Skinner, one of the nation’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art, will host a two day Americana auction Nov. 1-2 in its Boston gallery. On Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m., Skinner will present Session I of the Herbert Nilson Collection of American Clocks.
On Sunday, Nov. 2 at 11 a.m., fine American furniture and decorative arts will be offered. Featured will be more than 750 lots of Queen Anne, Chippendale, Federal, formal and country-painted furniture, stoneware, maritime paintings, miniatures, basketry, trade signs, weather vanes, naive portraiture, Shaker items, folk art, and additional offerings of clocks and timepieces.
The Herbert Nilson Collection – Session I
Herbert Nilson, Lexington, Mass., native and long-time New Hampshire resident, was a lifelong collector of clocks and timepieces, and an active member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, serving as treasurer of the NAWCC Boston Convention in 1980. The entire collection of Herbert Nilson numbers more than 300 clocks. Session I includes over 100 fine examples of early American clocks. Sessions II and III will be held in conjunction with Skinner’s February 2009 and June 2009 auctions of American Furniture & Decorative Arts.
Session I of the Herbert Nilson collection of American clocks includes timekeepers by E. Howard, Elmer Stennes, Ithaca Calendar Clock Company, E.N. Welch, Brewster and Ingrahams and Irenus Atkins. Three extremely rare examples by Joseph Ives will also be offered including an Ives looking glass wall clock (lot 109, estimate $4,000-$6,000), a “Brooklyn” model cantilever spring shelf clock (lot 100, estimate $25,000-$35,000); and a wooden movement wagon spring, pillar and scroll shelf clock (lot 110, estimate $15,000-$25,000), which is believed by scholars to be among the first spring powered clocks produced in Connecticut. Following the Nilson Collection of clocks on Saturday will be 30 lots of Oriental rugs and carpets.
Portraits and Paintings
In time for the November elections comes a rare miniature of George Washington (lot 300, estimate $20,000-$30,000) by Robert Field, captured in a locket with a woven lock of the first president’s hair. The piece was commissioned by wife Martha and went to the widow of her only son from her first marriage. It comes to Skinner as descended through the family.
Other portrait miniatures are also featured in this auction including a portrait of a gentleman attributed to William Verstille (lot 305, estimate $1,500-$2,000), and a portrait miniature of a young man attributed to Mary Way (lot 306, estimate $3,000-$5,000).
Other portrait highlights include a pair of portraits by Thomas Skynner (lot 536, estimate $30,000-$50,000) of William Kitteridge Cleveland and his wife Elizabeth of Dalton, Massachusetts, fully signed and in wonderful condition, and a family group portrait attributed to John Ritto Penniman (lot 345, estimate $15,000-$25,000) that was sold as part of the catalogued exhibit of the Barry Cohen Collection, published by David Schorsch and America Hurrah, New York, 1990. Also, a reverse painting on glass, Liberty in the form of the goddess of youth Hebe, from the Chinese School, 19th century, after Edward Savage is in extraordinary condition. A nearly identical Chinese reverse painting was sold at a Skinner Americana auction in November of 2006 and the auction house never believed they’d see another.
Maritime paintings will also delight, especially F. & J. Tudgay’s Portrait of the Clipper Ship Emily Farnum Off Dover (lot 220, estimate $20,000-$30,000); William Howard York’s Portrait of the American Ship Cyrus Wakefield (lot 221, estimate $15,000-$20,000); and Portrait of the Schooner Elmer E. Gray off Cape Ann (Thatcher Island) Light Station, Massachusetts (lot 225, estimate $4,000-$6,000) by Solon Francis Montecello Badger.
The sale features wonderfully diverse styles of chairs including a set of four Queen Anne chairs (lot 315, estimate $15,000-$20,000), distinctly local with an understated elegance; a pair of Chippendale side chairs (lot 308, estimate $8,000-$12,000) representing a good example of fine city furniture; and a Federal “Campeachy” armchair (lot 346, estimate $6,000-$8,000) deaccessioned from a historical society and clearly one of the most elaborate examples in existence.
Tables of note include a Federal inlaid card table (lot 342, estimate $8,000-$12,000) beautiful in form depicting an eagle in a tiger maple oval, and a Porringer-top table (lot 494, estimate $10,000-$15,000), the antithesis of Boston furniture – likely produced in Southeastern Massachusetts – featuring an extreme overhang that makes it quite dramatic. Two significant chests will also be offered: a Chippendale serpentine bureau (lot 307, estimate $8,000-$12,000) with original brass and quite small in size, and a rare Chippendale chest-on-chest (lot 337, estimate $75,000-$125,000) fresh to the market and in exceptionally well-preserved condition.
A fine collection of Shaker offerings begin the session on Sunday, numbering lots 201-219. Of note are a Shaker tiger maple and cherry armed rocking chair (lot 201, estimate $7,000-$9,000); a Shaker maple tripod stand (lot 202, estimate $6,000-$8,000); and a very fine example, a Shaker pine and birch sewing desk, possibly the work of Henry Green, Alfred Maine (lot 204, estimate $15,000-$20,000). Other Shaker items include storage boxes, carriers, a Shaker pine counter, sewing box, table swift, and several side chairs.
Other Decorative Arts
Aside from the Nilson collection, several impressive timepieces will be offered throughout the sale including an Elnathan Taber shelf clock (lot 343, estimate $12,000-$18,000) from Boston’s Federal period, and a very rare Lemuel Curtis “Banjo” clock (lot 344, estimate $30,000-$50,000), Concord, Massachusetts, c. 1815. Two basket weavings that are expected to draw interest include a Nantucket Lollipop Basket (lot 238, estimate $40,000-$60,000) of incredibly rare form, and a nesting set of ten Nantucket baskets (lot 237, estimate $20,000-$25,000) by Jose Formoso Reyes, well-known as the designer of the Nantucket pocket-book.
A beautifully drawn, easy-to-read engraved whale’s tooth, attributed to Edward Brudett (lot 224, estimate $20,000-$40,000) will also be offered as will a pig weather vane (lot 490, estimate $35,000-$40,000) of great sculptural form from the late 19th century. Collections of pottery, mochaware, needlework, silver, and folk art round out the offerings.
Previews for the auction will be held Wednesday, Oct. 29 from 12-7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 30 from 12-5 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 31 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 2 from 8-10 a.m.
On Wednesday evening, Skinner Americana director Stephen Fletcher and specialist Martha Hamilton will host an Americana Gallery Walk at 6:30 p.m. Immediately following at 7:30 p.m. will be an illustrated Lecture and Gallery Walk presented by Robert C. Cheney, Skinner’s clock specialist. Entitled “Genius, Talent and Bankruptcy: Clockmakers Joseph Ives, Silas B. Terry, and Irenus Atkins,” the lecture and walk will discuss clocks from the Herbert Nilson collection. To attend either the Americana Gallery Walk or Clock Lecture, please R.S.V.P. to Skinner’s Boston gallery at 617-350-5400.
For more information, visit Skinner’s Web site at www.skinnerinc.com.