The spotlight may have been shining on a stellar array of art glass, jewelry and watches at Morphys
July 14-15 Fine & Decorative Arts Auction, but it was an unlikely dark horse a circa-1840 Shaker sewing table that stitched up the top price at the $3.2 million sale in central Pennsylvania.
An unapologetically simple form, the seven-drawer drop-leaf table of mixed woods likely came from the Shaker community at Hancock, Massachusetts. It was attributed to Elder David Terry, who is known to have crafted similar tables. However, there was some speculation amongst experts that it might have come from the boys workshop at Hancock. A published example (Shaker Furniture: The Craftsmanship of an American Communal Sect by Andrews & Andrews, 1937, Yale Press), the table was entered in the sale with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate, but aggressive bidding sent it soaring to $98,400.
Fifty-four exquisite Tiffany Studios leaded and stained-glass lamps illuminated the gallery during the preview. Among the rare, finely pedigreed beauties on display was a table lamp in the lush Clematis pattern. Decorated with a dense mix of all-over blue, purple and pastel clematis blooms against a blue/gray/purple trellis and warm sunset background, it was signed both on the shade and the patinated bronze base. Opening at $40,000, it dominated the Tiffany lineup at $73,800.
An original plaster model for Frederick Remingtons (American, 1861-1909) The Mountain Man was completed in 1903 and cast by 1907 at New Yorks Roman Bronze Works foundry using the lost-wax technique. Standing 29 inches high and signed Copyright by Frederick Remington, it previously crossed the auction block in 1988 at Guernseys as part of The Roman Bronze Works Collection. At Morphys July event, it sold within estimate for $61,500.
From a stunning collection of Amphora ceramics, a very rare Spider Lady vase embodied Art Nouveau high style with its applied-jeweled portrait of a serene lady wearing an elaborate butterfly headdress. Additional decoration includes a jeweled spider and webbing, a gilt crucifix necklace and other tastefully executed gilt accents. The vase is illustrated in the books Monsters and Maidens: Collectors Edition (Vreeland) and The House of Amphora (Scott). Against an estimate of $9,000-$12,000, it clinched a winning bid of $28,290, an auction record for the form. Another record-setter was the circa-1900 Amphora Dragon vase similar to examples seen in the Vreeland and Scott references. Estimated at $6,000-$8,000, the 18-inch vessel in near-mint condition defied expectations and rose to $40,590. Part II of this elite Amphora collection will be offered in Morphys December Fine & Decorative Arts Auction.
An appealing 1880 Gorham Japanese-style tobacco box of sterling silver on richly oxidized copper featured three chased figures of crabs around the body of the vessel and an additional cast and chased crab atop the lid. The whimsically decorated container drew 23 bids and sold for $10,455 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
From the earliest period of Queen Victorias reign, a circa 1840-1850 narwhal walking stick cane with silver knob was described in Morphys catalog as being of a type once so rare and expensive, only royalty could possess such an extravagance. It obviously held its value well, striding to $13,530 against an estimate of $5,000-$8,000.
A connoisseurs selection of fine jewelry boasted many of the premier names in gem design and Swiss watchmaking. Leading the timepieces was a mint-condition mens 18K gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Quantieme Perpetuel Automatique wristwatch, Ref. C32506. From new/old stock and accompanied by its original leather box, it handily surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000 to reach $73,800.
A ladies 18K white gold ring of exceptional quality emitted a fiery sparkle from its 4.03ct fancy yellow radiant-cut, bezel-set central diamond, with channel-set baguette and round-cut diamonds (2.50ct tcw) encircling the shank. Weighing 17.5 grams and offered with its original GIA diamond report, jewelry appraisal and original sales receipt, it sold above its pre-sale estimate for $43,050.
Commenting on the excellent prices realized during the two-day event, Morphy Auctions founder and president Dan Morphy said: Its nice to see that even during these most challenging times, the general antiques market is very strong in a number of areas. We brought several fresh collections to the market in this sale and, in some cases, achieved record prices. The consignors were more than pleased with the results.