18th century surveyor’s compass hits $28,750 at Leland Little March 21 sale

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Original oil on canvas painting by Margaret Dovaston (English, 1884-1955), titled Minuet ($19,550).

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.—A rare North Carolina surveyor’s compass, made around the late 18th century by Guilford County artisan Camm Moore (1755-1845), soared to $28,750 at a quarterly cataloged auction held March 21 by Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd. It was the final sale held in the firm’s South Nash Street location. Next month, it moves to 620 Cornerstone Court, Hillsborough.

“With the success of this cataloged auction, we were able to end on a very positive note at our present address,” said Leland Little, owner of the firm, “but we very much look forward to our move in April into a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that is ideal for our needs.” An inaugural sale is slated for Saturday, April 11, and the next cataloged auction will be held the weekend of June 13-14.

The surveyor’s compass was in working order, with an untouched natural patina. It had a silver (or silvered brass) dial, engraved with “Made by Camm Moore, Guilford” around the center ring. Four quadrants were marked “0-90” and the compass was set in a brass housing, with a lid and two hinged sighting posts. Moore was primarily known as a silversmith, but he also made surveying instruments.

Mr. Little estimated about 250 people packed his showroom to participate in the final sale of a 10-year run on South Nash Street. “It was standing room only all day long,” he said. “As usual, it was a strong collaborative effort that carried the day. We have a wonderful team and support staff.” Also, about 1,000 pre-bids were recorded via phone, absentee and online (through LiveAuctioneers.com).

Following are some top earners of the more than 600 quality consignments that crossed the block. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

The top lot of the sale was a spectacular 84-piece sterling service in the “Aztec” motif by Mexican silversmith Hector Aguilar. The set, crafted sometime between 1940 and 1945, brought $37,950. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because a similar service by Aguilar – a 72-piece set, also in the “Aztec” motif – fetched $41,400 at Leland  Little’s Dec. 6-7 auction.

Other silver sets and pieces that did well included a coin silver tea service, comprising a teapot, cream jug with hinged cover, lidded sugar bowl and repousse tea ball, totaling 70.1 troy ounces ($4,830); an American coin silver ewer of Southern interest, 14.75 inches tall and 30.6 troy ounces ($2,760); and a 17th-century-style sterling silver chalice bearing the Coat of Arms for James I ($1,495).

Original works of art by noted, listed artists included a pastel on silk by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner (S.C., 1883-1979), titled Mary ($28,750); an oil on canvas painting by Margaret Dovaston (English, 1884-1955), titled Minuet ($19,550); an oil on board by Sheldon Parsons (N.M., 1866-1943), titled Springtime ($5,750); and a still life oil on board by George H. Hall (N.Y., 1825-1913) hit $4,370.

A vintage Louis Vuitton trunk (circa 1915), originally owned by a French Rear Admiral, rose to $8,309; a Jugtown Chinese blue stoneware footed punchbowl (circa 1930), with overall turquoise blue glaze, climbed to $5,750; an American Arts & Crafts period frame, hand-carved by Walfred Thulin in 1921, reached $2,875; and a Tennessee sampler done by Elizabeth C. Goodner in 1834 reached $2,530.

A nice Oriental 4-panel rosewood folding screen (circa 1900) wowed the crowd for $10,235; a 19th-century porcelain and gilt bronze Chinoiserie mounted mantel set, with a globular clock and 8-day French movement by Japy Freres, coasted to $7,475; a set of four gilt metal and silver tone putti wall sconces (circa 1900) realized $1,495; and three 19th-century Tibetan bronze Buddha figures hit $1,265.

High-end estate jewelry is abundant at most Leland Little auctions, and this one was no exception. A gorgeous emerald and diamond ring, with a 3.12 ct. emerald and a 1.05 ct. diamond, slipped on a new finger for $6,037; and a platinum and diamond ring (circa 1930s), with one bead set old European cut diamond and 28 bead set brilliant cut diamonds, fetched $1,265.

A lovely 131-piece Minton service in the “Riverton” pattern, from a private collection in North Carolina, brought $5,290; a 74-piece assembled set of Royal Crown Derby china in the “Imari” pattern realized $3,335; a tall tapered stoneware decorated vase by Mrs. F. W. Hilton of North Carolina  topped out at $2,415; and a pair of Art Glass vases by Charles Lotton (1990, 1989) rose to $1,150 and $1,093.

From the furniture category, a French Empire Revival ormolu mounted rosewood bedroom set (early 20th century) commanded $2,990; a George III linen press (circa 1800), mahogany veneer with oak secondary, hit the mark at $2,990; a Classical mahogany sofa, made in Philadelphia around 1830, earned $1,380; and an American Classical marble-top mahogany pier table (circa 1830) rose to $1,093.

Returning to fine art, an oil on canvas painting by Leon Gordon (N.Y., 1899-1943), titled The Soldier’s Tale, went for $4,600; an Italian micro mosaic plaque from the late 19th century, housed in the original frame and titled Madonna della Salute, reached $4,140; and several Portraits Imaginaires color lithographs on Arches paper after Pablo Picasso, signed and dated, realized up to $2,645 each.  

Rounding out the top lots, a vintage 1965 Fender Jaguar electric guitar (serial #90262 on the back plate), with a light green custom finish, strummed a sweet tune for $2,990; a rare official book from 1796, of speeches to both Houses of Congress by George Washington, chalked up $978; and a signed first-edition copy of the Truman Capote best-selling book In Cold Blood (1965) made $690.

Important consignments have already been secured for the June 13-14 quarterly cataloged sale. Two days prior (on Thursday, June 11), Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd., will hold a preview party and gala, to officially celebrate the new gallery facility. The next day (Friday, June 12), Johanna Brown from MESDA (The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) will deliver a guest lecture.

Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd., is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call them at 919-644-1243, or e-mail them at info@LLAuctions.com. To learn more about the company and its calendar of upcoming auctions, visit www.LLAuctions.com.  The online catalog has been posted for the April 11 sale.  

More Images:

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Rare North Carolina surveyor's compass, made in the late 18th century by Camm Moore ($28,750).
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84-piece sterling silver service in the "Aztec" pattern by Hector Aguilar, circa 1940-1945 ($37.950).
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Jugtown Chinese stoneware footed punchbowl (circa 1930), with turquoise blue glaze ($5,750).
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Original pastel on silk work by Elizabeth O'Neill Verner (S.C., 1883-1979), titled Mary ($28,750).
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One of the sleeper items of the sale was this lovely Oriental four-panel folding screen ($10,235).

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