Review and Onsite Photos by W.A. Demers, Additional Photos Courtesy Butterscotch Auctions
BEDFORD, N.Y. – True to form, Butterscotch Auctioneers & Appraisers laid out an early harvest table groaning with a diverse selection of delectable fine art and antiques for its November 5 auction. And, predictably, the top lot of the sale was a 3.44-carat old mine cut diamond ring in an antique engraved platinum setting, which finished at $45,600, above its expected high estimate of $35,000. Predictably because it was also a high-carat diamond “bling” that topped the firm’s auction this past August, and because jewelry seems to be a sure-fire investment class at auction these days.
Another high flier was a diamond – in this case, a 2.05-carat round brilliant diamond that was prong-set into a 14K white gold engagement band. It took $10,800.
There was so much more to this auction, however, staged in the quaint and quirky Historical Hall on a Sunday in which the turning of the clock hands one hour backward presaged an imminent return to thoughts of hearth and home. And the great Midcentury Modern dining suite, including 12 walnut dining chairs in white vinyl upholstery, that took up nearly the length of the hall during preview to evoke an autumn holiday gathering made for an inviting tableau.
“We seemed to notice an increase in consumer confidence this sale, following market trends for the most part,” said the firm’s appraiser and auctioneer Brendan Ryan. “We are doing very well with fine art, jewelry, Chinese and smaller items, while selling formal furniture at bargain prices”
The sale’s top selling painting was a work by French artist Claude Venard (1913-1999). Titled “Laviance,” and depicting a whimsical, human-propelled airship, the 1974 oil on canvas, 53 by 61 inches, ascended to $19,200. It was followed in price by a pair of etchings with aquatint in colors by David Hockney (British, b 1937), “Stanley and Boodgie (I & II),” 1995, at $12,500 and $9,600, respectively. The colorful pooches, which served as the sale’s catalog cover, had been purchased at Connaught Brown, London, by the consignor. Also, a Howard Post (American, b 1948) oil on canvas, “Indian Pony,” 30 by 40 inches, realized $7,800.
Fetching $9,600 was a sculpture highlight, untitled (Circle) by Italian Bruno Romeda (1933-2017), a bronze measuring 28½ by 21½ by 8½ inches. It had been purchased directly from the artist and accompanying provenance included a photocopy of the canceled check made out to Romeda in 1986.
A “sleeper” in the artwork category was a charcoal on paper by Richard Bunkall (American, 1953-1999), a view of a theater marquee titled “The Lady Vanishes,” 40 by 30 inches. The drawing, signed lower right, was estimated $800-$1,200 but delivered a strong $7,800.
Literary works collectors were drawn to a definitive edition of The Writings of Mark Twain, New York: Gabriel Wells, 1924, an eight-volume set, number 11 of an edition of 1,024. Volume nine featured a fly-leaf signed by Twain (both with his pen name and actual name) in 1906. There was an autograph letter by Twain that was tipped in from Saranac Lake, N.Y., May 13, 1901, discussing an edition of his works with a Mr Bliss. The set, all finely bound in gilt-green morocco by Stikeman & Co., N.Y. was bid to $18,000.
Furniture crossing the block was led by a set of six Walter Lamb lounge chairs at $8,125. Designed circa 1950 and manufactured by Brown Jordan Co., the chairs featured bronze and copper tubing with rope, which, considering their age, was in excellent condition. A George IV mahogany Windsor Castle writing table, circa 1830, also found a buyer; the piece with inset tooled green leather top over three frieze drawers going out at $5,040.
Finally, musical instrument lovers would undoubtedly drool over a circa 1929 Martin 000 acoustic guitar once owned by folk music artist John Allison, formerly of Pound Ridge, N.Y. It was suitably crusty in the way that such vintage instruments are, was signed on the inside with pencil “Bought 1930 – John Allison” and enticed a winning bid of $7,800 against an $800-$1,200 estimate.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.butterscotchauction.com or 914-764-4609.