Purchase Story

Arms, Silver, and Art Up for Grabs at Tremont

Tremont Auctions, Newton, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Tremont Auctions

Knowledgeable collectors of historical arms swarmed Tremont Auctions to preview its April 28 military auction in the Newton, Massachusetts, gallery. They were there for the dispersion of several historical military arms collections, primarily 159 lots from the three-generation collection of Francis Earl Dunn of Needham, Massachusetts, and many returned to bid during the first part of Tremont’s two-day auction. (Tremont sold art and antiques on April 29.) Others bid by phone and online.

The overall highlight of the sale was this rare Henry Nock (1741-1804) volley musket with seven barrels that sold on the phone for $40,800 (est. $16,000/22,000). The price may be a record. The musket came from the collection of Francis Earl Dunn, who began collecting in the 1930s. It is untouched and retains the original ramrod with threads. The lockplate is stamped “TOWER,” it is engraved with a crown at the tang, it has an inspection stamp below the pan, and each barrel has an inspection stamp or proof mark. The Dunn collection was documented in detail, but the information arrived too late to be included in the catalog. The information was given to the successful bidder, a collector of important military objects.


This pair of 18¾" high sterling five-light candelabra with bobeches and flame finials and a removable branch was marked for London, 1959, by T & Co., which could signify Tiffany, as the company used that mark in England. Estimated at $2000/3000, the pair brought $4800 online.

This Civil War ambrotype of an African American soldier with a knife and revolver on his belt was estimated at $250/350, and it sold for $7200. Not shown, a Civil War ambrotype of a soldier brandishing a revolver included a note reading “George 1861.” It sold for $1440 (est. $250/350).

Three landscapes by Philippine artist Isidro Ancheta (1882-1946) attracted interest. Each was estimated at $1200/1800. Cainta Rizal, top, a 1936 oil on canvasboard, 11½" x 15½", brought $4080 online. Ancheta’s landscape with figures harvesting, a 12" x 16" oil on canvasboard, middle, sold for $3360, also online. The 1936 Trinidad, an 11" x 15" oil on canvasboard landscape, fetched $3840, also from an Internet buyer. Mascolo photo.

The Dunn collection came to Tremont when Dunn’s daughter-in-law called Brett Downer the day before the Dunn house was set to go on the market. When he took a look at the collection, he called in his brother Keith, who is a military historian, and they brought the collection to market. Much of the collection had been on view at Fort William Henry in New York state. The highlight of the collection was a rare Henry Nock (1741-1804) volley musket with seven barrels that sold on the phone for $40,800 (with buyer’s premium), possibly a record. The musket was estimated at $16,000/22,000.

Another collection of interest is that of James Pantages of Quincy, Massachusetts, who has collected for over half a century. He has lived in the same house all his life and is now downsizing. It is reported that he owns more than 1200 pieces of paintings and sculpture. A few lots in this sale came from his collection; the bulk of the collection, though, about 600 works of art, will go on view September 28 at the Plymouth Exchange in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Silver attracted the interest of dealers. Brett Downer said after the sale that the quality of silver made before 1890 is important. The silver in this sale met that criterion and fared well. There was a lot of interest in a group of silver butter dishes, including one by Tiffany that sold for $1080. A floral repoussé butter or cheese dish by Baltimore maker George W. Webb & Co. with a liner and a dome top fetched $960 (est. $250/350). A mechanical silver butter dish decorated with a dart border, made in 1866 by Abner Halsey Miller of Chicago, a branch of A.H. & J.H. Miller of Newark, New Jersey, sold for $1560 (est. $350/450).

This pair of old master landscapes on panel, 8¼" x 12", from the 18th or 19th century, was monogrammed “V.W.” and hung in period gilt frames. Estimated at $2000/3000, the pair went to a phone bidder for $7200.

This four-drawer commode in the style of 18th-century Italian master Giuseppe Maggiolini (1738-1814) has marquetry scenes, gilt bronze Classical Revival figural mounts, and spade feet. It brought $6000 (est. $3000/5000). Mascolo photo.

Silver dealers settled in for the silver that crossed the block. Interest was high in a group of sterling silver butter dishes, including this 5¼" high Tiffany & Co. round example with a lobed top and pheasant finial, marked “G & W.” It brought $1080 (est. $300/400).

A phone bidder paid $4320 (est. $1500/2500) for this approximately 1½" diameter 19th-century Renaissance Revival high-karat gold sunflower brooch that is signed “Castellani” and bears the conjoined “CC” mark.

A Duhme & Co. sterling Japanesque pitcher decorated with fruit and flowers on a stippled ground sold to a dealer in the gallery for $2160 (est. $400/600). A bidder in the gallery paid $3600 (est. $3500/4500) for a Georg Jensen 73-piece sterling flatware service, a very good buy.

Jewelry did well. A phone bidder paid $5280 for a 17th-century German 20k gold sleeve bracelet that dated from about 1630 and was decorated elaborately with chased and enameled flowers, foliage, and berries on a repoussé and basket-weave design. It had been part of the Martin John Desmoni collection in 1963. A Cartier sculptural 18k gold leopard ring with emerald eyes and black enamel spots that came with the original presentation box sold for $6600 (est. $2000/3000).

In other news, while Tremont Auctions’ lease at the Newton gallery was previously affirmed, things have changed, and the three-year-old auction house will take up new quarters in Wayland, Massachusetts, by the fall.

For more information, go to (www.tremontauctions.com) or call (617) 795-1678.

This 4 5/8" high Whiting hand-hammered sterling silver bowl with applied copper, gilt, and silver cherries and insects went to the trade for $3840 (est. $800/1200).

This Revolutionary War powder horn, made for Ahira Smith and dated March 2, 1780, is decorated with scenes of the siege of Boston, including garrison buildings, towers, flags, islands, and a bird, along with an iron shield in the form of a heart applied to the butt plug. Estimated at $1500/2000, the horn sold for $3600. Catalog notes indicate that the horn could do with more research into the carver and the owner.

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This 1914 Venetian scene by Cape Ann artist Aldro Thompson Hibbard (1886-1972) in the original carved Arts and Crafts frame was estimated at $3000/5000 and sold for $6000. A masonite board was mounted onto the stretcher of the 26" x 21" oil on canvas but was not mounted to the painting.

This floral still life with a pottery pitcher, 26" x 16", oil on board, by Kentucky artist Henry Faulkner (1924-1981) sold for $10,800 (est. $3000/4000). The artist was known for his vibrant paintings and for his custom of bringing Alice, his goat, to his art openings. Not shown, another Faulkner artwork, Whimsical Genre, a 15" x 18" oil on board scene with two women, sold online for $7800 (est. $1000/2000). Mascolo photo.

This 19th-century Italian micromosaic table with a central medallion depicting the Vatican surrounded by images of other sites in Rome, with lapis lazuli and malachite borders, on a bronze stand with paw feet, sold for $7800. The top is 20¼" in diameter. Mascolo photo.

This pen and ink drawing with sepia wash by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), 8" x 10", depicting two cowboys at a lunch counter brought $9600 (est. $7000/9000).


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

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