Julia’s hails $5 million sale as the best summer affair yet
ROCKLAND, Maine – James D. Julia’s spectacular antiques and fine art auction at the Samoset Resort has long been a favorite of the summer auction season. This year the Fairfield, Maine, auction company’s three-day extravaganza, Aug. 26-28, featured more than 1,700 lots with sales topping $5 million, making it their biggest summer antiques auction to date.
Bidders in attendance were treated to the breathtaking display in the posh ballroom and adjoining halls of Maine’s most luxurious resort. The sale featured nearly 750 pieces of fine artwork, high style Victorian contents of a Gulf Coast mansion, early American furniture, folk art, pottery, and fine antiques of every kind from some of the finest estates and collections to hit the auction block in many years. Included were the contents of the Richard Paine estate of Seal Cove, Maine, whose auto museum was a world-renowned attraction. His tremendous collection of folk art included a variety of rare weather vanes highlighted by one in the form of a full-bodied standing mule, which carried a $20,000-30,000 estimate. Circa late 19th century, this possibly unique form was a must have for two phone bidders who refused to let it go without a fight. Only one could be victorious, and that is the one who was willing to pay $117,300.
The splendid selection of folk art was underscored by a truly extraordinary carved wood figure of the Goddess of Liberty, which ended up being the top seller of the day. This rare and important, life-size polychrome carving shows the American icon draped in a red and gold trimmed robe and originally resided in Tammany Hall in New York City during the late teens. Never having been offered at public auction, it sold for $143,750 against an estimate of $100,000-$200,000.
Other folk art in the auction also fared well such as an American carved and decorated eagle plaque by C.H. Badger. Exquisitely rendered in the manner of John Bellamy, the small 17-inch gilded spread eagle perched atop crossed draping flags sold for a robust $60,375, about 10 times its $5,000-7,000 estimate. Paine’s tastes in folk art extended into numerous nautical artifacts such as the actual stern boards from various ships. One from the Percy Cann, a circa 1900 steamship that wrecked in December 1905 off Nova Scotia, featured a carved spread eagle over elaborate scrollwork. It brought $36,800, surpassing a $20,000-30,000 estimate.
The auction consisted of many other nautical items including numerous ship portraits as well as a rare American Pilot chart book published by William Norman in 1803. Detailing the eastern coast of North America from Nova Scotia to Maryland and also including a chart for the West Indies, this was a must for early seafarers braving the new and unfamiliar territory. It sailed past its estimate of $40,000-$60,000 to arrive at $97,750.
A collection of nine signed books from the library of President John Adams comprised the works of Moliere. Each volume was signed and dated by the second U.S. president as well as annotated. The consignor’s family purchased the books in the 1930s from an Adams descendant, and this sale marked their first public offering. The set drew $57,500 against an estimate of $20,000-40,000.
From the Paine estate, ship portraits included one for the Hannah McLoon by Maine artist James Babbidge. Shown in full sail cutting through Rockland Harbor, it cut through its $2,000-$3,000 estimate to finish at $22,425. A large oil on canvas portrait by S.F.M. Badger of the schooner Mary Curtis brought $21,850 over its estimate of $12,000-$15,000. An unsigned portrait of an American ship under a nicely rendered break in an otherwise stormy sky sold for $18,975, far exceeding the $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
Strong results were seen in other folk art and there were a few surprises such as two grotesque carved pine tables that were recently discovered in an Ohio farmhouse. Each featured fanciful carvings of theatrical masks, animals and elaborate scrollwork. Both with weathered original surfaces, they quadrupled their respective estimates to finish up at $26,450 and $25,300. An exceptional American hooked rug celebrating the U.S Centennial decorated with a central starburst amid an octagonal kaleidoscope of colors made many bidders reflect on the work that went into making it. It exceeded expectations of $3,000-$4,000 to sell for $20,700.
Session III was comprised of an entire day of fine art. Of the more than 650 works, bidders seemed to favor European and Russian artists, though quality American art also fared well. From the Woolworth Collection, famed department store magnates of the early 20th century, a landscape scene by Belgian artist Eugene Verboeckhoven depicted a shepherd leading his sheep home through verdant pastures before the approaching storm hits. Exquisitely rendered, it hung prominently in the Woolworth’s home in Monmouth, Maine, and sold for $95,450 against an estimate of $80,000-$120,000.
