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Purchase Story

American Silver, Porcelain, and Prints

Lita Solis-Cohen | January 20th, 2017

Sotheby’s, New York City

Photos courtesy Sotheby’s

After selling 270 lots of silver from the collection of the late Iris Schwartz in a single-owner sale on the morning of Inauguration Day, January 20, Sotheby’s offered more silver from various owners on Friday afternoon followed by Oriental carpets, Chinese export porcelain, and prints.

Dealers Tim Martin of S.J. Shrubsole, New York City, and Jonathan Trace of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, stayed on for the silver and competed with a handful of collectors in the salesroom and others on the phones and online. Bidding for a client, Trace bought a historical brandywine bowl, a celebratory punch bowl made in the Dutch taste by Gerrit Onkelbag. Trace paid $372,500 with buyer’s premium (est. $300,000/500,000). Trace said he got a bargain because most collectors who want one of these bowls have one. There are 23 known; every rich Dutch New York family wanted one. This brandywine bowl came with a very good story. Made for John Harris and his wife, Jannetje Nissepadt, it came down in their family until it was consigned to Sotheby’s. At the wedding of John and Jannetje Harris’s great-granddaughter Catherine Smith to Elisha Boudinot in 1778, George Washington drank from the bowl, and Alexander Hamilton, who was a groomsman, must have taken a sip of brandywine punch as well.

According to family history, a few years later, Lafayette stopped by to visit the Boudinots, and the bowl was filled with water for the marquis to wash his hands before dinner. The hammer price was just about half the record $5,906,500 (est. $400,000/800,000) paid at Sotheby’s in January 2010 for the largest brandywine bowl made by Cornelius Kierstede, probably for the de Peyster family. That price was the result of a bidding duel between 98-year-old Eric Shrubsole and Bill Samaha. Samaha prevailed, and the bowl went to a Boston client. It is the largest and heaviest known piece of American silver of the period, weighing 66 ounces, 8 dwt. and measuring 17¼" long over the handles. The bowl sold this January weighed only 21 ounces and is 12¼" long over the handles.


This silver brandywine bowl was made by Gerrit Onkelbag, New York, circa 1700. It is marked “B / GO” in a trefoil punch four times (one punch overstrikes another) to the left of one handle below the rim and has a French control mark below the rim and on the foot. It measures 12¼" over its handles and is 21 ounces. It sold for $372,500 (est. $300,000/500,000) to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dealer Jonathan Trace in the salesroom, bidding for a client. There are 23 recorded examples of these six-paneled bowls made in the Dutch tradition. The record is $5,906,500 paid at Sotheby’s in January 2010 for the largest one, which is 17¼" across the handles and was made by Cornelius Kierstede, probably for the de Peyster family. One of only two by Cornelius Vander Burch sold for $317,000 (est. $150,000/250,000) to Tim Martin at Christie’s in January 2014, and the other by Vander Burch sold for $512,000 at Christie’s in January 2001.

It is exciting to have provenance back to the original owners of such an early object. According to Sotheby’s catalog, the original owner, John Harris (1678-1734), was the son of John Harris and Elizabeth Claaszen of Albany, and his wife, Jannetje Nissepadt (1680-1741), was born to Jasper Nissepadt, a baker, and Maghteld de Riemer of New York. The couple appears to have lived in New York, as John’s death is recorded there. Their daughter Catherine Harris (1705-1751) married William Peartree Smith, a grandson of William Peartree (c. 1643-1714), the 28th mayor of New York City from 1703 to 1707. Their son, also William Peartree Smith, a graduate of Yale, was a delegate to the Provincial Congress in 1775, a judge in the Essex County court, a member of the Council of Safety, the fifth mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and one of the founders of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Portraits of him and his wife, Mary Bryant, by American painter John Wollaston are in the Princeton University Art Museum collection.

