Purchase Story

Americana Week Preview: January in New York City

For three generations, a large conclave of collectors and curators has gathered in New York City in mid-January for an annual treasure hunt. The Winter Antiques Show (WAS) at the Park Avenue Armory has been the catalyst for 64 years. Beginning in the late 1970s, auctions and ancillary shows multiplied so that those who made the annual pilgrimage could immerse themselves in the entire world of antiques and design. There are fewer sales and shows this year, but the weekend of January 18-21 is jam-packed with events that can fill every minute, hardly leaving time for a museum visit or a good dinner. It is a social time. As one wag put it, “At TEFAF, everyone whispered in the presence of masterpieces. At the Winter Antiques Show, there is a buzz. Everyone talks about what they’ve seen and catches up on news and gossip.”

Winter Antiques Show

The Winter Antiques Show, January 18 to 28, is often a brisk selling show, especially on the first weekend. Some regulars, aware that hotels are half the price in January as they are in November, stay for a week; others jam four shows and four days of auctions and ancillary events into the long weekend. Here’s what you need to know to plan ahead.

Tickets to the Winter Antiques Show’s opening night party on Thursday, January 18, are $2500 and $1000 for admission at 5 p.m., with unlimited daily admission; $500 for admission at 6 p.m., with two additional daily admissions; and $300 for entry at 7:30 p.m. Daily admission is $25.

WAS is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily except for Sundays, January 21 and 28, and Thursday, January 25, when it is open from noon to 6 p.m., and Tuesday, January 23, when the hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. (There is a Chubb Corporate night from 6 to 9 p.m. on January 23.) Thursday, January 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. is Young Collectors Night with food, drink, and designers; tickets are $200 in advance or $225 at the door. All WAS proceeds go to the East Side House Settlement in the Bronx. For more than 125 years, the East Side House Settlement has provided programs that focus on education and bolster economic opportunity in neighborhoods in the Bronx and northern Manhattan.

New York City in January engages the eye and the mind. Those who come will get new insights into American furniture history from sale catalogs and in new books—one on Nathan Lumbard by Christie Jackson, Clarke Pearce, and Brock Jobe, and two on musical clocks coauthored by Gary Sullivan and music historian Kate Van Winkle Keller. Collectors will learn about the archaeology of Philadelphia slip-decorated redware and the earliest Philadelphia porcelain at the loan exhibition at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair. Some will be surprised that Wendell Castle, a contemporary furniture artist, is sharing the Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Artswith Audrey Heckler, an avid collector of Outsider art. The Wunsch Award reception will be at Christie’s from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17. Past recipients have included scholars and benefactors of early American and Classical decorative arts and architecture.

The loan exhibition at WAS, Collecting for the Commonwealth/Preserving for the Nation: Celebrating a Century of Art Patronage, 1919-2018, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will celebrate gifts to the museum from the James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin collection, French Impressionist, modern, and contemporary works from the collections of Paul Mellon and Sydney and Frances Lewis, Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections, Fabergé, and Russian objects from the collection of Lillian Thomas Pratt, jewels designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany from Bunny Mellon’s collection, and more.

Date barriers have been demolished for exhibitors at WAS. Historical and contemporary design will speak to each other from the booths of 70 dealers who will offer the full range of ancient art, Americana, English, Continental, and Asian art through past centuries to today, all vetted by 150 specialists. The new cochairs of the show, Lucinda Ballard and Michael Lynch, have collaborated with chairman emeritus Arie Kopelman and three design cochairs—Thomas Jayne, an interior designer whose third book, Classical Principles for Modern Design: Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman’s ‘The Decoration of Houses,will debut at the fair; Wendy Goodman, design editor of New York Magazine; and architect Gil Schafer. Their design will underscore the idea that modern traditions are rooted in historical design and that they can work together. The full spectrum of art history offered at the fair will be discussed at daily events and lectures. The lectures are listed on the website (www.winterantiquesshow.com) under “events.” Daily lectures by the Virginia museum staff are free, but some events require preregistration or tickets.

