Two phone bidders competed for the Patton family 13-star American Revolutionary War flag, 21½" x 38¾", with blue wool canton and 13 five-pointed stars in a 4-5-4 pattern appliquéd on both sides, 13 white and red wool stripes, and cotton hoist inscribed “Natt. Ames. of England, March. 26 1784”—all hand sewn with linen thread. Nathaniel Ames (1761-1863) was born in Connecticut, became a farmer in New York state, and died in Wisconsin at the age of 102, making him the last surviving Revolutionary War soldier.
Thinking it to be a genuine 18th-century flag, Freeman’s had the dyes tested. The red was found to be cochineal and the blue to be Prussian blue, both in use in England and North America at the end of the 18th century. It sold to a phone bidder for $212,500 (est. $175,000/250,000).
A Purple Cat by Bill Traylor (1854-1947), an 11" x 8" (sight size) gouache and pencil on found cardboard, the mat with a white label inscribed “E-93 Cats,” had a Janet Fleisher Gallery provenance and sold for $40,625 (est. $15,000/25,000) to Philadelphia lawyer Victor Keen in the salesroom, underbid on the phone.
Pair of early shoe buckles by John Myers (active 1785-1804), Philadelphia, marked “E.T.” and “XXXXXXII” on the underside, $1188 (est. $300/500).
Bonaparte family silver wine coaster by S. Kirk & Son, Baltimore, 1868-96, with the Bonaparte coat of arms, 6¾" diameter, 13¼ ounces troy, $28,750 to a phone bidder. The mate to it is at Winterthur.
This late 19th-century Philadelphia street scene, oil on canvas, 21¾" x 14¾" (sight size), is signed and dated lower left “John S. Powell Nov 30 95” and inscribed on the stretcher “John Krider Gunstore NW cor of 2th Walnut St. Built 1730 John S Powell Nov 30 1895.” It sold to a collector on the phone for $12,500 (est. $4000/6000).
The corner building was built in 1751 as the residence of John Drinker. In 1856 John Krider bought it and converted it to a gun shop.
This mahogany dressing table, Philadelphia, third quarter of the 18th century, 32½" x 32½" x 19¾", with five beaded drawers and a shaped apron on cabriole legs ending in Spanish feet, missing knee blocks, once belonged to the legendary collector Katherine Prentiss Murphy. It sold on the phone for $26,250 (est. $6000/8000).
This 45½" x 31½" (sight size) red and blue on white 1864 National Union Ticket broadside promoting Abraham Lincoln for president and Andrew Johnson for vice president, printed by “King and Baird, Printers, 807 Sansom Street, Philadelphia,” sold for $36,250 (est. $5000/8000) to a bidder on the phone, underbid by a disappointed collector in the salesroom. Above is the American flag flanked with “The Union Forever, Hurrah boys, Hurrah!/ Down with the Traitors, up with the Stars/ And we’ll rally ’round the Flag boys,/ rally once again,/ Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.”; below is the list of the electors.
Stoneware is in demand. This 16" tall four-gallon crock with cobalt decoration, impressed “T. & J. Ducet/ Petersburg, VA,” sold on the phone for $4375 (est. $600/800).
Carved and painted figure in a top hat with sword, inscribed “Chas E Chidsey, Jr., 1894,” 11½" high, $5120 (est. $800/1200) to a phone bidder.
Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photos courtesy Freeman’s
Freeman’s American furniture, folk art, and decorative arts auction in Philadelphia on April 17 was timed to coincide with the Philadelphia Antiques Show and Frank Gaglio’s 23rd Street Amory Antiques Show. Antiquers from all parts of the country and the Philadelphia suburbs come to downtown Philadelphia to shop for antiques and enjoy the museums and good food. Freeman’s was accommodating with weekend preview hours and hosted a brunch on Sunday morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. so the dealers who had to be at their stands by 11 had plenty of time to view and be fed before meeting their public.
As usual at Freeman’s, there was a selection of finds from Philadelphia attics. A 13-star Revolutionary War flag from the Patton family sold within estimate for $212,500 (includes buyer’s premium). Because some thought the flag might be a Centennial-era small boat ensign, Freeman’s had the dyes and threads tested. It appeared to be an authentic 18th-century relic made of wool and in fairly good condition, so it was sold with the papers of authenticity. The flag’s hoist is inscribed “Natt. Ames. of England, March. 26 1784,” and Ames, a Connecticut patriot, is thought to have been the flag’s maker.
