PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A monumental, 10-foot-tall carved oak grandfather clock by R. J. Horner (shown at left) soared to $97,750 at a multi-estate sale held April 4 by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. The clock was the top earner of the more than 400 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed over $1.4 million. The auction was held at Fontaine’s spacious gallery, located at 1485 Housatonic Street in Pittsfield.
“It’s fitting that a clock should take top honors, since vintage clocks and watches are a niche we have aggressively and successfully pursued in recent years,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. In fact, the firm has scheduled a Cataloged Important Antique Clock & Watch Auction for the weekend of May 30-31. May 30 will be dedicated to clocks, while May 31 will focus on watches.
Approximately 900 registered bidders participated in the April 4 sale. The two-day preview saw a crowd of about 400 people strolling through Fontaine’s 12,000 sq. ft. showroom. In addition, there were around 150 registered phone bidders. About 200 absentee bids were also recorded. About another 150 Internet bidders were facilitated by Artfact.com. The bulk of the sale (about 75 percent of all lots) comprised the living estate of Dale Miller, who collected high-end Victorian-era furniture, lighting and accessories.
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Other clocks that did well include a large carved Black Forest double mechanical cuckoo clock ($9,200); an Elliot 8-tube mahogany grandfather clock ($9,200); a Tiffany & Company 9-tube mahogany grandfather clock ($8,050); and an Ansonia antique standing clock ($8,050). Also, a gorgeous Botems Paris 12-bird automaton with built-in timepiece changed hands for $16,100.
Victorian-era furniture was offered up in abundance throughout the day. Top lots included a winged griffin oak partners desk, attributed to R. J. Horner ($27,600); a John Henry Belter “Rosalie With Grapes” 8-piece parlor set ($28,750); a monumental oak curio buffet attributed to R. J. Horner ($22,425); and a striking John Henry Belter “Rosalie” rosewood marble-top table ($43,700).
Other furniture pieces that did well include an 11-piece carved R. J. Horner figural cherub dining room set ($18,400); a mahogany winged griffin partners desk, attributed to R. J. Horner ($11,500); a circa 1865 5-piece rosewood inlaid parlor set ($10,350); a figural carved oak china cabinet, attributed to R. J. Horner ($12,075); and a Wooten 3-hinge cabinet secretary ($28,750).
Fine art, another staple at most Fontaine’s estate sales, also brought handsome prices realized. Some stars of the category included the following:
•A signed oil on canvas mountain landscape by Samuel Colman (N.Y./Calif., 1832-1920) fetched $32,200. Mr. Colman was known for his landscapes, animal renderings, genre work and botanical paintings. He was a significant artist in the second generation of Hudson River School painters.
•A signed oil on canvas painting by Hudson River School artist Alexander H. Wyant (Ohio/N.Y., 1836-1892) realized $23,575. Known for his tonalist landscapes and genre paintings, Mr. Wyant later in life adopted a freer style, having been influenced by the French Barbizon Impressionists.
•An oil on canvas painting by Guy C. Wiggins (N.Y./Conn., 1883-1962), titled “The Plaza,” gaveled for $9,200. Mr. Wiggins was best known for his New York City snowfalls and his landscape works, many of which were inspired by the Impressionist colony in Old Lyme, Conn., where he lived.
•A 19th-century Classical bronze of a woman on a sphere, unsigned, changed hands for $17,250.
From fine art to jukeboxes! A 78 rpm Wurlitzer 850 Peacock model was a hit at $12,650, while a 78 rpm Wurlitzer 950 coin-operated machine brought $10,925. Music boxes were also offered. A coin-operated automaton cylinder music box rose to $16,100; a Regina 20-inch mahogany upright changer music box garnered $17,250; and a Columbia Graphonola De Luxe music box made $9,200.
Returning to period furniture, an oak winged griffin bonnet-top china cabinet, attributed to R. J. Horner, achieved $8,050; an Allen Brothers carved walnut triple-back sofa commanded $9,200; a pair of Belter Henry Clay laminated rosewood armchairs climbed to $8,625; a J. & J.W. Meeks Hawkins laminated rosewood sofa reached $8,625; and an 11-piece satinwood paint-decorated bedroom set fetched $9,200.
Also, a 3-piece carved walnut marble-top bedroom set, attributed to Thomas Brooks, went for $9,200; a figural carved oak china cabinet, attributed to R. J. Horner, attained $11,500; a 4-piece carved mahogany bedroom set, attributed to R. J. Horner, made $8,050; a carved mahogany 3-door bookcase, attributed to R. J. Horner, sold for $10,350; and a Thomas Brooks 7-drawer gents chest brought $8,050.
From lamps and lighting, a Tiffany Studios damascene double student lamp lit up the room for $17,250; a carved alabaster cherub and grapevine floor lamp wowed the crowd for $11,500; a Tiffany Studios 16-inch Acorn table lamp went to a determined bidder for $8,625; and a large 12-arm figural gilt gasolier chalked up $14,375. Also, a period figural leaded landing window topped out at $10,063.
Next up for Fontaine’s Auction Gallery will be back-to-back Unreserved Antique Discovery Estate Auctions, slated for May 2 and May 9. Then, on May 30-31, the main event of the season: a Cataloged Important Antique Clock & Watch Auction. May 30 will feature clocks and be split into two sessions – one uncataloged (10 a.m.) and one cataloged (1 p.m.). Watches will be offered on May 31.
Hundreds of rare and vintage clocks and watches will cross the block that weekend, but the star lot promises to be a Howard #61 Astronomical Regulator, highly coveted and consigned by the original family. It will be the third such Howard #61 offered by Fontaine’s within a year. The first set a world record selling for $195,500 in June of last year, while another example gaveled for $189,750 at an auction conducted in November.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. The firm is actively seeking quality lots for its spring and summer auction series. Wanted are firearms, clocks, watches, barometers, antique lamps and lighting. To consign a single item, an entire estate or a whole collection, call 413-448-8922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Fontaine’s Auction Gallery and its calendar of upcoming events, visit www.fontainesauction.net.