New York Ceramics & Glass Fair

The 19th annual New York Ceramics & Glass Fair at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, will present 28 vetted galleries, private dealers, and artists from the U.S., Europe, and Israel, who will offer ceramics and glass made from the 17th century through today. The preview party will be held Wednesday, January 17, from 5 to 8:30 p.m.; tickets are $90. The fair continues daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tickets are $20. The fair’s daily lecture program is free with admission. The lectures are popular; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For the schedule, see the website (www.nyceramicsandglass.com).

The loan exhibit at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is sponsored by Ceramics in America, published by the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia. Archaeologist Deborah Miller will lecture on the significance of a remarkable assemblage of slipware dating to the middle of the 18th century that was found in a brick-lined privy shaft associated with one or more Philadelphia taverns. The redware is distinguished by dazzling abstract patterns on small dishes and tulip and pomegranate slip-trailed decoration on massive chargers. Current research suggests that they were made by Philadelphia’s French and German potters. In addition to the slipware, a decorated porcelain teapot on display has been associated with the “holy grail” porcelain bowl exhibited last year. Dr. J. Victor Owen has now identified three examples of this early Philadelphia porcelain. Robert Hunter and Deborah Miller believe that this porcelain was made in 1765-68, earlier than 1770, when the Bonnin and Morris porcelain factory opened; this changes what is known of the history of porcelain making in America.

Wunsch Award for Excellence in American Arts

Those who go to the preview for the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair might find it difficult to get to the Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Arts presentation that same evening at Christie’s. The award will be presented to Wendell Castle, furniture artist, and Audrey Heckler, a collector of Outsider art. “We envision making eighteenth-century furniture relevant by inspiring contemporary designers,” said Eric Wunsch. Eric and his brother, Noah, and their father, Peter, are the decision makers at the Wunsch Americana Foundation. “We want to bring new eyes to the field by commissioning new works inspired by period works.”

Eric, 32, works with his father in the family real-estate management office. Noah, 28, runs digital and marketing strategy for Sotheby’s. “We walked through the American Wing with Wendell Castle and curator Alyce Englund, and Castle was intrigued by the ball-and-claw foot on the Townsend card table. It inspired him to make a very large stacked mahogany chair, which we hope to have on view in January and expect to place in an institution,” said Eric. The Wunsch Americana Foundation has commissioned other contemporary works. Los Angeles-based artist David Wiseman, inspired by an American japanned kneehole desk at the Met, made a bronze mirror that will go on view at a museum soon. Eric said it was his brother’s idea to honor Audrey Heckler. “She discovered Outsider art in midlife and has hundreds of pieces. She is a top collector in a field that seems to be growing.”

Outsider Art Fair

Those who come to the Wunsch Award presentation can preview two major collections of Outsider art that will be sold at Christie’s on Friday, January 19. The sale comes one day before the 26th Outsider Art Fair opens at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, with more than 60 exhibitors, nine of them new to the show, including Almost Art Project (Beijing, China), Antillean (New York City), Korea Art Brut (Seogwipo, Jeju Island, South Korea), Donald Ellis Gallery (New York City), Wilsonville (East Hampton, New York), First Street Gallery (Claremont, California), Krowswork (Oakland, California), Tops Gallery (Memphis, Tennessee), and Jennifer Lauren (U.K).

The fair will welcome back a number of longtime exhibitors, including New York City galleries American Primitive, Ricco/Maresca, Luise Ross, Cavin-Morris, and Marion Harris, and Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago), Fleisher/Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia), Henry Boxer (London), and Gilley’s Gallery (Baton Rouge, Louisiana).

On Thursday, January 18, the V.I.P. invitation-only preview will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets for the vernissage from 6 to 9 p.m. are $50. Friday and Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; hours on Sunday are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $20 for one day or $50 for a three-day pass good for Friday through Sunday.

