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Large oil portrait painting by William McGregor Paxton will be sold at auction
Large oil portrait painting by William McGregor Paxton (Am., 1869-1941).

AMESBURY, MASS.- An important Revolutionary War sword and scabbard made by John Bailey and descended in the family of patriot Francis Dana (1743-1811), a pair of circa 1820 floor globes by Cary of London, each standing 39 inches tall, and a large oil portrait painting by William McGregor Paxton (Am., 1869-1941) will all come up for bid at a March 24-26 auction.

They’re just a few of the many rare, important and historically significant items slated to cross the auction block over the course of the three-day weekend at John McInnis Auctioneers, in the firm’s gallery at 76 Main Street in Amesbury, as well as online. Internet bidding will be provided by and Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted.

Other key offerings will include a Japanese articulated Myochin School snake, expected to generate keen interest; a fine Russian enameled silver tea set by a famous maker dated 1887; a New Hampshire two-part highboy with the original untouched red surface; a John J. Audubon folio (the desirable large Bien Edition); and the outstanding Levy folk art collection.

“Any one of 20 lots I can name off the top of my head would be headliners at any other auction,” said John McInnis. “The fact that we’ve been able to gather all of them, and more, into one massive auction event speaks to our staff and our ability to continue to attract top-notch merchandise. I haven’t even mentioned the Lockwood de Forest mantel piece.”

He’s referring to a carved teakwood mantel by Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932), the American painter and furniture designer who was a key figure in the Aesthetic Movement. De Forest introduced the East Indian craft revival to Gilded Age America, and the piece being sold is a rare example featuring superb carvings by the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Company of India.

Headlining Day 2, Lot #525 – the sword and scabbard made for Francis Dana by John Bailey – would carry great value even if it didn’t have the added cache of having been made and presented to a Revolutionary War patriot and close confidante of George Washington. Bailey swords are coveted by collectors. That this one still has its leather scabbard (most don’t, they’re that frail) will only add to its desirability.

Francis Dana opposed British colonial rule and, as a leader of the Sons of Liberty (a group co-founded by his father, Richard Dana), he helped set into motion a course of events that would forever change history and establish the United States as a free and independent nation. In 1778 he conferred with George Washington at Valley Forge to discuss the reorganization of the army.

Perhaps inspired by Dana, Washington also carried a John Bailey sword – a cuttoe, which today is in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Dana held several important posts. He was twice elected a member of the Continental Congress and was ambassador to Russia. Dana was a signer of the Articles of Confederation and voted to adopt the name and flag of the United States.

The mounted sword is a magnificent example, signed by John Bailey (N.Y.) in 1777, at the very birth of the country, and engraved with “Francis Dana 1777” on the obverse side. It is a lion head silver-hilted officer’s sword, with a pierced and engraved silver guard and a double silver chain-guard. The important black leather scabbard has reinforcing line-decorations and three mounts.

Other items from the time of the American Revolution will also come up for bid. These include about 50 engraved bookplates by Nathaniel Hurd (1729-1777) for Francis Dana, the Boston printer-engraver and contemporary of Paul Revere, and a portrait oil painting of Count Von Ferson, a Rev-War hero who also famously had an affair with Marie Antoinette of France.

Also from the period are a sword, letter and personal effects from Capt. William Bainbridge, an American who fought in the War of 1812; a pair of 18th century American sauce boats, made by the silversmith Charles O. Bruff; a portrait miniature of John Koke Beekman, done circa 1825; and a painting by the British-born American portraitist Thomas Sully (1783-1872).

Decorative accessories will feature a rare Galle marquetry vase, 13 ¾ inches tall; a 14kt gold oval basket weave box inset with a young child’s portrait; a Cartier pink enamel repeater carriage travel clock; a pair of Chinese bottle vases of the Yongzheng mark and period; a 5 foot 9 inch long Newburyport half hull model; and two of 19th century Chinese rose famille porcelain bowls.

The auction is being billed as a Three-Day Spring Estates Auction. The Friday, March 24th session, which will start in the late afternoon, will feature coins, dolls, cameras and the outstanding coach and carriage equestrian collection of Caroline Stevens of Andover, Mass. The collection includes sleigh bells, carriage lanterns and related books and prints, all worthy additions to any collection.

The Saturday, March 25th session will feature Americana, historical items, folk art, paintings, formal and country furnishings and Oriental carpets. The John Bailey Rev-War sword, the Levy folk art collection and the William McGregor Paxton portrait will all be sold on Saturday. The session has a start time of 11 am Eastern time.

The Sunday, March 26th session will contain the Japanese articulated Myochin School snake, Continental furniture, fine European paintings, silver and jewelry, bronzes, porcelain and glass. Exhibition previews will be held on Wednesday, March 22nd thru Friday, March 24th, from 2 pm on; and on March 25th and 26th, from 9 am and throughout the auction. A color catalog can be viewed online, at the McInnis Auctions website:

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