SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – For nearly half a century, family-owned Stephenson’s Auctioneers & Appraisers has served the Philadelphia tri-state area with its popular weekly sales, but the company’s most highly anticipated event of the year is always its New Year’s Sale, this season to be held on Jan. 1 and 2.
The New Year’s Sale, which is sometimes held on a single day and other times over a two-day period, has been a company tradition for the past 20 years. “It’s our biggest auction of the year and generally draws the biggest crowd and best prices of all our sales, so there’s always a lot of anticipation,” said auctioneer and appraiser Cindy Stephenson. Ms. Stephenson assumed the auction-business reins from the company’s founder, her still-active father, Robert L. Stephenson. While low-key in her approach, Cindy continues a legacy of distinction for her work with estates from Philadelphia’s most exclusive suburbs.
The opening session of the Jan. 1-2 sale incorporates estate antiques and fine art from several fine homes in the region, including a residence in West Orange, N.J., whose owner was an avid collector of many categories; and an upper Bucks County (Pa.) home whose owners had enlisted the services of a talented professional decorator. “Some of the newer, better pieces, such as the Baker and Kittinger furniture, came from that particular house,” said Stephenson.
An extensive array of china, glassware, porcelain and pottery awaits bidders on New Year’s Day. Among the highlights are an 11-piece hand-painted fish set featuring a 25-inch platter, a 13-piece Limoges hand-painted porcelain game set, and a set of six Haviland & Co. Limoges oyster plates. A Hazel-Atlas cobalt Royal Lace service for 12, with additional serving pieces, is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. The Asian taste is amply accommodated by a stunning 23-inch Japanese porcelain vase with bronze mounted dragon handles, an Imari vase and rice bowls; a Kutani water pitcher, and several pieces of late-18th-century Chinese export china. Other coveted names represented in the expansive china, glass and porcelain selection include Royal Crown Derby, Fondeville, Wilhelm Sattler & Son, Steuben, Roseville, Orrefors, Waterford and Lalique.
The soft luster of fine silver will also enhance the opening session. Key lots include two Russian silver enameled cases by Nikolai Kulikoff and a 15-inch-tall J. E. Caldwell sterling silver vase (est. $1,000-$1,600). Many other pieces of silver, including flatware and individual decorative and utilitarian items, bear the names of such manufacturers as Gorham, S. Kirk & Son, and Wallace.
The artwork to be auctioned spans hundreds of years and many different styles and media. George Morland’s (English, 1763-1804) oil-on-canvas painting titled Gypsy Encampment is estimated at $3,000-$5,000; while an imposing portrait of a seated gentleman signed Alexander 1819 is expected to make $2,500-$4,000.
Starting the year off right will be a cinch for collectors who have an eye for fine estate jewelry. Stephenson’s dazzling auction assortment includes Victorian and Art Deco gold and diamond rings and earrings, and traverses into the showier mid-century styles that incorporate large stones and unusual motifs. The market’s insatiable interest in Asian jewelry should bring many bidders to the table for a 14K gold and ivory bead necklace with a hand-carved and colored geisha accent. Jade pieces include two bangle bracelets, a hand-carved pendant and a beaded necklace. Small and chic, an Egyptian Revival beetle pin in silver mounting is estimated at $120-$250, while a sterling silver enameled and hand-painted lady’s necessaire (compact) could bring $200-$300.
Changing the mood of a room is often accomplished with the addition of a single striking piece of furniture. A wealth of ideas can be found in Stephenson’s Jan. 1 sale, starting with two Chippendale mahogany chests of drawers, a two oak bent-glass china cabinets with lion heads and paw feet, and a Stickley mahogany Federal-style inlaid sideboard. An American Atelier lounge chair and ottoman exhibit the desirable minimalist style of Charles Eames – just the things to pair up with an Orlando Diaz-Azcuy “Ventana” cocktail table. Kittinger designs include a mahogany tea table, “Old Dominion” Biggs lowboy, a flame-mahogany and inlaid dining table with two leaves and a mahogany breakfront, among many other pieces by this manufacturer.
Details count, and that’s where decorative accessories shine. The New Year’s Day session includes many highlights in this category, including a marked 1940s Carl Hagenauer copper face mask (est. $4,000-$6,000), a pair of circa-1920 wrought-iron gates from a Philadelphia home (est. $600-$1,000), a carved African ivory vase, and three Japanese gourd scrimshaws. Hand-tied Oriental carpets include Sarouk, Kirman, and Chinese-made textiles, among other productions. Another lot not to be missed is the pair of foo dog figurines.
Meriting special attention is a circa-1900 vintage wooden bowling pins game with a baseball theme (est. $1,000-$1,800). The hand-stitched leather ball is covered with silver-plated medallions of baseball stars Big Dan Brouthers (1858-1932) and John Clarkson (1861-1909). A melodious addition is the Hepp & Son Philadelphia mahogany-cased tabletop music box, in working order with cylinder.
Day two of the auction is devoted exclusively to a single-owner collection of antique and vintage dolls, Steiff toys and other older teddy bears. “The owner, a woman from Philadelphia, had thousands of dolls in her collection. The better pieces from the estate will be offered in our sale,” said Cindy Stephenson.
Stephenson’s Auctioneers & Appraisers will hold its New Year’s Antique & Decorative Arts Auction on Friday, Jan. 1, with a special Saturday, Jan. 2 session exclusively devoted to the single-owner collection of dolls, Steiff and vintage teddy bears. The sale will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. on Saturday. The preview for both auction sessions will be held on Dec. 31 from 1-5 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 1 from 8-10 a.m. Dolls and teddies also may be previewed on the Saturday from 9-11 a.m., prior to the start of the second session.
All forms of bidding will available, including live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com. For information on any item in the sale, call 215-322-6182 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the auction company’s Web site at www.stephensonsauction.com.
View a fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the sale at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE