NANTUCKET, Mass. – Rafael Osona’s highly regarded annual August auction is certain to please. Taking place on Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7, the more than 800 lots include Ralph Cahoon paintings, Stephen Swift furniture, a 19th-century Nantucket navigational chart, fine silver and antique furniture, scrimshaw and other handiworks of whalemen and a generous selection of fine art. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Session One, scheduled for Saturday, August 6, centers on Nantucket history, fine arts, furnishings and decor sourced from Nantucket and New England collectors, including materials that survey 17th- to 21st-century Continental and American tastes.
“A first for the gallery! It’s been 43 years,” auction house founder Rafael Osona crowed, explaining, “Finally, we are bringing to auction Paul Pinkham’s Nantucket shoals chart.” The navigational chart was published circa 1812 as surveyed by Capt. Paul Pinkham while he was first keeper of the New Lighthouse at Nantucket’s Sandy Point. Pinkham’s precision in noting soundings, currents and rips indicates deep local knowledge of the treacherous waters. The 19th-century navigational chart is estimated at $50,000-$75,000.
Another first represented in the sale is a 19th-century Nantucket Railroad bronze bell, estimated at $1,200-$1,800. The 13in bell was unearthed during a home renovation in Siasconset years ago.
Fine art choices include a pastoral view of Nantucket town from Monomoy, one of three paintings by Anne Ramsdell Congdon, and is among the artist’s most impressive works. The circa-1941 composition, estimated at $60,000-$80,000, is a panoramic yet intimate view of an idyllic locale.
There’s historic opportunity in Benjamin Bunker’s circa-1797 Nantucket coin silver porringer, crafted in tribute to the marriage of Nantucket founding family descendants George Swain and Hannah Coffin. It is estimated at $17,500-$22,500.
Session One also showcases maritime-themed art, such as Ralph Cahoon’s whimsically spun portrayals of cavorting mermaids and lovesick sailors. Among his works that appear in the sale is Mermaids with Flags, a signed, undated painting estimated at $20,000-$30,000. Montague Dawson’s watercolor Old Campaigner appears alongside a second Dawson oil, Under Spinnaker, that sets a pair of yachts sailing off the wind. This last is estimated at $14,000-$18,000.
Not to be overlooked are three stellar paintings of red sail fame by Robert Stark Jr., chief among them Sunset Sail, estimated at $25,000-$35,000.
Modernist designs by Nantucket craftsman Stephen Swift lead the furniture lineup. The contributions from Swift include a set of 10 high back mahogany chairs, created circa 1998 and estimated at $6,000-$8,000.
The silver selection includes a circa-1904 Gorham Martele water pitcher of .950 fine silver repousse, estimated at $10,000-$14,000, alongside a pair of Tiffany art deco tazzas that carry an estimate of $3,000-$4,000.
Period fireplace equipment, Georgian tea caddies, jade and other decorative arts, oriental carpets, textiles, American Folk Art, quilts and a pair of circa-1811 Boston samplers bring exceptional variety to the Session One offerings.
Session Two is set for Sunday, August 7 and devotes itself to maritime artifacts, which have always been an Osona mainstay. From a 19th-century ship’s catwalk to an American homeward bound ship’s pennant, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, the auction house has once again assembled a veritable treasure chest of seafaring tradition.
Among classics in ship portraiture, Barry Mason’s is an outstanding depiction of both vessel and damp salt air. His canvas is estimated at $3,998-$5,998.
Five 19th-century portraits featured in the sale include a few that portray Nantucket ship captains. A portrait of Captain Obed Bunker of Nantucket by Charles Delin, with provenance from the Barbara Johnson collection, is estimated at $3,998-$5,998.
Six whale carvings by Clark Voorhees Jr. are as impressive as individuals as they are en masse. A standout among the pod is an undated sperm whale carving estimated at $2,999-$3,999.
Leading the scrimshaw category is a circa-1850 Nantucket bodkin caddy with provenance from the Barbara Johnson collection. It is one of two known, and it is estimated at $2,500-$3,500. There’s also a pierced panbone basket from the same era, as well as 32 lots of walking sticks and canes.
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