WINDSOR, CONN. — “It was a great way to start! We believe it was the highest-grossing auction we’ve ever had,” stated auction house principal Heather Nadeau the day following Nadeau’s Auction Gallery’s outstanding New Year’s Day sale, January 1. “We’re ecstatic with the results!” she commented. And rightly so, as lot after lot exceeded the high estimates after fierce bidding from the standing-room-only crowd in competition with a full bank of phone bidders and active Internet bidding.
Preview for the sale was active from the start, with calls flooding into the gallery as soon as the first ads broke in the press. Virtually every seat in the house was occupied and every available spot in the preview area, from beds to chairs, had members of the overflow crowd perched on them.
As always, the first 100 lots offered at the beginning of the New Year’s Day auction consisted almost entirely of estate jewelry, and there were numerous surprises among the offering. Items from the Old Lyme collection of Robert Arrowsmith were included, as well as select contents from two Manhattan apartments and a portion of a massive collection from a home Essex. Items were also consigned to the auction from the New Britain Museum of Art and the Farmington Historical Society.
The first lot of the auction was a gold bangle set with three diamonds that carried a $400/600 estimate. Opening for bidding at $325, the lot concluded moments later well above estimate, at $1,053. The first lot to take off was a ruby necklace that had been presented to the daughter of wealthy banker Thomas Leeming upon her marriage to Gilbert Thirkield. Ms Lemming had refused Thirkield’s proposals on several occasions, but eventually relented and was gifted the necklace as a wedding present. The 18-inch-long ruby necklace with gold clasp carried an estimate of $3/5,000; when bidding had subsided, it sold to a gentleman in the rear of the gallery for $18,000.
A platinum and diamond three-stone ring followed, selling at the high estimate of $12,600, and it was succeeded by a sapphire and diamond pendant by Anton Horvath. This lot, estimated at $4/6,000, featured a large cushion-shaped sapphire surrounded by 98 diamonds and four additional sapphires. It was also accompanied by its original Anton Horvath box and was complete with his original drawing for the brooch. Bidding opened modestly at $3,000, with numerous people in the crowd chasing the lot. At $12,000, one bidder tried to cut the $1,000 increment to $500, but was ignored when another bidder took up the slack.
The piece once again moved rapidly to the $20,000 mark with competition coming from two people in the gallery and a phone bidder. At $40,000 competition narrowed to the phone bidder and a gentleman seated on the side of the gallery. Moving in $2,500 increments, the lot progressed to $80,000, where the bidder in the room hesitated, and after some thought hit the lot at $82,500. The phone bidder reacted with an immediate bid of $85,000 and the bidder in the room appeared to be out until countering at the last possible moment with a bid of $87,500. The phone bidder, not to be outdone, shot right back and claimed the lot at $108,000, including premium.
Other jewelry lots included a platinum three-diamond ring that sold for $14,400, and a platinum with emerald and diamonds at $16,800.
Another of the big surprises of the auction came as a Seventeenth Century Iranian illuminated book was offered. Abu Al-Qasim Firdawsi (D. 1025 AD): Shahmama Safavid contained 32 painted miniatures and was from the library of Theodore Weicker. Measuring 11 by 7 inches, the cover was in red lacquer and it was fitted into a later leather case. It was estimated at $4/6,000 and auctioneer Ed Nadeau commented that the phone started ringing off the hook once the news got out in the Middle East about the rare volume. “We had one buyer call for a line of credit and when we told him $25,000, he said ‘Oh no, I want to buy the book,’” said Nadeau. Bidding on the lot was fierce, concluding at $78,000.
A first American edition of Moby Dick from the first binding listed a provenance of the Perry G. Childs library to Charles Walker Andrews to the consignor and it carried a $4/8,000 estimate. Bidding on this lot, from 1851, took off as well, selling at $30,750. Also sold was an autographed limited edition of The Writing of Mark Twain, published by American Publishing in 1899. The set, number 391 of 512, was estimated at $5/10,000 and sold for $18,000.
Two other lots that attracted major attention were Martin Lewis drypoint prints. The first to be offered was the 1930 edition of “Stoops in the Snow,” one of 115 recorded impressions. The lot was the subject of a great deal of activity, with numerous people in the gallery hoping to take it home. Estimated at $10/20,000, the lot was cataloged as “a fine impression on white paper with full margins.” Slightly toned and with the original Frederick Keppel & Co. label, the print was pencil signed Martin Lewis. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $31,590. “Bay Windows,” a 1929 drypoint print from an edition of 104 by Lewis, was offered next and it, too, attracted a great deal of interest, bringing $20,400.
A selection of Audubon hand colored engravings by Havell, 1835, did well, with a large folio titled “Great American Cock Male Vulgo” depicting a wild turkey leading the way at $36,000. “Great American Hen and Young Vulgo” sold at $24,000, as did “Brown Pelican.” Audubon’s large folio engraving “Hooping Crane” garnered $14,400.
Other art in the auction included a dramatic fishing seascape at sunset by Edward Moran that quadrupled estimate on its way to a selling price of $28,800. A Guy Penne du Bois oil of a nude woman sold at $18,000, and a Russian painting titled “Spanish Town” attributed to Pyotr Petrovich Konchalovsky did well at $11,070.
A seven-piece Tiffany silver tea and coffee service in the Union Square design went out at $10,800, and a palace-sized Sultanabad carpet with a rare overall ivory design, 11 feet 9 inches by 19 feet 9 inches, brought $29,250.
All prices include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.nadeausauction.com or 860-246-2444.