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Hi-Yo Silver at Moore's

Mark Sisco | November 23rd, 2013

The company of Samuel Kirk & Son, founded in 1815 or 1817, once billed itself as America’s oldest silversmith and operated under various Kirk family names until 1979 when it was bought out and renamed the Kirk Stieff Corporation. The intricately decorated matched pair of Kirk serving dishes sold for $4485.

Starr & Marcus sterling silver punch bowl, $10,350.

Large pine cupboard, probably Canadian, with two wide flat-panel doors with reeded trim, a wooden latch, unpainted interior, well-worn light blue exterior paint, multiple cornice top trim, and a creatively cutout base, $2300.

This enormous two-piece pine pewter cupboard in old robin’s-egg blue paint, probably an overcoat, with four flat- panel doors and wooden knobs in the lower section topped the furniture at $4600.

This richly detailed model is of the three-masted vessel William Lawton. I wasn’t able to locate a specific ship by that name, but I did come up with a William Lawton of Saint John, New Brunswick, who owned a ship called the Madras around 1868. Moore noted that the consignor was the granddaughter of Lawton, who was primarily a lumber merchant. The model sold for $1035.

Hap Moore Auction, York, Maine

Hap Moore’s November 23, 2013, auction in York, Maine, was peppered with interesting, albeit low-key historical items, but it was some key silver pieces that rose to the top of the pile.

The consigning family claimed among their antecedents Colonel William and Margery Pepperrell, parents of Sir William Pepperrell (1696-1759). Colonel Pepperrell was an English settler who became a successful fisherman, boat owner, and merchant in Kittery and married Margery Bray, a local daughter of another well-to-do merchant. Their son, William Pepperrell, was born in Kittery, Maine, then part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and is best remembered as the organizer and leader of the 1745 expedition that captured the French garrison at Fortress Louisbourg during King George’s War in 1745. A pewter charger with a family history going all the way back to the older Pepperrells sold for a strong $1265 (includes buyer’s premium) because of the family connection and its spectacular 21" diameter and despite a significant corrosion hole.

From the same local family came a four-drawer cherry Chippendale secretary desk with blind raised-panel upper doors, a heavy cutout broken-arch pediment, and a squat bracket base with an apron drop. According to documents supplied by the consignor, it belonged to the family’s ancestor George Ffrost (1720-1796), more commonly spelled “Frost.” Born in New Castle, New Hampshire, Ffrost had a 20-year career as a merchant seaman, then moved to Durham, New Hampshire, where he served as justice in the court of common pleas. From 1777 to 1779, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Continental Congress. But for all its history, the desk, with some restoration, brought a meager $920.

A two-page handwritten letter gave a firsthand account by an eyewitness to the San Francisco fire of 1906. Following a major earthquake, the city was ablaze for several days. About 3000 people were killed, and over 80% of the city was completely incinerated. The writer, one J. Harris, was an employee of Smith and Dove Manufacturing Company of Andover, Massachusetts, manufacturers of linen twine. Harris writes with passion and intensity of the scene he witnessed in progress. “I believe this will prove to be one of the worst if not the worst [calamity] this world has ever known…tens of thousands of dwellings are destroyed & the fire is still raging…Our factories – we had three in all…are burned to the ground with all of their contents including your twine…The direct damage by the earthquake was not great, comparatively…but the fire – you simply cannot conceive it….” He laments that their insurance would probably not cover all the loss. The emotionally charged letter sold for a microscopic $28.75. My guess is that people aren’t interested in reports of 20th-century historic disasters. Moore’s explanation was simpler: “I don’t think anybody read it!”

But it was a large and elaborate Art Nouveau sterling silver punch bowl with a gold-washed interior, raised relief rim decorations, and North Wind faces, all on a square-based pedestal, that topped the sale. The mark indicated New York seller Starr & Marcus, which was a prominent silver and jewelry retailer, often selling works by Gorham, Wendt, and other makers. The company opened in 1865 with the formation of a partnership between Theodore B. Starr and Herman Marcus. It ceased operation in 1877, and the name was changed to a single proprietorship under Starr. The spectacular bowl finished at $10,350. “Silver continues to be exceptional,” Moore noted, “and exceptional silver is still over the top!”

For more information, visit ( or call (207) 363-6373.

This Silas Hoadley tall clock with the well-recognized “S. HOADLEY/ PLYMOUTH” identification on the face managed to creep over the $1000 mark, selling for $1092.50. It featured a full-column crest capped by three brass ball finials and an unusual reticulated spray of six stars forming the crest, and a case in a lightly alligatored finish.

This 8" high green glass vase was described as “pheasant eye blown art glass.” Someone appreciated it to the tune of a startling $4485. The buyer reported that it was actually unmarked Loetz glass, accounting for the interest in it.

Early 19th-century pine cupboard in salmon paint with a scrubbed down top, wooden knobs, and dark blue paint inside the upper shelves, $3450.

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

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