Published: November 12, 2002
By Jackie Sideli, photos by Jackie Sideli and Laura Beach
LYME, CONN. – On a crisp October Saturday, in a beautiful rural riverfront setting of Hamburg Village in Lyme, Russ Antiques and Auctions, Inc conducted an on-site tented sale. It was the perfect setting, and, until the rains came, a nearly perfect fall day.
To get to the sale site, one had to drive through several very elegant areas, complete with early houses and beautiful plantings. According to antiques dealer Lou Scranton, who attended the sale — unsuccessfully — in hopes of acquiring the Norton churn that surfaced, real estate in the area along the water is priced around the $4 million range. The house where the sale was conducted was located on the water, adding to the overall ambiance of the sale.
This auction was a compilation of various estates, although much of the material was from the house where the auction was held. The fabulous Norton three-gallon butter churn, which drew a huge amount of attention, came directly out of the house. With vivid blue slip decoration, depicting a stag standing in front of a house, this piece sold for a stunning $16,675. According to Scranton, “It opened higher than I was willing to pay, it was fabulous.”
Russ Antiques and Auctions is well-known in this part of Connecticut, and has mostly on-site sales. The Russes have a 100-year history in the antiques and auction business and have been operating as Russ Antiques and Auctions, Inc since 1997 in the Old Lyme area.
In speaking with Paul Russ after the sale, he commented that “every rdf_Description is fresh from the estate and we have no reserves.”
There were a number of notable paintings that surfaced, including a group by American artist Guy C. Wiggins, consigned by the artist’s grandchildren. Among the Wiggins was a classic example of his work, which was offered early in the sale. Entitled “Washington’s Birthday,” an oil on canvas measuring a substantial 20 by 24 inches, this was a stunning gray and white depiction of a snowy New York City street, buildings on either side, with American flags providing the only real color. This painting went off the block for a very strong $60,375 (including 15 percent buyer’s premium), to a private collector, who also went home with two of the other Wiggins paintings. The same buyer bought the oil on canvas by Wiggins, “St Paul’s on Lower Broadway,” in original carved gilt frame, 30 by 25 inches. It opened at $15,000 and ultimately sold for $33,350. The same collector bought the Wiggins oil on canvas board, signed and dated on the rear “Guy C. Wiggins, Old Trinity, 1937.” The stretcher was dated 1937 and the image size on this painting was a diminutive 12 by 8. It opened at $14,000 and sold to this private collector for $19,550.
Rhode Island antiques dealer Phil Zexter won the unusual American Hepplewhite mahogany demilune sideboard with bellflower inlay. The sideboard opened at $1,000 and Zexter paid $2,875 for it. Zexter also went home with the very stylish circa 1810 Massachusetts bow front Sheraton mahogany two-drawer server, with cookie corners and reeded legs. After much competitive bidding from the floor, Zexter won the piece for $11,845. A very strong Eighteenth Century Massachusetts mahogany Chippendale ball and claw foot side chair, with pierced slat, sold for $2,185.
According to Russ, the most interest in any rdf_Description at the sale was the oil on canvas by Arthur Meltzer. Measuring 16 by 20 inches and dated 1925, the painting was entitled on the reverse “Winter Gossip.” With a number of left bids, the painting opened at a substantial $34,000 and sold to an art dealer at the sale for a strong $39,100.
There were some very interesting prehistoric Danish stone-age artifacts offered, grouped into several lots. One of these included one hammer axe, one flint dagger, one fling hammer stone, one hard stone polished Celt, two flint flaked axes, one flint uniface blade and two flint Celts, nine pieces in all. After much competitive bidding from the floor, this lot sold for $1,035.
This was a very good sale, with tons of fresh material, garnered by the Russes and with no reserves. The crowd was strong throughout and prices were very solid.
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