Small Thrift Shop Find Brings Big Price At John McInnis Auction

AMESBURY, MASS. — “Seated Men” by Twentieth Century Korean artist Park Soo-Keun sold for $103,500 at the John McInnis August 12 sale. The tiny oil on board, found in a California thrift shop, is much smaller (4½ by 5¼ inches) than other works by the same artist sold at McInnis. It generated significant international interest and went to a Korean American collector underbid by a knowledgeable Korean collector. McInnis sold Park Soo-Keun’s 10½-by-8½-inch oil and mixed media on board “A Seated Woman” in October 2008 for $460,000, and his oil on board “Recess” that measured 9½ by 13¼ inches for $409,500 in July 2010.

Japanese artist Kinosuke Ebihara painted the evocative nocturnal snow scene of what appears to be a western village, “Neije, or House by the River,” in 1927 when he still worked in France. It had extensive provenance and sold for $11,500 to an Internet buyer. It is headed back to Japan.

Of a group of Anthony Thieme paintings, all purchased from the artist and from a Worcester collection, all went to private collections. The Cape Ann artist’s signed oil on canvas overmantel “White Birches in a Fall Landscape” measured 22 by 39 inches and realized $21,850. Thieme’s framed and glazed oil on board Venetian scene sold for $4,025, as did “Gloucester Fishing Boats at Dock.” The oil on artist board scene “Dutch Canal” with chickens represented a steal at $2,588.

Paintings from all points sold. Fort Pierce, Fla., artist Beanie Backus, formally known as A.E. Backus, is often associated with the Florida Highwaymen. He was pretty much self-taught, except for two summer stints at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, and his work is increasingly desirable. “Florida Landscape” came from a Florida estate and sold for $20,700. The painting came to the McInnis gallery in Stuart, Fla., from a consignor who acquired it in Miami and it went to a Miami dealer.

New York artist Charles Warren Eaton’s Tonalist “Summer Twilight” retained the Grand Central Galleries label and sold for $7,180. Work by another New York artist, “On the Hudson, April 1866,” a view of a solitary sailboat against a darkening sky by Casimir Glayton Griswold, sold online for $6,900. A Vermont view, John Bunyan Bristol’s oil on canvas “Larrabee’s Point — Lake Champlain” brought $4,600.

Of a group of pictures by Emile Gruppe, the Cape Ann harbor scene “Boats at Dock” sold online for $4,888.

Two New Mexican scenes by Santa Fe artist Warren Eliphalet Rollins were the oil on canvas “The Home of New Mexico’s First Governor” dedicated to Aunt Mary in 1917, which sold for $4,025, as did the oil on canvas board “Street by Moonlight (New Mexico).”

The English oil on canvas “Escort to the Track” depicts a top-hatted rider aboard a black horse leading a riderless horse in a blanket. It sold online for $4,888.

Kentucky artist Henry Faulkner began as a boy to make paint from pokeberries. His two framed oil on Masonite still lifes with flowers were a good buy and sold online for $3,738.

Bidding on a Herschell-Spillman carousel horse in original paint that retained the original tail and tack opened at $4,500 and advanced easily to $18,400. The lot was accompanied by a 1977 obituary for artist Paul Riba, who used the figure in his Magical Realism paintings and from whose estate it was purchased. It went to a Midwestern collection.

Bidding cards fluttered all over the room for the first lot of the day, an Eighteenth Century coin silver cann made in Philadelphia by Philip Syng Jr, that sold ultimately on the phone for $13,800. The cann was engraved “Ann Newbold” and was descended through the family of Congressman Thomas Newbold of New Jersey, coming to market from a New York City estate. Syng was designated a goldsmith and, as a pal of Benjamin Franklin, was active in Philadelphia society and politics. He was a founder of the Junto and was active in the establishment of the library, a fire company, the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, the American Philosophical Company and a fishing and hunting colony.

The same phone bidder, a dealer, paid $3,450 for the framed wax portrait “Thomas Newbold, member of Congress in 1812” that was signed G.M. Miller. It came with documentation from the same estate as the cann.

An Eighteenth Century New Hampshire Queen Anne grain painted chest on chest from the Dunlap School was in untouched condition, having no repairs, replacements or missing parts. Bidding opened at $4,000 and ended when it sold in the gallery for $16,100. A State of Maine diminutive blanket box in green and yellow sponge paint came from a Massachusetts estate and sold for $6,900.

