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Keno Auctions celebrates Americana Week with blockbuster sale
Wool Pictorial Hooked Rug Depicting George Washington; American; circa 1920; Estimate: $4,000-8,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Keno Auctions announced its upcoming sale of American Furniture and Folk Art at 3 p.m. on Friday, January 24, 2020, at the Keno Auctions headquarters, at 127 East 69th Street. Over 45 lots will be offered, dating back to the mid-18th century.

Says Leigh Keno, “I’m thrilled to return to Americana Week with a sale of this importance. On a scale of 1 to10, in terms of quality, rarity, condition and provenance, the majority of lots in this sale rank a 10. Conservative estimates are a consignor’s best friend with the best always rising to the top. Happily, our consignors agree that great pieces and low estimates are a winning combination for exceptional results.”

This single-owner sale includes three truly remarkable examples of Salem, Massachusetts craftsmanship. Earliest and perhaps most important is a rare Queen Anne Salem Bonnet-Top Walnut and Walnut-Veneered Highboy, circa 1745. Originally owned by Samuel Gardner (1712/13-1769), known in his day as the wealthiest man in Salem, it is no surprise that in terms of design and execution, it is a masterwork. The high chest, veneered with highly figured book-matched walnut is in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining its original finish and brasses.

The Chippendale Salem Block-Front Desk, circa 1770, with a blocked-lid opens to an
intricately fan-carved and fitted interior. The base molding is centered by a classic Salem style scallop-shell. Both the desk and a Salem Chippendale Bonnet-Top Fan-Carved Chest on Chest, circa 1770, have large, original brasses and escutcheons. The illustrious history of the highly figured mahogany chest on chest is documented on the bottom of the fan-carved drawer and documents its ownership by John Treadwell in the 1770’s.

With its great sculptural form and its impeccable provenance, Sir William Johnson's (1714-1774) Queen Anne Mahogany Side Chair will certainly attract a great interest for collectors. Keno bought the chair in 1992 from the direct descendant of Abraham Gerretson, who purchased five chairs from this set at the 1779 “Auction of the confiscated effects of Sir William Johnson.” Other chairs from this rare set are at the NY Metropolitan Museum, Yale University Collection, Winterthur Collection (a pair), Chipstone Foundation, Bayou Bend Museum and Minneapolis Institute of Art. This set can now be tentatively attributed to the little known New York cabinet-maker, Thomas Brookman, whose shop created some of the finest furniture in the Colonies. Importantly, The Johnson Papers document that on October 12, 1763, “Thomas Brookman, a cabinetmaker, about eight cases of furniture put on board of Capt. Marsealus’s boat for Johnson.” In 2010, Keno discovered, researched, and sold an elaborately carved Chippendale Mahogany Dressing Chest, which was documented in wealthy merchant James Beekman’s (1732-1807) Account Book (at the New York Historical Society) as having been made by Brookman in 1752, and sold at Keno Auctions’ Inaugural Sale in 2010 for a record $1.4M.

Also featured will be a rare and highly desirable diminutive Boston mid-18th century Queen Anne "Tuckaway" Tea Table with “plum-pudding” mahogany deeply-dished top, originally owned by the family of Hannah Buxton of Haverhill, MA. Mr. Keno purchased the table from her descendants in 1992 and later sold it to the present owners. One of seven known examples, it relates most closely to the table owned by Israel Sack, Inc. in 1979 and repurchased by them in 1991/1992 (illustrated and discussed, American Antiques from the Israel Sack Collection, Vol. VI, Alexandria, 1979, p. 1450, p. 4446). In person, comparison of this table and the Sack example strongly suggests that the two were made in the same shop.

Another rare discovery is the important Queen Anne Upholstered Open Arm Chair; New York, NY; circa 1745. This previously undocumented chair relates to a small group of chairs, each having upholstered backs and seats, open arms and cabriole legs ending in pad feet. The chair is most similar to the well-known pair at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York, 1985), pp. 115-117, no. 67). Aside from the spiraled, scroll-carved handholds on the Metropolitan Museum’s pair, the proportions, distinctive “crooked” arm-supports, broad upper knees narrowing to delicate ankles and raked, tapering rear legs which flare slightly at their bottoms, are similar on both the Metropolitan Museum chairs and the present chair.

Folk art will also be featured with interesting and decorative items such as a remarkable carved and polychromed Scrimshaw Whale’s Tooth “For the Love of Her and My Country;” circa 1835-1840; to a Hooked Rug depicting George Washington and inscribed “GENERAL WASHINGTON NOBLEST OF MEN, HIS HOUSE HIS HORSE HIS CHERRY TREE & HIM.” This rug is colorful and charming and ranks among the best of early 20th century hooked rugs.

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