Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy of Tremont Auctions
SUDBURY, MASS. – The November 24 sale at Tremont Auctions filled the gallery with people and merchandise about to be sold. Buyers in the room bought a good percentage of the material, but had stiff competition from absentee bids, the internet and phones bidders. The highest grossing items of the day were paintings. Results were surprisingly strong for European porcelains, and there was strong bidding for silver and jewelry. Hard-to-categorize items, such as a floor model music box, a Louis Vuitton trunk and several large decorative bronzes succeeded. Military items were led by a French and Indian or Revolutionary War period American officer’s fusee musket. Topping the sale was a colorful landscape of a Pueblo church by Walter Ufer. Brett Downer, one of the owners of Tremont, conducts a fast-paced sale, selling 227 lots in the first hour and forty-five minutes.
Although there were strong prices throughout, the highest prices of the day were achieved by paintings. Walter Ufer (1876-1936) was best known for his paintings depicting Native American life, especially Pueblo Indians. His colorful landscape “A Morado at Placido,” showing a Pueblo church in a mountain landscape, went to a phone bidder for $38,080. In addition to his art, Ufer was known for his social activism. He helped victims of the 1918 flu epidemic, collected money for miners on strike in Madrid, N.M., was a member of the International Workers of the World and a follower of Leon Trotsky.
The second, third and fourth highest prices of the day were also paintings. A well-documented work by John F. Kensett (1816-1872), “On the Coast, Newport, R.I.,” which will be included in an upcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works, just missed its reserve and negotiations were underway to sell it after the sale. An abstract expressionist painting signed and dated 1957 by Italian artist Antonio Corpora (1909-2004) brought $11,900. His works are in several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Albright-Knox Museum.
The day started with more than 200 lots of jewelry and silver. The silver, mostly Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, continued the dispersal of three collections. Makers included Gorham, Tiffany, Jensen, J.E. Caldwell and others. Dealers in the room remarked on the quality of the offerings and were often the successful bidders. Indicative of the quality was a large Gorham special order two-handled tray, 34 by 24 inches and weighing 287.6 troy ounces. It had a raised leaf and scroll gadrooned border, large claw feet with a presentation inscription “Presented to William Whitman by the Stockholders of the Arlington Mills Jan. 29th 1895.” It sold in the room for $4,760. Whitman was a large stockholder in the company and had other textile interests.
A large mid-Nineteenth Century presentation four-piece tea set, made by Bailey & Co. with chinoiserie designs, each piece inscribed on the bottom “From Their Mother Virginia Shelby Breckenridge, November 1850” went to a phone bidder at $4,284. Leading the category was a Whiting sterling silver and mixed metals Aesthetic period decorated hot water kettle on a stand. It had a hand hammered surface with applied copper insects and leaves, with raised and etched floral decoration. It went to an internet bidder for $7,140. There were numerous flatware serving pieces and services. Bringing $5,474 was a large cased Cristofle sterling silver .950 174-piece “Germain” pattern flatware set, a service for 12 with 18 additional serving pieces.
Surprising the auctioneer, as well as those in the salesroom, were some high-quality European ceramics. Although estimated at $200/300, two colorful, gilded Flight, Barr and Barr Worcester bowls, each a little more than 7 inches in diameter, sold for $10,115. With matching borders, one was painted with a vase of flowers and the other had several seashells. The Flight, Barr and Barr mark indicates that the plates were probably between 1804 and 1813. At this time the company was creating designs based on the expressed wishes of their clients – wealthy English aristocrats. An additional three plates by the same firm, each with British coats-of-arms, with the same estimate, earned $8,925. One of these three had a scene relating to the defeat of the 1588 Spanish Armada.
A stylized bronze bust of a woman by Angelo Botello, a Twentieth Century Puerto Rican artist, realized $7,140. It was signed and numbered 3/6. The sale included several pieces of good jewelry, and buyers responded appropriately. At substantially over the estimate, a 14K yellow gold and diamond solitaire ring with a bypass design reached $7,140. The center stone was an approximately 2.7-carat round brilliant diamond, H-I color, SI2 clarity, set in a six-prong setting with eight small brilliant diamonds set into the mounting. Also doing well was an 18K gold ring set with an old mine brilliant cut diamond, with a GIA certificate stating J color and VS2 clarity. It reached $8,925.
About one-third of the sale was devoted to military items, put together by Keith Downer. Included was material from Colonial period wars through World War II and firearms, uniforms, photographs, paintings and memorabilia were offered. An Eighteenth Century mideast flintlock blunderbuss with gold inlay and carved stock earned $2,142. Maps were included in this portion of the sale, and an Eighteenth Century German hand colored terrestrial map of the world, Views from the Poles, with images of Noah brought $1,547. Patented in 1837, an Allen and Thurber, Worcester, Mass., six-barrel pepperbox pistol, missing the trigger guard, sold for $536, and an unusual piece of naval history, a pre-World War II bicycle used at the Portsmouth Naval shipyard, with a license plate from that shipyard, earned $655. A model 1859 McClellan officer’s saddle, with appropriate accessories, went out for $1,904.
After the sale, Downer said, “We were pleased with the overall result and really surprised by some of the items, like the Flight, Barr and Barr plates. They came out of a local garage. We knew from presale interest and bidding, that they would do nicely. We’re working on getting some of the passed stuff sold, but there wasn’t a lot passed. I was also glad to see the size of the crowd in the room – we had to keep bringing out chairs. I’m certainly pleased with the $576,000 total.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house.
For information, 617-795-1678 or www.tremontauctions.com