Published: February 6, 2007
Once again it became a downsizing issue and once again an Americana collection went to auction. The sale of the Marc and Laurie Krasny Brown collection became part of Americana Week in New York City and took place at Sotheby’s on Sunday, January 21, at 11 am.
In the foreword of the catalog, the Browns mention the sale of their home in Hingham, Mass., resulting in spending their time between Martha’s Vineyard and Manhattan. “Our tiny townhouse in New York City is demanding that we let go of our collection,” they wrote.
In explaining portions of their collection, the Browns mention that they were taken by the beauty and ingenuity of American game boards, thus explaining the reason for the large number in the sale. They went on to write, “The American Windsor chair is for us, perhaps, one of the most beautiful and comfortable functional objects ever designed.” Windsor chairs also populated the pages of the catalog.
All of the prices mentioned in this review include the buyer’s premium of 20 percent on the first $500,000 and 12 percent on any amount over that. The weekend of this sale saw a new premium schedule for Sotheby’s when the 20 percent premium was raised from $200,000 to $500,000.
The first couple of lots of game boards hung around the $3,000 mark, but lot 4 changed that when a Parcheesi board, American in shades of green, yellow, orange and red, sold for $10,500. Two lots later, and pictured in the January 26 issue of this paper, a “home” double-sided Parcheesi board with drawer, painted with cubes of yellow, red, green and blue, sold for $33,000. It was from the Virginia Ramsey-Pope Cave collection sold by Northeast Auctions, August 5, 2000.
The top lot of the sale was a Federal paint decorated tall case clock, works by Riley Whiting, Winchester, Mass., circa 1820. It measures 87¾ inches high and Stephen Score, who bought the clock for $108,000, is quoted in the catalog saying, “The clock is a masterpiece of American paint-decorated furniture. The best I’ve ever seen.” The high estimate was $100,000. Many of the objects in the sale were photographed in place, just as the Browns lived with them. In this case, a portion of the clock base is blocked by a table.
Bringing $72,000 and taking the second highest bid at the sale was a portrait of Rebecca Harris of Scituate, R.I., in a white dress and seated in a blue child’s Windsor sack back arm-chair. It measures 13¼ by 9½ inches, painted circa 1820, pastel on paper, and is in a dotted pine frame painted by George Robert Lawton of Scituate, R.I. It sold to an American private collector; the provenance list Samuel Herrup Antiques for the painting, David Schorsch for the frame. It sold just under the high estimate.
One of the largest pieces of furniture in the sale was a Federal salmon grain-painted poplar step back cupboard from Berks County, Penn., circa 1825. It measured 76 inches high, 49 ½ inches wide and 18 ½ inches deep and sold for $16,800, just over the high estimate. Much interest was shown in an unusual carved and gilded pine hand reader’s trade sign dating from the Nineteenth Century and measuring 19 inches long. The open hand, with deep creases, had a metal cuff and was suspended from a ring hanger. Estimated at a high $1,200, it finally sold for $9,000.
Another game board that attracted strong bidding was lot 51, painted pine with J.W. at the top and the date 1844, with eagle, on the bottom. It measured 18¾ by 13¾ inches, red and black painted checkerboard on a yellow ground. The provenance listed Stephen Score, Boston, and the piece sold for $24,000, double the high estimate.
At noon lot 70 crossed the block, a William and Mary red-painted maple, birchwood and pine stand, possibly Connecticut, circa 1730, for $18,000. The high estimate was $10,000 and the stand originated from the Richmond collection, Southbury, Conn., and was sold by Pook & Pook Auctions of Downingtown, Penn.
There were a couple of Priors in the sale, a baby in red dress holding a rattle, oil on board, that failed to make the reserve and was passed, while the portrait of the young boy in gray costume with black buttons and holding a whip, circa 1830, oil on artist’s board in the original frame, went for $31,200 against a high estimate of $20,000. This portrait measured 14 by 10 inches.
A red-painted Federal tall case clock from New England and by Gideon Roberts, circa 1810, 78 inches high and missing the finial on the hood, went for $3,000, less than the low estimate. The portrait of a young boy with whip in blue frame, circa 1840, Sturtevant J. Hamblem, 13½ by 10½ inches, sold just over the high estimate at $26,400. It is oil on academy board and appears to be in the original frame.
A yellow paint decorated maple candlestand from New England, circa 1780, 26½ inches high, with webbed slipper feet and a pedestal with bulbous turning, sold just over double the high estimate at $26,400. It was sold from the Howard and Priscilla Richmond collection in 1997 by Northeast Auctions.
At the end of the sale 30 pieces of original art by Marc Brown, to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Children’s Cancer Care, were sold.
The top lot was #174, a 1998 cover for TV Guide , watercolor, pen and ink on paper, signed Marc Brown lower left, 11¼ by 8¾ inches. Estimated at a $3,000 high, it went for $5,100.
All but 22 of the 192 lots offered sold for a total of $1,285,080.
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