HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – An important and complete 132-piece modern hammered sterling flatware service for 12 by the renowned California silversmith Allan Adler sold for $15,525 at Leland Little’s June 13-14 Historic Hillsborough auction. It was the grand opening event for the firm in its new gallery location, at 620 Cornerstone Court in Hillsborough.
Allan Adler honed his craft in California in the 1930s, and developed a strong following among many Hollywood celebrities (he once hosted Katharine Hepburn at his workbench as an apprentice), as well as presidents, museum curators and silver collectors. He once described his work as “clean lines with a bent toward the unconventional,” and that was evident in the large service that changed hands.
The silver service was the top earner of the more than 800 lots that crossed the block during the two days. About 250 people packed the showroom for the Saturday session, while around 150 bidders were counted on Sunday. Just under 1,000 absentee and phone bids were recorded going into Saturday, and Internet bidding was brisk via LiveAuctioneers.com, with around 500 registered bidders participating online.
“There was a great deal of anticipation leading up to the premiere event at our new gallery,” said Leland Little of Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd. “The results exceeded our expectations. The auction was a hit, and everyone was favorably impressed with our modern, 10,000-square-foot facility. It’s a great environment for buyers and sellers to view items from our collections that come to market.”
The sale was preceded by a week-long preview, highlighted by an opening-night gala on June 11, at which the noted antiques expert Albert Sack had kind words to say about the Leland Little company; and a special lecture presentation on June 12 by Johanna M. Brown, director of collections and a curator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). Another MESDA curator, June Lucas, will be the guest speaker at the firm’s cataloged auction scheduled for Dec. 5-6.
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted are inclusive of buyer’s premium:
The runner-up top lot was a French mid-19th century Raingo Freres figural mantel clock that served as cover art for the auction catalog. Featuring a porcelain signed dial and unmarked time and strike brass movement set within a gilt bronze urn on a matching acanthus footed base, the clock brought $9,775. Also, an ornate German wall clock made in 1880 and with nice color and patina realized $2,990.
A signed Tiffany Studios counterbalance desk lamp with heavy patinated bronze construction throughout and a webbed damascene shade lit up the room for $8,912; an Irish sterling silver soup tureen with cover (Georgian, 1821), with figural engravings, soared to $8,050; and a Staffordshire historic blue plate (circa 1820s), commemorating Gen. Lafayette’s 1824-25 tour of the U.S., hit $2,530.
Fine art was offered in abundance. A 19th-century American still life theorem (watercolor on velvet) rose to $8,625; a pastel on paper portrait of a child by Lila Cabot Perry (American, 1848-1933) went for $6,038; and an 18th-century American school portrait of a young boy, oil on canvas, made $5,750. The top lot sold through LiveAuctioneers was a signed oil-on-canvas depiction of a shepherd by George Turner II (British, 1843-1910), which topped out at $4,248.
An Egyptian bronze statuette depicting a seated Isis with the infant Harpokrates coasted to $3,680; an oil on canvas by James Yarborough (American, 20th century) titled Noreen & Laurie, hit $2,990; an oil-on-canvas work by Jerome Blum (Ill./ N.Y., 1884-1956), titled Woman in Green (1911), achieved $2,530; and a red chalk drawing on paper by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Italian, 1591-1666) made $1,150.
Fine period furniture pieces from prominent local estates wowed the crowd. Top earners included a mid-Atlantic early 19th-century butler’s chest with figured mahogany veneers ($2,300); and an 18th-century Continental pine pewter cupboard with original mustard paint and hardware ($2,070). Also, a circa-1910 Karabagh rug brought $2,185, and a circa-1900 Shahsavan bag realized $3,105.
Estate jewelry did well. A Mikimoto triple-strand pearl necklace with 18K yellow gold clasp, four diamonds and four pearls fetched $3,680; an 18K yellow gold men’s emerald and diamond ring, appraised at $5,200, went for $2,185; and a 14K platinum and diamond lady’s Hamilton watch found a new wrist for $1,610. Also, a mourning miniature with hair brooch (S.C., 1802) hammered for $2,990.
From decorative accessories, a gorgeous pair of Japanese Satsuma vases (circa 1860-1880), in tapering baluster form, went to a determined bidder for $7,188; a Belle Epoque figural centerpiece (French, circa 1880-1920), garnered $1,955; a rare Art Deco cast-iron sundial (circa 1930s), spherical in form, demanded $1,610; and an early 20th-century Egyptian Revival Sphinx inkwell sold for $1,150.
Regional folk art pottery was a hit, per usual. A Burlon Craig 3-gallon face jug (N.C., circa 1980) breezed to $2,645; a 20th-century chip carved figural of a black preacher, titled Man of the Cloth (circa 1900), reached $1,150; and a Billy Ray Hussey cat doorstop, signed on the bottom, went for $748. Also, a restored pre-Columbian Guatemalan pot with polychrome decoration changed hands for $3,450.
Decoys struck an impressive pose. A handsome Brant decoy (Ocracoke, N.C.) was a hit for $5,060; a Southern swan decoy by an unknown maker (but probably crafted in Virginia or North Carolina) settled at $1,150; and a Canada goose decoy by Ira Hudson – an early production example, with tack eyes, a belligerent pose and old paint – saw a top bid of $1,610.
Top earners among firearms were a flintlock long rifle with no maker’s mark (circa 1790-1820), with an octagonal barrel and 3/8-inch bore ($2,185); a North Carolina percussion long rifle by Enoch Kennedy (Moore County., circa 1830-1850), with 36-inch octagonal barrel and walnut half stock ($1,725); and an English flintlock over/under double-barrel pistol (approximately .45 caliber, circa 1780-1820, $920).
To contact Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd., call 919-644-1243 or email info@LLAuctions.com. Visit them online at www.LLAuctions.com.
To view the June 13-14 catalog with prices realized online through LiveAuctioneers.com, click here.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE