These oval portraits by Rufus Porter of five members of the Bartlett family of Massachusetts brought $25,200.
This 9½" high Liverpool jug with an image of a member of the Boston Fusiliers sold for $11,400.
This Benjamin Frothingham-labeled Chippendale mahogany slant-lid desk with a reverse serpentine front brought $42,000.
Photos courtesy Northeast Auctions
Ron Bourgeault of Northeast Auctions appeared a bit pessimistic at times during his three-day sale in Manchester, New Hampshire, on the weekend of August 2-4, but by Monday morning it became evident that he’d managed to accrue a respectable $2.3 million for 1600 or so lots. For a sale that recorded no lot topping $50,000 and saw a somewhat higher than usual number of passed lots, that total was very rewarding.
Here are some of the highlights. Friday’s short session featured the country collection of Eve and Bruce Wilson, a collection heavy with wallpaper-covered hatboxes, baskets, seed boxes, and the like, along with blue-painted county furniture and New England paintings and fabric. The top-priced lot was the horizontally framed oval portraits of five members of the Bartlett family of Massachusetts (two women facing right, three men facing left) by Rufus Porter. Julie Lindberg, who in 2005 established the Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton, Maine, outlasted the five telephone bidders to take the choice grouping for $25,200 (includes buyer’s premium).
Saturday’s session opened with the collection of Suzanna and Milton Miller of Baltimore, Maryland, which featured one of the larger private collections of transfer-printed Liverpool pottery with American historic scenes. Many of the Liverpool offerings had repaired damage, which was a factor in the final prices. When a piece was perfect, as was the 6" high mug bearing an ornate portrait of George Washington, its estimate was left in the dust. Dealer Jesse Goldberg happily went over the $1500/1800 estimate to win that mug for $4080. “I’m so happy with what I bought,” he told us. “I don’t have to apologize for the condition to my customers.”
The top-priced Liverpool piece was a 9½" high jug bearing the image of a member of the Boston Fusiliers. It had been sold by Skinner in June 2002 to dealers William and Teresa Kurau for $11,163. They sold it to the Millers for around $15,000 and bought it again here for $11,400.
Two of the lots following the Miller collection at the Saturday session aptly illustrate the drastic loss of value of some antiques in today’s market and reveal part of the reason that Northeast owner Ron Bourgeault was less than optimistic at times during that session. A Connecticut paint-decorated Pilgrim Century blanket chest had been sold at the Stewart E. Gregory sale in 1979 for $22,000, and in 2010 it was passed at the $16,000 level when Northeast offered it as part of the M. Austin and Jill Fine collection auction; it sold this time for $9600. A Rufus Porter-attributed fireboard was passed by Bourgeault at $90,000 as part of the Fine collection in 2010. It was reoffered at a 2011 sale and passed for $26,000, and it was passed again this time at $17,000.
The full results of Sunday’s session were unavailable at the time this was written, but it appears that the top-priced piece of furniture in that session was the Benjamin Frothingham-labeled Chippendale mahogany slant-lid desk with a reverse serpentine front. It had been sold by the Anderson Galleries in 1930 as part of the famed Philip Flayderman collection for a very respectable $3600 (roughly $49,500 in today’s money). It brought $42,000 here.
A cast zinc weathervane in the form of a horse, sulky, and driver brought the auction’s top price when it sold for $49,200 to a collector/dealer from Moravia, New York.
We’ll carry our full coverage of the Northeast Auctions sale and look at the seven shows making up Antiques Week in a future edition.
Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest