after the Commedia Dell’arte. He stands with his right hand on his hip and his left hand raised, wearing a hat and cloak. It was unmarked and stood 6½ inches high.
A Staffordshire enameled earthenware “Speckled” teapot and cover boasted a vibrant peony flower decoration on its belly and a serpentine speckled handle. Unmarked and measuring 4¼ by 7½ by 4¼ inches, it sold for $4,612.
Among the basket category of pieces, an English creamware orange basket and cover, probably Wedgwood, left the gallery at $4,480, while an English green glazed earthenware basket and underplate and a ladle, unmarked, earned $4,160. The basket and underplate were 3½ by 12 by 10 inches, the ladle 5 inches long.
Surpassing its $600/800 estimate, a Chelsea porcelain octagonal dish with an iron red painted anchor mark, 3¼ by 8½ by 7 inches, changed hands for $3,998.
Rounding out the sale’s top 15 lots, a Staffordshire pearl glazed earthenware table base figural group, titled “A Pleasance,” with male and female musicians in a lush setting with a calico cat seated between them under a blossoming tree, garnered $3,840.
“The family was absolutely pleased with the results,” Anderson concluded. “They were very happy.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Stair’s next sale is scheduled for February 9-10, a general midweek decorative arts auction For information, www.stairgalleries.com or 518-751-1000.
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