Published: August 31, 2011
When the first lot crossed the block at Northeast Auctions’ three-day sale on Friday, August 5, kicking off Antiques Week in New Hampshire, the action did not stop until the last lot, 1694, was sold on Sunday. So on Saturday, when the last lot of the Kellogg Collection was sold, in the next breath Ron Bourgeault offered the first lot of the Claire Cook Collection.
Born Claire Chapin in 1928, she spent most of her life in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, and with her husband, Ridgley Cook, built a collection of her own, while at the same time advising other collectors on the right things to buy.
Steve White of Skaneateles, N.Y., writes in the auction catalog: “During those years we watched a dynamo in action. Claire was the North Shore’s premier interior designer. As the icon of style, fashion and collecting, she was also the antiques business’ best friend. She traveled far and wide from early morning to late at night (with Ridge’s help) to find furniture, folk art, textiles, paintings, ceramics, carvings, rug †in short, anything old and good looking. In later years, she expanded her interests to include Twentieth and Twenty-First Century artists.”
That paragraph neatly wraps up the variety in the collection offered.
The first lot, number 721 in the catalog, was a pieced cotton sunburst quilt with triple sawtooth border, late Nineteenth Century, 81 by 66½ inches, that sold for $354, under the $500 high estimate.
All prices quoted include the 18 percent buyer’s premium.
A Pennsylvania redware pitcher with incised bands, 10 inches high, brought $1,534, over the high estimate of $800, and an American primitive tabletop still life with compote of fruit and watermelon, circa 1880, oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches, just doubled the high estimate, selling for $3,540. A Charles A. Hart carving of a penguin, a standing figure, painted and measuring 7½ inches high, went over the estimate of $1,500, selling for $3,422.
A folk art carved and painted carnival head of a man, 19 inches high, brought $1,888; an American splint loom basket with three compartments, 27 inches high, realized $1,121; a carved and painted hanging owl decoy, 27½ inches tall, sold to owl fanciers for $2,596; and a New England country Chippendale painted and decorated child’s blanket box with shaped apron and bracket feet, 13½ inches high, top measuring 11 by 24½ inches, sold for $4,484, well over the $900 high estimate. The provenance on this piece listed Samaha Antiques, Milan, Ohio.
A Connecticut Chippendale inlaid-cherry desk and bookcase, Norwich or Connecticut River Valley, late Eighteenth Century, in two parts, closed bonnet top, frontal ball and claw feet, sold for $23,600, within estimate; a Louisiana carved and painted pine folk art rabbit, 19 inches long and from the collection of Robert Bishop, was $2,006; and a New England Queen Anne grain painted cherry candlestand, 16-by-16½-inch top, sold for just over the high estimate at $5,900.
A carved and painted pelican by Lou Schifferl, Neenah, Wis., 34¼ inches high, went for $1,652; the portrait of Julie Smith in white dress with red sash by Erastus Salisbury Field, oil on canvas measuring 33 by 27 inches, sold for just under the low estimate at $9,440. The provenance lists Lawrence “Gene” King of Monroe Center, Ill. The following lot, a New England painted and boldly decorated one-drawer blanket chest, Betty Sterling provenance, exceeded the high $8,000 estimate, realizing $10,030.
Bringing more than three times the $5,000 high estimate was an American folk art wool appliqué crib quilt, late Nineteenth Century, depicting cats, horses, chickens and other farm animals, as well as shoes, farm tools and leaves, that brought $17,700. It measures 54 by 38 inches and was mounted in a Plexiglas frame. A pencil on paper by Fritz Vogt showing the residence of Mr and Mrs Chas Kinaman, Buel, Montgomery County, N.Y., 18 by 23½ inches, signed and dated Septr. 29, 1892, lower left, went for $12,980.
The sale ended with the Twentieth Century well represented through collections of carved fish, frogs, turtles and other shapes of fishing decoys, as well as trade signs and walking sticks.
“I knew Claire for over 35 years and her collection, varied and interesting, came through many of the old-time dealers. And I am pleased to have been the auctioneer picked to sell her things,” Ron Bourgeault said. He added that the sale went well, grossing a total of $775,000, including the buyer’s premium.
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