Published: February 7, 2012
Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ January 28′9 sale was packed to the rafters with choice items ranging from sublime European paintings to fine furniture, Asian arts and more. Buyers responded in kind to the wealth of offerings here and flocked to the gallery, driving up prices on most items beyond their estimate, and resulting in what the gallery termed “a very strong sale.”
“We were very pleased, we knew going in that we had a lot of interesting items in all categories,” said auction manager Bob Grant. “It was across the board, it all came together and we had a very strong floor, probably the strongest floor in many a year.”
There are always surprises, however, Grant said, and one was that “brown furniture,” which has been soft in recent years, performed admirably in this auction.
The sale started off on the right note with lot 1, two cast iron still banks that compounded the interest on their $600/800 estimate to sell for $6,750. Both were late Nineteenth Century banks, one a depiction of Boston’s Old North Church, 10 inches tall including steeple, and the other a red, white and blue bank building.
The top lot came as the sale steadily picked up steam with lot 130, an oil on panel still life of peaches in a Chinese bowl by Gillis Jacobsz Hulsdonck (Flemish, 1626irca 1675) that sold over estimate at $97,749.
The painting came from the estate of Anne Bigelow Stern of New York City and later Maine. Once part of her Park Avenue, New York City, apartment, the painting and the other lots had also formerly been at the Rosen House at Caramoor, the renowned music center in Katonah, N.Y., that Stern’s parents (Walter Tower Rosen and Lucie Bigelow Dodge Rosen) founded on the site of their longtime summer home. The Rosens were renowned for their deep collection of Eastern and Western art.
Stern’s estate contributed about 40 lots in the sale, mostly paintings. Highlights included an oil on panel of the Madonna and Child from the circle of the Master of the Parrot, Sixteenth Century, Antwerp, that made $28,750 and an oil on panel of an orange in a Wanli Kraak porcelain bowl with cherries and a roemer on a stone ledge, attributed to Martinius N. Nellius, selling at $21,000.
Other fine paintings crossing the block included an oil on Masonite by Ralph Eugene Cahoon Jr, titled “Whalemen vs Mermaids,” undated but is circa 1965, that harpooned a $20,070 bid. An oil on canvas, “Clipper Ship Andrew Jackson ” by Maine artist Percy Sanborn (1849‱929), was a birthday gift from Sanborn to Florence Bryant and has been in her family ever since. It brought $20,125.
Asian arts made a strong presence in this auction, as it has in many auctions across the country in the last few years. Leading the category was a Chinese jade seal in cloisonné box having a large jade seal surmounted by double-headed dragon and measuring 2½ by 2½ by 2¼ inches in a Nineteenth Century custom cloisonné fitted box having dragons on all sides. It took $37,950. An eight-panel Korean low painted screen with lengthy pictorial narrative and substantial text, seemingly depicting a pilgrimage, fetched $28,750.
Other Chinese standouts were a Twentieth Century painted scroll of insects among flowers at $20,125 and a lot of two silver master salts from the Nineteenth Century in archaic form of yoked kettle on triad stand with deep relief decoration of landscapes, buildings, people, tigers and flowers. The salts made $25,300.
Furniture did well in the auction, particularly Chippendale pieces, led by a circa 1790 Boston or Salem mahogany chest with bold serpentine molded overhanging top above four graduated drawers, selling for $10,350, and a late Eighteenth Century American country Chippendale highboy in solid walnut with yellow pine and poplar had aggressively carved ball and claw cabriole legs and took $4,025.
Chippendale period pieces also did well, as evidenced by a Pennsylvania tall chest in walnut on original shaped ogee bracket feet at $8,625 and a pair of mahogany framed wingchairs with Rococo Revival relief carving that took $6,900.
Leading furniture overall was a circa 1880 Italian slate top game table with micromosaic decoration of the landmarks of Rome, set on highly decorative Aesthetic design red walnut base by R.J. Horner. After spirited competition, the table flew past its $10/15,000 estimate to fetch $92,000.
Other top selling furniture items were a custom Hepplewhite-style serpentine sideboard with a gray and pink marble top that soared above its $800․1,200 estimate to fetch $28,750 and a pair of marble top Empire stands with black lacquer and brass banded white marble tops, 29¼ inches tall, that made $24,150.
Two music boxes on stands were among the sale highlights. A Swiss six-song cylinder music box on matching stand brought $23,000. The box was by Ami Rivenc & Co., Geneva and dated 1878 (on paper label). The other box, also Swiss, was a ten-air cylinder music box by Jacot on a custom stand, circa 1895, that sold for $13,800.
Making the sweetest music in the sale, though, was a miniature mechanical music box made by Patek Philippe that soared over its $1/1,500 estimate to achieve $40,250. The tortoiseshell and gold music box with key had a mechanical bird with iridescent feathers and measured 3¾ by 2½ by 1½ inches, in original fitted box.
Topping the jewelry category was a rare David Webb 18K yellow gold carved jade necklace, custom made, with detachable jade and diamond drop pendant, that attained $21,850 and a lady’s 18K yellow gold ring centered by an emerald-cut natural emerald of 3.35 carats, flanked by two trapezoid-shape diamonds, channel- and prong-set, for $20,700.
An unusual platinum, diamond and sapphire brooch depicting one platinum octopus-form pave set with round diamonds weighing over 8 carats and cabochon blue sapphire eyes fetched $13,800, while a jewelry suite comprising an 18K white gold, sapphire and diamond necklace and matching bracelet took $12,650, and an 18K white gold and diamond line bracelet set with 39 round diamonds, 7 inches long, realized $14,375. Other highlights included a circa 1942‵0 sterling and amethyst star-form brooch, marked Spratling Silver, inspired by the silvermaker’s trip to Alaska, that brought $4,025.
