Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Withington Auction, Inc
HILLSBOROUGH, N.H. — Withington Auction Inc., has previously conducted absentee online auctions of antiques but has never before used that format for the four doll sales they hold each summer, each of which are held live and typically attract about 200 bidders. After the coronavirus pandemic necessitated delaying the auction, Larry and Marcia Leizure realized they had to offer a small sale in an absentee online format, with a few days of limited capacity preview July 10-12 or by appointment, with bidding by absentee or phone bid, or online bidding through the company’s website. The sale of about 350 lots, which was online from July 8 through a timed closing on July 16, totaled approximately $190,000 with less than 50 lots passing.
“The sale did really well. It exceeded our expectations.” Marcia Leizure told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “After postponing the auction three times, we decided just to sell the better lots of about 1,000 we planned to offer originally in April. It was out of necessity and we were curious to know if the format would be effective. The thing that stuck in my mind was that a lot of our normal buyers who usually come to Nashua did not participate but with the absentee online format, we had buyers from all over the country and new bidders, who felt they were left out of Withingtons before. It was encouraging. We’re not opposed to doing it again.”
The live in-person format of Withington’s doll sales has been a reason the company has retained a market that is largely based in the United States, but in this sale, Leizure said, they had buyers from Canada, Switzerland, Germany, China and Japan. “We have a pretty small and tightknit local community.”
A private collector who is weeding out her collection offered four dolls, three of which brought some of the highest prices in the sale. Leading was a 12½-inch Bebe Tru Teteur with blue glass eyes, a nursing mouth mechanism, a blonde mohair wig and a kid body with bisque hands; a particularly nice feature of the lot was the presence of the original box and label. It sold for $7,303 to a private collector.
Bringing the second highest price was a 16-inch French fashion doll by Mothreau with blue glass eyes, straight wrist French composition body, skin wig in a dark brown suit that made $6,958. Leizure said it was “one you don’t see very often. We might have had one or two in the 20 years we’ve been doing this.” Another top seller was a 13-inch Bru French Fashion doll with blue glass eyes, blond mohair wig and kid body with wood arms, in a faded pink dress, that closed at $4,083.
The first 100 lots of the sale were from the collection of Kathy Zimmerman of Wappingers Falls, N.Y. Withington sold the majority of Zimmerman’s collection in the fall of 2019, but there were still “wonderful examples” in about a dozen boxes that had not been offered. “She focused on small, all-bisque French and German examples,” Leizure said. Notable results from Zimmerman’s collection include a group of three dolls, all late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century, with glass eyes and mohair wigs, that a private collector won for $3,278 after competitive bidding.
Another group from the Zimmerman collection was a lot of more than 20 small bisque swivel-neck French miniature dolls under a glass dome that a private collector in Texas who “always buys the best small things we have” snapped up for $3,623.
Leizure said Zimmerman had kept this on the table in her dining room. Zimmerman’s collection also featured an 8½-inch tall black bisque “wrestler” type with open mouth and teeth, mohair wig and plaid dress that achieved $4,428. Making $3,163 was an 18-inch Steiner Gigoteur that had an open mouth, chubby cheeks and a keywind mechanism that Leizure thought was a fairly early doll, circa 1880s.
Withington’s next doll sale is scheduled for October 14-16. If conditions allow, the sale will take place at the Holiday Inn in Nashua, N.H., but if not, the sale will be conducted by absentee online bid.
Withington Auction, Inc., is at 17 Atwood Road. For information, 603-478-3232 or www.withingtonauction.com.