Published: July 28, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Inc.
THOMASTON, MAINE — Kaja Veilleux prefers to sell to a live audience, to have one-on-one interaction with bidders he can see and, in many cases, from whom he can coax additional bids. Online bidding often prevents that connection, so he was initially apprehensive about selling to an empty room. “We’ve never done it that way. I like having a live audience, but once I got into the rhythm the sale went really smoothly. It took a little longer than usual to sell the sale but our buyers really came through via absentee, phone and online bidding. I’m very pleased with the end result.”
He has reason to be upbeat. Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ two-day “Summer Bounty Part One” auction July 18-19 raked in just north of $1.5 million in sales, a figure that at press time was slowly climbing with post-auction sales. Of the 1,019 lots offered, less than ten percent were passed, a rate Veilleux deemed miniscule. He noted new bidders as well as new buyers, selling online through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and Thomaston Place’s proprietary platform, all in addition to phone and absentee bidding.
The first day of sales presented more than 550 lots of things made before and including the Nineteenth Century, from any part of the world. This session saw competitive bidding across all categories, most of the top prices in the sale, and a few surprises as well.
“The Mather Brown piece was a real surprise. The furniture was really strong, including American and European period furniture. The Roman sculpture also did really well.”
Veilleux was referring to a reverse-painted glass panel probably by Mather Brown (English / American, 1761-1831) depicting the “Delivery of the Definitive Treaty by the Hostage Princes into the hands of Lord Cornwallis” that soared past its $6/8,000 estimate to sell to an online bidder for $84,000, the top price achieved in the sale. It was from a Dark Harbor, Maine, estate that had come in on an appraisal day but “we knew it was really great when it came in,” Veilleux said. “The family had no restrictions and we were able to put a low estimate on it.”
A 50-inch-tall full-length Roman marble statue of Asclepius that was dated from the First or Second Century CE, or later, went to a phone buyer for $23,400. It had been consigned by a private Boston collector and exceeded presale expectations. That same price was paid for a pair of Chinese demilune console tables that Veilleux thought was probably Ming Dynasty; the pair went to the phones as well. The tables had been in the collection of a Maine bank that had been acquired by Bank of America but which did not want any of the furnishings, so Thomaston Place got them. Bringing $10,530 was a late Nineteenth Century cow weathervane possibly by J.W. Fiske & Co., while eight volumes of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories flew to $21,060.
Veilleux had interesting anecdotes for two of the works of art offered on the first day that realized high prices. He had handled the painting of a little girl with a sailboat by Josef Israels (Netherlands, 1824-1911) about 30 years ago when he outbid the curator of the Hague Museum for it at a country auction for about $15,000; he subsequently sold it to the Wolfe family, whose estate it came to him from. It brought $20,475 in this sale. He had also previously handled Frank Henry Shapleigh’s “Mt Chocorua from Old Barn, Eaton, N.H.,” having sold it 20 or 30 years ago to the consignor for what he thought had been $1,500. It received plenty of interest and competition and sold for $11,115.
The second day of sales featured works made after the Nineteenth Century, including up to the present day. Topping that session was a Keith Haring ink on cardstock that an online bidder bought for $42,000. “We had a lot of interest in that. It came from a private collector in Hawaii who saw that we had sold one of these before for good money,” Veilleux recalled. Other notable results from that session included two bronze sculptures by Andre (William Andre) Harvey (American/French, 1941-2018) that had been acquired from the artist by Rosemarie Wolfe. One brought $9,945, the other made $5,850.
Prices quote include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
The Summer Bounty Part Two sale will take place August 29-30 and features more from the Wolfe Estate, a collection of Chinese works of art, as well as a major NC Wyeth drawing and a selection of works by living Maine artists.
Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Inc., is at 51 Atlantic Highway. For more information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.
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