Art, Design, & Antiques Show at Wallace Hall

On Friday, January 19, collectors and designers who leave no stone unturned will head for the Art, Design, & Antiques Show at Wallace Hall, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, at 980 Park Avenue at East 84th Street. Hours are Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15. For the fourth year, Brad Reh has signed up 35 well-known dealers to offer a selection of English furniture, American folk art, American Indian art, fine books, silver, pottery and porcelain, Oriental rugs and carpets, jewelry, Asian works of art, paintings, sculpture, and mid-century modern.

“Designers never miss this show; they find usable decorative pieces from many eras and locations. Last year we shipped pieces by private jet to California,” said Reh. With no Big Flea, Armory show, or Pier show, Reh’s Wallace Hall show is the survivor. Throughout the weekend, a shuttle bus will run between Wallace Hall and the Park Avenue Armory.

Americana Week Auctions

Shows are only part of the fare. Auctions are a big part of the Americana marketplace, and plenty will cross the block this January. Collectors and dealers will begin arriving on January 13 and 14 to attend presale exhibitions that will continue until sale time.


Sotheby’s will offer printed and manuscript Americana including cartography on Wednesday, January 17 (Christie’s held an Americana manuscript sale on December 5, 2017) and 900 lots of American furniture and decorations January 18 to 21, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, except on Friday morning when Christie’s will sell American furniture and Outsider art.

Following the success of the Alexander Hamilton sale in 2017, Sotheby’s books and manuscripts department is again participating in Americana Week. The sale on Wednesday, January 17, is strong in color-plate books, views, and maps, including a collection of maps of the American West. A 1756 Poor Richard Almanack, printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1755 (est. $10,000/15,000); William Faden’s The North American Atlas, London, 1777 (est. $150,000/250,000); and Ferdinand V. Hayden and Thomas Moran’s The Yellowstone National Park and the Mountain Ranges of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah, published in Boston by L. Prang and Company in 1876 (est. $250,000/350,000), are among the highlights.

Sotheby’s will offer nearly 900 lots of American furniture, folk art, silver, China trade porcelain, and prints over four days. The star of the week is the Mansfield-Merriam family Pilgrim-century black-painted, joined, and carved oak wainscot armchair, made in the New Haven Colony circa 1650, that will be sold on Saturday, January 20.

Edward Savage, The Davis Children: Eliza Cheever Davis and John Derby Davis, oil on canvas, 1795. Estimate: $100,000/200,000. Sotheby’s photo.

“One of only twenty-seven known New England wainscot armchairs, of which twenty-four are in museum collections, this chair has been on loan to the New Haven Colony Museum for generations,” said Erik Gronning, Sotheby’s Americana chief. Gronning said the current owner told him that he cannot divide a historic and valuable chair among three children, so it was consigned to auction. The estimate is $300,000/500,000.

Two wainscot chairs sold in the 1990s went to institutions. In 1995 Christie’s sold Eddy Nicholson’s wainscot chair to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $211,500, and in 1994 Sotheby’s sold Bertram and Nina Fletcher Little’s wainscot chair to Bayou Bend for $332,500, so institutional interest is expected in the Mansfield-Merriam chair.

“It is one of the great works of American art in remarkably good condition,” said Gronning. Patricia Kane wrote about it in Furniture of the New Haven Colony: The Seventeenth-Century Style (1973, 1993). It was possibly made by Lawrence Ward, a turner and joiner who owned property in New Haven in 1641. A chest by the same hand is in the New Haven Colony Museum. The Mansfield family was among the original New Haven settlers. Lawrence Ward was a ship carpenter and turner, deputy to the general court in New Haven from 1654 to 1664, and a representative to the General Assembly in Hartford from 1655 to 1666. He moved to Newark, New Jersey, with his family of seven children and died there in 1671. Abraham Pierson purchased a great chair (now in the Yale University Art Gallery) from Ward’s wife after Ward died, and Ward’s estate listed tools of a joiner and carver.

The Mansfield-Merriam family Pilgrim-century black-painted, joined, and carved oak wainscot armchair, made in the New Haven Colony, circa 1650. Estimate: $300,000/500,000. Sotheby’s photo.

On Saturday Gronning will offer a Nathan Lumbard clock in an inlaid case from the Fred and Ann Vogel collection and a candlestand inlaid with an eagle made by a cabinetmaker in the Lumbard circle in southern Worcester County, Massachusetts, from another consignor. This will take place just as the new book Crafting Excellence: The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle by Christie Jackson, Brock Jobe, and Clark Pearce comes off the press. At Sotheby’s annual seminar on Tuesday, January 16, Jobe will speak about Lumbard, Peter Follansbee will talk on 17th-century furniture, Gary Sullivan will cover clocks, and Robert Trent will discuss New York furniture.

Most of Sotheby’s Americana sale is made up of collections not large enough for separate catalogs, so they have been gathered into one. “On Thursday morning, we will sell a renowned New Jersey collection of early Judaica, much of it American, and material relating to Bergen County, New Jersey, history, including fraktur, paintings, and portraits,” said Gronning. “On Thursday afternoon, we will offer silver, Chinese export porcelain, and prints.”

“We have a lot of good Tiffany from the Gilded Age, including mixed metals,” said silver specialist Alessandra Merrill. A highlight is an exceptional Joseph Heinrichs silver and copper punch bowl, decorated with arrowheads, Indians, and weapons (est. $125,000/175,000). Sotheby’s will reoffer silver from the Iris Schwartz sale with lower estimates, including a Myer Myers sauceboat (est. $10,000/15,000) and a tazza, flatware, and serving pieces, circa 1930, by Brooklyn silversmith Peer Smed.

Kevin Tierney, longtime head of Sotheby’s silver department and now a consultant, said he is keen on a church service, consisting of flagons, goblets, and four rectangular dishes made by John Targee in New York in 1824 and given to the Consistory of the Dutch Reformed Church by Catherine de Peyster. “The flagons are estimated at $6000/8000, the six cups at $4000/6000, and the four rectangular dishes sold in two lots at $3000/5000 a pair. They are heavy, top-rate design, and part of the history of the city, and they could have a domestic use,” said Tierney. Legendary collector Katharine Prentis Murphy apparently poured scotch sours from one of the communion flagons.

On Friday afternoon, Sotheby’s will offer furniture and decorations from the estates of Price and Isobel H. Glover. Some of it is English in the American taste, and some is American, including a veneered New York high chest of the finest quality and a pair of Queen Anne Boston side chairs with flat stretchers and an old surface. The Glovers also collected English salt-glaze and creamware and lots of tiles. (Their well-known English pewter collection sold at Christie’s in London in 2017.)

Saturday’s sale at Sotheby’s will lead off with furniture from the Dudley and Constance Godfrey Foundation, with the proceeds going to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The sale will include another New York high chest, this one of solid mahogany, not veneered; a Massachusetts Pilgrim-century chest from the Savell shop in Braintree, Massachusetts, by William Savell Sr.; and a chest with a drawer by his son John Savell. Most of the chairs in this collection are from Philadelphia.

On Saturday afternoon the collection of Bobbi and Ralph Terkowitz of Washington, D.C., and New York, which includes five portraits by Ammi Phillips, will be offered. They also collected New England high-style country furniture. Their musical clock by Martin Cheney of Windsor, Vermont, is illustrated in Gary R. Sullivan’s new book Musical Clocks of Early America, 1730-1830, a catalogue raisonné of 130 musical and quarter-chiming American clocks that Sullivan wrote with music historian Kate Van Winkle Keller. The book, which should be available in January from the Willard House & Clock Museum, has 500 color illustrations of 130 clocks and biographies of 180 clockmakers who made them, said Sullivan. Keller and Sullivan have written another smaller book without illustrations, The Music of Early American Clocks, 1730-1830, for music historians. “We have worked on this project for a decade,” Sullivan said.

