Published: December 26, 2000
Table with No Takers Two Years Ago Reaps $181,000 at Geneva, N.Y. Auction
GENEVA, NY – On December 13 at Hessney’s Auction Company offered a possibly rare Eighteenth Century Townsend-Goddard card table, originally made in Newport, R.I.
Although the table had been pictured in an auction flyer, on the company’s Web site, and advertised in area newspapers, few who previewed the auction recognized its form. The table came from a local estate in Romulus, N.Y., where it had been stored for the past 50 years in a basement. Two years ago the owner had offered the table to local dealers for $500, and found no takers. The week before the auction, a collector from Boston previewed Hessney’s sale and noticed the table. So too did several other collectors, dealers, and auctioneers from the area. By Wednesday evening, the stage was set for a bidding war that exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations.
Local dealers and collectors were stunned to see the gavel fall at $165,000, a record price for Hessney’s Auction Company on a single rdf_Description. With the ten percent buyer’s premium the total came to $181,500.
Bidders in the auction house speculated that this card table, also known as a gaming table, was a product of the Townsend-Goddard school of cabinetmaking in Newport. The design of this table was favored by the Townsend-Goddard makers and may be an example of their work. The mahogany gateleg table has front legs that end in ball and claw feet and rear legs that end in pad feet, a characteristic seen on other Newport Chippendale furniture of the 1760s-1780s. The top unfolds and the two back legs swing out to support it. The table’s knees on the front legs show fine shallow carving. Very few of these tables survive, and most of them are in museums.
“We had a great auction,” Joseph D. Hessney said. “There were over 650 lots that featured antique German and French bisque dolls, a Federal tilt-top table, a large collection of vintage toys and banks, clocks, over fifty Hummels, and estate jewelry, but the table was the star of the show.”
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