Published: September 11, 2012
As auctioneer Willis Henry presented the standout lot of the Dr Jerry and Miriam McCue Shaker collection, a classic shoe-foot trestle table, he declared it to be “probably the most important [Shaker] table in existence.” Exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986, curator Joan Sprigg designated the cherry table with pine top and wrought iron braces as made at the Harvard community, circa 1820. “Its small size would suggest that it was used as a dining table for the four members of the Harvard Bishophric Ministry,” she wrote in the exhibition catalog.
The first piece of Shaker furniture that Dr McCue was ever exposed to, and one that he was later able to purchase from pioneer dealer/collector Edna Greenwood for $350 in 1949, it sold at the McCue Shaker Collection auction conducted by Willis Henry this past Saturday, September 8, for $198,900, including premium.
Greenwood made the notation in Dr McCue’s journal, in which he meticulously kept records of all of his purchases throughout his collecting career, “Buy the best †to Hell with the rest.” The table sold to Ohio dealer Bill Samaha.
Other top McCue Shaker lots included a Sister’s cupboard acquired directly from the Hancock Trustee’s office that sold for $122,850, while a New Lebanon infirmary cupboard with red stained exterior and yellow stained interior went out at $114,075. Items retaining original chrome yellow paint did exceptionally well, including a wood box, probably made at the Alfred, Maine, community, that tripled estimate, selling at $78,390; an oval fingered carrier made at Canterbury brought $63,180 from collector Bob Hamilton; and a large six-finger box, measuring almost 15 inches long and 10 inches wide, sold to dealer David Wheatcroft for $47,970.
A complete review will appear in a future issue.
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