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Audubon's "Carolina Parrot" soars to $78,000

The colorful elephant folio, "Carolina Parrot" by John Joseph Audubon, saw $78,000 to lead all lots in Eldred's Americana, Paintings and Maritime Auction. The sale was held April 6-8.

EAST DENNIS, Mass. — “Carolina Parrot”, a J.J. Audubon elephant folio, sold for $78,000, taking

Carolina Parrot print

"Carolina Parrot" Nov. 6, Plate XXVI, John Joseph Audubon, took top lot honors - selling for $78,000. (All photos courtesy of Robert C. Eldred Co., Inc.)

the top spot at Eldred’s Americana, Paintings and Maritime Auction, held April 6, 7 and 8 at the firm’s headquarters in East Dennis, Massachusetts. Other highlights came from all collecting areas of the diverse 1,160-lot sale, which included scrimshaw from the Thomas Mittler Collection as well as fine art, Oriental rugs, jewelry, decorative arts, silver and sporting art.

The Audubon came to auction from a Cape Cod, Massachusetts, estate and carried a pre-sale estimate of $65,000/85,000. Another Audubon elephant folio, “Pileated Woodpecker”, from the same estate, sold for $42,000 on an $18,000/22,000 pre-sale estimate. Both were printed and colored by R. Havell on Whatman-watermarked paper.

“These were fine examples of two desirable Audubon pieces,” said Bill Bourne, company vice president and head of the Americana and Maritime Art departments. “They hung in a room without much light so the colors were still vibrant and beautiful. The condition on the second wasn’t as good as the first, which is why it has a lower estimate and sale price.”

Crowell Carving Adds to Audubon Offerings

The sale opened Thursday, April 6, with 250 lots of sporting art, militaria, books and maps and collectibles. Standouts from the day included a life-size decorative carving of a killdeer by A.E. Crowell, which sold within estimate for $16,800, and a 39” x 45” thirteen-star American flag, which sold for $13,200, far over its $1,000/2,000 estimate. Also vastly surpassing its conservative $500/1,000 pre-sale estimate was an 18th Century terrestrial pocket globe by I. Senex with its original sharkskin case. Ten phone bidders chased the lot to its final sale price of $14,400. Two lots of French bisque-head dolls, one a Bru Bebe, sold for a combined $13,800, more than double the pre-sale estimates.

Friday’s session, which included jewelry, silver and American and European decorative and fine art, was highlighted by a Patek Philippe 18kt gold man’s wristwatch, which sold for $24,000 on a $5,000/7,000 pre-sale estimate. Interest on the piece, the first automatic watch made by Patek Philippe, came from floor, Internet and phone bidders, with a phone bidder casting the successful bid. Eldred’s sold a Patek Philippe chronograph watch with a very rare split-second complication for $276,000 in October 2016. Consignments of fine watches and jewelry to the firm has been buoyed by that attention- grabbing sale; Eldred’s will offer yet another Patek Philippe later this spring.

Rousseau gouache and charcoal finishes at $8,750

Grueby vase

Grueby vase, early 20th century, designed by George Prentiss Kendrick, pierced balustroid body, finished at $21,600 — seven times its high estimate.

The day’s other top sellers included a Grueby Faience and Tile Company vase designed by George Prentiss Kendrick, which sold for $21,600 on a $2,000/3,000 estimate, “Caid El Ayadi”, a watercolor, gouache and charcoal by Henri Rousseau, which sold just shy of its $10,000/$12,000 estimate for $8,750, and an Edwardian platinum and diamond ring, which sold within its $5,500/7,000 estimate for $6,600. The sleeper of the day, and of the whole sale, was a pair of Early 20th Century Soumac saddle bags that opened far above their $100/200 pre-sale estimate and finished at $5,400. The pair, which came from a Jacksonville, Florida, estate, had central blue and ivory Lesghi stars surrounded by small animal figures and stylized elements.

Sixty-two lots of scrimshaw from the Thomas Mittler Collection, widely regarded as the best private scrimshaw collection to come on the market in 30 years, opened Saturday’s auction session. Eldred’s sold the first sixty lots from the Mittler collection during its Marine Art Auction in October, where three lots sold for over $100,000. The collection was the subject of the 2015 book, “Through the Eyes of a Collector: The Scrimshaw Collection of Thomas Mittler”, by scrimshaw historian Nina Hellman of Nantucket, Mass. Thomas Mittler, a midwestern business owner who died suddenly in 2010 at age 67, began collecting scrimshaw in 1969.

