The words “fresh to the market” can serve as an auction’s clarion call for the serious collector.
The call is being sounded this week by Northeast Auctions and John McInnis Auctioneers, which are offering a wide choice of “fresh to the market” items — items that are going on the auction block for the first time or that have not been there recently.
At Northeast’s Marine, China Trade, Historical Americana & Sporting Art Auction Saturday and Sunday noon at Treadwell Mansion, 93 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, N.H., there will be first-time offerings from family collections as well as from The India House Club in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
A group of 40 marine paintings from The India House Club is highlighted by a 24-by-36-inch oil on canvas by Fairhaven-born artist William Bradford (1823-92) of the clipper ship Bonita, which was built in 1853 at South Boston and engaged in the China and India trade. The estimate is $50,000-$80,000.
Also among the marine offerings are over 40 Liverpool pitchers deacessioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a rare scrimshaw sperm whale’s tooth depicting the Nantucket whaleship Pacific, and a rare collector’s cabinet formerly in the collection of Francis Bacon Lothrop, whose collection of whaling prints is in the Peabody Essex Museum.
The whale’s tooth, one of only seven known to have been signed by Edward Burdett (1805-33) of Nantucket, the earliest known American scrimshander, returns to the auction block having been re-consigned to Northeast by the Nantucket collector who purchased it at Northeast’s marine auction in 2005. The estimate is $180,000-$230,000. The scrimshaw, whale ivory, mother-of-pearl, and mahogany collector’s cabinet has a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
China Trade offerings are highlighted by a group of 11 recently discovered paintings from the collection of the Cook family of Salem, which was long engaged in trade with China, starting with Captain James Cook (1774-1828), the owner of 21 ships. His son, James P. Cook (1820-92), was a partner in a ship chandlery at Whampoa, China, which purchased vessels that were converted into store ships and houseboats.
A painting of Cook’s houseboat, four port views and six miniature portraits make up the 11 paintings being sold as one lot with an $80,000-$120,000 estimate.
The 300 lots of Chinese export porcelain in the sale include nearly three dozen lots deacessioned by the Museum of Fine Arts and the 84-lot collection of Charles and Kay Ridinger of Williamsburg, Va.
Historical Americana is highlighted by a group of items consigned by direct descendants of the Hancock family. Included are a portrait of John Hancock, the Patriot ($30,000-$50,000), after the original by John Singleton Copley, and a rare painted silk escutcheon with the Hancock and Henchman coat-of-arms ($20,000-$30,000) that was used at the funeral in 1764 of John’s uncle Thomas Hancock, the wealthy Boston merchant, whose wife was Lydia Henchman.
Other family offerings include a circa 1750 Massachusetts Queen Anne inlaid-walnut highboy that descended in the Morse family of Edgartown and that is being sold with Stephen Morse’s 1836 fire bucket and six coin silver teaspoons engraved “S. M. Morse.” The estimate is $30,000-$50,000.
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A pair of more than 200-year-old carved wooden figures of “Peace” and “Plenty” is a highlight of John McInnis Auctioneers’ two-session auction tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at its gallery, 76 Main St., Amesbury.
The 5-foot-long female figures, carved around 1800 by Joseph Wilson, a Newburyport ship’s figurehead carver, were found by the consignor years ago screwed to the side of a Cape Cod barn. They are expected to bring $40,000-
They were among the dozens of historical figures, including George Washington in military garb, that “Lord” Timothy Dexter had made for the entrance and grounds of the three-storied mansion on High Street that he purchased in 1798 and that is still know as the “Lord” Timothy Dexter House.
The “Peace” and “Plenty” figures are believed to have been among the figures that were toppled from their pedestals during the great gale of 1815. Some were retrieved and some sold at auction for as little as the dollar paid for the figure of Sir William Pitt, Britain’s prime minister during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which figure ended up years later in the folk art collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
Dexter (1747-1806), was put to work by his father at age 8 on a Malden farm and had little education when he arrived at 16 in Newburyport, but by the late 1700s he had become the town’s fourth richest man. He acquired his fortune by speculating during the Revolution in the virtually worthless continental currency, which after the war was redeemed in US dollars, and by engaging in such unusual enterprises as shipping bed warmers to the West Indies where they were used as ladles by the molasses makers.
To display his wealth, he took on the trappings of his self-proclaimed lordship, traveling around Newburyport with a bicorne, the Napoleonic-style two-corner hat, atop his head and a footman at his side in a coach emblazoned with a coat-of-arms.
Another highlight of the nearly 800-lot auction is a circa 1930s-’40s painted eagle by a carver who had been known only as “Bernier the Lumberman” until the Saco Museum in Maine acquired three examples of his work. Through its research the museum identified the carver as Joseph Romuald Bernier (1873-1952), a French-Canadian lumberjack living in Biddeford, Maine, who took up carving after he was crippled when a falling tree broke his back. The eagle is from a private collection and has a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.
The auction’s expected top seller is “Seated Men,” a 4½-by-5¼-inch painting found in a California thrift shop and expected to bring $120,000-$160,000.
The oil on board was painted by Park Soo-Keun (1914-65), a self-taught artist who sold his paintings for $10-
$30 to US soldiers stationed in South Korea after the war. Today he is considered the most important Korean artist of the 20th century, with his paintings selling for six figures. In 2008 and 2010, John McInnis Auctioneers sold two of his paintings for $460,000 each.