THOMASTON, Maine — The early shipping trade brought many rare and exotic objects to Maine, and some of these flew away at high prices at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ Feb. 8-9 Winter Sale. A variety of exceptional objects from distant shores, plus several outstanding examples of folk art, dominated the sale.
Owner and auctioneer Kaja Veilleux said, “The unusual, one-of-a-kind objects always seem
to attract the most interest and higher prices at auction, prompting me to ask from the podium: ‘Where are you going to find another one?’”
A signed Chinese Yuan Dynasty painting on silk depicting a warrior riding two horses was the sale’s top lot, achieving a price of $28,750 against a pre-auction estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. Consigned by a Maine family, this piece was acquired more than 65 years ago.
Another unusual item that generated strong bidder interest was a circa 1900 Turkish Kayseri silk rug with a gold thread Tree of Life design on a pale yellow ground. Bidding quickly advanced to a final selling price of $9,200. An incredibly detailed palace-scale 19th century Indian hardwood carving of a peacock on base wowed the auction crowd when it achieved its $8,625 sale price.
The auction’s diverse selection of antiquities also fared well. The second-highest lot in the sale was a Mayan stone panel carved with the image of a priest bearing a serpent that was originally found in Guatemala. It soared past its $6,000 to $8,000 estimate and brought $24,150.
Other strong-performing antiquities included: A 12th century or earlier large Khmer carved stone statue of a standing Vishnu that fetched $6,900 versus a presale estimate of $1,500 to $2,000; a 14th century European, possibly Frankish, bronze footed pitcher on tripod legs that sold for $6,900; and a Buddhist frieze from Gandara, Pakistan, circa 200-300 AD, depicting the birth of Buddha in deep relief that reached $6,325.
Several examples of European fine and decorative arts fared extremely well, such as an oil on canvas painting depicting a large ship arriving at The Basin, Venice, by Felix Ziem (France, 1821-1911) that sold for $24,150; an 18th century Italian ivory inlaid mahogany fall front desk with hidden drawers and inlaid images of monkeys, dragons, putti and vines that achieved $14,950; and a circa 1910 Louis Vuitton gent’s steamer trunk that brought $9,200.
A number of folk art pieces generated aggressive bidding. A circa 1960 gilt and black painted eagle sternboard by Rockland, Maine, carver Harold B. Simmons generated applause when it sold for $13,800. A carved ship’s figurehead in the form of a woman in fancy coat with feathered hat, circa 1880, brought $11,500; a circa 1890 carousel ‘Track’ horse by Charles W. Dare achieved $9,775; and a 19th century New England stone sculpture of a mustachioed sea faring gentleman fetched $7,475.
American decorative arts were also a factor in the sale. An 18th century tiger maple lowboy with leaf carved knees and ball and claw feet brought $9,200; a bronze garden fountain statue, “The Frog Baby,” by Edith Baretto Stevens Parsons (Mass., 1878-1956) achieved $8,625; and a small oil on canvas painting depicting a fisherman on streamside road by Benjamin Champney (Mass./N.H., 1817-1907) rocketed to $5,750.
A complete list of auction results can be found at www.thomastonauction.com. The next Thomaston Place Auction Galleries fine and decorative arts feature sale will take place May 31-June 1.
Thomaston Place Auction Galleries offers free appraisals each Tuesday at its gallery in Thomaston, Maine. The firm also creates fundraiser events for civic and charitable organizations using its unique Mobile Appraisal Laboratory, and providing house call appraisal services.