Published: November 11, 2015
Review and Photos by R. Scudder Smith
PLAINFIELD, N.H. — “This is my favorite time of the year and I love Halloween,” Bill Smith said before settling down to selling the contents of a huge Winchendon, Mass., Victorian home. He noted that his firm has not seen such a collection since the 1980s, and “It will probably be another 30 years before it happens again.” The majority of the estate was sold on two days, Saturday, October 31, and Sunday, November 1.
With no additions, day one consisted of 410 lots, averaging 87 lot per hour, for a gross of $165,168, and the second day, Sunday, 427 lots were sold, averaging 93 lots per hour, for $92,000. The sale grossed $257,168, with the buyer’s premium, and a third auction, probably to happen in January, will have about one -third of that sale from this same estate.
“At a sale like this one there are always some interesting and valuable things mixed in with lots of general material,” Bill said. “We try to keep the material untouched, the tempo high and get people interested in the objects by encouraging them to put together box lots, which we will mix in with other lots during the run of the auction,” he said. By the start of the sale, each day, the front of the room was crowded with box lots, with Lucinda Seward sitting in the front row watching over a couple of box lots she had assembled.
“We are very pleased to be on the receiving end of this auction,” Philip Zea, president of Historic Deerfield said, noting that the entire contents of this home had been left to Historic Deerfield. “It was left to us in the lady’s will and it was obvious from some of the contents in the home that she had visited us numerous times and purchased from our general store,” Philip said. He noted that when he went over the contents of the home with Bill Smith, they came up with a figure of close to a quarter of a million and “it appears to be just about on track,” Philip said. He mentioned that, in the past, people have left things to Historic Deerfield and the last time it happened was when a couple, who lived only about ten miles away, left a bequest because they were photographers and very often came to Historic Deerfield to take pictures.
This was an uncataloged sale, with the auctioneer giving descriptions of the objects being sold, and the small items and box lots were delivered to the seated successful bidder. Many of the larger pieces were taken out to the porch for easy loading into vehicles to be taken away. The auction started at 10 am with two green-painted pantry boxes for $345, followed by a small inlaid book box for $230. A delft jar sold for $488, a sterling water pitcher brought $1,380, a wire birdcage $287, a continuous arm Windsor $517 and a box of early bottles, five of them, sold for $3,105.
All prices quoted in the review include the buyer’s premium.
A child’s wheelbarrow in old paint was $172; a box lot with a house still bank, a chalk squirrel with chipped ear, a nice small redware jug and a couple of lesser things went for $1,955, and an oil on canvas depicting New Boston, N.H., sold for $920. A box lot of five decoys went for $345 and a redware bank in the shape of an apple sold for $172.
A Steinway piano, Model M, with bench and the sheet music in the bench, got off to a slow start but ended up selling for $1,725. Bill commented, “This is the cheapest one we have ever sold and for that price it can be used as a dining table.”
A Chinese vase sold over the phone for $17, causing Bill Smith to note, “That was the cheapest thing we have ever sold by phone and it probably cost more for the phone call.” It was followed by three hat boxes, two with brown wallpaper and one with blue, a Hanna Davis box among them, for $920, and a New England highboy in cherry came up next and when fellow auctioneer Ken Labnon was asked about it, he replied, “Pretty.” It brought $3,450. A bag of coin silver spoons went for $690, an antique Oriental runner sold for $345, two yellowware bowls were $149 and a cherry one-drawer stand, Connecticut River Valley, with a checkerboard on the underside of the top sold for $575.
A box lot of cut glass vases sold for $517, a 6-gallon stoneware crock with a cobalt blue bird went for $1,955 and an iron floor lamp, Arts and Crafts, $149. A bag of souvenir spoons brought $296, a tilt-top Nineteenth Century candlestand with pad feet and old finish, $345, and a potato stamped basket with two handles, $379. Another box lot included a flip glass, horn spoon and sander for $126, while a grouping of pearl handled knives went for $57. Two small decorated bellows sold for $149, a Spanish foot Eighteenth Century Queen Anne side chair with rush seat, $287, while a period Federal oval tilt-top candlestand took $230.
A Rookwood vase with blue glaze sold for $402, an onion lantern that had been electrified brought $115, and a willowware jardinière filled with shakers and napkin rings made $287. A cherry inlaid stand with one drawer, Connecticut River valley, sold for $345 and a majolica pitcher, plate and bowl went for $201.
At noon a white 2005 Chrysler 300 automobile with 50,000 miles, “Driven by a little old lady,” Bill Smith said, but in need of brakes and a jump start to take it home, sold for $7,475.
