Oil on canvas by Abbott Fuller Graves, titled Dividing the Shares, 32" x 46", sold for $26,450. The subjects were a Kennebunkport fishing captain and his crew. Left to right, they were identified as Captain Henry S. Ward, Frank Emery, Tom Basey (seated), a Mr. Pitts (standing, smoking a pipe), and Ed Bryant. To the right is the Graves lithograph that the buyer of the painting, Bill Johnson, has owned for 40 years.
The leather hinges were broken, the lock was missing, and the paint was faded, but it was the simple white tree-form decorations on this 18th-century red-painted lift-top trunk that drove it past the $900/1200 estimate to $2530.
This oil on canvas, 15" x 28", signed lower right by Massachusetts artist Hendricks Hallett (1847-1921) is of hunters in sailboats near a lakeside cabin. It sold for $2300.
John McInnis Auctioneers, Poland, Maine
by Mark Sisco
In Maine in the late 19th and early 20th century, the word "rusticator" was often used to describe rich folks who temporarily abandoned their city haunts to enjoy the rustic splendor of "backwoods" Maine. Thus their euphemistically named "rusticator cottages" were actually multi-storied mansions. On July 6, John McInnis Auctioneers sold the contents of one of the great rusticator cottages, known as the Ricker House, in an on-site sale at the Poland Spring Resort in Poland, Maine, along with additions from other estates and collections.
About 92% of the lots were unreserved, and those lots that were reserved were generally protected well under the estimates. Nevertheless, a small number of the mid- to high-range lots did fail to sell.
The centerpiece of the auction was a well-known oil on canvas by Abbott Fuller Graves (1859-1936). The Weymouth, Massachusetts-born Graves is best known for his lush floral and garden scenes, often painted in a heavy impasto and a highly realistic style. The large 32" x 46" painting, signed lower right by Graves and dated 1897, was titled Dividing the Shares (or Dividing the Catch). It showed a crew of fishermen gathered in Charles Hoff's Kennebunkport, Maine, blacksmith shop with the captain, returned from a day's work, and discussing the division of profits from the catch. The subjects were all known Kennebunkport men and were identified as Captain Henry S. Ward and his crew consisting of Frank Emery, Tom Basey, a Mr. Pitts, and Ed Bryant.
The painting had a long documented history beginning with an exhibition at Leonard & Company, Boston, in 1899. From there it was shown at the Poland Spring Art Exhibition from 1899 to 1913, and it remained with the Poland Spring Resort until the 1960's. From about 1977 to 1980, it resided in the Washington, D.C., office of Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, who wished to purchase it, but the owners of the Poland Spring Resort declined to sell. Eventually, it was sold to the Feldman family, owners of the cottage/mansion at the resort, and then consigned to the auction. Over the years, it had appeared in various publications including Down East magazine and The Magazine Antiques.
The painting was offered last year at Barridoff Galleries, Portland, Maine, but it failed to sell when the reserve wasn't met. This time, at $26,450 (including buyer's premium), the winning bidder was William Johnson of Kennebunk, who houses a large collection at his Johnson Hall Museum. The painting was underbid by Bailey Island, Maine, dealer James Glazer. Johnson was thrilled not only to now own the painting, but also to have it returned to just a few miles from where it was created. By coincidence, for decades Johnson has owned a lithograph of the painting. It gave a similar identification of the subjects on the back. But until he saw the auction advertisements, Johnson had no idea that he'd ever have a shot at owning the painting on which it was based. "I've had this for forty years," he said, "I didn't think I'd ever find the original! I bought it in Kennebunkport out of Captain Ward's house."
Among the other works of art offered was an unsigned watercolor of the brig Olive of Newburyport, Massachusetts, attributed to Italian artist Giuseppe Fedi (active circa 1792-1819). The legend across the lower margin read "Brig Olive of Newburyport Micajah Lunt jun'r master entering Leghorn Roads February 18th 1819." In 1779, Lunt's father, Micajah Lunt Sr., also of Newburyport, was a crewman on board the armed ship Vengeance, part of the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, when the ship was driven ashore and burned to prevent her capture by the British. He was among those who trekked overland back to Massachusetts. Captain Micajah Lunt Jr. was born in Newburyport in 1796. In 1813, when he was only 17 years old, he shipped out on the Argus, the first letter-of-marque ship to sail from Newburyport in the War of 1812. By the tender age of 19, he had command of the Olive and made his first voyage to Nantes, France. Later he retired to a mercantile business. I found other references to a Captain Micajah Lunt, probably a son or grandson, captaining merchant vessels as late as 1861. The Olive sailed until at least 1832.
With considerable age toning, and estimated at $4000/ 6000, the painting sold for $4600. Sold separately was an oil on canvas of Captain Lunt, attributed to Thomas Bayley Lawson (1807-1888). Like the Lunts, Lawson was born in Newburyport. Stylistically, the painting looked like a good match for his work. The captain appeared to be in his 50's or 60's, which would date the painting to about the 1850's. It sold under the low estimate for $1725, going to the owners of the Lunt house in Newburyport.
For more information, go to (www.mcinnisauctions.com) or call (978) 388-0400.
Papier-mâché nodding Boston terrier pull toy with a working growler, $1955. Photo courtesy McInnis.
Child's pedal car, early 20th century, in red paint with mustard yellow striping, on a spindly frame with hard rubber wheels, sold just over the low estimate for $1035.
A rare Tiffany & Co. sterling silver repoussé teapot in an Islamic motif with a long serpentine handle and spout, densely embossed with swirling foliate designs, sold for $4600 (est. $2000/ 4000).
An outstanding paint-decorated two-tier Pennsylvania wall box with red, yellow, and black florals and hex signs rang in just over the $2000/3000 estimate for $3162.50 from Jim Glazer.
Good painted, flat-mounted, and banner-carrying John Haley Bellamy eagles seem to have comfortably settled into the $10,000 to $20,000 price range in the last few years. This one had the original paint and a minor repair to the banner tip. It sold for $16,100 (est. $15,000/18,000).