Published: September 6, 2011
It was an auspicious sign when the first lot of the two-day sale August 11‱2 at John McInnis Auctions brought a robust $86,250. That lot was the 1916 oil on canvas “Some Man and a Lady,” a scene of a man supplicating a woman in a deck chair aboard ship by Dean Cornwell. The painting was an illustration for a story that appeared in the December 30 edition of Saturday Evening Post that year. One bidder came all the way from Florida to view it, but it went to the New England trade on the phone.
The sale marked McInnis’s 30th year as an auction house †John McInnis himself had another ten years working for his father, longtime auctioneer and dealer Donald McInnis. His own children are usually front and center, but only daughter Callie was on hand for this sale.
A Nineteenth Century or early Twentieth Century Italian picture depicting a beautiful young girl with a turkey by Neapolitan artist Vincenzo Irolli came from a Florida collection and sold on the phone for $15,525.
Several other paintings blew away their estimates. A case in point was “The Antique Dress,” an oil on canvas by Marguerite Stuber Pearson that at $4,140 was four times the high estimate. “Summer in New England” by William Lester Stevens garnered $2,875. A still life with an Indian basket of pink roses by California artist Edith White was dated 1902 and sold above estimate for $2,300. “Springtime in the Hills” by Walter Sargent was also above estimate at $2,300, as was his oil on canvas board “Forest Interior” that sold for $1,035.
A French gilt-bronze figure of “Caesar Crossing the Rubicon” by Jean-Leon Gerome was signed and bore the stamp of Paris foundry F. Barbedienne. It had an estimate of $2/4,000 and sold for $6,900.
Richly carved with figures and foliage, a massive 48-inch Chinese rosewood table with a marble top marked with Chinese characters on the bottom raced past the estimated $3/5,000, selling for $46,000 to one of some 500 registered Internet bidders.
Other Chinese lots of interest sold easily: a large pair of Chinese famille rose porcelain vases with mask and ring handles sold in the gallery for $4,600, and a monumental (36 inches) pair of glazed foo lions with applied inscriptions sold for $4,140 to a Chinese dealer in the gallery. A fierce looking pair of late Qing dynasty gilt-bronze foo dogs drew $1,150.
Two Nineteenth Century Chinese jade carvings attracted attention and excellent money †a 5½-inch white jade carving with figures brought $5,750, while a spinach jade vase carved with flowers and fruit and a bird and vine design sold for $4,140. A Chinese jade carving of four cats in a basket was more than double the high estimate at $1,150.
A pair of Eighteenth Century Chinese Export oval platters bearing the arms of the Coolidge family of Boston drew $2,875, while a Twentieth Century carp bowl with an interior polychrome decoration of goldfish was $2,185, and a Twentieth Century pair of Chinese rice bowls with floral decoration and a red mark sold for $1,495.
Despite its missing lid, a Chinese stoneware tea jar of the late Qing period decorated with a blue design realized $211. A low porcelain bowl decorated with peaches brought $2,300.
An Internet buyer took a Twentieth Century Chinese parcel-gilt-bronze figure of Bodhisattva for $1,725.
Several very special Japanese objects were stars. A beautiful Japanese silver filigree vase with exquisite translucent repousse enamel decoration by Hiratsuka Mohei, circa 1885, brought $11,150 from a phone bidder, while a Japanese ivory netsuke in the form of a winged female deity went to an Internet buyer for $8,050.
One lot comprising three Japanese porcelains †a blue and white tea jar, a cup decorated with a warrior and an enameled vase †opened at $500 and sold to a phone buyer for $2,875.
Letters and other documents stirred interest. A 1795 certificate of election of Boston patriot Thomas Dawes to the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences bore the signatures of John Adams, Joseph Willard, Eliphalet Pearson and Benjamin Dearborn. It realized $4,600.
While the sale had very few reserves, the lots that were reserved struggled.
A 1785 framed proclamation signed by John Hancock, governor of Massachusetts, appointing Thomas Dawes as a justice of the peace was also signed by John Avery. The document, which had descended through the family, realized $2,875. A 1788 commission of Thomas Dawes as justice of the peace was also signed by Hancock and also brought $2,875.
A 1961 letter signed by Jacqueline Kennedy and accompanied by a book on the inauguration of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, had an ambitious estimate and did not sell.
