Published: October 12, 2010
A massive Eighteenth⁎ineteenth Century giltwood console discovered during a house call in Ridgefield, Conn., virtually screamed for attention with its imposing and florid stance inside the Litchfield Firehouse at Brookfield Auction’s September 25 sale, but ultimately it was a tiny Tiffany Studios Pinecone carriage clock that succeeded in getting bidders to pay notice. The diminutive timepiece from a North Stamford, Conn., collection was the top lot of the sale, going to a phone bidder for $4,025.
The clock was one of about 80 lots from the North Stamford estate in an auction comprising some 350 lots. Diana Onyshkewych, auctioneer and co-owner of Brookfield Auction, masterfully dispersed the stuff from her podium to a good-size crowd, which appeared to be more heavily weighted toward the trade than the retail side. “It was a good sale,” said Onyshkewych, contacted afterward. “Silver and jewelry were strong, fine art was not, and Twentieth Century furniture and decorative arts did better than we’d anticipated.”
There were four phones and two absentee bids chasing the carriage clock, which opened with a left bid of $3,000 more than halfway intro the sale. With green slag glass in good condition and its bronze warmed to a reddish brown patina, the clock ran fine and came with a key, although probably not the original one. A handle at the top of the 37/16 -by-27/16 -by-45/16 -inch clock folded down.
The expected top lot of the sale, the giltwood console, was hardly a disappointment, since the consignors, a young couple from Greenwich, Conn., who had recently purchased the Ridgefield house, had paid nothing for it †it was included the purchase price of the house because the selling couple’s husband had never liked it. The console’s less-than-petite footprint †70 by 29 by 38¼ inches †however, may have played a role in bidder reluctance, according to Onyshkewych, whose own presale research seemed to indicate that the piece was “too big for the room.” In the end, the console with its conforming marble top and all its rococo splendor lumbered out at $1,150 to an in-house bidder.
Size was no detriment, however, to a splendid 1810 regency mahogany sideboard with inlay that had been sourced from a Torrington, Conn., storage unit. Measuring 91½ by 32½ by 37¼ inches, the piece had another compelling attribute †it bore a label that read “Selected for exhibition at the League Antiques Exhibition, Sherry’s, New York, March 14-24, 1944, under the auspices of Art and Antiques Dealers of America, Inc.” With that pedigree, the sideboard quickly advanced from a $200 opening to a final price of $3,565, selling to an in-house bidder. From the same Torrington storage unit, a golden oak hall tree with mirror back, hooks and seat did well, taking $230.
The same Ridgefield house that disgorged the giltwood console also yielded Murano chandeliers, beaded glass ceiling fixtures, a large gilt metal and beaded glass foyer light, custom draperies and an Empire-style chandelier. The gilt metal and beaded glass chandelier, circa 1920s, had a 30-inch diameter and was 17 inches high. A phone bidder took it for $1,150. The main Murano ceiling fixture, a 17-inch-diameter fixture with gold inclusions, left the hall at $375.
Sterling silver included Towle flatware, a Georg Jensen organic spoon and assorted mixed lots. A 59-piece set of Towle sterling silver flatware monogrammed “B” included forks, knives, spoons, ladle, carving and serving utensils and brought $975, while the Jensen spoon made $160. Also bolstering the silver offerings, a three-piece Mexican 925 sterling tea set in the San Francisco pattern and comprising a tray, teapot and covered sugar achieved $2,070 from an in-house bidder sitting in the front row who was active on nearly every silver and jewelry lot presented.
While flat art remained just that throughout the sale, there was an exception. Another storage unit, this one in Litchfield, yielded a Seventeenth⁅ighteenth Century Chinese painting on silk that formerly had been a scroll but was now encased under glass in a gold leaf frame. Depicting exotic birds with a poem and signature upper left, the 89½-by-39-inch painting opened with a left bid of $325 and advanced to $805, going to a bidder in the hall.
As with any live auction †especially those that eschew online bidding †there were bargains to be had, part of what makes attending one an adventure into the unknown. “I’m always having people tell me they can’t believe what something brought or didn’t bring at auction,” said Onyshkewych. Some examples of items that elicited an admiring comment of “nice buy” after the gavel fell included a mahogany cheval mirror with elongated ball and claw feet from the turn of the Twentieth Century that sold for $315, a banded coal scuttle with scoop and liner from the Nineteenth or Twentieth Century that made $80, and a burlwood secretary raised on Queen Anne legs, a Twentieth Century piece, but with nice shell carving on the knees and a scalloped apron front and sides, that did $115.
Prices reported include the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Brookfield Auction’s next auction, a holiday sale, is set for Saturday, December 11. For information, 203-448-8652 or www.BrookfieldAuction.com .
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