“I bought it ratty and left it alone.”
These are the words of John T. Kirk, professor emeritus of art history at Boston University and a noted scholar of American furniture, in discussing his collection of furniture with untouched surfaces that will be offered at Skinner’s Americana Auction next Sunday at
10 a.m. at its Marlborough gallery.
Kirk, who trained as a cabinetmaker with the intent of having an antiques shop, eventually became an art history graduate student at Yale, where he assisted the curator Meyric R. Rogers in reassembling the Garvan Collection of about 1,500 pieces of early American furniture that had been on loan for over 30 years.
This led to his meeting and becoming friends with Albert Sack of New York, the dean of American furniture dealers, and Roger Bacon, the prominent New Hampshire dealer in country furniture with untouched surfaces.
“Thus Sack honed my understanding of qualities of line and form in high-style early furniture and Bacon made plain to me values of personal rural work,” Kirk noted in the auction catalog.
Of the 49 lots being auctioned, 34 are furniture, ranging from a late-18th-century New England dark red-painted shoe-foot hutch table with imperfections ($1,500-$2,500) to a 19th-century blue-painted splayed-leg bench ($100-
Most of the furniture is pictured in Kirk’s “The Impecunious Collector’s Guide to American Antiques” (Knopf, 1975) and his “The Impecunious House Restorer: Personal Vision and Historic Accuracy” (Knopf, 1984).
Among the other lots of household, decorative, and other items, most with painted surfaces, are a late-18th/early-19th-century red-painted Bible box ($400-$600), an 18th-century white-painted 12¾-inch turned wood finial from the Meeting House Hill area in Dorchester ($300-$500), and a 19th/early-20th-century green-painted splint basket ($100-$200).
Offerings from other consignors are highlighted by a rare circa 1705-10 Philadelphia William & Mary walnut fall-front desk, its upper section opening to a complex interior of compartments and drawers and its lower section fitted with two short drawers above two long drawers. One of only three or four known such desks, it is expected to bring $30,000-$50,000.
Other highlights include a circa 1800 Queen Anne grain-painted chest-on-frame, possibly of the Dunlap School, New Hampshire ($20,000-
$30,000), and a circa 1803 oil painting “Shipping Off Whitehaven” (England) ($20,000-$25,000) attributed to the British artist Robert Salmon, who painted in Boston on Marine Railway Wharf from 1829 until 1840, when his eyesight began to fail and he returned to England.
An oil portrait of a young man with ginger-colored hair by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865), the Colebrook, Conn.-
born folk artist, is expected to bring $15,000- $25,000, and a 1941 black Ford V-8 super-deluxe five passenger coupe $20,000-$25,000.
Also being auctioned are six clocks deacessioned by Old Sturbridge Village from the J. Cheney Wells Collection including a circa 1800 tall case clock ($4,000-$6,000) by Simon Willard and a circa 1785 tall case clock ($3,000-
$5,000) by Aaron Willard. Proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase other items for the museum, which has 144 clocks in its collection.
In addition to the 653 lots of Americana being auctioned next Sunday, Skinner is holding an online sale of 369 lots of Americana beginning tomorrow at noon and ending Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.
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A collection of “all things marine,” which began when the late Boston College professor Benno Brenninkmeyer was drawn as a youth to the ocean during the Nazi occupation of his native Netherlands, sold last month at Eldred’s Maritime Art Auction for $248,980.
Brenninkmeyer died last September at 71 in Hawaii, where he and his wife, Linda, lived after his retirement.
Topping the 240-lot collection was an early-19th-century cased Napoleonic prisoner-of-war bone ship model that brought $34,220 against a $30,000-
A late-19th/early-20th-century 21-inch-long carved wooden ship’s hull whose deck lifted off to reveal the interior of a slave ship with glued down African bodies soared from its $200-$300 estimate to $11,800.
Books were among the top sellers with “Captain Cook’s Voyages” in eight volumes by various authors and published from 1773-84 bringing $18,880 against a $25,000-$30,000 estimate.
One of 50 copies of a large bound portfolio of etchings, made by the German-Russian painter and explorer Louis Choris (1795-1828) on his trip around the world and published in Paris in 1826, sold for $15,730 against a $5,000-$7,000 estimate.
The top selling instrument was a rare 18th-century English brass universal equinoctial ring dial used to determine the time of day that brought $10,620 against a $2,000-$3,000 estimate.
Other offerings of note were a US Navy “Mark V” brass and copper diving helmet ($6,490 against $2,000-$3,000), a late-19th-century Northwest Coast 4½-inch carved walrus tusk ($6,050 against $250-$350), a 19th-century 7½-inch scrimshaw whale’s tooth ($5,900 against $2,500-$3,500), and a 19th-century whalebone and ivory double swift ($5,310 against a $3,000-
Topping the 1,036 lots in the two-day auction was the $177,000 paid for a 12-by-16-inch oil painting of a yacht racing scene by the British-born American artist James Edward Buttersworth (1817-94). The estimate was $40,000-
Topping the 47 scrimshaw whale’s teeth in the sale was a mid-19th-century 6½-inch tooth decorated with an American spread-wing eagle that brought $64,900, more than doubling the low of its $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
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“Marilyn,” a 1967 Andy Warhol screenprint in colors of the late Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe, numbered 128 in an edition of 250, was the top seller at Christie’s Inaugural First Impressions sale last month featuring over 400 works by 100 past and present printmakers. It brought $87,500, more than doubling the low of its $40,000-$60,000 estimate.
Two other Warhol screenprints in colors brought the second- and third-highest prices: a second “Marilyn,” a proof from that same edition ($50,000 against $25,000-$35,000), and “Flowers” (1970) ($35,000 against $20,000-$30,000). The “Marilyn” prints were purchased by a US dealer and “Flowers” by a United Kingdom dealer.
All seven of the other top 10 lots also sold above their estimates. The auction grossed $19 million.Virginia Bohlin can be reached at email@example.com.