European and Continental lots provided some choice offerings, with particular focus of French objects from a well-chosen Concord, Mass., collection. A pair of Sevres cassolette urns with dore mounts and painted with medallions with classical scenes and flowers on a blue ground with winged putti and horns of plenty and acanthus leaf columns brought $11,150. A late Nineteenth Century Sevres-style white porcelain group with maidens with swans and putti was unmarked but realized $3,910.
A large (57 inches) Louis XV casket on stand, circa 1750, with a stop fluted dome top was gilded and carved elaborately with acanthus leaves and berries on a molded base carved with frieze paneling on a later stand. It realized $4,025.
A Louis Philippe mahogany center table with a dished dark gray marble top on a molded base carved with acanthus leaves and scrolled knees fetched $3,450.
French Provincial furniture was represented by an early Eighteenth Century Normandy fruitwood buffet with four shelves with plate racks and two silver drawers with sawtooth inlay that elicited $3,450, while a Napoleon III garniture set with ormolu mounts and a clock above a neoclassical mount identifying the maker as “Schlesicky, Horloger de la Cour” of Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, brought $2,070.
A Louis XV-style secretaire abattant by Francois Linke had ormolu mounts and Vernis Martin decoration. It realized $4,025, as did a pair of Napoleon III ebonized vitrines with ormolu mounts. A French Regency-style mahogany recamier with swan necks along the sides sold for $3,450.
A circular stone specimen table on a Nineteenth Century Italian Regency-style rosewood base also fetched $4,025. The circular top was inlaid in a precise ray pattern of lapis, malachite and various marbles.
The Italian rococo giltwood pedestal with a marble top, acanthus leaf carving and leafy scrolls, Nineteenth Century, brought $1,955, and an early Twentieth Century pair of Florentine Revival walnut chairs carved with putti and robust openwork fetched $1,810.
Commanding $16,100 was an early Nineteenth Century Continental cabinet on stand made with elaborate bas relief, figural and floral carving and paneled double doors opening to ten drawers and paneling inlaid with mahogany, ivory and exotic woods. Meanwhile, a 69-inch Continental pair of brass floor lamps on vasiform bases with acanthus leaves drew $2,300.
An Anglo Indian rosewood two-part secretary desk with oval pinwheel carving to the upper and lower doors and a butler’s desk in the lower part sold for $2,300, and an Anglo Indian rosewood Davenport desk with a leather writing surface sold for $1,725.
Realizing $1,380 was a 10½-inch Swiss Black Forest carving of a rather cheerful looking brown bear.
A 22¼-inch Daum Nancy cameo glass vase decorated with a forested landscape and signed near the base fetched $4,025.
Tiffany quality and period, circa 1910, but no marks, a leaded glass window with brilliant colors depicting a landscape sold for $2,875. Catalog notes indicated that it was most likely from an East Coast studio.
Two Steinway pianos sounded musical notes. A 1988 “S” ebony baby grand piano with a disc player and companion bench fetched $16,100, while an 1925 “L” ebony grand piano in as-found condition realized $6,900.
One of the most interesting silver objects across the block was the Birmingham silver nutmeg grater that was marked “H&T” for Hilliard & Thomason and “J” for the year 1855 in which it was highly fashionable to possess such a bibelot. It was engraved “Agnes Clarke” and sold for $5,750.
Silver tea and coffee services were also appealing. A six-piece J.E. Caldwell of Philadelphia sterling tea and coffee service that comprised a kettle on stand, a coffee pot, a teapot, a creamer, a sugar bowl and a waste bowl sold for $4,600. A five-piece sterling coffee service sold by Bigelow, Kennard & Co. of Boston comprised a kettle on stand, a coffee pot, a creamer, a sugar bowl and a waste bowl. It realized $4,025. A 20-inch Tiffany & Co. sterling trumpet vase brought $3,450, while a Tiffany three-piece sterling coffee service was $1,725. The distinction? Troy ounces. The vase was 45 ounces and the coffee service 30.
An Eighteenth Century pair of George II sterling salvers, circa 1728, by London goldsmith John Tuite went for $2,875.
Two Nineteenth Century cast iron Indian maidens with cast lead beaded necklaces were exceptionally heavy, as attested to by those in the sale room when one fell over, realized $8,050. They had come straight from the consignor’s garden.
A full-bodied rooster weathervane had been regilded and sold for $2,875
All prices reported include the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
For more information, www.mcinnisauctions.com or 978-388-0400.
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