Could million dollar sales signal new turning point for auctions?
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A pair of carved, early Continental alabaster and marble statues of Cleopatra and Judith, each standing 23 inches tall and having exceptional detail, sold for $132,250 at a cataloged antique auction held Nov. 13 by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. The statues were the top earner of the more than 500 lots sold. Overall, the sale grossed about $1.4 million.
Around 300 people packed the Fontaine’s Auction Gallery showroom and there were about 800 Internet bidders who participated online. Phone and absentee bidding was also brisk all day long.
“It’s kind of refreshing that the market seems to be picking up,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery, acknowledging that the antique business in general has ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years, ever since the financial crisis wreaked havoc on the economy. “Activity in all areas of our auction business has increased. People are bidding more freely and enthusiastically.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
The sale’s top lot may have been statuary artwork, but vintage lamps and antique clocks dominated the list of top earners. As shown at right, a Tiffany 10-light Tulip lamp with pulled feather tulip shades on a signed Tiffany base, 21 inches tall, went for $40,250, while an E. Howard #71 regulator wall clock from the 1880s, 70 inches tall, black walnut with ebony trim case, garnered $25,875.
Keeping with lamps, a 16-inch Tiffany Studios Poinsettia shade with red flowers with blue, gold and green centers fetched $25,875; an 18-inch Handel Riverbed scenic lamp (#6752), artist signed “HB” (Henry Bedigie), and in excellent condition soared to $24,150; and a 16-inch signed Tiffany Studios Pomegranate table lamp with dichroic and mottled shade rose to $12,650.
Rounding out the category: a Handel Floral & Butterfly lamp (#6688), with an 18-inch reverse painted shade showing apple blossoms and butterflies brought $11,500; an Anton Chotka Austrian cold painted bronze lamp titled “The Jewelry Merchant,” 15 ½ inches tall, hit $9,775; and a Duffner & Kimberly leaded table lamp with 21-inch fern pattern shade commanded $8,050.
Returning to vintage and antique clocks, a James Condliff astronomical clock with 12-inch silvered dial, inscribed on the movement dust cover (“Ino B. McFadden A.D. 1832”) coasted to $19,550 to a bidder from England, where the clock was originally made; a circa 1905 Waltham #14 ball regulator with quartered oak case, 74 inches tall, rose to $14,950; and a three-piece French figural gilt bronze owl clock set with 3-branch candelabra brought $10,350.
Other clocks that did well included an Elliott grandfather clock with great proportions and detailed carvings, and signed 9-tube movement sold for $10,350; a J. L. Ruetter perpetual Atmos desk clock featuring a nice chrome base with beveled glass brought $6,325; and a Guilmet French industrial balance beam engine clock with painted silver and gilt brass base sold for $4,600.
Fine art included an oil on canvas portrait of a harlequin (jester) by Emilio Pettoruti (Argentine, 1892-1971, 22 inches by 28 inches sold for brought $8,625; a hand-painted 10-inch Royal Vienna 10-inch portrait plate after Bluthen, artist signed and in excellent condition hammered for $3,737 and a pair of 19th century carved marble angels, both shown kneeling and with long flowing robes was snapped up for $7,475.
Dazzling pieces of estate jewelry were also offered. A lady’s 14kt white gold platinum and diamond pendant with a main round brilliant cut diamond weighing 1.87 carats with VS-1 clarity garnered $13,800; and a lady’s 14kt yellow gold handmade custom ring containing 16 square cut genuine rubies totaling 2.40 carats, with 17 round brilliant cut diamonds, hit $4,025.
Sterling silver pieces really got paddles wagging. Star lots included a figural repousse tankard by Emile Puiforcat of Paris, with a scene showing maidens dancing and playing music in a vineyard, 102.5 troy ounces sold for $6,612 and a circa 1910 Russian silver figural rhinoceros with diamond eyes by Julius Rappaport, a noted Faberge workmaster, weighing 6.56 ounces crossed the block at $4,312.
Decorative accessories featured an exceptional American rosewood rococo chevelle dressing mirror with grape carved crest and elaborate legs with carved stretcher sold for $5,750; a Raoul Larche gilded bronze inkwell depicting a figural nude woman on a rock brought $5,750 and a nice tri-form Daum Nancy cameo cut Dragonfly tray with green and yellow water lilies sold for $4,140.
Rounding out the day’s top lots: a fully restored 1894 popcorn and peanut wagon made by C. Cretors & Co. (Chicago) changed hands for $14,950; a matching set of 12 chairs from the Renaissance Revival period, including two armchairs, breezed to $7,762; and a set of six figural Stag Russian silver shot glasses, each one three inches high and marked “KL,” fetched $4,312.
Fontaine’s will kick off 2011 with three sales that will carry the firm through the springtime. On Jan. 15 and Feb. 19, auctions will be held featuring over 500 lots of antique furniture, lighting and accessories. Then, in April, the firm will hold an Exceptional Cataloged Antique Auction. All sales will be held in the Fontaine’s showroom.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality consignments for future sales. The firm also buys antiques and entire estates outright. For more information, or to consign an item, estate or collection, you may call 413-448-8922 and ask to speak to John Fontaine.
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