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Boston Blockfront Chest Leads Willis Henry Sale

Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo | March 29th, 2014

This 18th-century Boston mahogany blockfront chest of drawers sold on the phone for $73,160.

A bidder favorite was Harbor Mists, a view of Gloucester harbor with vessels under sail, by Swedish-American artist John F. Carlson. It sold on the phone for $8260. The painting retained labels from the Grand Central Art Galleries and Vose Galleries, 1944, and was stamped “Property of Peter W. Carlson.”

From the Archibald estate was this 24" x 36" oil on canvas Hudson River valley scene, labeled “American Harvesting from the original painting….” It was unsigned and realized $6962 against the $1000/2000 estimate from a western Massachusetts dealer on the phone.

This 18th-century diminutive (25" high x 21½" wide x 15" deep) New England maple and pine slant-lid desk descended in the family of Hingham, Massachusetts, historian Solomon Lincoln, who coauthored the first history of the town in 1827. Made with three dovetailed drawers with original brasses and three interior drawers below six cubbyholes, it sold in the gallery for $9440 against the $4000/6000 estimate.

This 1990 still life of apples in a bowl on a pine table (12" x 16") by contemporary artist David Brega, a neighbor of Will and Karel Henry, was estimated at $4000/6000 and sold to a phone bidder for $9145.

Willis Henry Auctions, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Willis Henry Auctions

An 18th-century Boston mahogany blockfront chest of drawers drew dealers and collectors to Willis Henry’s March 29 sale in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it sold to a steadfast phone bidder who prevailed over several dealers in the room at $73,160 (includes buyer’s premium).

The chest, estimated at $15,000/20,000, retained the original Christmas tree brasses and had a bracket base with a drop pendant. A notarized note from 1901 certified that the “bureau” was sold on February 6, 1901, to Dr. John P. Lombard by the grandchildren of Mrs. Sarah Stillings of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who had owned it.

The note further revealed that the chest stood in the room in her house occupied by General Lafayette when he visited Portsmouth in 1824 or 1825. It descended in the Lombard family of Scituate, Massachusetts, before coming to auction.

Willis Henry Auctions, located in Marshfield, on the south shore of Boston, frequently offers material with rich area provenance, and this sale was no exception. His buyers are a mix of the trade and area collectors seeking to acquire historic material.

Other sale highlights included glass from the collection of the eminent Shaker dealer Ed Clerk (1924-2013). Willis Henry has been selling Clerk’s effects for several sales. A Tiffany Studios desk lamp, 14" high, in counterbalance style with a green iridescent shade, circa 1910, was signed “L.C.T.” and brought $7080 from a phone bidder. A signed Tiffany Studios desk or table lamp with an iridescent wavy green Favrile glass shade on a signed bronze harp base went to the phones for $6844.

Two well-executed watercolors were unsigned but attributed to Catherine Hammond. One, 14" x 20", depicts a dory at low tide, possibly a local scene, and the other depicts two boats on moorings off a dock. The lot brought $118. A group of 19th-century Audubon prints included a 25½" x 20½" engraving by Robert Havell, Whip-poor-Will Male (No. 17, Plate 82), from the Archibald estate, that sold for $2596.

Firearms from the estate of Frederick Ascough Archibald of Duxbury, Massachusetts, piqued bidder interest, and each retained its original cardboard box. The Internet claimed a Colt New Service revolver with double action, a 7½" barrel, and a factory checkered walnut grip with a partridge front sight. It fetched $4425 against the $1400/1800 estimate. A Colt New Service .44 Special with a 5½" barrel and an extra 6½" barrel, two pairs of Colt factory ivory grips, one of which had the Colt medallion, brought $3540 against the estimate of $1500/2000.

A Smith & Wesson early model .22 caliber single-shot target pistol, patented December 4, 1923, and in the original green velvet-lined black metal case, fetched $2596 in the gallery.

Also from the Archibald estate was a Tiffany Studios 12-piece bronze desk set in the Zodiac pattern that was found in the boathouse on the Duxbury property. It realized $2360 from a phone bidder. The same buyer on the phone paid $1121 for additional pieces that included another perpetual calendar (without glass), a letter holder, a pen and pencil tray, a paper clip, and another pair of blotter ends. Every piece in the two lots was numbered. The same buyer paid $472 for a Tiffany Studios frame in a grapevine design with green slag glass and a beaded surround. The frame had some cracks in the glass and small chips.

For information, check the Web site ( or call (781) 834-7774.

Bidding opened at $1000 on this New England tin chandelier with two tiers, the upper in original blue paint with five branches, each supporting a saucer-base candleholder (one missing), and the lower tier with original green paint and eight branches supporting an additional eight saucer-base candleholders. Collector Earle Curry of Easton, Massachusetts, whose estate was sold previously by Willis Henry, purchased the chandelier at the Norton Flea Market in 1972. It sold on the phone for $3540.

This 18th-century Connecticut cherry highboy, with an overall height of 76¼" and with secondary pine, sold for $7670. It was made with an ogee cove-molded top over three dovetailed top drawers, one of which was fan carved, over four graduated long drawers and a single long drawer on the bottom above three flanking drawers, one of which was fan carved. Catalog notes indicate that the highboy was purchased by Dr. John Rowley of West Hartford from Floyd Thoms of Litchfield, who bought it from a Mrs. Plumb, nee Bissell, in whose family it descended. The highboy went to a dealer in the gallery who intends to keep it for his own use.

The highlight of a group of guns from the estate of Frederick Ascough Archibald of Duxbury, Massachusetts, was a Colt .44 single-action revolver with two cylinders and a Russian barrel, patented September 9, 1874, and made in 1927. It was made with Colt ivory grips carved on one side with the American eagle and shield. The gun showed little use and sold on a bid left by a New England buyer for $7670.

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

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