A pair of Hitchcock side chairs, rush seats, button feet, brought $241; two Bristol vases, $126; a hand painted wood document box filled with ladies gloves, $103; a room-size Oriental rug, $1,092, and a red painted cupboard with one paneled door, white interior and H hinges, sold for $460. A hutch table in pine and maple sold for $862, a Victorian hanging shelf brought $488, a circa 1820 Hepplewhite tapered leg stand went out for only $190, and a two-drawer pine blanket chest with ball feet made it to $600.
A pair of Staffordshire figures, horse and calf, went for $575, a circa 1820 Hepplewhite drop leaf table with one drawer, $258, and a box of many decks of playing cards, held up for all to see by Superwoman, who noted, “This box is heavy,” went for $115. An inlaid Sheraton chest of four drawers, circa 1820, dovetailed with turned legs, brought $402, a large box filled with aprons went for $57, and a Hepplewhite tavern table, one board with breadboard ends top, tapering legs, realized $632.
A pair of Federal reverse painted mirrors in gilt frames sold for $149, while a Nineteenth Century drop leaf table in mahogany, turned legs, went out for $115.
The auction started at 11 am on Sunday, with Bill Smith welcoming people back to the gallery and noting. “It looks like everyone remembered to set the clocks back an hour last night.” He had a small bit of trouble with the adjustment of the mic, and Leon Rogers came to the rescue. “It is sort of like your mother tying your necktie,” Bill said.
The auction started with a cast iron doorstop depicting a lighthouse and two cottages for $920, followed by a white painted cast iron garden ornament rabbit for $168. A box of pocket watches attracted some interest, selling for $1,782, and two early photo albums went for $431. A multidrawer cupboard, painted green and taken out of the cellar, was filled with hardware and brought $632; a set of three small white painted cast iron garden chairs sold for $316.
The first doll offered was a French fashion doll with the original clothing that went for $2,070, a white painted wire plant stand brought $160, and a pair of gray painted cast iron birdbaths sold for $316. One of the birdbaths was carried into the gallery by Will Smith, Bill’s son, and was asked by his father, “What are those?” Will simply replied, “Heavy.”
A box of coins sold for $2,185, and a set of cottage bedroom furniture, paint decorated, including a bed, four chairs, dresser with mirror and stand, was a great buy at $230. Several violins were in the sale, selling for between $517 and $862, with a Boston banjo bringing $402. A Parian-head doll with waterfall hair was $632, an early record player with large horn and a stack of records realized $1,265, and a cast iron hitching post with horse head went for $126.
One of the largest lots was a collection of 23 doors, eight of them with Bennington knobs, that were stacked on the second floor of the home. They left the gallery for $258. “Probably the knobs alone are worth more than that,” Bill said as he knocked down the lot.
For additional information, www.wsmithauction.com or 603-675-2549.
The $43,700 Game Board
PLAINFIELD, N.H. — The top lot of Bill Smith’s two-day auction was a chip-carved, book-shaped game board that sold to Bruce and Doranna Wendel, Connecticut collectors of game boards. In addition to some information about the board provided by Bruce Wendel, antiques dealer John Sideli researched the piece, learning that it belonged to an Alfred C. Campbell, born in 1835 in Scotland and an 1880 census has him living in Gray, Maine.
The following description of the board was sent to Antiques and The Arts Weekly by Wendel.
The game box has the name “A.C. Campbell” incised above the checkers game, and the interior lid on the “Note Paper” compartment has the name “A Campbell, West Gray Maine,” painted on it. The interior drawer has eight covered individual compartments with painted lids labeled for Pens, Pencils, Ink, Checkers (with a painting of two dominos), Dice (with a painting of a single die), Chess (with a painting of a knight chess piece), Cards and Note Paper. There is a spread-winged eagle chip carved above the checker board.
The reverse surface has five compass point stars, each of different design, and each differently painted. The compass point stars are surrounded by a border of diamond-shaped wood inlays. The central compass point star is the largest and is surrounded by an inscribed “dial” indicating the calibration points on a detailed compass, and there are inlaid wooden diamonds labeled N, E, W and S, for north, east, west and south. The spine of the book is inscribed with the book’s title… “THE SAILORS BIBLE –VOL III.”
Beneath the book’s title there is an inscribed design of playing cards, above an inscribed decanter (for liquor), surmounting two crossed smoking pipes. The box is 14¼ inches tall by 11¼ inches wide by 2½ inches thick. The side with the checkers/eagle is painted in black and mustard and the eagle is stippled over with brown details. The side with the chip carved compass point stars is painted in mustard, apple green, yellow, orange and black. The interior compartment lids are painted in yellow, black and white. The auctioneer is sending me some handcarved dice that belong with the game.
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