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A Harbinger of Prosperity?

Brian McCabe | April 19th, 2013

This 28" x 42" portrait of the clipper ship Harbinger by Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973) sailed away to a new owner for just above the low estimate at $126,000. Check the body of the article to find out more about the post-auction activity that made this sale special.

This 6" high bronze of a boy stepping around a trio of frogs was attributed to Janet Scudder (1869-1940), one of the White Rabbits and a celebrated artist of Terre Haute, Indiana. The sculpture had a Gorham foundry mark and is a diminutive example of a 1901 fountain sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The charming piece, inspired by the artist’s observations of children in Italy, sold for $1320.

Released as a limited edition in 2002, this 5¾" Lalique crystal “Les Elfes” perfume bottle with original box and certification, numbered C940, with a small chip to the corner of the base, made $1140.


One of the great “catch-and-release” proponents, Paul Young (1890-1960) came to Detroit via Arkansas and Canada. A taxidermist by trade, he discovered fly fishing in the Au Sable River in the early 1920’s with his wife, Martha Marie. They opened a tackle shop next to their Detroit taxidermy shop and began making and modifying flies and fly rods for sale. His goal, to make a stronger and lighter rod with great action, was realized after World War II with the help of August Pernack, a retired GM engineer, who designed a milling machine that gave his rod sections a tolerance of 1/1000 of an inch. A shadow-boxed (10" x 50" frame) “Martha Marie” fly rod signed by Paul Young, 1920-30, sold within estimate at $1320. The handle had two top ­sections (assembled length 7'6¾") with tips numbered 4368.

DuMouchelles, Detroit, Michigan

Photos courtesy DuMouchelles

The April 19-21, 2013, DuMouchelles auction featured more than 1400 lots from numerous collections from around the Midwest and included dolls, Russian lacquer boxes, designer perfume flacons, historic flags, Americana, designer fashion accessories, fine art, sporting and sports memorabilia, and much more.

The first day highlights included three American flags, a 35-star, 45-star, and 48-star. The 35-star flag dates to 1863 with the statehood of West Virginia and brought $5400 (includes buyer’s premium).

Leave it to a Detroiter to bring automotive engineering to the most peaceful of the fishing sports—fly fishing. Born in Arkansas in 1890, Paul Young heard stories about northern Michigan from his grandfather Ben Young, a retired Great Lakes captain. A taxidermist by trade, Paul moved to Detroit in the early 1920’s with his wife and soon fell in love with northern Michigan’s Au Sable River. He started fashioning his own fly rods in the ’20’s and was always looking for ways to reduce weight, increase strength, and maintain the right amount of whip action at the tip. After World War II, he worked with a retired General Motors engineer, August Pernack, who designed a milling machine to fabricate the rods. The machine brought the tolerances of Young’s rods to 1/1000 of an inch, making a 7' rod weigh less than 2 ounces. A 1920-30 fly rod made by Young brought $1320.

An Ithaca Model 1911 A-1 U.S. Army .45 caliber pistol issued in 1943 garnered a lot of attention both in the room and on the phones. The piece, in unfired condition with original box, paperwork, and two paper-wrapped magazines, was reportedly issued to a marine on board a ship in the Pacific. Within 24 hours, that marine was killed in a kamikaze attack, and all his personal effects were boxed up and sent stateside. The piece found its way to his brother and eventually to the marine’s nephew, who consigned it to the sale. It made $2520.

The second day featured a number of collections: perfume flacons, Russian lacquer boxes, and Judith Leiber purses. The perfume flacons went first with the most expensive lots being from Baccarat and Lalique. The Lalique collection featured 11 individual lots with their boxes and a collection of five miniatures. Estimates ranged from $200 to $500. The Lalique bottles brought prices ranging from about $475 to $1600. A number of Russian lacquer boxes, in lots of three up to seven units, sold mostly on the high range of their $150/400 estimates. Finally, the nine Judith Leiber crystal clutch purses all finished near their high estimates of $1500 to $2500.