On Sunday, what Susan and Mark Laracy kept or collected after their successful sale at Sotheby’s in January 2007 will cross the block. They are moving to the West Coast to be near their grandchildren. Most of the collection of Federal and Classical furniture from the estate of the Michigan collector Patricia M. Sax was bought in New York from Carswell Rush Berlin or Stuart Feld at Hirschl & Adler Galleries. There are plenty of very special things in this various-owners sale. A carved and painted figure of a baseball player, attributed to the workshop of Samuel Anderson Robb, circa 1890, carries a $300,000/500,000 estimate. A Lady Liberty weathervane comes from the same collection. A large full-bodied Schimmel eagle is from another consignor. For collectors of Outsider art, the sale includes a work by Ralph Fasanella and three by Bill Traylor that are first rate.

Carved and painted figure of a baseball player, attributed to the workshop of Samuel Anderson Robb, circa 1890. Estimate: $300,000/500,000. Sotheby’s photo.


Christie’s will sell China trade porcelain and paintings on Thursday, January 18, featuring 100 lots from the collection of Marchant, a London gallery of China trade that has closed so the dealers can concentrate on imperial wares. Among the 100 lots from various owners’ collections are wares made for the American market and what Christie’s China trade specialist Becky MacGuire calls “country house porcelain,” big fish bowls, large Kangxi blue-and-white jars, punch bowls and monteiths, and a rare set of 17 blue-and-white dishes that illustrate the cultivation of tea.

Very rare set of Chinese export “Tea Cultivation” dishes, circa 1740, 17 pieces. Estimate: $40,000/60,000. Christie’s photo.

On Friday, January 19, Christie’s will sell Americana and Outsider art, including five Bill Traylor artworks among the 90 lots of Outsider art in a separate catalog. Cara Zimmerman, Christie’s Outsider specialist, has two sizable collections to sell: the Marjorie and Harvey Freed collection from Chicago and an anonymous collection with more European works. In 1991 the Freeds founded Chicago’s Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, which presents the work of self-taught and intuitive artists with unique personal visions. The Intuit Center is known for its Henry Darger Room. The Freeds will also sell their Darger at Christie’s.

“The Freeds were early collectors; they bought from Carl Hammer and Phyllis Kind, who started in Chicago before she moved to New York. They have super blue-chip works by Ramirez and Traylor and lesser-known works, a full range,” said Zimmerman. “The anonymous collection is totally different, more European, more intellectual, and surreal, with works by Adolf Wölfli and the Swiss artist Aloïse Corbaz, the darlings of Art Brut.” There are also two Edmondson stone sculptures in the sale, both of a woman.

Christie’s will sell 100 lots of traditional American furniture and silver from a separate catalog. “This is an exciting sale,” said John Hays, deputy director at Christie’s, who has been rounding up consignments. “We are selling the James Wady clock that we sold eighteen years ago. I put it in Martha Willoughby’s hands, and she believes that the likely first owner was Dr. William Hunter.”

Hunter’s youngest son, Senator William Hunter and his wife, Mary Robinson, purchased the Nichols-Wanton-Hunter house on Washington Street in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1805; it is now known as the Hunter house. His father, who died in 1777, is known for encouraging Gilbert Stuart to become a painter. He commissioned Stuart to paint his spaniels, which Stuart depicted sleeping under a Newport card table similar to one attributed to John Goddard illustrated in Art & Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650 to 1830 (2016) by Patricia Kane. Kane illustrated the painting in that book along with a card table and wrote about Dr. Hunter, a Scottish-trained physician and apothecary, who came to the Colonies in 1754 and married Deborah Malbone, the youngest daughter of Godfrey Malbone, one of Newport’s most prominent merchants. Kane writes that Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, “loathed him,” and in 1777 upon hearing of his death Stiles wrote that Hunter “spent about two years attending the medical Lecture in University of Edinburgh—then came over to America in 1754 with nothing.” He married an heiress, but Stiles calls him “an inveterate Enemy to American Liberty—dressed well, was much of the Gentleman, lived high & luxuriously.” Apparently his two spaniels slept under his Newport card table, and he may have owned the Wady clock.

