Purchase Story

Fine Furniture, Decorative Arts, and Silver

Leslie Hindman, Chicago, Illinois

Leslie Hindman’s furniture, decorative arts, and silver auction held October 16 and 17, 2017, offered everything from a 135-lot collection of thimbles to a pair of small ship’s cannons, that had been fired from the Eiffel Tower to signal daily openings and closings of the 1889 World’s Fair. There were massive glass chandeliers, 20 lots of George III silver, most with individual pieces, Flemish tapestries from The Breakers of Palm Beach, Florida, multiple panels of hand-painted 20th-century wallpaper, 18 tall-case clocks, four grand pianos (OK, one was a baby grand), and a decorative transom cover in a pear tree. Oops, got carried away with the sheer variety.

Corbin Horn told us that the position of the top lot, with weight on one leg, is called contrapposto in the art biz. The Roman torso dates from the 1st-2nd century C.E. and sold for $47,500. Leslie Hindman photo.

Left to right: a 19th-century English portrait of a gentleman sold for $188; a 19th-century portrait of poet Robert Burns brought $688; a circa 1840 French portrait sold for $375; and an 18th-century portrait brought $500.

Have we already mentioned that one can find amazing things in a Hindman auction? Case in point is a pair of 19th-century French ship’s cannons (one shown) from the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida, each on a four-wheel bracket, 20½" x 41", and estimated at $800/1200. The set sold for $8125. One barrel rests on a pair of 17th- or 18th-century Chinese iron basins, 41" wide x 23" deep, that fetched $2500.

Final tally on the 1192-lot sale was, with buyers’ premiums, about $1.3 million. The top lot was a Roman marble nude male torso from the 1st-2nd centuries C.E., 15⅜" high. From a Chicago estate and estimated at $4000/6000, the partial torso sold to a Chicago collector for $47,500. Head of sale Corbin Horn noted that tendrils of hair on the shoulders of the figure plus the weight-on-one-hip position were important to prospective bidders and may have been a factor in the bidding war that ensued. “Torsos always sell well,” he added.

A set of 18th- or 19th-century Chinese export Cornelis Pronk porcelain, two bowls and 12 plates in La Dame au Parasol pattern in the Chinese Imari palette, sold for $25,000, well above the high estimate, to a Brussels bidder. Any thought of Flemish tapestries being hard to sell evaporated when a late 16th-/early 17th-century work depicting the story of Troy and measuring 11'7" x 14'10", estimated at $8000/12,000, went to a Connecticut bidder for $18,750. The tapestry, once in the collection of Henry Flagler, came from The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.

“Somebody got a good buy,” said Corbin Horn as the Egyptian stone ushabti (funerary figure) of Wedjarenes sold. From the 25th/26th Dynasty, somewhere around 680-620 B.C.E., the 51/8" tall figure sold for $6250 (est. $8000/12,000). Leslie Hindman photo.

Estimated at $600/800, this 19th-century painted metal eagle weathervane on a wood stand brought $2750. Perhaps by A.L. Jewell & Co., Waltham, Massachusetts, it came from the same Wisconsin collection as fish and pig vanes.


This English burlwood box, 26¼" wide and topped with a 20th-century brass replacement eagle, sold above estimate at $688. It is on a 1780-90 Hepplewhite mahogany sideboard with a brass gallery that sold above estimate for $2750.

The unusual late 19th-century gilt copper piscatorial figure, 25½" long and retaining some of its original finish, sold for $2500 (est. $800/1200).

“Lackluster” was Horn’s word for sales of a large and wide-ranging collection of clocks from a Wisconsin collector. Part of a larger consignment, the timepieces were certainly attractive and varied, and also photogenic, as seen in the catalog. But ships’ clocks, seven banjo clocks, the variety of abovementioned tall-case clocks, girandoles, and more did not spark fires at the sale. As a result, many sold low or went unsold.

“Clock dealers are not selling much these days, and they are not buying,” said Horn. Spend enough time with a serious watch collector or dealer and you’ll learn that they can be picky, secretive, discerning, fussy, and tough customers. And at this sale, they were not willing to settle.

On a happier note, a folk art painted game board from the same collection, estimated at $150/250, sold to an East Coast collector for $12,500.

Generally, one does not see a lot of American folk art at a Hindman auction, so when the mid-19th-century painted game board with a $150/250 estimate hit $12,500, it was a real eyeopener. Leslie Hindman photo.

The carved wooden transom cover in a Hindman auction was a rare sight. Yet the 16" x 74" maple early 20th-century example with griffins and scrolls sold for $1


We were amazed that the 12" diameter late 19th-century English pâte-sur-pâte porcelain charger from George Jones and signed “Schenck Sc.” did not sell. Featuring nymphs at a pond against an olive ground, the charger was estimated at $800/1200. Leslie Hindman photo.

Asked if the sale had any trends, Horn noted that Empire-style items sold well, primarily to the East Coast and New York City. This brings us to an unhappy observation: Not much sold to Chicago-area collectors or dealers, though buyers in the Midwest amounted to 50% of all winning U.S. bidders. The Roman torso was a notable Chicago-area buy. Among all registered bidders, 28% bid through Hindman’s platform LHLive, and 24% left absentee or phone bids. Among winning bidders, 90% were from the U.S., up from the usual results at these sales of decorative arts at Hindman. Australian bidders were up as well. Other non-winning bidders were from countries ranging from Brazil to Russia and the United Arab Emirates, plus many from the U.K.

In the end, Horn summed the sale up neatly. “It was a nice cross section of all the things we’re known for. We’re known for the way we put together good collections with statement pieces and fresh to market.”

For more information, visit (www.lesliehindman.com) or call (312) 280-1212.

Everyone needs a good pair of silver asparagus servers, especially when they are American sterling from Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago. Decorated with a hunter and dog in the woods, with ornate florals plus a folly at the top, the pair sold for $375 (est. $120/180). Leslie Hindman photo.

From a New York state collection, this Victorian silver and enamel thimble by James Fenton of Birmingham, England, dated 1892, brought $688 (est. $200/300). Note the enamel band at the bottom featuring a holly and berry motif. The collection offered 135 lots of gold and silver thimbles, enameled thimbles, and needlework tools. Leslie Hindman photo.

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

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