Published: October 16, 2007
Outstanding merchandise achieved hearty prices at C. Downing Auctions’ September 22 event.
The top lot of the auction was a Tiffany Studios piano lamp that attained $6,750 and brought spirited bidding. An absentee bidder picked up the lamp as well as a Tiffany candlestick for $1,200. A smaller Tiffany desk lamp with unusual bulbous-shaped favrile glass fetched $775.
A pair of Roman bronze figures, First-to-Third Century, performed well. The female figure, who appeared life size in the company’s ad, was 3½ inches tall but, selling for $2,100, worth her weight in bronze. Her similarly sized male counterpart, “The Philosopher,” fetched $2,000 from the same phone bidder, ensuring this pair will be together for some time.
“I was delighted to have them go as high as they did,” said auctioneer Christine Downing.
Downing, who conducted her first auction in January under her own company name, moved into this spacious venue in the warehouse district at the end of May. “It’s wonderful for so many reasons,” she said. The space saves on storage hassles and offers visitors a comfortable experience for preview and auctions.
Downing seems to have hit her stride with this auction. She kept the pace quick yet enjoyable, saying she likes to keep the action lighthearted and fun for herself as well as the audience. In keeping with those goals, she limits auctions to around 300 items, aiming for a three-hour event.
“It was a great sale. We had a nice sized crowd, and I saw a lot of new faces, which is always rewarding,” she said. “We try to keep it lighthearted and fun. We work so hard beforehand that we want to enjoy the auction.”
Furniture offerings were led by a Louis XVI carved giltwood canapé in a rich caramel-orange color that fetched $1,900. A pair of Louis XV bergeres took $500.
Besides the Tiffany example, candlesticks performed well. A pair of “zoomorphic” bronze lion candlesticks fetched $3,500, and a pair of brass candlesticks, Flemish style, realized $1,350.
Three quilts were prominently displayed in the auction gallery, strategically hung on a wall behind Downing’s podium. The top lot was the 1883 Tumbling Blocks quilt, made from waistcoats and ties, not backed, diamond shapes folded over paper, 12‱5 stitches per inch, hundreds of pieces, 1 shattered, that fetched $1,150 to an in-house bidder.
An 1888 crazy quilt of metallic threads was enhanced with a silk photograph, a bridal day bookmark and a piece from the Ladies Assistance Fireman’s Convention, Mystic Island, Aug. 29, 1888, and brought $625. An 1896 fan quilt, a Knights Templar, Scranton, Penn., piece, had some replaced areas and took $225.
Two pastels on paper billed as “in the manner of” Milton Avery were very likely created by Avery, Downing said. The signature is hard to make out and stylistically the work is Avery’s, she said. An astute buyer claimed both at $225 each.
“There was a lot of chit chat about them before the sale,” Downing said. “I was happy, especially because the condition was not terrific on either one. We still thought they were the work of Milton Avery and hopefully the winning bidder finds that out for sure.”
Bargains could be had at this auction. A piece of sheet music, titled “Bridgeport, I Am Longing For You,” sold for $10. Downing likes to round out her auctions with items of local interest, and this item hit the right note.
“Every auction is full of bargains and surprises,” Downing said, noting one buyer got a “terrific buy” on an 1861 musket that sold for $260.
All prices reported include the buyer’s percent. For more information, www.cdowningauctions.com or 203-887-5292.
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