Purchase Story

Americana Sale in New Hampshire

William A. Smith, Inc., Plainfield, New Hampshire

Photos courtesy William A. Smith, Inc.

“Americana seems to be alive and well,” said a pleased Bill Smith during his midwinter auction on February 19 in Plainfield, New Hampshire. Smith was selling to a packed house, with patrons lining up the sides and filling most of the seats in the salesroom. Smith is one of a handful of New England auctioneers who don’t use the Internet for bidding—a customer has to either attend the sale or bid by phone.

The top lot at the sale was this stylish Willys-Overland Jeepster in black that, according to catalog notes, dates from the 1950s. Bidding opened at $3000 for the registered and running vehicle, which quickly sold for $10,580.

This pair of miniature folk portraits by Rufus Porter (1792-1884) depicts husband and wife Thomas Shed and Martha Baldwin Shed, 1816, and came directly from the family’s descendants. The paintings retain their original frames, measure 6" x 5" each, and sold for $4255.

William Aiken Walker (1839-1921), known for his genre paintings of black sharecroppers, painted this smallish (8" x 4") oil on board. The painting opened at $2500 and brought $5750.

An outstanding 18th-century banister-back armchair with a floral and pinwheel crest in old Spanish-brown paint that had been found in the Hooper mansion in Walpole, New Hampshire. It measures 46" high x 25" wide. It opened at $2000 and saw lots of bidding before selling for $4600.

The top lot of the sale was a Willys-Overland Jeepster convertible dating from the 1950s that was registered and running. Stylish and sleek, the Jeepster opened at $3000 and ultimately sold for $10,580 (includes buyer’s premium). A more traditional offering was a pair of Rufus Porter (1792-1884) miniature portraits, which were offered early in the sale and came directly from the family of the subjects. The miniatures were a depiction of husband and wife Thomas and Martha Baldwin Shed and sold for $4255. An oil on canvas by Emile Gruppé, titled on the reverse Eastern Point Lighthouse and measuring 19½" x 23¼", opened with a bid of $2000, but a phone bidder won it for $8912.50. A bright oil painting, a landscape of Mount Nittany, which is just outside of State College, Pennsylvania, was signed Emile Walters and measured 25" x 30". In a Newcomb-Macklin frame, it brought $3162.50.

Period furniture included an elegant Federal Hepplewhite drop-leaf table with a tiger maple base and bird’s-eye maple top. In wonderful condition, the table, dating from 1800-20, sold for $2875. An 18th-century cherry Chippendale oxbow-front four-drawer chest with well-formed ball-and-claw feet and quarter columns sold for $5750. A Chippendale oxbow-front chest with blocked ends and ogee feet, measuring 36" wide, found in the Hooper mansion in Walpole, New Hampshire, brought $4600. A stylish 18th-century tiger maple country secretary with a well-formed cornice, two raised-panel doors, and stepped interior with drawers and pigeonholes, all on a high bracket base, sold for $5750. An 18th-century tiger maple highboy with a fan-carved drawer and old brasses, found in an old New Hampshire home, sold for $5980. A Federal inlaid cherry tall-case clock, cataloged as being in “remarkable original condition,” with a rare “rocking ship” and brass and iron works, dating from 1810, sold for $7187.50. A well-formed 19th-century Boston-area Federal mahogany cookie-corner four-drawer chest in an early crusty finish, 42" x 39" x 22", reached $3680.

American school oil on canvas, 28" x 40", depicting a classic American winter scene with farm, homestead, and sleigh, sold to a bidder on the phone for $9200. Sideli photo.

Bill Smith at the auction podium. Sideli photo.

This early Boston-area Federal mahogany inlaid cookie-corner four-drawer chest with an old crusty finish and beautifully figured wood brought $3680.

This Federal New Hampshire inlaid cherry tall-case clock is, according to the catalog, in remarkable original condition. With the rare rocking ship and brass and iron works, dating from 1810, it is 89" high and ultimately brought $7187.50.

This stylish 19th-century drop-leaf table with a nicely figured tiger maple base and a bird’s-eye maple top, in good, clean condition, sold for $2875.

One of several collections of paint-decorated ice fishing decoys—with some green fish and some black-and-white fish—from the collection of Barbara Johnson, complete with a custom-made iron display stand from American Primitive Gallery, brought $1006.25. Another lot of fish from the same collection that drew the attention of many phone bidders sold for $1035.

A folky and colorful oil on board painting of a cotton picker by American artist William Aiken Walker (1839-1921), 8" x 4", sold for $5750. A 19th-century American school oil on canvas of a Revolutionary War scene sold for $920.

This elegant 18th-century tiger maple highboy with a fan-carved drawer and old brasses had been found in a New Hampshire home. It seemed like a bargain, bringing $5980.

A bidder in the front row won this 18th-century Chippendale tiger maple secretary on a high bracket base. Measuring 63" high x 36" wide x 18" deep and with a great fitted double-stepped interior, the secretary sold for $5750. Sideli photo.

This Chippendale cherry oxbow-front chest with blocked ends and ogee feet, 34¾" high x 36" wide x 20" deep, has a wonderful old crusty finish. Found in the Hooper mansion in Walpole, New Hampshire, it brought $4600. Sideli photo.

Among the Oriental rugs was a room-size Sarouk, 10' square, that brought $1150. An 18th-century Pennsylvania walnut side chair with a shell-carved crest and trifid feet sold for $1150. A nice pair of blue cut overlay lamps, which were oil burning originally and had been converted to run on electricity, sold for $862.50. A late Federal country desk in old red paint with bird’s-eye maple drawer fronts and good, old color, dating from 1800-20, made $2875.

Smith is obviously a source for good American country furniture and draws in customers who desire just that. Many dealers and collectors are taking advantage of the soft prices at this time, but prices seem to be escalating alongside the general public’s increased interest in good, old American country.

For more information, contact William A. Smith at (603) 675-2549 or check the website (www.wsmithauction.com).

A charming pair of early 19th-century oval watercolor portraits of twin sisters Anna and Maria Crane as children, 3" x 2½" each, brought $2875. Sideli photo.

There was some serious action from the floor and the bidders on the phones for this oil on canvas by Emile Gruppé (1896-1978). Titled in pencil on the reverse, Eastern Point Lighthouse is also signed by the artist. Measuring 19½" x 23½", it opened at $2000 and sold for $8912.50 to a phone bidder.

Boston antiques dealers Stephen and Eleanor Score were among the attendees. Sideli photo.


Originally published in the May 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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