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Americana, Fine Arts, and Marine Auction

Jackie Sideli | August 3rd, 2013

This vivid oil on masonite by Anne Ramsdell Congdon (1873-1958) of Nantucket was offered early in the Osona sale. It was signed and dated on the lower right, “Anne Congdon, 1940.” A very similar picture is in the Nantucket Historical Association collection and is illustrated in Picturing Nantucket on page 90. Bidding opened at $45,000 and escalated quickly to the selling price of $87,750 to a customer at the sale. When asked, “Are you a collector?” he replied, “No, I am just a homeowner on Nantucket.”

This Mogul-style pale celadon jade baluster vase and cover, dating from the 18th-century Qing Dynasty, possibly came from the imperial workshop. The carving on this piece was “exceptionally thinly carved” and translucent. Measuring 10" tall, it sold for $20,475.

Extremely rare and desirable, this Samuel Crawford (b. 1827) labeled baleen and cane woven Nantucket basket, 4" tall and 8¼" diameter, dated from 1850. It retained its paper label “Made by S. C. Crawford, Nantucket, Mass.” It sold to a customer at the sale for $12,051.

This polychromed engraved portrait of a full-rigged ship, with sails set on a starboard tack, dated from 1830. It was made from a piece of sperm whale panbone with a later surface applied. Measuring 15 x 20.5 mm, it sold after the auction for $48,000.

Rafael Osona Auctions, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Rafael Osona Auctions

“It was very good,” said a pleased Rafael Osona after his big sale on August 3 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. “The market is strong on Nantucket…We are the last to feel it—the effect of a weak economy—and the first to rebound.”

A dining room set of two Queen Anne tiger maple tables and an assembled set of ten 18th-century American Windsor dining chairs was offered at the sale. According to an article that appeared in the Cape Cod Times, the set was used at the Hyannis Port home of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. The tables were “kissing tables,” which together made an extended size of 112" long and 47" wide, and their tiger maple top boards were all from the same tree. “Boy, if this table could talk,” said Rafael Osona in an interview with the Cape Cod Times. The set was passed at the auction but sold afterward for $70,000 to a customer who had been at the sale, according to Gail Osona.

An oil on canvas portrait of the U.S. corvette Ranger in full sail on the open sea was signed on the lower left by Tim Thompson (English, b. 1951). It measured a substantial 36" x 48". According to notes from the catalog, Thompson spent his childhood living on the tiny Channel Island of Herm, where he developed a strong love and respect for the sea. In 1982 he met Ted Turner at a regatta in Cowes, England. Turner subsequently commissioned him to paint ship portraits. After some serious, competitive bidding, this painting sold for $55,575 (includes buyer’s premium).

There were several iconic small oil paintings on wooden door panels by Wendell Macy (1845-1913). One of them was Brant Point, which was signed by Macy on the lower left, dated 1884, pencil signed on the reverse “Brant Point, Nantucket,” and measured 10½" x 6". The simple and evocative painting of a sailboat, with a sunset, lighthouse, and two small buildings behind, sold for $5265. Another Macy that sold was an oil on door panel called South Shore Shipwreck. It was signed and dated “’91” on the lower right and inscribed on the reverse, “To Uncle William from his loving niece, Helen Spring, Nantucket, Sept. 2, 1891.” It, like most of the Macy paintings, was small, measuring just 7¼" x 8½". It brought $4095.

“All the armorial went to London,” said Rafael Osona. An armorial 5½" tall 18th-century mug, displaying the arms of the Marquis of Donegal, sold to a buyer in London bidding by phone for $4095. Another armorial mug from the 18th century, with unidentified arms and measuring 5", brought $3159 from a buyer on the phone from London. A pair of 9" diameter armorial dishes from the 18th century with the arms of Dugdale brought $3276.

Early in the auction, a 19th-century 12¾" sailor’s valentine with a heart on the left and “Forget Me Not” on the right sold to a buyer on the phone for $4972.50.

Silver, which was offered early in the sale, was primarily Nantucket in origin. A Nantucket coin silver ladle by J. Easton 2nd (1807-1903), stamped “J. Easton 2nd pure Coin,” was monogrammed on the handle “George and Sarah Alley.” With a length of 12", it sold for $2223.

Rafael Osona Auctions does not use the Internet for its sales, which seems to work favorably for its customers and consignors. The auction hall is usually packed full throughout, and there is plenty of phone activity. Much, if not most, of the material is related to Nantucket, and much of it stays there after the sale. For more information, check the Web site (www.Rafael­ or call (508) 228-3942.

This pair of Nantucket portraits depicted Captain Robert Joy (1793-1862) and Sally Hussey Joy (1797-1882). Captain Joy was a well-known ship owner on Nantucket. For many years the paintings hung in the Folger Mansion on Center Street. The paintings, which were oil on board and measured 27" x 23", sold in one bid for $29,250. They sold to descendants and are “staying on the island,” said Osona happily.

The Captain Elihu Goodman Arms Connecticut River valley cherry chest-on-chest dated from around 1780. The 86" tall chest retained its original finish and had 19th-century replaced brasses. With a brief round of competitive bidding, this chest-on-chest was sold to a customer at the sale for $28,080. Dealer Hilary Nolan was the underbidder.


This pale celadon jade Shouxing group, 18th-/19th-century Qing Dynasty, had a stone with striated russet inclusion, finely carved with a sage seated facing forward in long robes and holding a gilt bronze vessel in his left hand. He is seated amongst a group of recumbent rams. Measuring 7" long, this jade sold for $22,230.

From top: A 19th-century narwhal ivory tusk walking stick with a reeded carved mushroom screw top and a silver collar and metal ferrule, 37½" long, sold for $6435 after action from three phones and from some on-site bidders; a circa 1840 carved whalebone and whale ivory walking stick with ivory knob grip and baleen and ivory spacers on a carved bone shaft with openwork columns and hatch and twist carvings, 37½" long, sold for $5850; and a whale ivory and whalebone inlaid serpent walking stick, dating from 1830, with a double coiled ivory serpent with rosewood spacers, above an ivory section with hardwood spikes, 34½"  long, sold for $936, which seemed like a good deal.

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

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