AMESBURY, Mass. – An important Revolutionary War sword and scabbard made by John Bailey and descended in the family of patriot Francis Dana (1743-1811), a pair of circa 1820 floor globes by Cary of London, and a large oil portrait painting by William McGregor Paxton (American, 1869-1941) will all come up for bid at a March 24-26 auction. They are a few of the many rare, important and historically significant items slated to cross the auction block at John McInnis Auctioneers. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Other key offerings will include a Japanese articulated Myochin School snake, expected to generate keen interest; a fine Russian enameled silver tea set by a famous maker dated 1887; a New Hampshire two-part highboy with the original untouched red surface; a John J. Audubon folio (the desirable large Bien Edition); and the outstanding Levy folk art collection.
“Any one of 20 lots I can name off the top of my head would be headliners at any other auction,” said John McInnis. “The fact that we’ve been able to gather all of them, and more, into one massive auction event speaks to our staff and our ability to continue to attract top-notch merchandise. I haven’t even mentioned the Lockwood de Forest mantelpiece.”
He’s referring to a carved teakwood mantel by Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932), the American painter and furniture designer who was a key figure in the Aesthetic Movement. De Forest introduced the East Indian craft revival to Gilded Age America, and the piece being sold is a rare example featuring superb carvings by the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Co. of India.
Headlining Day 2 is the sword and scabbard made for Francis Dana by John Bailey, which would carry great value even if it didn’t have the added cache of having been made and presented to a Revolutionary War patriot and close confidante of George Washington. Bailey swords are coveted by collectors. That this one still has its leather scabbard (most don’t, they’re that frail) will only add to its desirability.
Francis Dana opposed British Colonial rule and, as a leader of the Sons of Liberty (a group co-founded by his father, Richard Dana), he helped set into motion a course of events that would forever change history and establish the United States as a free and independent nation. In 1778 he conferred with Gen. Washington at Valley Forge to discuss the reorganization of the Army.
Perhaps inspired by Dana, Washington also carried a John Bailey sword – a cuttoe, which today is in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Dana held several important posts. He was twice elected a member of the Continental Congress and was ambassador to Russia. Dana was a signer of the Articles of Confederation and voted to adopt the name and flag of the United States.
The mounted sword is a magnificent example, signed by John Bailey (N.Y.) in 1777, at the very birth of the country, and engraved with “Francis Dana 1777” on the obverse side. It is a lion head silver-hilted officer’s sword, with a pierced and engraved silver guard and a double silver chain-guard. The important black leather scabbard has reinforcing line-decorations and three mounts.
The auction is being billed as a Three-Day Spring Estates Auction. The Friday session, which will start in the late afternoon, will feature coins, dolls, cameras and the outstanding coach and carriage equestrian collection.
The Saturday session will feature Americana, historical items, folk art, paintings, formal and country furnishings and Oriental carpets. The John Bailey sword, the Levy folk art collection and the William McGregor Paxton portrait (below) will all be sold on Saturday. The session has a start time of 11 a.m. Eastern time.
The Sunday session will contain the Japanese articulated Myochin School snake, Continental furniture, fine European paintings, silver and jewelry, bronzes, porcelain and glass.
For details call John McInnis Auctioneers at 978-388-0400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.