I'm on an airplane returning from my annual pilgrimage to The Philadelphia Antiques Show. As always, the dealers showcased a nice selection of early American decorative arts. Among my favorite pieces were a great William & Mary dressing table, circa 1730 from Rhode Island and a fantastic painted wall cupboard with a facade in the form of a Federal house, complete with elaborate doorway. Arthur Liverant had the dressing table and Courcier Wilkins was offering the wall cupboard. The preview party was packed with people, which is always a good sign. I always enjoy this show because there is so much Americana to see.
Matt and I attended a luncheon and lecture by designer Campion Platt at The Boston Design Center. His power-point lecture was terrific. Taking a photographic tour of some of the high end homes and apartments his firm has decorated was worth the trip. Most of his work has a contemporary flavor, but some of the homes are traditional, or have some antique pieces sprinkled in. If only I can convince him to use more early American antiques in his plans, the world will be a better place. More and more, we’ve been working with designers and individuals who are using a few fine antiques as signature pieces in contemporary homes.
My roll as appraiser on Antiques Roadshow will change slightly this season. As I have done since 2006, I will visit three new cities in search of treasures. I’ve been to several great places and met many wonderful people. I’ve even seen some great clocks along the way. I have always appraised strictly clocks on the show, occasionally helping out with furniture behind the scenes. This year, as per my own request, I’ll be appraising furniture at one of the venues, which should be an exciting new twist. Wish me luck.
Sadly, the best clock that has ever been brought in for me to appraise did not get on the air. It was a superb example of a French figural mantle clock made by Dubuc for the American market. Clock enthusiasts will be familiar with the model depicting a full bodied George Washington. (for you horologists, it was the large size, with mint original gilding, an original bill of sale and exceptional provenance). The appraisal was not taped for television because the owner already knew everything about the clock, including it’s six figure value. Our goal is to educate people about their objects. If the owner knows everything about what they have, it does not make for good television.
We were thrilled to purchase an exceptional clock at the March 6th Americana sale at Skinner Auctions. The circa 1822 dwarf clock, standing about four feet high is an exact miniature of a tall case (grandfather) clock. Early 19th century dwarf clocks from the Hingham/Hanover area, on the South Shore of Massachusetts, are highly prized by collectors. We purchased the clock for $189,600. on behalf of a private collector. Although not a record for a dwarf clock, this is one of the highest prices paid at public auction.
Two of the reasons why it sold for so much more than what dwarf clocks typically bring are the combination of remarkable condition and superb form. Dwarf clocks were produced with various case styles and some command higher prices than others. Most dwarf clocks with a high degree of originality sell in the $10,000. To $50,000. Price range, but great examples can easily go higher.
This model, with works made by Joshua Wilder (1786-1860), incorporates a case which is attributed to Weymouth Cabinetmaker Abiel White (1766-1844). It has French feet, quarter columns in the case, and a removable hood just like a full size clock. The cases with all of these features are the most highly sought after of all the dwarf clocks.
To learn more about Dwarf clocks be sure to read my article in Antiques & Fine Arts on the topic. Click here to down load a copy of that article.
“Antiques Week” in New York was once again the event of the year for antiques enthusiasts. We exhibited at T.A.A.S. (The American Antiques Show) and had a terrific show. Thank you to all of our friends and clients who came by to see our booth.
Every January, hundreds of the country’s most serious dealers and collectors of early American antiques descend on Manhattan for “Antiques Week”. Both Christies and Sotheby’s auction houses hold their premier Americana sales as part of the event. Two of the country’s most prestigious antiques shows, T.A.A.S. And East Side also take place.
We accumulated pieces for several months leading up to the show and furnished our booth with a number of nice clocks and some very special furniture. Sales of tall case clocks included a circa 1815 New Hampshire clock by James Cole, a diminutive example by Simon Willard of Roxbury, MA. and a rare eighteenth century New Jersey clock with works by Aaron Lane and a case labeled by cabinet maker Matthew Egerton of New Brunswick.
Rhode Island furniture seemed to be in demand, particularly the Goddard-Townsend school pieces. Pat Kane’s furniture study at Yale University seems to be generating even more interest in early Rhode Island furniture.