Barnabas Webb coin silver coffee pot, sold for $25,000 at Thomaston Place
THOMASTON, Maine – Like his contemporary Paul Revere, the silversmith Barnabas Webb (circa 1729-95) is celebrated as much for his patriotism as for the quality of his work. In particular, Webb, a third-generation American who enlisted in the Continental Army in February 1776, carved a famous powder horn depicting the end of the Siege of Boston. Sold for $15,600 at Cowan’s in Cincinnati in 2017, it includes what might just be the earliest known representation of the stars and stripes together on an American flag.
Apprenticed to William Homes, Webb practiced as a silversmith in Boston from circa 1750-89 before moving to Maine. A good example of his craft was offered for sale by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries on August 25-27. This baluster form coin silver coffee pot with an acorn finial carries the monogram EW for Elizabeth Weems and is struck with the maker’s mark three times: to the foot, the body and the lid. From the Weems family, it was estimated at $3,000-$5,000 but hammered for $20,000 ($25,000 including buyer’s premium).
Nathaniel Hone’s portrait of John Gray Elmslie, sold for $12,600 at Merrill’s
WILLISTON, Vt. – This 18th-century portrait, sold for $10,000 ($12,600 including premium) at Merrill’s Auctioneers and Appraisers on August 25, is by Nathaniel Hone (1718-84). The Irish-born painter, one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, made his name painting the portraits and the portrait miniatures of the well-to-do of Georgian society. The subject of this 2ft 6in by 2ft 1in canvas, which has craquelure and a minor tear, is identified as John Gray Elmslie (1739 -1822).
Left a valuable estate in Jamaica by his uncle John Gray, Lord Rector of Marischal College in Aberdeen, Elmslie became a West India merchant and slave-owner, sufficiently prosperous to live at 21 Berners Street, London and father 21 children who became the respectable stock of bourgeois Victorian Britain. The family’s Gray’s Inn estate in Jamaica, consisting of some 3,000 acres of sugar-cropping land, is well documented, courtesy of a detailed plan drawn by Elmslie’s grandson, the British architect Edmund Wallace Elmslie, in 1839.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 1491, sold for $48,750 at Roland NY
The Ref. 1491, known to collectors as the Riccio, was made in two variants from circa 1940-58. The first included a subsidiary seconds dial, while the second, like this one, had a higher-spec movement that allowed for a center sweep second hand. Of particular note is the 18K gold case that have what are described as “fancy” scroll lugs that gave the watch an avant-garde touch and ushered in a new era for both the firm and the dress wristwatch. This example, with case and crystal in good condition, also came with a Patek strap that had a gold clasp.
John Orfe work on paper of a futuristic sedan, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1946, sold for $1,100 at Jeffrey S. Evans
MT. CRAWFORD, Va. – Concept drawings by John Orfe (1922-2011), an American automotive and airline designer, appeared for sale at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates on August 25. The mid-century depictions of streamlined vehicles were years ahead of their time.
Orfe was born in Philadelphia and began a life-long love affair with motor racing after seeing his first auto race at the Langhorne Speedway in 1932. After working as a combat artist in the Pacific during the Second World War, he became an influential automotive and airline designer from the middle of the 20th century.
An exhibition of auto racing art by Orfe was held in 2016 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, with the institution later acquiring some of the exhibits.
The 11 pencil drawings and watercolor sketches in the sale dated from the Second World War period until circa 1950, when the artist and his clients had returned to civilian life. They ranged from a watercolor depiction of a racer on a time trial at the Bonneville Salt Flats circa 1939 ($1,000, or $1,250 with buyer’s premium) to a concept drawing for a two-wheeler with retractable stabilizers circa 1944 ($500, or $625 with buyer’s premium). Orfe’s watercolor and charcoal on paper of a futuristic sedan, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1946, estimated at $300-$500 led the selection at $1,100 ($1,375 with buyer’s premium).