Keno’s Jan. 24 auction celebrates Americana Week

Samuel Gardner Queen Anne bonnet-top high chest of drawers, circa 1745. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000. Keno Auctions image

NEW YORK – Keno Auctions will conduct its sale of American Furniture and Folk Art on Friday, Jan. 24, at the Keno Auctions headquarters, at 127 E. 69th St. in Manhattan. Over 45 lots will be offered, dating back to the mid-18th century. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

“I’m thrilled to return to Americana Week with a sale of this importance. On a scale of 1 to10, in terms of quality, rarity, condition and provenance, the majority of lots in this sale rank a 10. Conservative estimates are a consignor’s best friend with the best always rising to the top. Happily, our consignors agree that great pieces and low estimates are a winning combination for exceptional results,” said Leigh Keno:

This single-owner sale includes three truly remarkable examples of Salem, Massachusetts craftsmanship. Earliest and perhaps most important is a rare Queen Anne Salem bonnet-top walnut and walnut-veneered highboy (above). Originally owned by Samuel Gardner (1712/13-1769), known in his days as the wealthiest man in Salem, it is no surprise that in terms of design and execution, it is a masterwork. The high chest, veneered with highly figured book-matched walnut is in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining its original finish and brasses.

The Chippendale Salem block-front desk, circa 1770, with a blocked-lid opens to an intricately fan-carved and fitted interior. The base molding is centered by a classic Salem style scallop-shell. Both the desk and a Salem Chippendale bonnet-top fan-carved chest on chest, circa 1770, have large, original brasses and escutcheons. The illustrious history of the highly figured mahogany chest on chest is documented on the bottom of the fan-carved drawer and documents its ownership by John Treadwell in the 1770s.

Sir William Johnson Queen Anne mahogany side chair. Estimate: $25,000-$50,000. Keno Auctions image

With its great sculptural form and its impeccable provenance, Sir William Johnson’s (1714-1774) Queen Anne mahogany side chair will certainly attract a great interest for collectors. Keno bought the chair in 1992 from the direct descendant of Abraham Gerretson, who purchased five chairs from this set at the 1779 “Auction of the confiscated effects of Sir William Johnson.” Other chairs from this rare set are at the New York Metropolitan Museum, Yale University Collection, Wintherthur Collection (a pair), Chipstone Foundation, Bayou Bend Museum and Minneapolis Institute of Art. This set can now be tentatively attributed to the little-known New York cabinetmaker Thomas Brookman, whose shop created some of the finest furniture in the Colonies. Importantly, the Johnson Papers document that on Oct. 12, 1763, “Thomas Brookman, a cabinetmaker, about eight cases of furniture put on board of Capt. Marsealus’s boat for Johnson.” In 2010, Keno discovered, researched, and sold an elaborately carved Chippendale Mahogany Dressing Chest, which was documented in wealthy merchant James Beekman’s (1732-1807) account book (at the New-York Historical Society) as having been made by Brookman in 1752, and sold at Keno Auctions’ Inaugural Sale in 2010 for a record $1.4M.

Also featured will be a rare and highly desirable diminutive Boston mid-18th century Queen Anne “tuckaway” tea table with “plum-pudding” mahogany deeply dished top, originally owned by the family of Hannah Buxton of Haverhill, Mass. Keno purchased the table from her descendants in 1992 and later sold it to the present owners. One of seven known examples, it relates most closely to the table owned by Israel Sack, Inc. in 1979 and repurchased by them in 1991/1992 (illustrated and discussed, American Antiques from the Israel Sack Collection, Vol. VI, Alexandria, 1979, p. 1450, p. 4446). In person, comparison of this table and the Sack example strongly suggests that the two were made in the same shop.

Folk art will also be featured with interesting and decorative items such as a remarkable carved and polychromed scrimshaw whale’s tooth “For the Love of Her and My Country,” circa 1835-1840; to a hooked rug depicting George Washington and inscribed “General Washington Noblest of Men, His House His Horse His Cherry Tree & Him.” This rug is colorful and charming and ranks among the best of early 20th century hooked rugs.

The auction will begin Friday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. Eastern time.