Who doesn't appreciate a proportionate balance of sophistication and fun? Especially if it comes in the form of an auction! Skinner Auctions, American Furniture & Decorative Arts sale on March 4th will focus equally on impressively priced items for the seasoned collector as well as offering attractive, reasonably priced items for those just starting to acquire their tastes. We've pulled together an eclectic selection of anticipated antiques to help slide you across the monetary scale.
Everything is better with butter! This group of twenty, intricately designed butter stamps offers an exciting glimpse into the early American kitchen. What better way is there to learn about a culture, but through its cooking traditions? Featured motifs like; sheaves of wheat, animals, flowers and other lettered examples, one reading the word "Captains," are images that might have been pressed and displayed at country fairs or put on the dinner table, right next to a plate full of boiled corncobs.
Staring at an empty fireplace all summer just doesn’t have the same appeal as a roaring, winter flame, does it? The visual hindrance of an unused furnace was cleverly remedied by New Englanders who often placed a fireboard over the space during warmer months; adding a customizable and decorative element to an otherwise unflattering vacancy. This particular item, has an identical sister panel currently apart of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lot 357, Painted Pine Fireboard, New England, Early 19th Century, is finessed with joyful flowers and berries growing upward out of two viridian blue urns. Rhythmic, leafy vines inhabit the majority of the boarder while two willow trees anchor the bottom edge. Sweetly illustrated with curvy, innocent lines and thoughtgul negative white-space, this "fire"board would make a "cool" addition to any Americana collection!
From Left to Right: Lot 16, Mocha-decorated Pearlware Jug, attributed to Wood & Caldwell, Burslem, Staffordshire, England, 1790-1818; Lot 25, Pearlware Slip-marbled Sugar Bowl, England, c. 1790; Estimate $600 - $800
Perhaps, the trippiest thing about these multi-colored ceramics are their production dates. Although, they might look like a psychedelic induced, midmod design, these pots were popular in the late 1700s - 1800s. Commonly known as Mochaware, Pearlware and Creamware, these intricate patterns achieved through slip marbling and low-fired glaze reactions, would have been found in modest kitchens throughout England and early American homes. You can catch all 27 of these featured ceramics at the very start of the auction. Can you imagine a cabinet full of these far-out designs? Yes, please!
One of the dominating features of this auction are 18 pieces of extraordinary scrimshaw (the delicate, pictorial, carvings into whalebone/teeth, ivory, shells, etc.) Lot 116, Scrimshaw Whales Tooth Showing the Frances of New Bedford, Frederick Myrick, Nantucket, c. 1828-29 is an exceptional piece with a well documented history and a cohesive journalistic approach.
The artist, Frederick Myrick, is known to have produced approximately thirty-five teeth, two of which depict the whaleship Frances, seen here. The carving itself is a fascinating work of folk art; one side depicts the return trip into New Bedford, while the other shows the hunt and journey to the coast of Peru; a duel-narrative commonly seen in Myricks artworks. The details are so actionable that it almost exists as a totem or ‘fetish’, as if harboring the spirit and commemoration of capturing the massive sea mammal.
This grayscale, watercolor depicting a seated man, donning a combed out hairstyle and a debonair, popped collar, resonates like a character straight out of a Tim Burton film; Sweeney Todd perhaps? Ichabod Crane? This subject might not be painted in a classical manner but the mood of the piece truly embodies its subject. A story can quickly be formed around this spooky, semi-dimensional gentleman and that is what makes early American, folk portraiture exciting!
A real eye-catcher! Lot 303, Carved Cherry and Birds-eye Maple and Mahogany Veneer Sideboard, Massachusetts, c. 1820 is a stylish blend of grains, stains and turns! The golden brown wood which insulates this design, having one top drawer, two bottom and four varying center cut-outs has the unique characteristic of the Sugar Maple tree, where tiny knots - resembling small “bird’s eyes” - are scattered across the grain in a tasteful and charming manner. The knobs, most likely original glass pulls, stand out against the two- toned wood sideboard; making a fun statement of their own. Additional details such as the ring turned posts and legs, hinged and cockbeaded doors and the scroll crested decorative panel, make this a lively “lot” of lumber!
The widely admired, bold, tribal designs associated with Konya Rugs dates back to 1292 when Marco Polo first mentioned them in his writings; the Venetian merchant and traveller gloated about their harmonious color combinations and elegant compositional elements. Named after their city of origin of Konya, Turkey, these rugs are not only rare but also offer an immediate, creative statement to a range of interior aesthetics.
A black and white dog, dramatically arches his gaze upward toward the villainous sky, which brought fourth the great flood underneath the floating dog house. Pups paddle and claw their way to safety against the murky, turbulent water-nemeses. The collar and chain which is still attached to the large dog could be interpreted as a negative or a positive; security or impossible escape? Lastly, the dark grey clouds part ways like curtains, forming a centered divide of blue sky. This opening is the perfect frame for the startling anguish depicted on the face of the struggling animal. An intense and unexpected offering which captures the depth and quality of reasonably priced works available in this sale.
An American furniture auction just wouldnt be the same without the classic Windsor Chair - this shining example, made in New York City, Circa. 1785-90 has all of the attractive elements that one would desire. The rounded, ring turnings, wide seat and beautfully spaced elements of design would easily enhance any living or dining room.
Click here to view the full auction catalog: Skinner Auctions American Furniture & Decorative Arts sale on March 4th of over 500 lots of Americana, including material from The Lucius D. Potter Collection at Historic Deerfield, an extraordinary selection of scrimshaw and canes from a Cape Cod collection of nautical art, and an excellent selection of mocha and dipped wares from The Jonathan Rickard Collection.