A gorgeous paint decorated 4-drawer Sheraton chest in the original old mustard paint with stencil decorations (circa 1830s-1840s), from the living estate of Dolores Wettach Williams – the former fashion model, actress and third wife of baseball legend Ted Williams – sold for $11,500 at an auction held Nov. 23 by Knotty Pine Auction Service. About 250 people packed Knotty Pine’s spacious gallery in West Swanzey, N.H.
The sale comprised of Part I of Ms. Williams’ estate and included an eclectic mix of period antique country furniture, decorative accessories, original works of art by various artists, automobiles and more. Part II, scheduled from sometime in May 2009 (the time and date are still to be determined) will feature personal effects, ephemera, photos and memorabilia relating to the couple, their family life and the storied careers of both Dolores and Ted Williams.
Ted and Dolores were married for six years, from 1967-1973. They first met in 1967, on a plane flight back to the United States from New Zealand. Dolores had just completed a modeling assignment; Ted had been on a fishing trip, a guest of the New Zealand tourism board. The couple married that year after a whirlwind courtship. The union produced two children, John Henry (1968-2004), and Claudia.
The Sheraton chest, as well as the other 350+ lots sold, came out of Dolores’ family home in Putney, Vt., the home that the Williamses shared during their marriage. Many friends and neighbors attended the auction, with some submitting bids. Every item that crossed the block was offered without reserve, and all lots came with a certificate of origin, attesting to their provenance. Phone, absentee and online bidding were all offered and active throughout the sale.
“This was a very successful auction, despite the press’ attempts to turn it into a Ted Williams estate sale, which it was not,” said John Pappas of Knotty Pine Auction Service. “These were items from Dolores and her family; only a few items really had a Ted Williams connection, and we feel most of those items fared very well. As for the other items in the sale, the connection helped those items achieve much higher prices than they would have without the association, especially in today’s economy. Ted will be more of a factor in Part II in May. But Part I was mostly about Dolores, and the country home she and Ted shared in Vermont. It was furnished accordingly. Some lucky bidders went away with many truly fine items.”
The Sheraton chest was pine, with a shaped backsplash, stepback drawers and spooled columns in mustard yellow paint. The freehand and stenciled decorations depicted foliage and fruit. Some minor imperfections didn’t deter bidders, who drove the final price way above the pre-sale high estimate of $4,000. The auction’s top lot was a 1999 BMW M3 convertible, with 76,399 miles. It brought $13,225.
Following are additional highlights. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Furniture dominated the day’s offerings. An oversized custom butcher block table topped with a wrought and welded iron pot rack étagère, with marble shelves and contemporary Chinese export porcelain plaques, soared to $1,150. Also, a large and substantial 20th century primitive stepback blind door cupboard with two beaded raised panel doors over two larger beaded raised panel doors, with crown molding, hit $1,035.
A New England Sheraton long pine drop leaf harvest table (72 inches long), with single drawer, short drop leaves and turned legs, achieved $1,035; a New England painted Chippendale pine two-drawer blanket chest with box compartment, molded lid and drawer fronts, gaveled for $978; and a custom Chippendale-style wing chair with square mahogany legs and gold upholstered seat made $805.
A non-traditional, mid-20th century pictorial Navajo long rug (12 feet 11 inches by 4 feet 7 inches) with lateral feathers, lightning and diamond designs in six colors of natural and dyed yarns with light wear and soiling realized $2,415; and a mid-20th century Navajo Yei pictorial rug (8 feet 10 inches by 4 feet 6 inches) with six Yei figures with feathers and potted corn in seven colors of yarn rose to $2,070.
A 20th century painted molded concrete lawn jockey, depicting a young black male with cap and vest in polychrome paint and holding an iron ring earned $978; a 19th century fanciful figural folky cast iron black couple andirons with arms placed on knees of bowed legs (16 inches tall) commanded $748; and a Singer featherweight sewing machine with attachments, pedal and case went for $403.
A 19th century two-gallon decorated Vermont advertising stoneware jug with strap handle and floral design, marked for the retailer (Elgin Spring House, Panton VT, E. Allen Proprietor) reached $690; a 16-inch carved and jointed marionette similar to Disney’s Pinocchio character hammered for $161; and a Victorian slag glass table lamp with painted metal base and metal shade brought $460.
An Inuit dark stone carving depicting a hunter bending over captured game, looking left toward the viewer, topped out at $633; a 6 1/2-inch Killikogyuk Inuit stone carving of an igloo with a removable lid revealing people inside eating and a dog sleeping nearby, changed hands for $575; and a 13 1/4-inch polychrome figure of the Virgin Mary (circa late 19th-early 20th century) reached $242.
A lot of six colored litho sporting prints, all signed by the artist Lynn Bogue Hunt and dated 1944, in matching frames, climbed to $633; a Les C. Kouba artist’s proof litho titled Moose Country, dated 1972 and personally inscribed to Ted Williams garnered $460; and a W.L. Berg miniature bird carving of a Mallard duck and a miniature bird carving group (possibly by Berg), each went for $288.
A 1962 red Jeep Willys FC-150 forward control truck with four-wheel drive and 41,376 miles, sped away for $5,175; a 1987 GMC Sierra Classic 1500 Suburban SUV with 72,206 miles, purchased at Tulley Chevrolet in 1987 and driven by Ted Williams roared off for $3,565; and a mounted Greater Kudu (woodland antelope), bagged by Williams while he was on safari in 1972, with accompanying photo, hit $805.
Dolores Wettach was born in Astoria, N.Y., in 1934, and raised in Vermont. She enrolled at the University of Vermont to earn a degree in nursing. While in New York, she caught the eye of the noted talent agents Bruno and Bodi. Because of her Jackie Kennedy-esque look, she walked on to the cover of Vogue magazine. Almost immediately, her career took off, and in the years that ensued her image also graced the covers of Look and Reader’s Digest magazines, plus hundreds of print advertisements.
Her fabulous good looks led to a Miss Vermont title and parts in movies, including a lead role in the 1962 film Controsesso (“Countersex”). The movie, a sexual farce, was a critical hit in France and Italy. She was also screen-tested for part in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. Although she didn’t land the role, her copy of the script and screening photos will be sold during Part II of the sale.
Part II will also feature wardrobe items and other accessories from Ms. Williams’ modeling and film careers; correspondence between Ted and Dolores; books, many of them signed and personalized by authors and other personalities; photographs of Ted’s career, some personally inscribed; photographs of Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, some personally inscribed; Dolores’ modeling portfolios, original artwork of Ted Williams by noted sports illustrators, sporting equipment and more.
“Even if Dolores had never married Ted Williams, she still would have led a full and exciting life,” Mr. Pappas said. “She was a successful and glamorous fashion model and international actress before meeting Ted, and before that she was a Miss Vermont who competed in the Miss Universe pageant (1956), winning Miss Congeniality. She was also a registered nurse and a mink farmer.”
To find out more on the company, and to learn about a date for Part II of the Dolores Wettach Williams living estate sale as it approaches, log on to www.knottypineantiques.com.
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