Irish artist Paul Henry was represented by “Evening in Connemara,” an oil on panel depiction of a calm mountainside lake beside a cluster of thatched roofed houses. Fresh to the market, it sold for $97,750 within expectations of $75,000-$125,000. An oil and gouache on paper scene by Maurice Utrillo that featured several pedestrians walking the back streets of Paris was seen at numerous prestigious expositions before being consigned to Julia’s. Here it brought $85,100, more than tripling its $25,000-35,000 estimate. Russian works included a winter scene by Ivan Fedorovich Choultse of a small river winding through snow-covered trees against a sun-drenched mountainous backdrop. His stunningly realistic paintings are always well received and this work sold for $54,625, beating out a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
American artists included Martha Walter’s beach scene of Coney Island showing several vacationers relaxing on the shore and in the water with a pavilion in the background. This oil on board scene brought $45,425 against a $25,000-$40,000 estimate. An idyllic rural setting landscape scene by George Inness featured several cows drinking in shallow water, while a man in a small rowboat takes in the fading sunset. With a complete pedigree from artist to the most recent consignor, it sold within estimate for $39,100. Philip Little’s oil on canvas forest scene of two women out for a sunlit stroll, estimated for $8,000-$12,000, finished up at $23,000. Johann Berthelsen’s oil on canvas scene of New York’s Fifth Avenue in the midst of a snowstorm featured several pedestrians and vehicles struggling to escape the elements. This piece went within estimate for $21,850.
Eastern regional favorites included Rockport-Gloucester artists Charles and Emile Gruppe who have long been staples in Julia’s auctions. The younger Gruppe’s “Drying the Sails” depicted the quintessential New England waterfront scene with numerous fishing and sailing boats at port. This piece sold at mid-estimate for $23,000. The grouping of Gruppes also included Charles’ oil on canvas board scene of fishing boats in Gloucester Harbor that just topped the high estimate to bring $12,650.
The sale’s offering of furniture boasted a tremendous variety of genres ranging from the simple elegance of early American to the high style Victorian era. The latter category included a monumental museum quality Rococo rosewood étagère attributed to Belter, circa 1860, which featured a finely carved crest with a cherub holding a floral garland over two columns fraught with intricately carved birds, flowers, vines and leaves. All original, this exquisite piece sold within its estimate for $109,250. Nothing was “standard” about a Wooton Standard Grade walnut secretary that featured a three-quarter gallery with burl panels and spool finials. The gorgeous case with elegant carvings and brass hardware opened to reveal a fold-down writing surface and an interior filled with scores of cubbies and compartments. It brought $16,100 against a $15,000-20,000 estimate.
The second session included a large quantity of early American and European furniture and fared considerably well. A rare pilgrim century Massachusetts carved oak chest attributed to the Savell Shop in Braintree came fresh from a Bucksport, Maine, home with a $6,000-$9,000 estimate and sold for $33,925. A Southern Federal inlaid mahogany sideboard, circa 1810, featured a bowfront central section that incorporated string-inlaid panels above the conforming case within a satinwood inlaid panel. All raised on four string-inlaid legs with banded cuffs, it originated in South Carolina, but spent many years in the aforementioned Bucksport, Maine, home. It sold for $19,550 at the top end of its $15,000-$20,000 estimate. An outstanding Queen Anne curly maple New England highboy exhibiting bold graining, a dovetailed case, molded cornice, center fan carving, and a plethora of drawers brought $12,650 over an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.
Bidders were also delighted with a marvelous array of accessories, including clocks, jewelry, Oriental rugs, jade and ivory. In the clock category, surprises included a fine Queen Anne burl walnut long case clock with 32-day works by Daniel Quare of London. Circa 1710, this elaborate piece with fretwork on the bonnet and gold filigree around the dial, sold for $80,500 against an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. No one could have predicted that an Aaron Willard presentation banjo clock decorated with flowers, an eagle, and a harbor scene would be the object of a bidding battle. It ended up at $48,300, far exceeding expectations of $2,500-$4,000.
Other accessories included selections from the Woolworth collection, which proved to be popular. A pair of William IV trophy loving cups engraved “Won at Duncannon Races” sold for $8,625 over an estimate of $800-$1,200. Their collection of 19th century Chinese jade included an outstanding two-handled covered bowl with reticulated cover depicting birds, plants and figures that surpassed expectations of $4,000-$6,000 to finish up at $13,800. An exquisite pair of jade candleholders in the form of fanciful birds flew to $10,350, well over the $4,000-$6,000 estimate. And a pair of carved garniture vases with flared rims and scrolling leaf tip decoration sold for $9,775 against a $6,500-$8,500 estimate.
Going back several centuries was an offering of artifacts dating to approximately the third century and before. A cast bronze bust of Jupiter sold for $4,715 and a Roman bronze bust of Athena wearing a Corinthian helmet brought $4,025, both doubling their estimates. Predating even these finds was a Campanian amphora vase from approximately the fourth century B.C. that depicted a satyr and a female figure. This piece sold for $8,625 over an estimate of $300-$500.
Julia’s famous firearms and military memorabilia auction will take place Oct. 6-7. This event will offer between $14 million and $20 million in rare antique firearms. Included will be what is considered the finest martial Colt Walker in existence and estimated to fetch up to $1 million. Julia’s toy and doll auction as well as a rare lamp and glass auction will follow in November, and their next antiques and fine art auction is scheduled for February.
Julia’s is accepting consignments. For information contact their offices at James D. Julia Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937, phone 207-453-7125 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE