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    Antiques & Collectibles: Museums keep history always in sight

    From top left: At Northeast Auctions’ Marine, China Trade, and Historical Americana Auction, this 32-by-48-inch oil painting of the clipper ship Red Jacket, built at Rockland, Maine, by George Thomas and launched in 1853, was purchased for $6,000 by the Rockland Historical Society.
    At Northeast Auctions’ Marine, China Trade, and Historical Americana Auction, this 32-by-48-inch oil painting of the clipper ship Red Jacket, built at Rockland, Maine, by George Thomas and launched in 1853, was purchased for $6,000 by the Rockland Historical Society.

    Strong museum participation in Northeast Auction’s Marine, China Trade and Historical Americana Auction last month resulted in a number of the offerings being purchased by historical institutions.

    Two rare American Revolutionary War Penobscot Expedition hand-drawn maps were purchased by Maine’s Castine Historical Society, one for $50,400 and the other for $38,400. Each had a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

    The Penobscot Expedition was the failed endeavor by a fleet of 40 vessels and 1,200 militia sent in 1779 by Massachusetts to Maine, then part of Massachusetts, to dislodge the British, who had built a fort on the site of present day Castine and were conducting raids along the New England coast.


    A painting of the clipper ship Red Jacket built in Rockland, Maine, was purchased by the Rockland Historical Society for $6,000 (estimate $3,000-
    $5,000). It was one of 40 consigned by The India House Club in New York. The top seller of the group was William Bradford’s painting of the clipper ship Bonita built in 1853 at South Boston. It sold for $60,000 against a $50,000-
    $80,000 estimate.

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    A letter written by Thomas Jefferson on Jan. 22, 1797, to John Langdon of Portsmouth, N.H., in which he discussed his recent election as vice president-elect was purchased by a descendant of Jefferson for $79,200 (estimate $40,000-$60,000). Langdon, who had served in the Continental Congress and been an early supporter of the political party forming around Jefferson, later became governor of New Hampshire.

    Two circa 1809-17 Liverpool jugs, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection of Liverpool jugs, picturing President Madison on one side and “Peace, Plenty And Independence” and “American Eagle” on the other, sold for $4,080 and $3,360 to the Montpelier Foundation, which administers Montpelier, Madison’s home in Orange, Va. Each had a $500-$700 estimate.

    The top seller of the 1,170-lot auction, which grossed $4.3 million, was a rare scrimshaw sperm whale’s tooth depicting the Nantucket whaleship Pacific that sold to a dealer for $198,000 (estimate $180,000-$230,000).

    The second highest price was the $102,000 (estimate $80,000-$120,000) paid for a group of 11 China Trade paintings from the Cook family of Salem, which was long engaged in the trade starting with Captain James Cook (1774-1828), who owned 21 ships.


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    Skinner, which holds the world auction record fort Fitz Henry Lane (1804-65), one of America’s foremost marine painters of the period, will be offering another painting by the Gloucester artist at its Fine Paintings and Sculpture Auction Friday at 2 p.m. at its Boston gallery.

    The 13-by-22-inch painting “Camden Mts. From the Graves” is smaller than the 24-by-36-inch painting “Manchester Harbor,” which set the record when it sold for $5.5 million in November 2004. But “it is a quintessential example of his luminist work when [Lane] was at the height of his power,” said Robin Starr, director of Skinner’s paintings department.

    The oil on canvas painting, which is from a New Hampshire collection, has a $1.2 million-$1.8 million estimate. It is inscribed “. . . F. H. Lane to J. L. Stevens Jr./ Gloucester 1862 / A Souvenir of our excursion to Penobscot Bay, Septr. 1855.” Joseph L. Stevens Jr. was a close Gloucester friend who introduced Lane to Maine in 1848 when he invited him to the Old Homestead, his parents’ summer home in Castine.

    A rare offering is a 10-by-14-inch oil on paperboard depicting a day of respite in a Confederate army encampment in South Carolina painted in 1863 by Virginia-born Conrad Wise Chapman (1842-1910). The estimate is a $400,000-$600,000.


    Also featured in the auction is The Robert Bunting Dance Collection, which includes 150 lots of dance art and memorabilia. The passion that Dr. Bunting, a Boston physician, had for ballet, later to also encompass classic and modern dance, was sparked, when as a young medical student in New York in the 1970s, he attended a performance of “The Nutcracker” staged by George Balanchine.

    The collection mainly features costume designs but also includes set designs, paintings, bronzes, prints, posters, and dance programs with estimates ranging from $10,000-$15,000 for a Ballets Russes watercolor to $100-$120 for a Ruth St. Denis lithograph.

    The expected top seller of the 225 prints and photographs to be sold at
    10 a.m. is a 1982 limited edition image by the painter, photographer, and printmaker Chuck Close (1940-) of his friend Philip Glass (1937-), the composer. The estimate is $50,000-$70,000.

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    Property from the estate of June H. Geneen, widow of Harold Geneen, president and CEO of the ITT Corp. in the 1960s and ’70s, will be offered at Paul McInnis’s auction Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Jarvis Center in Portsmouth, N.H.

    In addition to the contents of her Boston apartment and Landaff, N.H., home and 1999 four-door Lincoln Continental, memorabilia relating to Harold Geneen’s business and personal life will be sold. June died last year at 91 and Harold in 1999 at 87.

    During his two decades as president and CEO of ITT, Geneen turned a company with less than $800,000 in yearly revenue into an international conglomerate with $17 billion a year in sales. A visionary workaholic who set strict standards he expected to be met, Geneen would arrive at a meeting with 10 or more oversized briefcases with papers relating to the matter at hand.

    Twenty of those briefcases, some still containing papers and other material, are being auctioned. Other memorabilia is as varied as is a ship model of Old Ironsides, presented to Geneen in 1968 for his services to the US Industrial Payroll Savings Committee, a framed set of Belgian postal stamps of Apollo XI autographed by each of the astronauts and by President Nixon, a set of watercolors depicting his pastime interests of golfing, fishing, and hunting, and a 17-inch Learjet and 17-inch Beechcraft Super King Air, models of his personal airplanes.

    The auction includes offerings from other consignors highlighted by an 18th-century Chippendale mahogany piecrust tilt top tea table and a set of six 18th-century Chippendale mahogany chairs.

    Virginia Bohlin can be reached at vbohlin@com