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Inlaid walnut corner cupboard made by John Swisegood, which hammered for $33,000 and sold for $41,250 with buyer’s premium at Leland Little on March 15.

John Swisegood Inlaid Walnut Corner Cupboard leads our five auction highlights

John Swisegood Inlaid Walnut Corner Cupboard, $41,250

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – John Swisegood (1796-death date unknown) lived in the Zink family’s log cabin constructed by John Jacob Zink (1788-1866) while building this inlaid walnut corner cupboard from timber milled on the farm around 1814.

The cupboard was bequeathed to John Jacob’s son, who went by the name Joseph Sink (1827-1892) and lived in the cabin his entire life, aside from the years he was in the Confederate Army. Subsequently, the cupboard passed to Joseph’s son, David Henderson Sink (1860-1934), who lived at the cabin until he married at age 20. The cupboard then passed to David’s son, Odell Sink (1902-1966); and then to Odell’s son, Jimmie Sink (1930-2007); and finally to Jimmie’s son, Keith Sink, who consigned it to Leland Little for its March 15 Decorative Art Auction.

Starting at just $150, bidding immediately jumped to $19,500 and continued to a final hammer of $33,000, selling for $41,250 with buyer’s premium.

Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder Camera With 53mm Xpres Lens, $37,780

Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder camera with a 53mm Xpres lens by Ross of London, which hammered for £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium at Chiswick Auctions on March 21.
Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder camera with a 53mm Xpres lens by Ross of London, which hammered for £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium at Chiswick Auctions on March 21.

LONDON – Austin Farahar, head of cameras and photography at Chiswick Auctions, was recently contacted by a budding documentary photographer in Vienna who had received a collection of old cameras from his in-laws. Staying up into the early hours to research his new acquisitions, at around 4 am in the morning he had come across a rare British pre-war precision camera that matched one of his new acquisitions. Farahar was delighted to confirm his hunch and suggested an auction estimate of £20,000-£30,000 ($25,280-$37,925).

The Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder was made in two models between 1936 and 1938. It was described in Ensign catalogs as ‘a precision miniature camera of unrivaled merit without any of the disadvantages of extreme long length of film, necessitating a large number of exposures before developing.’ Costing as much as many Leica cameras at the time, it was sold with a range of five lenses ascending in price from 19 pounds, 10 shillings to 40 pounds. The Ross Xpres f/.9 lens included with this example was among the most expensive additions, and it is highly prized today.

Farahar says that fewer than five similar cameras had been offered at auction in the last 20 years, and estimates that fewer than 50 were ever made. Prices for cameras with this lens have rocketed as a result. One of these made £31,000 ($39,200) at Flints in Berkshire, England in November 2022. The estimate for Chiswick’s new discovery was spot on: it took £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium as part of the March 21 sale titled The Bigger Picture: Fine Photographica & Panoramas. The vendor plans to use some of the proceeds from the sale to fund a photography trip to Ukraine, and is considering eye surgery so he can use his camera without the need for glasses. 

J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ $58,470

J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ which hammered for £37,000 ($46,775) and sold for £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium at Cheffins on March 20.
J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ which hammered for £37,000 ($46,775) and sold for £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium at Cheffins on March 20.

CAMBRIDGE, UK – A previously unknown watercolor by Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner (1775-1851) emerged at Cheffins on March 20 as part of the first day of its Fine Sale.

Titled by the artist on the reverse as The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan’s Chapel, St David’s Cathedral, Wales, it was identified from a preliminary illustration from Turner’s own sketchbooks and had been hanging in a Suffolk, England country house collection since at least 1990.

According to Cheffins, the composition draws upon Turner’s 1795 tour of South Wales and is the only fully worked up watercolor of St. David’s in Pembrokeshire. His South Wales Sketchbook includes four architectural studies which relate to his visit to St. David’s, two of which are inscribed with Turner’s own title in his hand – St David’s: Part of the Ruins of the Bishop’s Palace; Bishops [sic] Throne, St. Davids Cathedral; Bishops Vaughan [sic] Chapel and St. David’s: Porch of the Great Hall of the Bishop’s Palace.

Estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,205-$37,810), bidders determined to own the work sent the final hammer to £37,000 ($46,775) or £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium.

Early 19th-century Enamel Lorgnette by Lacloche of Paris, $4,225

Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium at Selkirk Auctioneers on March 15.
Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium at Selkirk Auctioneers on March 15.

ST. LOUIS – Dr. J. William Rosenthal (1922-2007) was a prominent ophthalmologist in New Orleans who enjoyed collecting, documenting, and studying antique eyewear. So accomplished in this realm did he become that he authored the 1994 book Spectacles and Other Vision Aids: A History and Guide to Collecting, the most comprehensive history written on the development of eyeglasses from Europe, America, Japan, and China.

Optical devices from his collection can be found in more than 16 museums, including the Museum of Vision of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. His family has taken the remaining items from his estate and placed them at auction. Selkirk Auctioneers featured this Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, eyewear that employs a handle rather than arms to go behind the ear. Marked Lacloche – Paris, the presale estimate was a modest $200-$500. After nearly 40 bids, the eyewear hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium, making it the top lot from the Rosenthal collection that appeared at the March 15 Spectacles & Other Vision Aids sale.

Jean-Michel Frank Pedestal Tables, $211,435

CAPTION: Pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank, which hammered for €150,000 ($162,630) and sold for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.
Pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank, which hammered for €150,000 ($162,630) and sold for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.

PARIS – A 1930 pair of pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) are moving to only its third home in nearly 100 years after hammering for €150,000 ($162,630) and selling for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.

Tucked into a 208-lot French design catalog, the gilded bronze tables had received a €30,000-€40,000 ($32,530-$43,370) estimate from Piasa’s catalogers. Nearly two dozen bids pushed the price well beyond that range to the final hammer. Originally purchased from Frank by Juan Tolosa of Argentina, the set eventually was sold to a private London collector, who consigned them to Piasa.

Frank’s minimalist designs continue to flood the market in response to recent high prices realized. Many items require investigation, as many houses now refer to them as being ‘in the manner/style of Jean-Michel Frank.’