Just back from a print auction organized to benefit Housing Works, an organization that provides housing for AIDs patients. Up for grabs were 60 prints from 19th century America, including dozens by Currier & Ives. Housing Works volunteer and celebrity appraiser Kathleen Guzman kept the bidding lively (the headline was taken as a quote from Guzman) with many lots going well above estimates. The estimated range topped out at $1,500, but some lots exceeded $5,000.
There were basically two groups of prints, those New York-related and those President Washington-related. Those categories aren’t all-inclusive. The top lot was one of my two favorite picks—a Lithograph in color depicting the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad: The Only Four Track Railroad in the World. Of course that railroads founder was the Commodore, and following it was a large and hansome print of the Steamship Cornelius Vanderbilt, which brought $3,500. A later lot, Map of Beekman New York to County Line Connecticut dated 1740 also brought $3,500.
As anticipated, the presidential prints didn’t consistently demand the same premiums as the New York scenes, but still exceeded estimates. America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical Representation of the United States denoting their Independence and Prosperity from 1820 brought $1,000. My favorite pick, George Washington, Portrait Standing Full Legnth in Uniform on the lawn of Mt. Vernon, circa 1870 brought $700.
All lots were donated by an anonymous, kind-hearted soul in Pennsylvania and had a Kennedy Galleries label on verso. A separate selection of prints will be auctioned off through a separate online silent auction on Housing Works Thrift Shops’ auction site Shophousingworks.com. Bidding ends at 7 p.m, Thursday, October 8.