Sometimes the action happens after the auction is over. Harbinger by Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973) was one of those cases. Considered one of the best marine artists of the 20th century, Dawson was collected by American presidents and British royalty alike. While Harbinger (est. $150,000/250,000) remained unsold at the end of the third day’s session, collectors and dealers were on the phone looking to make a deal. The painting finally sold for $126,000 to a prominent local attorney. When asked about the purchase, he explained that, as a boy, he remembered that his grandfather had a Montague Dawson painting in his house and that he had always admired it. When his grandfather’s painting was sold in the 1970’s, he resolved that one day he would acquire one for himself.

For more information, go to the DuMouchelles Web site ( or call (313) 963-6255.

There was a lot of interest (your author included) in this Ithaca Model 1911-A1 U.S. Army .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, serial #1456451, dated to 1943, in reportedly unfired condition. The piece was consigned to the auction by the nephew of the marine to whom it was issued. The marine was killed in a kamikaze attack shortly after the piece was issued. The pistol was sent to his family along with his other personal effects. The weapon had its original box with manufacturer’s information and serial number, three magazines (two wrapped in original shipping paper), and blank green registration paper. The piece made $2520.

Pierre-Francois Jumeau opened his firm around 1844 to craft “fashion dolls.” The first were made with papier-mâché heads and kid leather bodies. His concentration on elaborate costuming set him apart from his peers, and he was named an “artistic manufacturer” at the 1849 Paris Exposition of the Second Republic. He traveled to the London Exposition Universelle in 1855 and was introduced to Japanese porcelain head dolls brought by Dutch traders. Later that year, Jumeau began purchasing doll heads from porcelain makers. However, his desire to control the creative and manufacturing process pushed him to open his own porcelain studio near Paris in 1872. In 1874, his son Emile became the head of the firm and began work on the “Bébé Incassable” (unbreakable baby) with a porcelain head and articulated body. The doll did not make the Philadelphia expo of 1876 but was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair of 1878. This 15½" tall example with an unmarked bisque head, blue velvet coat, blue silk dress, cotton undergarments, and period leather boots made $1320.

This vintage 14k yellow gold chainmail hinged bracelet, weighing approximately 52 grams, sold over estimate for $5400.

This pair of Baccarat crystal perfume bottles with original boxes sold for $1800 (est. $300/500). The pair is from the “Les Contes d’Ailleurs” (“Tales from Faraway Lands”) trilogy, designed to commemorate the new millennium. Colombian-born Frederico Restrepo designed the limited edition (1500) flacons. The left one is “Un Certain Eté à Livadia” (“A Certain Summer in Livadia”), issued in 1999, and is reminiscent of the onion domes of the Russian Orthodox Church. A clear arc with writing in Russian has a red reservoir capped by a green crystal topped by a gold cross. Livadia is a palace in Crimea that was a summer residence of Czar Nicholas II. The pyramid-shaped bottle on the right is “Les Larmes Sacrées de Thebes,” issued in 1998. It has an amethyst crystal top capping an amber reservoir in a clear pyramid that sits on four amethyst feet. Considered one of the most expensive perfume bottles in the world, “The Sacred Tears of Thebes” contains a perfume made with frankincense and myrrh.

The Sunday fine art auction began with multiple phone, house, and Internet bidders all vying for the 27½" x 27½" oil on canvas L’Horloge by Michel Delacroix (French, b. 1933), dated to 1975. Bidding ticked past the high estimate of $4000 all the way to $27,600 for the Paris street scene with one lone airplane towing the national colors.

Son of Antonio Cortès (painter to the Spanish court), Edouard Leon Cortès was born in Lagny, France in 1882. His early schooling ended at the age of 13 when he dedicated his life to art under the direction of his father. His first exhibition at the age of 16 was well received by the Paris critics, and soon after he began painting the Paris street scenes that would define his career. A 25½" x 22" oil on canvas image of the Place de la Republique at dusk nearly doubled the high estimate to finish at $114,000. Having survived World War II in Normandy, Cortès returned in the 1950’s to Lagny where he would remain until his passing in 1969.

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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