August Auction Report

In these slow, scorching days of August with few auctions taking place, I’m again taking a look at past auctions and how the pieces I highlighted fared.

Neal Auction Co. Summer Estate Auction July 12-13

The sales results from this auction are in, and my top picks made the final top-sellers list.

Let’s take a look at how the sale went starting with Lot 62. Going in with an $8,000-$12,000 estimate, this Period Louis XIV, French carved ebonized, inlaid and paint-decorated library cabinet is one of a kind. Strongly architectural with a variety of exotic inlaid woods, interior compartments, panel’s paint decorated with Saints Mary Magdalene, Catherine, Barbara and Faith, it is in pristine condition. The hammer on this remarkable piece went down on $12,337.50. I recommend that you visit Neal’s site and take a look at this extraordinary piece. I was a little surprised that it did not break the 20-thousand mark, but the library cabinet, for a number of reasons—strong architectural proportions, religious reference and even its color—dictates and, therefore, requires a specific collector.

Lot 357. Keep your eye on the movement of this interesting piece. Good advice for this circa 1885, American Aesthetic brass-and-mixed-metal pedestal jewel casket, made by Charles Parker in Meridan, Conn. It went in with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 and realized $5,100. This fascinating piece of American design is similar to one in the Dallas Museum of Art and to one that sold at the Doyle New York February 7, 2007, sale for 15,600. These two facts alone, plus its uniqueness, should have sent the jewel casket at least to the $10K point. I would be curious to know if the client that purchased the one from Doyle’s purchased this one, as well, to have a pair.

Lot 475. This was an excellent opportunity to purchase the late 17th-century reprint of John Speeds’, the English mapmakers, version of the most famous parts of the world. The map went in with an estimate of $5,000-$7,000. This gem sold, and no surprise there, for $9,000. This map and similar ones printed at the time make fascinating studies in the rather eccentric view of the world in the 1600s.

Two pieces I did not feature in the original article, both American and 19th century, were Lot 267, the mahogany “House of Representatives Chair” designed by Thomas Walter, who was the architect for the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., which sold for $12,925, and Lot 269, a truly lovely American classical carved Grecian sofa with a Philadelphia attribution, which sold for $18,212.50. This is one of a few really fine American Empire pieces out there and well worth the price.

Freeman’s July 11 Furniture and Decorative Art Sale

This Freemans’ sale was rather lackluster in results as far as dollars are concerned but was a great opportunity to pick up deals. Reviewing some of the picks starting with Lots 65 through 67, the Royal Doulton figurals went in with good estimates that reflected current prices at the $200-$350 range. They made a decent showing at Lot 65, $250; Lot 66, $140; and Lot 67 at $120.

The next collection we considered, the Boehm porcelain birds, Lots 68 through 73, with estimates of $150 through $350, made a poor showing, all well under their estimates—Lot 68, $50; Lot 69, $50; and Lot 70 at $70. There seems, comparing with sales results of Boehm from other auction houses, to be a slowing trend here, and I was not surprised to see these pieces go so low.

The retro collectibles, Lot 88, a Danish Modern light fixture with a $300-$500 estimate, sold for $50, and my particular favorite, Lot 90, a 1970s chrome, “Weeping Willow” table lamp, with an estimate of $100-$150, sold for $30. I still say, why buy? Because these are our next generation antiques.

The more serious antique contender was Lot 215, an American School, 19th-century portrait titled, “Child in a Red Dress,” unknown artist but inscribed S F Campbell, done in oil on canvas in what appears to possibly be its original frame. The price realized for this painting was $600, well below its four-figure estimate, meaning the person who bought it got a steal of a deal. Two points—I think this painting was in the wrong sale, and second, it should have been reserved for an Americana sale where it probably would have had a better showing. I still say, why buy? This is a great example of good for the buyer, bad for the seller, but there are a finite number of American 19th-century portraits out there, and there will always be a market for them in the future.

Twentieth-century modern was nicely represented in the furniture line with Lot 313, a Tobia Scarpa Bastiano lounge chair, just one, not a pair, going up with a low estimate of $200-$400. Scarpa was an important 20th-century Italian designer. The lounge chair went for $50. Once again, a perfect buyer’s price. Last, but not least, is Lot 325, a 19th-century, classical, mahogany serpentine-front card table, made in Philadelphia, with a “lure you in” estimate of $400-$600. This piece folded up shop and went home for only $375. A great, simple piece to build an American furniture collection around.

by Christopher Kent
Director of Evaluations, WorthPoint
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