Other furniture included a cherry high chest with graduated drawers and large pinwheels on central drawers on the top and the bottom that opened at $3,500 and sold for $5,175. A late Eighteenth Century cherry bachelor’s chest with a notched top and four graduated drawers sold online for $4,888.

An early Twentieth Century Adams-style mahogany and satinwood breakfront cabinet stood large, measuring 104 by 103 inches, and had been found in a Park Avenue hotel. It was claimed online for $6,900.

An American Hepplewhite mahogany jewelry box had an interesting history and sold for $1,265. It had belonged to a “Dr Marryck” of Charleston, S.C., and was subsequently captured by the British in the War of 1812 and ended up in the hands of the Snowden family of Philadelphia.

One Sheraton mahogany chest of four drawers with a bird’s-eye maple top and bird’s-eye maple and string inlay drawer fronts sold for $1,840. Another, a Maine Sheraton chest of drawers with turned legs and fancy wavy birch legs, brought $230 from Joe McInnis, one of John McInnis’ three children who is taking it to school. As he hammered it down, McInnis, wearing his Kennedy auction tie, observed from the podium, “See? The younger generation does buy.” He added that he will not be moving it. Bets are on.

Online bidding was particularly strong; absentee bids were as well. The presence and participation by a number of other young buyers was noticeable.

Two French prisoner of war ship models sold. One, a carved ivory example with three masts, deck guns, two rows of cannon and a figure head, went for $8,050, and the other of carved bone with bone veneer depicted a frigate with standing rigging brought $4,600.

A Louis Vuitton trunk in the trademark checkered canvas with wood strapping sold online for $4,313.

A miniature watercolor on ivory portrait of a gentleman was signed and dated, “C. Fraser Charleston Sept. 1836,” and brought $17,875. Charles Fraser was a lawyer and artist in Charleston. The portrait was part of a group of objects sold that related to the Cohen family of Savannah and Charleston. The same buyer took a lot of nine daguerreotypes and ambrotypes that descended from cotton merchant Octavus Cohen of Savannah, including an ambrotype of Cohen himself, for $3,385 against the estimated $300/400.

A rare Savannah Sheraton mahogany upholstered armchair from the Cohen family collection realized $1,380 to an absentee bidder. A Bohemian decanter in red overlay glass etched to clear with a whiskey label was also related to the Cohen family and sold online for $805.

The Eighteenth Century Salem tiger maple tall clock by Samuel Luscomb was signed and dated 1739 and realized $2,875

An early soft paste tea service decorated with strawberries was exceptionally pretty and sold for $2,185.

An Eighteenth Century Georgian mahogany and parcel-gilt wall mirror perked up the phones, which pushed it to $3,450 from one of them. It was made with a broken pediment crest with a carved eagle and garlands of flowers.

A couple of Continental pieces sneaked into the sale that was otherwise replete with American and Asian work. A pair of Eighteenth Century giltwood console tables with later green faux marble tops fetched $6,440. A Nineteenth Century French gilt-bronze stand had enameled decoration and dramatically patterned onyx on the top, the column and the base. It sold online for $4,888, while a late Nineteenth Century French gilt-bronze three piece surtout du table drew $3,450 from an absentee bidder. A late Nineteenth Century French table with marquetry inlay of flowers and musical instruments and gilt-bronze ormolu decoration sold for $4,313.

From an African safari, the pair of 87½-inch elephant tusks sold to a collector for $25,875. The tusks were taken in the 1960s and were mounted in wrought iron bases.

Bidders in pursuit of good Asian material had some choice objects to consider. A large, 69¾ by 42¼ inches, Chinese carved huanghuali wood center table went to an Internet bidder for $16,100, and a large Japanese Meiji period exhibition urn that stood nearly 7½ feet high and fashioned with dragons, foo dogs and warriors brought $13,800.

The odd and esoteric is always of interest in this quarter. A replica of the William Thomas Green Morton’s ether inhaler used in 1846 in the first public demonstration of ether as an anesthetic at Massachusetts General Hospital was one of five examples commissioned. With a wooden base and shipping container, the device sold for $3,450 to a physician from that hospital.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.

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