Standouts among Persian rugs included a figural silk rug, measuring 6 feet 1 inch by 9 feet 6 inches, with a lobed diamond medallion surrounded by delicate floral sprays, hunters on horseback and more that fetched $14,950; an area rug, 5 feet by 6 feet 11 inches, with hooked diamond medallion in navy and various colors with scattered geometric motifs for $4,600; and a prayer rug empty rust-red field and maker’s signature, 4 feet 1 inch by 6 feet 6 inches, at $5,462.
Silver performed well, highlighted by a historically important Biddeford, Maine, four-piece silver presentation set consisting of a repoussé coin silver ewer and pair of goblets with gold washed interior by Jones, Ball & Co. and a Sheffield plate footed tray by James Dixon & Sons that attained $3,220. According to the inscription, the set was presented to W.H. Thompson by the mechanics in the Saco Water Power Machine Shop, Biddeford, Maine, in September 1853, upon Thompson’s retirement.
Silver tea services also performed well, with a three-piece Anglo Indian silver presentation tea service given to Captain Sir James Rae in commemoration of his knighthood that nearly doubled its high estimate to sell for $2,530, and a Federalist patterned, three-piece tea set by Howard & Co Silversmiths of New York (1866‱922) selling within estimate at $2,400.
Combination silver tea and coffee services also crossed the block. A nine-piece sterling silver service by J.E. Caldwell & Co. took $7,475, while a seven-piece Mexican sterling silver coffee and tea service, marked Taxco, brought $7,1870.
Several choice watches crossed the block, led by a circa 1960s man’s 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe watch with original crocodile band and 18K gold clasp at $11,500; an 18K gold cased Danish pocket watch marked “Jules Jurgensen, Copenhagen” for $7,475; a man’s 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual day and date wristwatch for $5,750 and a Patek Philippe 18K gold cased open face pocket watch marked “Made for S. Nordlinger & Sons, Los Angeles” that fetched $5,175.
Clock standouts included a large faience delft pottery mantel clock attributed to the studio of Emile Galle for $4,025; a Howard and Davis #2 banjo clock, circa 1835‴0, from Boston in mahogany case that took $2,587 and an early Eighteenth Century Austrian carved, gilded mantel clock by Johann Bentele of Salzburg that took $2,300. A French bronze figural clock, Nineteenth Century, depicting a running cupid in natural bronze with a drum-form clock, that fetched $1,840.
Lighting up the sale was an Emile Galle signed art glass boudoir lamp with plum and crimson leaf forms over a white glass shade with its original Art Nouveau yoke form bronze stand that fetched $14,950. Also crossing the block were two art glass fairy lamps with pate-de-verre shades by G. Argy-Rousseaul; one with geometric forms in orange and purple made $6,900, while one with poppies in green and black took $6,670.
A double burner Argand lamp by Messenger & Sons of London, circa 1850, in bronze with fire gilt-bronze mounts, crystal tank and drops, etched glass shades, newly wired for electric, but retaining the original burner housings, sold for $3,450.
A rare Edison lamp that was one of the original Thomas Edison Laboratory test lamps made while Edison was developing the filament, realized $6,325, while a pewter and gilt finish floor lamp in the Romanesque Revival style, 1930s, probably by Caldwell, went out at $4,600.
Leading bronze sculpture was a monumental garden sculpture of a bear family by Dan Ostermiller. The work was titled “Tres Osos,” signed and dated 2000, and measured 60 by 44 by 46 inches. The family fetched $28,750. Also crossing the block were ‘L’Isolee” by Abasentia St Leger Eberle (New York, 1878‱942) showing a nude woman seated on stone selling for $6,037, and an antique bronze work was from German sculptor Fred Volckerling (b 1872) and depicted two polo players on horseback. Standing 13½ inches tall, the latter work brought $1,955.
Four art pottery vases by Brother Thomas Bexanson (1929′007), each marked “Weston Vermont, Benedictine Monk,” crossed the block, ranging in price from $2,300 to $5,865 for a 7 7/8-inch high-shouldered ovoid form jar in a dark brown tenmoku glaze.
Several circa 1890 decoys crossed the block early on that came from the Doubleday family and were used off Hough’s Neck, Mass. A set of five sandpiper decoys and a set of four plovers each fetched $3,737, while the collection was led by six merganser decoys, each about 16½ inches long, that drew $4,312. A folky handcarved curlew decoy by Chief Eugene Cuffee (Easthampton, N.Y., 1866‱941) in painted softwood with striking geometric forms painted on the wings realized $2,587.
Other auction highlights included a Zeiss floor model telescope, circa 1925, in bronze and brass with a leather covering, for $13,800; a rare 1789 large folio atlas, The English Pilot, Describing the
West India Navigation, from Hudson’s Bay to the River Amazones&†at $16,675; a set of six French figural, gilt sterling place card holders of seated tree frogs on lapis lazuli plinths with diamond inset eyes for $15,525; and a Louis Vuitton man’s wardrobe trunk, serial number 799382, that doubled high estimate to bring $16,675.
Antique coins closed out the auction and were highlighted by a Liberty Head $2½ gold coin, dated 1885, and a pair of Indian Princess Head $3 gold coins from 1889. Both lots realized $2,875 and were from a vaulted private collection. A Morgan silver dollar from 1897 made $2,300, while a Mexican 50 pesos gold coin from 1946 took $2,185. Saint-Gaudens $20 coins also performed well, with a 1915 example taking $2,185 and a 1908 coin bringing $2,070. The top coin was a contemporary set of four first strike American eagle gold coins from 2005 that fetched $3,737.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.
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