December 1, 2023

On day two, a rare Edison electric pen with its original box and sharpening tool took $21,250. Of the 52 known examples listed in the registry, only two are known to have a complete box. Edison’s electric pen is generally accepted to have been the first electric motor driven appliance produced and sold in the United States. It was developed as an offshoot of the inventor’s telegraphy research.

Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Nye & Company Auctioneers

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. – Nye & Company Auctioneers hosted a three-day, online-only sale January 25-27, featuring American furniture, folk art and Native American art. The auction featured nearly 1,000 lots – a mix of fine and decorative arts spanning from the Eighteenth Century to the present day. John Nye, the firm’s owner, said the sell-through rate was about 77 percent with participation of about 300 bidders on four platforms – LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, BidSquare and Nye’s own online bidding platform.

Standout among the lots on offer was a Chippendale carved walnut dressing table from Philadelphia, circa 1765, once owned by the famous collectors, Abraham and Blanche Harpending. It sold for $22,500 to a New England trade buyer.

The sale offered part two of property from the highly regarded Rhode Island collector Stanley Weiss. For more than 30 years, Weiss developed an eye for the early American aesthetic, with an emphasis on the Queen Anne through the Neoclassical periods. His passion and enthusiasm for quality craftsmanship and figured wood were evident in each piece he owned. “When you think about how the traditional furniture was selling, for the pieces that did not have a Weiss provenance, it was tough sledding,” said Nye. “But the Stan Weiss stuff seems to be popular and coveted. People are finding good values.”

Just behind the Philadelphia lowboy in price, at $21,250 and selling on day two, was a rare Edison electric pen with its original box and sharpening tool. It is currently listed in the registry of the 52 known pens. Of the 52, only two are known to have a complete box. “The Edison pen was a surprise,” said Nye. “We’ve sold one before but this one surpassed that result.”

From Northwest Persia, late Nineteenth Century, a Heriz carpet worked in tones of blue, red, tan and green finished at $8,750. It measured 15 feet 2 inches by 11 feet 6 inches and came from the collection of Maggie Cohen, New York City.

Nearly doubling its high estimate and bid to $18,750 was a 24-inch-high Daum Nancy Blackbird frosted glass vase, one of the most valuable Daum Nancy themes. These vases are always immediately recognized even by the casual collector. Whereas the French firm typically made darker earthen-hued pieces, the blackbirds pattern is totally different from the standard color scheme Daum Nancy used. Most blackbird pieces will have white as the dominant color, with light but warm yellow tones closer to the base. Whether seen as blackbirds, crows or ravens, the dark feathered birds perched against the frosted background are always what draws the attention of the observer.

Fine art in the sale was led by a pleasant landscape by Sarah M. Barstow (American, active 1858-1891). Her 1871 oil on canvas bearing a handwritten label reading “Camp on Ausable River, Adirondacks, by S.M. Barstow, 182 Washington St,” reached $16,250, It was signed “S.M. Barstow” and dated “71” lower left, as well as two old inventory/exhibition labels and measured 10½ by 15½ inches. Associated with the Hudson River School and known for her luminous landscapes that exude serenity, Barstow was the daughter of old-time New York City tea merchant Samuel Barstow (1805-1884) and Mary Tyler Blossom (1813-1895), whose lineage traces back to one of the original passengers of the Mayflower.

There was folk art, and a highlight was a whimsical whaling scene by Edward C. “Pa” Hunt (American, 1870-1934). “Whale Hunt,” which sold for $7,500, depicted whales, penguins, seals, a lighthouse, lightning, tall ship and whaling skiffs, probably off the coast of Cape Cod or Nantucket. The painting was of impressive size – 30 by 86½ inches. If the name Hunt in combination with Cape Cod sounds familiar, it is because the painting was bought from the Peter Hunt antiques shop in the 1960s and had remained in the family until this sale. “Pa” was a self-taught artist who started painting in the last four years of his life. His work was exhibited at MoMA and the Provincetown Art Association. He was the father of Peter Hunt (1896-1967), who was known for his whimsical painted furniture.

Furniture highlights included a selection of Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture from a private Connecticut collection. A rare Coles-Tomlinson set of six Queen Anne dining chairs attributed to the celebrated cabinetmaker William Savery of Philadelphia went out at $10,880. Made around 1750, these chairs directly descended through the New Jersey families of Coles and Tomlinson.

A Chippendale carved walnut dressing table from Philadelphia, circa 1765, was a standout lot in the sale. Once owned by the famous collectors, Abraham and Blanche Harpending, it sold for $22,500.

Fetching more than five times their high estimate at $7,500, a set of eight Twentieth Century Jonathan Sainsbury Klismos dining chairs featured woven leather seats, each standing 35 inches high. A Gothic Revival cluster column rosewood table, New York, circa 1850-60, left the gallery at $5,120. With marble top, it was 28¾ by 33½ by 39½ inches.

Among Oriental rugs on offer, a Heriz carpet did the best, finishing at $8,750. From Northwest Persia, late Nineteenth Century, it was worked in tones of blue, red, tan and green, measuring 15 feet 2 inches by 11 feet 6 inches. It was property from the collection of Maggie Cohen, New York City.

Charming his way to $5,440 against a $400/600 estimate was a Twentieth Century Steiff toy bear, 24 inches high, while a pair of Nineteenth Century gilt bronze and cobalt porcelain pitchers from a New York City collection, each approximately 15 inches high, earned an above-estimate $7,500.

Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Nye will be hosting another sale, possibly a three-day event, in early March, which will include some Midcentury Modern material. For additional information, or 973-984-6900.



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