BOSTON — Two pieces made for members of the famed Society of the Cincinnati led a single-owner sale of Chinese export porcelain presented at Grogan & Company on August 16. A tea bowl and saucer from a service made for Benjamin Lincoln and a covered equelle made for Samuel Shaw were among more than 1,500 objects assembled during a 40-year period by Bostonian brothers Vartan “Van” Ghugasian and Armen Ghugasian.
The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who had served in the Revolutionary War. Several members commissioned armorial porcelain services from the kilns of Jingdezhen in the 1790s. Pieces made for Major General Benjamin Lincoln, the man who accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, carry a particular status.
This well-preserved tea bowl and saucer decorated with a polychrome rendition of the Order of Cincinnati and the initials BL was last sold by Skinner in Boston in March 2019 for $92,250. Here, estimated at $15,000-$25,000, it took $50,000 ($65,000 with buyer’s premium).
Samuel Shaw is less well known, although he, too, was a major during the war and worked as the first US consul to China from 1786-89. The equelle, applied with a gilt fruit sprig finial, was estimated at $8,000-$12,000 and took $15,000 ($19,500 with buyer’s premium).
The Ghugasians’ Armenian family heritage colored their collecting. As well as wares made for the English, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Dutch markets, there were 10 pieces made for Armenian patrons. This is a rarefied field but one that sparked plenty of competition. There were several elements of a blue and gilt dinner service decorated with a geometric pattern, the Cyrillic monogram AYA and the date 1833. A set of four hot-water plates took $19,000 ($23,750 with buyer’s premium) while, estimated at $300-$500, a sauce tureen and cover brought $17,000 ($21,250 with buyer’s premium).
A rarity created for the English market was a circa-1800 ‘sample’ coffee can and saucer made to help European and American customers in their purchasing decisions. Both pieces are decorated with elements of eight different border decorations. It went to an internet bidder via LiveAuctioneers at $8,500 ($11,050 with buyer’s premium).