Moreover, there is a good story associated with this brandywine bowl. The Smiths’ daughter formed a union with another important New Jersey family, marrying Elisha Boudinot, born to a Huguenot family that had fled to England from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They then moved to America, and Elisha became an early supporter of the Revolution. In 1755 he joined other patriots to organize efforts and create the General Committee of Newark, where he served as a clerk. In 1778 he was made the secretary of the Council of Safety and served as commissary of prisoners for New Jersey throughout the war. It was during this time that he became familiar with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. George Washington attended Elisha Boudinot and Catherine Smith’s wedding in 1778, while Alexander Hamilton acted as groomsman. Catherine’s parents gifted this bowl to them at the time of their marriage, and it was at their wedding that the bowl became known as the “Washington bowl” after Washington reportedly drank punch from it. During Lafayette’s campaigns in America between 1780 and 1787, he visited the Boudinots’ home, and he addressed the public from a platform erected on their grounds. Family history recounts: “On that occasion Judge Boudinot’s son, in his enthusiasm, brought a punch bowl and a towel for the Marquis to use in washing his hands before he sat down to dinner, picking up for the purpose the silver punch bowl which had been used by Washington, in earlier days at the house....” (see Frank John Urquhart’s A History of the City of Newark, New Jersey: Embracing Practically Two and a Half Centuries, 1666-1913, Volume II, p. 607).

Another desirable piece of New York silver also sold for its low estimate. A tankard by Koenraet Ten Eyck, Albany, New York, circa 1710, is a vocabulary piece of New York silver decoration. It has cut-card foliate and meander wire base bands, the front is engraved “W / EE” in script, the flat-top cover has a shaped lip, an inset coin, and a corkscrew thumbpiece, and the handle has an applied lion rampant and cherub’s head terminal and is engraved with block initials “E*L.” It sold for its low estimate to Tim Martin, who paid $50,000 (est. $40,000/60,000). Martin also got a tankard by Elias Pelletreau of Southampton, New York, circa 1770, for $20,000 (est. $20,000/30,000). From January 16 through February 10, Shrubsole held a small exhibition of 30 pieces of Pelletreau silver from a private collection in honor of the late Dean Failey to introduce its new shop at 26 East 81st Street. A larger Pelletreau exhibition will be held at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, New York, in 2018. It will be accompanied by a catalog by Deborah Waters, who will expand on Failey’s initial research.

Virginia silver was in demand in the afternoon as it had been in the morning. Two phone bidders battled for a silver tea caddy, sugar basket, and four tablespoons by Asa Blanchard of Dumfries, Virginia, circa 1800. The lot sold for $50,000 (est. $8000/12,000). The engraved initials are for Alexander Henderson, originally from Glasgow, Scotland, who moved to Colchester, Virginia, in 1756 and was a Colonial merchant. He then moved in 1787 to Dumfries, Virginia, where his house still stands. He also had stores in Occoquan and Alexandria, Virginia, making him known as the “father of the chain store” in America. Blanchard is best known as a Kentucky silversmith, but while working in Virginia he made silver for the best families in Prince William and nearby counties.


The circa 1800 silver tea caddy, sugar basket, and four tablespoons made by Asa Blanchard, Dumfries, Virginia, all engraved with a foliate initial “H,” the tea caddy and sugar basket each with a swing handle, the loose cover with an acorn finial, marked four times on the tea and basket bases, once on each handle, and twice on the backs of the spoon handles with “A[pellet]B” in a shaped rectangle, caddy 5 1/8" long, total weight 29 ounces, 10 dwt., sold on the phone for $50,000 (est. $8000/12,000), demonstrating the interest in southern silver.

Nineteenth-century silver fared better than 18th-century silver, and Tiffany was the star. Annamarie Sandecki, Tiffany & Co. archivist, who was standing at the back of the salesroom, bought a 20" high Japanese-style vase made by Tiffany & Co., New York, in 1893. It was shown at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago that year. Sandecki paid $275,000 (est. $8000/12,000). The chased body decoration includes koi, aquatic plants, water lilies, and lily pads. It is marked on the base with numbers and the mark of the 1893 exposition.


This Tiffany & Co. Japanese-style vase, New York, 1893, 20" high, 161 ounces, was shown at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It sold for $275,000 (est. $8000/12,000) to Annamarie Sandecki, Tiffany & Co. archivist, standing at the back of the salesroom. The body is chased with koi and aquatic plants below water lilies and lily pads, the upswept reeded handles are chased with lily pad terminals, the everted shaped rim is chased as the edges of lily pads, and the base is formed as stylized plant roots. It is marked on the base and numbered “11324-3847” and also has a mark for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago.

