THOMASTON, MAINE — As auctioneer Kaja Veilleux likes to say, what he most loves about this business is not knowing how things will go. An expected top lot might fail to meet its reserve, while a modestly estimated item might take off well above estimate. Such is what keeps buyers and sellers coming to auctions and Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ November 9–10 sale was a perfect example.
Things heated up early Saturday afternoon when the first of two original ink drawings by Frederic Remington crossed the block.
Lot 205 was Remington’s drawing “Sun Fisher,” which was marked with an 1890 copyright although it was not published by Davis & Sanford until 1895. It fetched $166,750. Next up was Remington’s drawing “A Running Bucker,” marked with an 1895 copyright for Davis & Sanford, and going out $184,000. Together, the two drawings brought just over $350,000, far exceeding their individual $20/30,000 estimates.
“It’s great to see that wonderful things, no matter where they’re found or sold, can bring great results if properly promoted. Results from this sale have again demonstrated the market’s interest in newly discovered, fresh-to-the-market, high-quality items,” Veilleux said.
Other standouts in the fine art category included a signed oil on canvas, “Young Girl Combing Her Hair,” by L.G. Lamur that fetched $21,850, Roy Lichtenstein’s “Statue of Liberty,” an unframed but signed ink on cardstock that realized $12,650, and Thomas Hart Benton’s lithograph “Wreck of the Old 97,” which took $11,500. Several oils on canvas from artists with Maine connections also performed well, led by “Moonrise” by Marguerite Thompson Zorach at $13,800, Eastman Johnson’s sketch of a woman in a room, and “Black-head, Monhegan” by Harrison Bird Brown, the latter two each fetching $9,200.
The first few hours of the sale saw some interesting nautical material that performed quite well. Among the highlights was a rare scrimshaw pilot whale tooth with polychromed decoration of a beautiful young woman wearing an antebellum gown. The “sweetheart” tooth attained $1,955. Another highlight was a group of 11 Nineteenth Century nautical charts that came in a canvas bag, including charts of Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The lot opened at $4,740 from an online bidder and sparked a phone-Internet bidding war, eventually going to the determined phone bidder for $10,350, triple its high estimate.
Also offered was a two-part, brass-fitted, camphorwood campaign chest, second quarter Nineteenth Century, at $5,290 and a Nineteenth Century clockwork pond model of the USM (US Mail SS Co) Adriatic, a two-wheeler, for $4,025.
Selling above estimate were an ancient Egyptian limestone fragment showing a sunken relief profile portrait of a young official kneeling, but with his head up, at $6,900, and a Romanesque bas relief tablet of the Madonna and Child, Thirteenth Century, probably Siena, that took $9,200. Antiquities highlights also included an Italian Renaissance alabaster figure of Christ on the road to Calvary, possibly a Station of the Cross piece, that brought $6,325 and a decorative Greco-Roman cast gold rondel with inset garnet and bead adornment for $5,175.
Highlighting furniture offerings were a pair of Chippendale bachelor chests in mahogany, English, in a diminutive size that brought $4,600; a rare Hepplewhite bowfront server with string inlay and block ends that went to a phone bidder for $8,050; a circa 1890 bark and twig Adirondack sideboard with tall, shaped backsplash having a single shelf at $6,325; and a Nineteenth Century heavy oak table, English, in dark finish, having rounded ends and long curved leaves, selling for $4,830.
Leading the jewelry category were a platinum and diamond lady’s ring centered by an emerald-cut diamond, and a three-piece, antique 14K yellow gold and amethyst suite comprising a necklace and pair of earrings. Each brought $9,200. Another highlight among jewelry offerings was a Tiffany & Co. 14K yellow gold, ruby and diamond flexible link bracelet, measuring 6½ inches long, that brought $6,900.
Early militaria included a Civil War-era crude cavalry saber with simple steel blade and unmarked, stamped, brass iron-shaped hilt that brought $5,750 and a Revolutionary War-era powder horn, dated 1775, and owned by Cornelius Feley of the important Farmington Valley, Conn., family, selling for $3,162.
Ten hooked rugs crossed the block as Part I of the Barrie and Michael Pribyl Collection (the second part will be offered this winter). Several fine examples were signed by nearby Waldoboro, Maine, hooker Margaret Wellman. Standouts included a late 1800s–early 1900s Waldoboro hearth rug measuring 34½ by 78 inches, having a floral design, that was exhibited at the American Textile History Museum in 1999, that achieved $8,050 and a pictorial hooked rug with scenes of Maine, including lighthouse, a village, trees and water, made by Ivy, Houlton, 6 feet 7 inches by 6 feet 10 inches, going out at $6,900.
Asian arts are still red-hot at auction and highlights crossing the block included a Chinese jade sculpture of a seated Quan Yin with praying child, Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century, on a carved wood stand at $12,075 and a carved white jade box with russet tones, also Chinese, in a four-lobed form with overall carving of fruit branches selling at $9,200.
Late on Sunday during the second session, a grouping of Brother Thomas pottery closed out the sale, with just over 30 lots crossing the block. Standouts include a canteen-form vase with flat rim, Honan Tenmoku glaze, measuring 9 by 7½ by 3½ inches, that attained $5,462, as did a large Meiping-form vase with the same glaze, while a Meiping-form vase with a small standing neck and flared rim, in celadon and copper red glaze, 7 inches tall with a 5-inch diameter, fetched $4,312. A deep round charger, in raspberry glaze with aqua-blue spatter, with his monogram, fetched $2,415.
Rounding out the auction an Eighteenth Century Italian copy of a Francesco Goffriller cello for $5,750, a pair of American knife boxes, Hepplewhite period, having a mahogany serpentine front with oval conch shell inlaid slant lids at $4,715; a cast iron hitching post of Abraham, the black stable boy who held the lantern for the Crossing of the Delaware, at $4,600; and an English Victorian sterling silver ewer with applied cast three-piece figural decoration, 1861, for $5,750.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.