James D. Julia’s antiques & fine art auction at the Samoset Resort in Rockland, Maine, was a three-day extravaganza featuring more than 1,700 lots with a total gross of more than $5 million, making it their biggest summer antiques auction to date.
The sale featured fine antiques of every kind from some of the finest estates and collections to hit the auction block in many years. Included were the contents of the Richard Paine Estate of Seal Cove, Maine, whose auto museum was a world renowned attraction. His collection of folk art included a rare weathervanes highlighted by one in the form of a full-bodied standing mule. Circa late 19th century, this possibly unique form was a must have for two phone bidders who refused to let it go without a fight. Only one could be victorious in the end, and that is the one who was willing to pay $117,300 with no deference to its $20,000-$30,000 estimate.
The selection of folk art included a carved wood figure of the Goddess of Liberty, which ended up being the top seller of the day. This life-size polychrome carving shows the American icon draped in a red and gold trimmed robe and originally resided in Tammany Hall in New York City during the late teens. The workmanship and provenance of this masterpiece added to its desirability. It sold for $143,750.
The auction consisted of many nautical items including ship portraits and an American Pilot chart book published by William Norman in 1803. Detailing the eastern coast of North America from Nova Scotia to Maryland and also included a chart for the West Indies, this was a must for early seafarers braving the new and unfamiliar territory. This example more than doubled its expectations of $40,000-$60,000 to finish up at $97,750.
For another breed of book collector was a collection of nine signed books from the personal library of President John Adams. Consisting of the works of Moliere, each volume was signed and dated by President Adams as well as annotated with his various philosophical thoughts. The books were purchased in the 1930s by the consignor’s family from Annie F. H. Boyd (a descendant of John Adams) and this sale marked their first public offering. The set drew $57,500 against an estimate of $20,000-$40,000.
Two grotesque carved pine tables that were recently discovered in an Ohio farmhouse featured fanciful carvings of theatrical masks, animals, and elaborate scrollwork. Both quadrupled their respective estimates to finish up at $26,450 and $25,300. An American hooked rug decorated with a central starburst amid an octagonal kaleidoscope of colors exceeded expectations of $3,000-$4,000 to sell for $20,700.
The auction boasted an array of artwork. Bidders seemed to favor European and Russian artists, though quality American art also fared well. From the Woolworth Collection, a landscape scene by Belgian artist Eugene Verboeckhoven depicted a shepherd leading his sheep back home before the approaching storm hits. It sold for $95,450. Not to be outdone was Irish artist Paul Henry’s Evening in Connemara, an oil on panel depiction of a calm mountainside lake beside a cluster of thatched roofed houses. which sold for $97,750 within expectations of $75,000-$125,000.
American artists included Martha Walter’s beach scene of Coney Island, an oil on board scene brought $45,425 against a $25,000-$40,000 estimate. A rural setting landscape scene by George Inness featured cows drinking in shallow water while a man in a rowboat takes in the fading sunset. It sold for $39,100.
Early American and European furniture fared well. A pilgrim century Massachusetts carved oak chest attributed to the Savell Shop in Braintree with a $6,000-$9,000 estimate sold for $33,925. A Queen Anne curly maple New England highboy exhibiting bold graining, and a plethora of drawers brought $12,650 over an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.
In the clock category, surprises included a Queen Anne burl walnut long case clock with 32-day works by Daniel Quare of London. Circa 1710, it sold for an astounding $80,500 against an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. An Aaron Willard presentation banjo clock, in a seemingly unending bidding battle, struck $48,300, far exceeding expectations of $2,500-$4,000.
Accessories proved to be quite popular. Woolworth’s collection of English silver included a heavy cast silver dinner bell decorated with draping swags that surpassed its $300-$500 estimate to sell for $12,650. A lot of two 18th century wood handle silver serving spoons brought $9,200 against an $800-$1,200 estimate, and a pair of William IV trophy loving cups engraved “Won at Duncannon Races” sold for $8,625 over an estimate of $800-$1,200.
The Woolworth collection of 19th century Chinese jade included a two-handled covered bowl with reticulated cover depicting birds, plants, and figures that surpassed expectations of $4,000-$6,000 to finish up at $13,800. An exquisite pair of jade candle holders in the form of birds flew to $10,350 over their $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
Going back several centuries was an offering of ancient artifacts from the Dr. & Mrs. Winfield Gibbs collection dating to approximately the 3rd century A.D. and before. A cast bronze bust of Jupiter (estimate $1,500-$2,000) sold for $4,715 and a Roman bronze bust of Athena wearing a Corinthian helmet (estimate $1,200-$1,600) brought $4,025. A Campanian amphora vase depicting a satyr and a female figure sold for $8,625 over an estimate of $300-$500.