Freeman’s called the price a record for a flag with 13 stars made when there were just 13 states, but it is not a record for any American Revolutionary War colors. In November 2012 Freeman’s sold Peter Muhlenberg’s Grand Division colors for the Eighth Virginia Regiment for $422,500, and other Revolutionary War period flags have sold for much more. In June 2006 Sotheby’s got $12,336,000 for one with red and white stripes but no stars. That sale broke the record price for any single lot of American flags, $450,000, paid in December 2005 at a Guernsey’s auction in New York City for the two flags that were on the limousine in Dallas the day President John Kennedy was shot.
A silver wine coaster with the Bonaparte family coat of arms, made by S. Kirk & Son, Baltimore, 1868-96, sold for $28,750 (est. $6000/8000). It was probably made for Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, who was married briefly to Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger brother. In 1805 she returned to her hometown, Baltimore, with her infant son, Jerome, and though abandoned by her husband, she continued to emblazon the Bonaparte coat of arms on her carriage and other possessions. The wine coaster was probably made for Betsy or her son Jerome, and it matches one in the collection at the Winterthur Museum.
Peter Muhlenberg’s Masonic aprons and collar found their way to auction. His hand-painted kidskin apron, with an inscription indicating that it belonged to Peter Muhlenberg, known as the “Fighting Parson,” sold for $4688 (est. $6000/10,000); his embroidered silk Masonic apron, sold with his Masonic collar, brought $4063 (est. $5000/10,000). Both lots went to the person who bought the Muhlenberg family flag and manuscript material at Freeman’s in November 2012 (see M.A.D., February 2013, p. 17-B). The buyer asked to remain anonymous, but the collection is now on loan to the Winterthur Museum. Peter Muhlenberg, the son of Henry, the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, served in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate.
Freeman’s does well with historical material. Eight phone bidders competed for an early brass and marble plaque with a profile of George Washington, and it sold on the phone for $17,500 (est. $600/800). A large French and Indian War power horn engraved “Hugh Maclain” and thought to date to around 1760 possibly belonged to a Scot known later as Lieutenant Hugh McLean of the 77th Regiment of Foot, or Montgomerie’s Highlanders. According to the catalog notes, some of the Scottish Highlanders took land grants in North America and did not return to Scotland. The powder horn brought $15,000.
There was a thin selection of furniture—enough to fill the salesroom and keep the phones and Internet busy—and some of it brought decent prices. Pieces with restoration or design flaws were ignored, with the result that a quarter of the lots offered remained unsold.
A mahogany dressing table with Spanish feet, beaded drawers, and a shaped apron, 1740-50, which had once belonged to legendary collector Katherine Prentiss Murphy, sold on the phone to the trade for $26,250 (est. $6000/8000). Although it was missing its knee blocks and some veneer and had some replaced glue blocks, it is a rare and early piece of Philadelphia furniture that some said came from the so-called Irish shop of cabinetmakers.
The same buyer paid $3750 (est. $1200/1800) for a mahogany giltwood pier mirror with an eagle finial; it has the paper label of John Elliot, Jr. (1739-1810), whose looking glass store was on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The same phone bidder also paid $26,250 (est. $15,000/25,000) for a Federal mahogany pier table on casters, circa 1810, attributed to the Haines-Connelly workshops in Philadelphia; it is a rare form related to furniture made for Stephen Girard by Ephraim Haines. An early 19th-century Federal inlaid mahogany sideboard made in New York sold on the phone for a strong $23,750 (est. $15,000/25,000).
Four phone bidders competed for a Renaissance Revival rosewood, maple, ash, and bronze parlor cabinet attributed to Pottier & Stymus, New York, and it sold for $12,500 (est. $5000/8000). Lynda Cain of Freeman’s said it will go to California.
Cain said the Neoclassical carved, gilt composition, and faux porphyry console table that once stood in Stanford White’s dining room would go to a New York institution. It sold on the phone for $11,875 (est. $10,000/15,000) and is considered the prototype for the tables in the State Dining Room at the White House, designed by Stanford White for President Theodore Roosevelt’s renovation of the White House in 1902. At Christie’s New York in a March 2003 “House Sale,” the predecessor to the “Christie’s Interiors” sales, this very table sold for $28,680.
Generally, furniture achieved modest prices. Only a few pieces with good proportions, rich color, or appealing details sold over their modest estimates, and those with aggressive estimates failed to sell. An early 19th-century figured maple and cherrywood slant-front desk on grain-painted bracket feet sold on the phone for $7500 (est. $3000/5000), while a Chippendale tiger maple slant-front desk with a less refined interior sold for $5000 (est. $4000/6000); curly maple brings a premium. A Federal cherrywood and figured maple chest sold for $2176 (est. $1500/2500), while a four-drawer cherrywood chest of drawers of the same date made $1063 (est. $800/1200). A circa 1800 Federal mahogany serpentine-front chest of drawers made in Norfolk, Virginia, sold for $3840 on one Internet bid (est. $6000/8000), but a Chippendale Delaware Valley mahogany chest of four drawers (est. $8000/12,000) received no bids at all.
