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American Furniture, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts

Lita Solis-Cohen | May 2nd, 2014


This circa 1800 miniature of a little girl standing on a patterned rug and wearing an applied fabric dress is a watercolor with fabric on cutout paper, glued to a silk ground, in a pressed metal frame, 3¼" x 2½", attributed to Mary Way (1769-1833). It sold to a collector on the phone for $37,500, underbid by the trade. Mary Way’s dressed miniatures were written about in The Magazine Antiques in October 1992. Way was a Connecticut teacher who moved to New York City where she advertised her trade as a miniature painter. The price is a record for the artist, topping the $22,800 paid for a three-quarter profile portrait of a woman sold at Christie’s in January 2005.


These four early 19th-century English enameled and transfer-printed cloak pins with portraits of George Washington, each inscribed “Genr’l Washington” and 2" in diameter, sold for $3125 (est. $600/800).


Margaretta S. Hinchman (1876-1955) painted these four panels of Colonial port views, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Charleston, for the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition in 1926. The gouache on paper works, in painted wood strip frames, are 69" x 48". For years they hung in Sweetbriar Mansion in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. They sold for $20,000 (est. $8000/12,000).


Large Federal teapot, circa 1800, with the initials “HS,” unmarked, scratched with its weight on the underside, 15½" high, 46½ troy ounces, sold for $2375 (est. $700/900).


A Chinese export Order of the Cincinnati plate, circa 1785, sold for $22,500 (est. $6000/8000). Property of a Virginia estate and with an Elinor Gordon sticker on the back, it is from the 302-piece service that Washington owned. Condition kept the price down.


This painted and decorated pine dower chest, Sussex County, Delaware, is inscribed and dated “Sarah Draper 1789,” 27½" x 41¾" x 19". Sarah Ratcliff Draper lived in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware. It sold for $25,000 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a member of the Draper family.

Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photos courtesy Freeman’s

Freeman’s American furniture, folk art, and decorative arts sale on Friday, May 2, came at the end of a long week of antiques events in the Philadelphia area that began with the Philadelphia Antiques Show and Pook & Pook’s two-day sale.

A Sunday morning breakfast preview at Freeman’s allowed dealers and those in town for the Philadelphia show to fit in a look at the 322 lots offered. The on-line catalog reached those from afar, but the timing of the sale itself was unfortunate, going head-to-head with the Greater York Antiques Show, where 85 dealers had set up for business. As the sale began at 10 a.m., some of Freeman’s best customers were exhibiting or shopping, and they were bidding on the phone.

Some bidders made it to the salesroom, but it was not a large crowd. New York City dealer Gary Stradling came to the sale on Friday to buy a rare Bakewell, Page and Bakewell tumbler with a sulfide portrait of George Washington, and he got it for $9375 (includes buyer’s premium), well above the estimate of $1000/1500. He said he was surprised to see 12 people at the phone bank plus a desk for on-line bidding. “I hadn’t been to Freeman’s since the Ludwig sale in November 2005,” he said. “The marketplace has changed.”

There were some other treasures in the sale. A charming circa 1800 miniature portrait of a little girl standing on a patterned rug, wearing a silk dress and holding a flower, a watercolor and fabric on cutout paper, glued to a silk ground, in a pressed metal frame, 3¼" x 2½", was attributed to Mary Way (1769-1833) of New London, Connecticut. It sold on the phone for $37,500 (est. $8000/12,000). It is a record for the artist, topping the price paid for another “dressed miniature” by Way, a bust-length profile portrait, not a full-length portrait like this one, and also unsigned, that sold at Christie’s for $22,800 in January 2005.

Mary Way’s dressed miniatures were written about in The Magazine Antiques in October 1992. According to Christie’s catalog, 36 other dressed miniatures have survived; most are of New London County residents and were made from 1790 to 1805. Way was a Connecticut teacher who moved to New York City where she advertised her trade as a miniature painter at 95 Greenwich Street.

Attributed to Thomas Chambers, a painting of the Delaware Water Gap,a22" x 29 7/8" oil on canvas, circa 1855, probably copied from an engraving by George Ellis after a Thomas Doughty painting, sold on the phone to the trade for $23,750. In her book on Thomas Chambers, Kathleen Foster suggests that the print appeared in a gift book, The Atlantic Souvenir (1828).Well painted, bright, and decorative, it is the sort of discovery collectors expect to find at Freeman’s.

Two folk watercolors by Eunice Pinney (1770-1849), Young Girl with Goat and Friendship,sold together on the phone for $13,250 (est. $4000/6000). A painted wood carving, Horse and Rider (Paul Revere), by the self-taught artist Elijah Pierce (1892-1984) sold for $12,500 (est. $10,000/15,000).

A Chinese export porcelain Order of the Cincinnati plate from George Washington’s large service sold for $22,500 (est. $6000/8000), even though it had an early discolored repair. A porcelain tea caddy decorated with a ship flying an American flag, in good condition, sold to a collector in the salesroom for $4375 (est. $800/1200). One of Ulysses Grant’s Chinese export porcelain plates with a Rose Medallion border and a large fish painted on it sold for $6250 (est. $3000/5000).

Decorations brought more than most furniture. An opaque glass vase by Tiffany Studios, New York, 5½" high, circa 1896, decorated with stylized purple and blue flowers on an orange/red ground, sold for $11,875 (est. $2000/3000). A Tiffany-attributed bottle with stopper, with pinched sides, 8" high, and unmarked, sold for $7500 (est. $1500/2500.) A late 19th-century Moorish Revival garniture, the clock marked “Japy Frères, France,” retailed by Bailey Banks & Biddle, sold for $16,250 (est. $3000/5000). A group of four large panel paintings of American ports—Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Charleston—painted for the Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition in 1926 by Philadelphia artist Margaretta S. Hinchman (1876-1955) sold for $20,000. They had once graced Sweetbriar Mansion, a much-visited Federal house in Fairmount Park. Two bidders competed, knowing they are well worth preserving.

With only a few exceptions, there was little competition for furniture. A paint-decorated blanket chest from Sussex County, Delaware, inscribed and dated “Sarah Draper 1789,” sold to a member of the Draper family for $25,000 (est. $10,000/15,000). A Federal clock by Aaron Willard (1757-1844), Boston, last quarter of the 18th century, sold for $27,500 (est. $12,000/18,000) to the trade.

Some paintings, a flag, and furniture were left behind. Of the 322 lots offered, 264 sold; that is 82% sold, for a total of $808,612 (including buyers’ premiums) and below the presale estimate of $878,700/1,305,950 (figured without the buyers’ premiums).

For more information, contact Freeman’s at (215) 563-9275; Web site (www.freemansauction.com).

Opaque glass vase by Tiffany Studios, New York, 5½" high, circa 1896, decorated with stylized purple and blue flowers on an orange/red ground, etched on the underside “L.C.T. E2100,” 5½" high, sold for $11,875 (est. $2000/3000).

Three-piece Moorish Revival mantel clock garniture, retailed by Bailey Banks & Biddle, Philadelphia, the movement marked “Japy Frères, France,” the clock 24½" high, sold on the phone for $16,250 (est. $3000/5000).

Federal mahogany tall-case clock by Aaron Willard (1757-1844), Boston, Massachusetts, last quarter of the 18th century, inscribed “Aaron Willard, Boston,” 92" high, sold for $27,500 (est. $12,000/18,000).

This framed 22" x 29 7/8" oil on canvas attributed to Thomas Chambers (1808-1869) is of the Delaware Water Gap, circa 1855. It sold to a collector on the phone for $23,750 (est. $10,000/15,000).


Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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