Gary Sullivan's Antique Clocks and Furniture Blog


Antique Clocks and Furniture

Noteworthy objects from Skinner sale
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The Skinner Americana sale took place over the weekend and two of the objects caught my eye. First was the Vermont four drawer federal chest. It's a relatively simple country form that was constructed of remarkable figured wood. Kudos to the photographer, who made the figured maple look absolutely electric on the front cover of the catalog. The early 19th century Rutland Vermont cabinetmaker must have saved his best tiger and bird's-eye maple and used it all on this one special piece. With the exception of the mahogany banding around the drawers, the exceptional woods were all native; Tiger maple, bird's-eye maple and flame birch. I'm a wood freak, so exceptional wood like this really impresses me. This stuff was not easy for the maker to get hold of. Anyway, it sold for $65,175., which translates to about a two thousand dollar chest, with sixty thousand dollars worth of figured maple! I actually expected it to bring a little more, but I think the few imperfections that it had kept the price from reaching its full potential. It had a good history, having been sold by the Liverants and illustrated in the Vermont furniture book.

The other piece that caught my eye was an exceptional miniature wooden bucket made in Hingham Massachusetts in the mid 19th century. The bucket, or firkin as they are often called, retains it's stunning original blue paint. Miniature Hingham buckets are rare as can be and are highly desirable to collectors, but to find one in this paint is an absolute prize. The impressed initials of Cotton Hersey, a well known Hingham craftsman, could be seen on the bottom of the piece. Hersey, born in 1792, was the earliest documented toy and miniature maker in Hingham, a community that went on to become the center for production of wooden toys. It was bought for a collector by Derin Bray, a new Hampshire buyer's agent and researcher who is conducting an in-depth study of the early Hingham woodenware makers. I have more than a passing interest in the subject, so I was glad to see that a number of bidders recognized how special this piece is. It set a new auction, if not a world record for a firkin, selling for $16,590. Be sure to keep in mind that this piece is only 2 1/2" high! What a great find.

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