Bidders Tap Into Teeth

Saturday’s auction featured many of the utilitarian items as well as the folk art and portrait teeth from the collection. A colorful tooth attributed to Moses Denning, with an image of a ship on the obverse and a portrait of a woman on the reverse, sold for $18,000, and two teeth attributed to the Brittania Engraver, both depicting Lady Britannia, sold for a combined $31,200. The top earner from the collection on Saturday was a tooth attributed to the Lady Wellington Engraver depicting a battle scene between the Shannon and Chesapeake on the obverse and a ship portrait on the reverse, which sold for $72,000 on a $25,000/35,000 estimate. A polychrome tooth with multiple patriotic- and maritime-themed vignettes sold for $19,200, more than double its pre-sale estimate.

“I’m very happy with the results from Saturday,” Bourne said. “This second session of the Mittler Collection was designed to be smaller than the first session in October and the third and final session coming up this summer. Prices on teeth with whaling scenes and ship portraits were particularly strong.”

Contemporary Paintings Find Favor Among Collectors

Eldred’s will sell the final pieces from the Mittler Collection, as well as important pieces from other

Killdeer carving

Life-size decorative killdeer, circa 1920, sold for $16,800.

scrimshaw collections, during its Marine Art Auction scheduled for Thursday, July 20.

In addition to the Mittler Collection and the two Audubons, other highlights from Saturday’s auction session included “Head-to-Head, The Sandbaggers”, a large yachting scene by Michael Keane, which sold for $24,000, “Becalmed off Sankaty Light, Nantucket” by Joseph McGurl, which sold for $9,000, and “Boats at Dock” by Emile Gruppe, which sold for $7,800.

“The market for contemporary paintings remains very strong, but we were happy to see renewed interest in 19th Century paintings, many of which exceeded their high estimate,” said Josh Eldred, company president and head of the Fine Art department at Eldred’s. He cited as examples a still life of cherry blossoms attributed to George Cochran Lambdin that brought $3,500 on a $400/600 estimate, and a view of Blackhead, Monhegan Island, Maine, by Henry Duessel, which sold for $2,375 on a $500/1,000 estimate.

Seafaring Pieces Pique Interest

“The majority of the paintings sold, some a little over, some a little under, some way over. The sell-through rate was really quite good,” Bill Bourne remarked. Other notable painting sales include a dock scene with a gentleman conversing with a mermaid by Ralph E. Cahoon, Jr., which sold over estimate for $23,750, the ship portrait “City of Corinth” by Frederik Tudgay, which sold within estimate for $6,000, and an Arctic whaling scene by William Bradford, also sold for

Two large Cape Cod-themed murals, signed “Riseman & Lercari Decorators”, were a bit of a mystery when they were first consigned to the auction house by a local customer, who had found them rolled up in a garage. “William Riseman and Alexander Lercari were decorators who specialized in theatres, cinemas and other municipal spaces throughout New England and New York,” Eldred said. “We presumed they came from a public building here on the Cape, but we didn’t know where.” A local newspaper published photos of the art deco-style murals and a number of readers were able to identify them as having come from the Hyannis Theatre on Main Street in Hyannis, Mass., which was open from 1923 to about the late 1960s. The pair, which had a $1,500/2,500 pre-sale estimate, sold for $5,625. “We’re happy the mystery was solved and that the pieces have a new home,” Eldred said.

Furniture Rounds Out Lots

Scrimshaw whale's tooth

Scrimshaw whale's tooth attributed to the Lady Wellington engraver, first half of the 19th century. The piece sold for $72,000, against an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

A circa 1800 Hepplewhite secretary, from the same estate as the Audubon pieces, sold for $3,250, over its $1,000/$1,500 pre- sale estimate, and a set of six Windsor-style chairs by the Warren Chair Works of Warren, Rhode Island, sold for $2,500 on a $600/$900 estimate. “There is still a market for the best of the best, but people aren’t dropping ten or twenty thousand on a dressing table anymore,” Bourne said. “People want something that looks good that they can use in their house, whether it’s a clean period piece or a quality contemporary reproduction.”

“We are extremely pleased with the overall results of the auction,” Josh Eldred said. “There was a great variety of material in this sale and there were strong results across all collecting categories. We are also very encouraged by how excited customers were, not only about the items we had in this auction, but also about what we have coming up in our summer season.”

Coming Soon

The firm’s next sale is an Asian Art Auction, scheduled for May 4 and 5. Both auction sessions will begin at 10 a.m. Eldred’s summer season will include a Fine and Decorative Art Auction on June 22-23, the Maritime Art Auction on July 20, an Americana and Paintings Auction on August 2-4, a Contemporary Art Auction on August 10, and the firm’s 50th Annual Asian Art week August 21-26.

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