CINCINNATI – A striking selection of 18th- and 19th-century silver and furniture achieved exceptional prices during the March 30th American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction at Hindman. Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal furniture sold for strong prices, and music players also caught the attention of bidders. Additional top lots included four Andrew Clemens sand bottles that displayed the development of the renowned artist’s craft. A painting by William B.T. Trego depicting General Custer leading his men on horseback, from the collection of the Bloomington Public Library in Bloomington, Illinois, was another important lot. For years, the painting was believed to be completely lost.
Silver tableware saw excellent bidding activity, highlighted by two tea and coffee services: one by Gorham Mfg. Co., which realized $31,500 against a $12,000-$15,000 estimate, and one by Tiffany & Co., which earned $18,000 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. In addition, an American Baroque style repousse silver pitcher soared past its $2,000-$4,000 estimate to sell for $11,970.
“With most of the items in this category selling for above their estimates, the auction underscored the fact that the market for silver is very strong,” said Hindman Vice President & Senior Specialist of American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts Ben Fisher.
A highlight among the furniture choices was a Federal inlaid bird’s eye maple and mahogany tambour writing desk that realized $8,820, more than double its high estimate. Horace Livingston, a Vermont cabinetmaker, clearly took pride in this work, displayed through his inscription in every drawer. A Baltimore Federal mahogany tall case clock, discussed in a 1987 issue of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts’ (MESDA) Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, achieved $11,970.
Queen Anne furniture was also highly sought-after. Examples included a Boston shell-carved walnut stretcher-base claw-and-ball foot compass-seat side chair that doubled its estimate, commanding $8,190. The mid-18th century chair had remained in the same family for more than 125 years and appears to be completely untouched.
Chippendale furniture also performed well, including an 18th-century figured and shell-carved mahogany slant front desk made by a cabinetmaker of the Goddard-Townsend School, likely in Rhode Island. The desk sold for $8,190 against an estimate of $2,000-$4,000. Also, a Renaissance revival marble mounted carved and laminated rosewood etagere attributed to John Henry Belter earned $22,800.
Music players also achieved outstanding prices. A Regina Rookwood paint-decorated drum music box brought $13,860 and a Victrola XVI Circassian walnut phonograph doubled its estimate to sell for $4,410.
A renowned painting, The Charge of Custer at Winchester by military artist William B.T. Trego (1858-1909), the whereabouts of which were previously unknown, exceeded its estimate to achieve $14,490. The quintessential Trego work was discovered through a donation by the Bloomington Public Library in Bloomington, Illinois. Trego won an award for this canvas at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit in 1879, and the subsequent recognition helped launch his career as a preeminent American history painter.
As in past auctions at Hindman, sand bottles by the master of the art form, Andrew Clemens (1857-1894), were among the top lots on March 30. A pair of Clemens Sweetheart sand bottles from 1883 led the sale, realizing $151,200 compared to a $60,000-$80,000 estimate. An 1886 Eagle sand bottle went for $75,600, significantly above its estimate. A bottle dated 1876, featuring an American eagle, Clemens’ most famous motif, rose to $25,000. The bottle was created in advance of the Centennial, a period during which patriotic designs were particularly in-demand.
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