NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby's
will present American silver, furniture and decorative art from The Collection of Roy and Ruth Nutt in a series of auctions beginning January 2015 during Americana Week in New York. Mrs. Nutts encyclopedic collection of early American silver in particular represents the finest and most comprehensive group of this material ever to appear at auction. Spanning from the 17th century to the present, and ranging from great masterpieces to rare regional items and intriguing small pieces such as school prizes and Masonic medals, the silver offers a unique overview of early American history.
Sothebys auction series will begin on 23 January, with an auction dedicated to the Important Americana & Decorative Arts from the collection that is led by The Capen Family Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Bombé Slant-Front Desk circa 1780 (estimate $500/700,000*). On the 24th, Sothebys will offer a curated selection of more than 400 lots of Highly Important American Silver from the collection, including 28 creamers, 25 sugar bowls, 21 tankards, 20 porringers, 16 teapots, 10 coffee pots and much more. With more than one-third of the collection offered at estimates under $5,000, the sales represent an unprecedented opportunity for collectors at all levels to acquire a rare piece of American history.
Ruth Nutt and her husband Roy co-founder of Computer Sciences Corporation and co-creator of the computer programing language FORTRAN together collected American furniture and paintings throughout their lives, but it was Mrs. Nutt whose passion for American silver drove her to become the most prominent collector of this material for more than two decades. Her highly-academic approach to collecting was informed by a love of form and its evolution over time for example, how a common teapot would develop from decade to decade and century to century. Mrs. Nutt played a critical role in the museum community, as a major lender to seminal exhibitions including Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York, a donor of important pieces to institutional collections, and the underwriter of the Curatorship of American Decorative Arts at the Seattle Art Museum, among many other contributions to the field.
Rare Pair of American Silver Bottle Stands Myer Myers, circa 1765 Estimate $250/350,000
The rococo silver made by Myer Myers for Samuel Cornell is perhaps his most important group he made for a single patron. While a cann at the Wadsworth Atheneum may have been acquired on Cornell's marriage in 1756, the other four pieces elaborately pierced and engraved are from the early 1770s and evoke the luxury the Cornells enjoyed before the Revolution. Together with an almost-identical pair made by Myers for the Schuyler family (now in the collection of the New York Historical Society), the present pieces represent the only known American Colonial wine coasters.
A Pair of American Silver Beakers Jacob Hurd, Boston, circa 1737 Estimate $80/120,000
Colonel Theophilus Burrill (1669-1737) was the grandson of George Burrill, one of the founding settlers of Lynn, Massachusetts. In his will, he left funds to the First Church in Lynn (organized in 1632) to be used in acquiring ceremonial silver, and a part of this sum was spent buying the present two beakers, together with a tankard and an alms dish. The exceptional baroque engraving of Burrill's coat of arms in near mint condition is among the finest surviving from the period.
Pair of American Silver Waiters Simeon Soumaine, circa 1738-40 Estimate $100/150,000
Henry and Elizabeth Cruger probably ordered silver from Simeon Soumaine either upon their return to New York from Jamaica where they had met and married in 1738, or possibly after Henry inherited his fathers estate in 1744. The pair had been separated years ago, but was reunited in the Nutt collection. The heavy weight, sophisticated design, and elegant cypher link these two waiters with the covered sugar bowl by Soumaine engraved with the same cypher, now in the Garvan Collection at Yale University Art Gallery.
An American Silver Soup Tureen and Cover Thomas Charles Fletcher, Philadelphia, 1833 Estimate $30/50,000
Daniel Webster was Secretary of State, Senator for Massachusetts, and Representative for New Hampshire in the first half of the 19th century. In 1808, Webster married Grace Fletcher, a cousin of the silversmith, and their son Daniel Fletcher Webster was born in 1818. In 1833, Fletcher wrote his cousin-in-law that he had just sent a box containing two soup tureens, costing $685.25. The debt to French Empire design is obvious, but eagle heads have been substituted for a more patriotic handle support. The splendor of silver soup tureens was still almost unknown at the time a great luxury in the young nation.