Old year leaves a trail of record prices

Circa 1810 gold-inlaid dueling pistols ($195,500)
Circa 1810 gold-inlaid dueling pistols ($195,500)

A new year is about to bow in, but before bidding goodbye to 2013 there are noteworthy results from New England’s fall auctions to be reported.

James D. Julia’s October firearms auction was a record-setter with over $18 million in sales making it the highest-grossing firearms auction in history.

Nine lots sold for more than $100,000, topped by a pair of circa 1810 gold inlaid dueling pistols by James Haslett of Baltimore, believed to be the finest set of American dueling pistols known. The pair brought $195,500 against a $75,000-$125,000 estimate.


Other top sellers included two Borchardt cased pistols, a rare prototype model from 1893 that sold for $161,000, and an 1893 pistol that was presented to Don Porfirio Díaz, president of Mexico (1876-1911), and brought $150,000.

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A historic relic from the Battle of Little Big Horn was a Springfield carbine that went for $126,500.

A World War II German military vehicle, a 1941 Volkswagen Kübelwagen captured by Allied forces during the North Africa campaign and shipped to the United States, brought $75,000, while two Nazi SS officer’s visor caps brought home after the war by a US soldier went for $57,500.

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Grogan and Co.’s two-day fall auction, which saw 1,500 Internet bidders competing with 700 room and phone bidders, grossed $2.1 million.


Paintings led the sale with a 17th-century oil on panel “The Cunera Tower, Rhenen” by the Dutch landscape artist Jan Van Goyen (1596-1656) selling for $96,000 to a European phone bidder.

Two gouaches by Alexander Calder brought the next highest prices, one selling for $87,000 to a room bidder and the other for $72,000 to a European gallery bidding on the phone.

The nearly 200 lots of jewelry, which netted half a million dollars, were highlighted by an emerald, onyx, and diamond ring that sold for $43,200, and a Black, Starr & Frost platinum ring set with a fancy yellow diamond ($31,200).

Soaring above their estimates were a Cartier silver and lapis presentation box inscribed “The Westminster-Biltmore Steeplechase Association 1929” that brought $30,000 against a $1,000-
$2,000 estimate and a 19th-century silver and enamel singing bird music box ($20,400 against $500-$1,000).

Also selling above estimate was a pair of early-19th-century 36-inch Chinese Famille Verte vases with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate that were purchased for $36,000 by a Chinese collector who had left an absentee bid.


A pair of Asian yellow ground jardinières on stands turned out to be the sleeper of the sale when competition between Internet, phone, and room bidders drove the $500-$700 estimate to the $16,200 taking price.

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The top seller of John McInnis’s Legends Auction of John F. Kennedy memorabilia, which grossed just under
$1 million, was the rocker that the president used summers on the Cape.

It brought $97,750, while his blazer that he gave to his longtime friend Kirk Lemoyne “Lem” Billings brought $28,750 and his felt fedora $8,625.

“A Tribute to Jackie,” a collection of photographs by Jacques Lowe (1930-2001), the Kennedys’ personal photographer, which were sold to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, brought over $40,000.

Items of historic importance included 50 pens used to sign 50 landmark bills during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations ($43,125), a rare Warren Commission Report autographed by each of its members ($10,350), and declassified material from the Cuban Missile Crisis ($4,887).

Three small watercolors of New York’s Sheepshead Bay that Kennedy painted when he was campaigning in Brooklyn in 1960 sold separately for a total of $36,800.

A baby grand piano from Hammersmith Farm in Newport, R.I., Jackie’s girlhood summer home after her mother married Hugh Auchincloss, brought $20,700 and the Cartier 18-karat gold watch that Jackie gave a godson went for $9,775.

More than a dozen detailed fashion letters that Jackie wrote to milliner Marita O’Connor, her personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, the high-end New York store, sold separately for over $23,000.

McInnis Auctioneers
A photograph of Jackie Kennedy and daughter Caroline taken by Jacques Lowe in 1960 in Hyannis Port.

Items from the estate of James H. Boyer Sr., a US Capitol Police officer whom Jackie hired as the Kennedys’ personal handyman, included a pair of her high-heeled black satin pumps ($2,513) and her white velvet clutch purse ($2,415).

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Skinner’s Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction, which grossed $1.1 million, was led by a photographic record of the Civil War and a collection of 84 circa 1869 photographs of the American West.

The first edition, first issue of “Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War” (Philp & Solomons, Washington, D.C., 1866) by the Scottish-American photographer Alexander Gardner (1821-82) with 100 photographs of the Civil War sold for $192,000, while the photographs of the West by Andrew Russell (1830-1902), a New Hampshire native who served as a photographer for the military railroad during the war, brought $174,000.

Topping the manuscripts was a letter written at Mount Vernon, Va., on Dec. 15, 1799, by George Washington’s personal secretary Tobias Lear of Portsmouth, N.H., to President Adams informing him of Washington’s death the previous evening. It fetched $108,000 against a $20,000-$25,000 estimate.

Other important offerings included a first edition of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” (J. B. Chevalier, Philadelphia, 1840) in seven large octavo volumes which brought $36,000, and a 1376 Latin text manuscript of sermons by Peregrinus de Opole, a Polish Dominican (1260-after 1333) that sold for $42,000.

A Tiffany Studios Dragonfly table lamp was the top selling lamp and a Lalique Bacchantes vase the top selling vase at Julia’s Lamp & Glass Auction that grossed $2.2 million.

The lamp brought $118,500 and the vase with opalescent nudes on a clear background went for $27,847.

Other top selling vases included a Tiffany silver overlay ($25,477), a Mt. Washington Royal Flemish two-handle vase decorated with an Egyptian scene ($18,960), and a French Daum Nancy cameo vase decorated with seagulls gliding over ocean waves ($13,627).

Topping the collection of 11 Lalique auto mascots — opalescent glass hood ornaments — was “Victoire,” a woman’s head in frosted glass with a windswept flowing headdress that fetched $23,700.

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at