When the Wady clock was offered in January 2000, it was suggested that the case was by one of the first generations of Townsends—Jobe or Christopher—and it sold for $442,500 (est. $100,000/150,000). This time the estimate is $200,000/300,000. “In 2000 we knew of five Wady clocks; now we know of nine,” said Martha Willoughby. “I believe this one was made between 1755 and 1759.” Another Wady clock is in the Hunter house.

Hunter-Dunn family Chippendale plum-pudding mahogany block-and-shell tall-case clock, dial signed by James Wady (d. 1759), Newport, 1750-59, the engraved silvered brass moon-face dial signed “Iames: Wady: Newport.” Estimate: $200,000/300,000. Christie’s photo.

A Delaware Valley tiger maple dressing table in Christie’s sale is from the same shop as the Johnson family figured maple dressing table that sold at Sotheby’s on January 21, 2007, for $4,408,000 to Todd Prickett. Christie’s maple dressing table has a slightly different skirt, and it has an old surface. Possibly by William Savery, it is similar to one labeled by Savery and illustrated in Hornor’s Blue Book: Philadelphia Furniture (1935). The estimate is $250,000/500,000.

Hays said his biggest discovery is two pairs of Philadelphia rococo side chairs made for Richard Edwards that turned up in Canada. A pier table made for Richard Edwards, the carving probably by John Pollard, sold at Christie’s in January 1990 for $4,620,000, a record at that time for any table. Three of the chairs have the same descent as the pier table, and one descended in the family that owned a high chest and two dressing tables also carved by Pollard. The chairs will be offered in two lots, estimated at $30,000/50,000 and $20,000/30,000; the lower estimate for the second pair is because the fourth chair has a different finish.

A pair of Philadelphia Queen Anne side chairs from the Rawle family has a $30,000/50,000 estimate, and a pair of Newport mahogany side chairs attributed to John Townsend with a splat pattern of C-scrolls supported by a pierced pedestal, cabriole legs, ball-and-claw feet, and turned stretchers, said to have been part of a long set owned by John Townsend and divided between his children, also carries a $30,000/50,000 estimate.

Pair of Chippendale carved mahogany side chairs, attributed to John Townsend (1733-1809), Newport, 1760-90. Estimate: $30,000/50,000. Christie’s photo.

The Athenaeum-type portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart to be offered at Christie’s was owned by the hero of Spanish independence Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) of Caracas, Venezuela. It is estimated at $100,000/150,000. Rembrandt Peale’s copy of a 1772 portrait of Washington by his father, Charles Willson Peale, has a $400,000/600,000 estimate.

Hays said his sale is small partly because Christie’s had an Americana sale in September, and the department recently finished cataloging 100 lots of Americana for the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection sale in May. “David Rockefeller owned a unicorn chest. I have never sold one before, and he loved his decoys; he had forty of them,” said Hays. “We had to finish the Rockefeller catalog before the collection went on worldwide tour. It is now in Hong Kong before going to Beijing.”

Check auction house websites for updated preview and sale times and show websites for information on buying tickets and for times of lectures and other events.

Websites for more information

Art, Design & Antiques at Wallace Hall


New York Ceramics & Glass Fair

Outsider Art Fair


Winter Antiques Show

Originally published in the January 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

comments powered by Disqus
Web Design By Firefly Maine Maine Web Design