Paintings, broadsides, and porcelain carried the day. A watercolor and ink view of the Gilpin paper mill on the Brandywine River by Martin Rosienkiewicz (1792-1847) sold for $9375 (est. $8000/12,000) to a collector on the phone, and the same buyer paid $20,000 (est. $3000/5000) for a Tucker porcelain washbowl and pitcher lotted with a Tucker covered box. A political broadside from the 1864 Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson campaign sold on the phone for $36,250 (est. $5000/8000), underbid by a disappointed collector in the salesroom. A Philadelphia lawyer paid $40,625 for a gouache on cardboard painting of a purple cat by Bill Traylor (est. $15,000/25,000). The oil on canvas of The Three Wonders of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, featuring Sarah Jane Campbell, the “Connecticut Giantess”; Lucia Zarate of Mexico, the smallest midget, just 20" tall; and the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker sold for $15,000 (est. $10,000/15,000) to someone who had left a bid with the auctioneer.
The sale’s penultimate lot, a rare 1904 participant’s medal from the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, where only 651 athletes competed, sold for $31,300 (est. $3000/5000). This one had the ribbon bar impressed “Hon.Official” and had belonged to railroad magnate Samuel Morse Felton, Jr. (1853-1939).
The Americana sale brought a total of $1,046,901. Of the 353 lots offered, 275 (78%) sold.
The next day, April 18, Freeman’s offered a stylish assortment of silver and objects of vertu in a separate catalog. It brought in another $524,040, and of the 337 lots offered, 314 (93%) sold.
Freeman’s silver total was swelled by the $80,500 (est. $50,000/70,000) paid for a Austrian hammered .900 silver and ivory five-piece tea service designed by Josef Hoffmann and made in 1923 in the Wiener Werkstätte. The following lot, a 1930’s teakettle on stand by Lona P. Schaeffer, Brooklyn, New York, in the same style and from the same consignor, sold for $5625 (est. $2000/3000). David Walker of Freeman’s believes that the owner of the Wiener Werkstätte service commissioned the teakettle from Schaeffer to complete the set. Lona Schaeffer’s father was the Danish émigré silversmith Peer Smed of Brooklyn, New York, whose work is also collected. A 26" long x 16" wide hammered sterling silver twin-handled tray by Peer Smed went at $12,800 (est. $5000/7000) to an on-line bidder.
The silver sale opened with a collection of European wine tasters from New York collector Alvin A. Rosenthal. Offered as 24 lots, it was 100% sold. A rare Charles I parcel-gilt wine taster with two handles, London, 1638-39, sold for $4375 (est. $1500/2500). An early 18th-century French wine taster by Gregoire Masse, Paris, 1708-09, made $2635, and a French provincial wine taster by Jacques Hanappier, Orleans, 1752-54, similar to one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sold for $1063 (est. $700/900). Some lots contained multiple examples, A group of three German wine tasters sold for $344 (est. $200/400), and an assortment of five Spanish and Peruvian tasters fetched $625 (est. $400/600).
The silver was made in many countries. A 20th-century Portuguese silver tureen by Pedro Batista, Oporto, a fluted oval form with a pomegranate finial, sold for $8125 (est. $6000/8000). A tiny, 3¼" high mustard pot by Paul Storr, London, 1818-19, with a gadrooned lower body and hinged lid, sold for $2625 (est. $800/1200). A George III silver tea caddy by George Smith II, London, 1785-86, with an ivory finial and an engraved armorial, sold for $1625 (est. $800/1200). A 20¾" high George III hot water urn with an engraved armorial, John Schofield, London, 1786-87, fetched $5000 (est. $2000/3000). A silver-gilt flatware service for 16 by C.J. Vander Ltd., London, 1970-71, in the Chased and Pierced Vine pattern, originally designed in 1851 by Francis Higgins for the Crystal Palace Exhibition, sold for $11,875 (est. $12,000/18,000). That a circa 1850 French gold and enamel snuffbox with a mountainous lake scene sold for $15,000 (est. $3000/5000) shows how the Internet has opened auctions everywhere to a world audience and that little of merit is overlooked.
For more information, contact Freeman’s at (215) 563-9275; Web site (www.freemansauction.com).
Originally published in the July 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest