Antiques & Collectibles

Clockwise from left:
Clockwise from left:

A collection of Italian Venini glass, antique Italian furniture, and fine art from the estate of Laura Venini Hillyer of Beverly will be offered at Northeast Auctions’ Memorial Day Weekend Auction at Treadwell Mansion, Portsmouth, N.H., Saturday and Sunday at noon.

The daughter of the famed Venetian glassmaker Paolo Venini (1895-1959), founder in 1926 of the Venini glassworks on the island of Murano, Hillyer died in January at 87.

Two of the glass lots in the collection were specially designed by her father as wedding gifts when she married Stephen Hancock Hillyer, a Raytheon executive, in 1954. The lot of six 3-inch-high, 4-inch-diameter blown glass footed bowls has a $500-$800 estimate while the lot of four of the same bowls has a $400-$600 estimate.


A gift to Laura in the early 1940s from the Venini artist Carlo Scarpa was the 3¾-inch-high, 8½-inch-diameter red-and-white murrine glass experimental bowl, which has a $4,000-
$6,000 estimate.

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A glass bowl and decanter designed in 1950 by Venini for his wife, Ginette, and which were used in the Venini household has a $600-$900 estimate. The antique Italian furniture being sold includes pieces that formerly belonged to them and that were used in their home in Venice. Among the pieces are an inlaid walnut bibliotech with open shelves above two cupboards ($4,000-
$6,000), and a neoclassical marquetry inlaid fruitwood commode and a Baroque figured walnut desk, each with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

The fine art offerings include three oil paintings by the Lombard School artist Eugenio Gignous (1850-1906), Hillyer’s maternal grandfather. The two landscapes have estimates of $1,600-
$2,400 and $2,400-$4,000, while a Venetian canal scene has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

The collection will be sold at Sunday’s session. Other important Sunday offerings include an 1880 oil painting, “The Beach at Trouville,” by the French artist Eugène Boudin (1824-98) ($90,000-$150,000), and a 4-inch-high perfume bottle internally molded with sirens cavorting in swirling waves ($40,000-$60,000).

The teardrop-shape emerald green glass perfume bottle was created in 1905 by René Lalique (1860-1945), the famed French glass designer, using the cire perdue (lost wax) method that involved making a wax model, enclosing it in plaster, melting the wax, and making a casting of the sirens from the plaster mold.


The highlight of Saturday’s session is a 7½-inch-long scrimshaw sperm whale’s tooth engraved by Frederick Myrick with a portrait of the ship Susan of Nantucket whaling off the coast of Japan, and dated “August 28th 1829.” Its estimate is $60,000-$90,000.

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Mimbres pottery made more than 800 years ago by the Mimbreños, prehistoric Indians who farmed and hunted in the area that is now southern New Mexico, is a highlight of Willis Henry’s American Indian & Ethnographic Art Auction next Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Rockland.

The discovery in the early 20th century of the pottery, which vanished when the Mimbreños migrated and their culture was lost, led to research and digs. Considered today among the finest ancient art of North America, Mimbres pottery is prized by collectors and examples are in major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts.

Much of the pottery painted with geometric designs and imagery was found in burial pits. Bowls with a hole punched out in the bottom may have played a ritualistic role in the burial of a body. A drawing by the Smithsonian Institution anthropologist and archeologist J. Walter Fewkes (1850-1930) shows a skeleton in upright fetal position with a bowl with a hole placed upside down on the dead person’s head.


Three of the four Mimbres bowls being auctioned have holes; they are from the estate of Stefan Brecht, the New York theater historian, who died in 2009. Estimates range from $4,000-
$6,000 for a 14½-inch-diameter bowl to $1,000-$2,000 for a 7½-inch-diameter bowl with no hole.

Other collections include those of the late John P. Richardson of Hingham, who died in 2011 at 76 and was known as the collector of “everything Hingham,” and of the late John E. Engstrom (1913-84). As a young boy Engstrom started collecting Indian stone artifacts that he found in the plowed fields on the South Shore, and in later years he participated in organized digs under the direction of the Massachusetts Archeological Society.

The two dozen items in the Richardson Collection are as varied as a Plains Indian tomahawk ($300-$400) brought back to Hingham by the artist Isaac Sprague from his trip west with the John James Audubon expedition in 1840; a Northwest Coast dance paddle ($200-$300) found hanging in the Captain Barnabas Lincoln house in Hingham; and four Southwest paintings (each with a $200-$400 estimate) from the Hingham home of the late author Henry Beston and his late wife ,the poet and novelist Elizabeth Coatsworth.

The 26 lots from the Engstrom collection have estimates ranging from $300-$400 for a rare trophy ax with a three-finger grooved head to $100-$150 for a 4½-by-3-inch pestle found in Middleborough.

The 250-lot auction offers a wide range of American Indian artifacts, including stone sculptures, masks, beadwork, kachina dolls, Navajo rugs, pottery, and jewelry.

Among the highlights are an 8-inch Inuit stone sculpture of a mother and child ($3,000-$4,000), a 4-foot-3-inch by 6-foot-9-inch Navajo rug from a Hingham collection ($2,000-$3,000), a 19th-century Iroquois carved wood face mask ($1,000-$2,000), a Hopi seed jar and a circa 1890 Sioux beadwork pipe bag, each with a $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

The ethnographic offerings range from a rare 18th/19th-century fan made in the Marquesas Islands of split pandanus leaves with a carved wood handle ($3,000-$5,000) to a 2-foot-long brass and copper trumpet from Nepal made in the form of a horned mythical dragon ($50-$100).

Virginia Bohlin can
be reached at globe