A pair of marine oil paintings by the noted British artist Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842) sold for a combined $33,925 at a multi-estate sale held Oct. 21 by Gordon S. Converse & Co. The paintings were the top achievers in a two-session sale that featured around 275 lots of fine art, period American furniture, ceramic objects, decorative accessories, vintage clocks and more.
The Buttersworth oils included Glasgow & Cutter Scout, the top earner at $19,550, and Glasgow & Albion, which finished at $14,375. Glasgow refers to the H.M. Frigate Glasgow, a 50-gun warship. The Albion was a 74-gun second ship. Both paintings were executed circa 1826-27 and were housed in later gilt wood frames. Each possessed identical measurements of 19 inches by 23 ¼ inches in the frame.
“It seems to me that the added value to these otherwise attractive paintings by this popular marine artist is that they are a pair, having survived together since the original execution,” said Gordon S. Converse, adding the paintings were both purchased by the same bidder.
The auction was held at the Italian-American Club in Wayne, a suburb of Philadelphia located about a half-hour west of the city. Around 100 bidders combined participated live, by phone and through absentee bids. In addition, approximately 200 people registered to bid online, via LiveAuctioneers.com. Session one was a Discovery Auction, while session two was a Gallery Sale.
“We had a lot of real, genuine antiques in this auction,” Converse said, “so I was pleased with the quality of the merchandise. As for prices, I was a little disappointed in the furniture, but the good items held up well because quality is what people crave. The same was true for fine art. Signed artwork of beauty will bring top dollar, but not so much mediocre pieces. That has been a mantra this past year.”
Converse said ceramics held their own without breaking any records, but damaged pieces didn’t sell well at all. “As soon as they see that nick or chip, the paddles come down,” he commented. “That’s sad, because some of those pieces are highly collectible and would fetch much more in better condition.” He added, “Overall, considering this was only our fourth auction, I’d say we did quite well.”
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Tops in the furniture category was a well-crafted early 19th century mahogany American dresser or vanity with a drawer commode and lyre-form carved supported cheval mirror ($1,840). Also, an 18th century English (or Irish) walnut dish-top Georgian walnut veneer tea table brought $1,380; and a nice Chippendale-style solid mahogany, closed bonnet highboy, 84 inches tall by 40 inches wide, hit $1,150.
Staying with furniture, a high chest of drawers stamped with the maker (Leopold Stickley of New York) and with a Chippendale-style casement realized $748, while a grand gaming table in three tiers, with the top opening to reveal either a felt-covered card table or a roulette surface, rose to $748. Also, a Winchester repeating rifle (“the rifle that won the West”), model 1873, hit a bull’s eye for $920.
An interesting and rare 18th century silk marriage pillow, dated 1722 and with tassels at each corner and the initials of the soon-to-be-betrothed (“EH” and “HJ”), and decorated with tulip flowers and hearts, garnered $1,725. Also, a 20th century Charles Lotton etch-signed art glass vase, 10 inches tall, made $1,035; and a fine white Federal American mantel, 58 inches by 67 ½ inches, brought $1,035.
Returning to fine art, a framed and matted 19th century engraving after Benjamin West’s William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, one of the more fanciful images in Philadelphia history, went for $1,150. Also, a Victorian-era antique oil portrait of a happy cavalier at a tavern merrily drinking wine breezed to $900, which seemed to be a great value, since the elaborate gilt frame was about perfect and the image strong by a listed artist, while portraits of colonial figures Aaron Foster and Hannah Brown Foster sold for $805 and $748, respectively.
An antique oil painting on tin, measuring 7 ½ inches by 5 ½ inches and titled on the frame, Self Portrait Thomas Scully 1783-1872, painted by Scully at age 80 and framed later, demanded $805; a pointillist painting of sailboats at a dock by George W.K. Newbold (Am., 1879-1948) realized $633; and a set of four scenes of Italy, each signed Ellore Gianni and measuring 6 by 9 inches, commanded $633.
In ceramics, a pair of nicely decorated yellow and blue glazed bowls soared to $2,645, and a celadon yellow glazed bowl, 7 inches in diameter and embossed with landscape suggestions, hit $891. Clocks seemed to sell at low levels, but a few also did well. A solid walnut Chippendale Pennsylvania tall case clock, 90 inches tall, chimed on time for $3,795, and a Federal American solid cherry grandfather clock (circa 1800-1830) made $2,300.
Care to have a seat? A walnut Chippendale-style side chair in the manner of 18th century Philadelphia with carved ball and claw feet hammered for $690; a walnut American Chippendale-style carved stool with cabriole legs and ball and claw feet topped out at $690; and a solid mahogany Empire era upholstered arm chair with scroll-shaped armrests and mounted with brass ormolu mounts hit $633.