Sampler sows big bucks at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ August sale

THOMASTON, Maine – Suspense filled the air at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries as a 1781 Boston schoolgirl silk on linen sampler came up at their Aug. 22-23 sale. (All prices realized include 15 percent buyer’s premium.) There were many phone and Internet participants, but two floor competitors quietly bid it up to $465,750, a world record price for a single sampler sold at public auction. The bidding volley went on for over 4 minutes, culminating with a round of applause in the auction hall.

The sampler was sewn in 1781 by Betsey Bentley, the daughter of Joshua Bentley (who rowed Paul Revere across the river for his famous midnight ride). Rendered in satin stitch with a floral and foliate border and a pheasant at the top, the central panel depicts a black spotted dog ‘treeing a buck, large turkey, apple tree, strawberries, numbers and letters; and ‘Betsey Bentley, Her Sampler in the 13 Year of Her Age’.

Victorious bidder Stephen Huber, sampler dealer from Old Saybrook, Conn., added: “This is one of the most graphic American samplers we have seen, and we are thrilled to have won the bid.”

Thomaston Place owner and auctioneer Kaja Veilleux noted: “How nice to see a little girl’s work so greatly appreciated over 200 years later. This further demonstrates the power of quality – if you have the best goods, you can get the best prices.”

Key sale lots included: Out by the Bull, an oil painting by Jack Lorimer Gray (NY, 1927-1981) that sold for $43,125; an Edwardian platinum lady’s ring centered with a square blue sapphire flanked by two round diamonds that sold for $42,550; an antique silk area rug with flowering trees and palmettes that generated $31,050; Paul Elie Gernez (French, 1888-1948) pastel work of women on a beach that sold for $17,250; and a watercolor view of St. Peter’s Basilica by Ettore Roesler Franz (Italian, 1845-1907) that brought $13,225.

Two important Russian items sailed well above ingoing estimates, including an imperial icon in hallmarked Faberge silver frame that reached $25,300, and a monumental St. Petersburg 1827 silver tea server on stand that sold for $12,650. Oriental antiques also fared extremely well, led by a Chinese champlevé foo-dog form Ming Period brass censer that reached $21,850, an Edo Period Japanese square carved 3-tiered cinnabar box in the Tsuishu technique that was bid to $16,100, and a miniature Qianlong Period Chinese porcelain baluster form vase that generated $10,062.

Many furniture lots attracted strong bidder interest, including a rare Maine paint decorated country Hepplewhite stand in chrome yellow with black pin striping that flew past ingoing estimates and sold for $17,825; a matched pair of Sheraton Period paint decorated window benches that were bid up to $16,100; an 18th century rampant tiger maple two-part secretary desk that generated $16,100; and a matched pair of Massachusetts Hepplewhite elliptical front inlaid card tables, circa 1790, that sold for $8,625.

Carved pieces and trade signs drew bids that exceeded estimates, such as a pair of early 19th century carved pine American eagle plaques from New York City that sold for $19,550; a 19th century cast iron painted blacksmith trade sign in the form of a horse head with two suspended horse shoes that reached $6,612; a hand carved and painted eagle attributed to the Boston Artistic Co. that brought $5,462; and three marine mammal carvings by Clarke Voorhees that sold for $6,555, $3,105, and $2,530.

Early silver also created bidder excitement, with a fine English silver monteith bowl marked Sam Hood London 1694 bringing $8,625 (versus a $2,000-$3,000 estimate) and a mid-18th century American silver can with the mark of Samuel Minott, Boston, selling for $5,750 (versus estimate of $1,000-$2,000).

High performing jewelry included a circa 1940 handmade platinum bracelet set with a 62.5 carat aquamarine and diamonds that sold for $20,700; an Art Deco style handmade 18K white gold bracelet set with 444 diamonds that reached $11,500; and a pair of 18K yellow gold panther head design earrings by Cartier London that generated $6,325.

There was a musical aspect to this sale, in that two Lyon & Healy floor harps generated significant selling prices of $14,950 and $10,350, a Wurlitzer floor harp sold for $4,600, and an autographed, untitled musical score by Franz Liszt sold for $4,312.

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