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Auction Report: November 11, 2008

by Sandra Lee Stuart (11/11/08).

Freeman’s Auction House has not only the distinction of being America’s oldest auction house for art, antiques and collectibles, it has always been the forerunner presenting some of the best sales in Americana, as well. This sale, the American Furniture and Decorative Arts sale 1321, slated for Nov. 22, has other houses beaten, hands down, for presenting some of the best, finest and uniquely American examples of design and style. To say that this Freeman’s sale is important is an understatement.

Le Roux silver tankard

Lot 21, an American silver tankard with an estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 will ignite the sale. With an attribution to Bartholomew Le Roux, the only Huguenot silversmith working in New York City in the 17th/18th century, this museum-quality tankard will undoubtedly be the focal point of a public or private collection and will set the tone for the rest of the sale.

Portrait by Charles Peale Polk

Lot 126 is the portrait of Mr. McCausland and his daughter, Frances P. McCausland, by Charles Peale Polk (1767-1822), nephew of Charles Willson Peale. Polk is more limner than portrait painter. His sometimes flat rendering of his subjects is indicative of the style of American portraits of the time He is, nevertheless, well represented in major public collections. It will be interesting to see what bottom line this paintings achieves. Estimate: $40,000 to $60,000.

Federal tall-case clock

The sale progresses with another superb piece, a Federal tall-case clock, Lot 135, designed, crafted and signed, Oct. 11, 1811, by New Jersey’s premier clockmaker, Isaac Schoonmaker. The clock displays the best of early-19th-century style and design with the unique touches that have distinguished Schoonmaker as one of the most-sought-after clockmakers in the U.S. The estimate of $10,000 to $15,000 will be met and exceeded.

Rococo armchairs

Lot 324, a pair of rococo revival rosewood Stanton Hall armchairs is a major design departure from the more spare design pieces listed heretofore. Designed by J+ JW Meeks, 1836-1855, this pair of chairs embodies the flamboyance of the rococo period with a central rose cartouche design flanked by a pierced crest rail and tufted back, serpentine front seat and carved rail on cabriole legs terminating in stylish scroll feet. Estimate: $4,000 to $6,000.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts seal

Lot 358, a carved-pine seal of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a fascinating piece with an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. Formerly owned by Thomas B. Wanamaker, son of department-store magnate John Wanamaker, this last quarter of the 19th century piece is carved with a figure of an Indian dressed in a shirt, leggings and moccasins, holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other. The motto translated from Latin is “By the sword we seek peace but peace only under Liberty” appears in the bannerette. This seal hung at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and was purchased by Wanamaker at the close of the festivities. The item piques my interest, and I will be fascinated to see what the hammer brings down on this one.

– By Christopher Kent, a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine-arts broker and president of CTK Design.

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