NEW YORK – A piecrust-top mahogany tea table, circa 1760, attributed to the “Garvan” carver of Philadelphia, sold for $6.76 million at Christie’s Oct. 3 sale. Prices include a buyer’s premium of 20 percent up to $500,000, and 12 percent thereafter.
The table’s base has old surfaces that have darkened over the years, and its feet still have the original casters. Previously undocumented, it had descended in the same family for almost 250 years. It carried a presale estimate of $2 million to $3 million, and the selling price is a record for any piece of Philadelphia furniture.
The craftsman credited with the design of the table is considered the most accomplished carver working in Philadelphia in the 1750s and early 1760s and is known for a boldness and vigor in his carving. He is known solely by the body of surviving furniture bearing his distinctive hand. A tea table attributed to the Garvan carver is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A chair attributed to cabinetmaker Thomas Affleck and believed to have been made for John Penn, the last colonial governor of Pennsylvania, sold for just over $1 million (estimate $400,000-$600,000).
Leading the selection of American folk art were a number of works from the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia. A carved and paint-decorated figure of “Jack Tar,” circa 1890, attributed to the New York workshop of Samuel Robb and estimated at $100,000-$150,000, sold for $541,000 to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.
A carved and paint-decorated “Lord Dundreary” trade figure, also attributed to Robb, circa 1895, sold for $409,000. A “Lady of Fashion” trade figure brought $385,000. A molded copper and iron locomotive weathervane, from the Illinois Central Railroad Shop, Chicago, 1893, reached $157,000.
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