A 9 1/8" diameter silver-gilt and enamel bowl made by Tiffany circa 1908 sold for $27,500 (est. $3000/5000). It, too, was a bright spot in a sale where just 35 of the 67 lots of silver sold. Bought-in lots were posted with “MAKE A POST SALE OFFER” on Sotheby’s website.


This Tiffany & Co., New York, silver-gilt and enamel bowl, circa 1908, the interior with a border of champlevé enamel butterflies and stylized foliage, the center with monogram “OD,” marked on the base and numbered “17114-7067,” 9 1/8" diameter, 20 ounces, 10 dwt. gross, sold on the phone for $27,500 (est. $3000/5000).

Of the 34 Oriental carpets offered, 17 sold. A Mahal carpet from central Persia, 26'2" x 13'10", sold on the phone for $40,000 (est. $30,000/50,000), underbid online.

There was some competition for a few lots of Chinese export porcelain, but of the 52 lots offered only 34 sold, many  below or on the low side of estimates. An exception was a rare circa 1830 Chinese presentation punch bowl, 16 1/8" diameter, offered with two punch jugs and covers. The bowl is painted en grisaille with a ship under construction, the reverse with an “H E” monogram in gilt flanked by colorful enamel flower sprays, all beneath an iron-red ground and tooled gilt-floral border. The interior is unusually decorated with large iron-red and gold carp; the jugs are each decorated en suite with the monogram and flower sprays. The group sold in the salesroom for $75,000 (est. $20,000/30,000) to Michael Cohen of Cohen & Cohen, London, who was exhibiting at the Winter Antiques Show.


The rare 16 1/8" diameter Chinese export presentation punch bowl and two punch jugs with covers, circa 1830, the bowl painted en grisaille on the front with a ship under construction, the reverse with the gilt monogram “H E” flanked by colorful enamel flower sprays, all beneath an iron-red ground and tooled gilt-floral border, the interior unusually decorated with large iron-red and gold carp, the jugs each decorated en suite with the monogram and flower sprays, sold for $75,000 (est. $20,000/30,000) to Michael Cohen of Cohen & Cohen, London, who was showing at the Winter Antiques Show.

Cohen battled a phone bidder for a circa 1740 Chinese export large famille rose fish bowl, 24¼" diameter. It is painted on the exterior with a phoenix among rockwork and on the interior with carp among weeds, the rim with blue-enamel cloud panels alternating with triangular foliate-edged iron-red scroll panels, and it has applied mask handles with metal rings. It was Cohen’s for $16,250 (est. $4000/6000).

An assembled Chinese export famille rose faux marbre partial dinner service, circa 1750, each piece painted with flowers within an appealing peach-colored marbled border, comprising a ewer with a cover, two basins, a soup tureen and cover, two oval platters in two sizes, a circular deep dish, three circular platters in various sizes, 12 plates, two saucer dishes and a saucer, together with a teapot and cover painted with figures on a diaper ground, 29 pieces in all, sold on the phone for $25,000 (est. $8000/12,000). The same buyer spent $10,000 (est. $1500/2500) for a small pomegranate-form tureen, 6¾" long, also in faux marbre.


This assembled Chinese export famille rose faux marbre partial dinner service, circa 1750, each piece painted with flowers within a peach-colored marbled border, comprises a ewer with a cover, two basins, a soup tureen and cover, two oval platters in different sizes, a circular deep dish, three circular platters in various sizes, 12 plates, two saucer dishes, and a saucer. Together with a teapot and cover painted with figures on a diaper ground, the 29 pieces sold on the phone for $25,000 (est. $8000/12,000). The same buyer spent $10,000 (est. $1500/2500) for a small pomegranate-form tureen, 6¾" long (not shown).


This  pair of Chinese export Tobacco Leaf pattern plates, circa 1785, each painted with a large puce flower and leaves in shades of blue, yellow, and green, 9 1/8" diameter, sold on the phone for $8750 (est. $2000/3000). Tobacco Leaf pattern porcelain is still popular with collectors.

Tobacco Leaf pattern porcelain is still in demand. A pair of Chinese export Tobacco Leaf pattern plates, circa 1785, each painted with a large puce flower with leaves in shades of blue, yellow, and green, 9 1/8" diameter, sold on the phone for $8750 (est. $2000/3000).

Prints did not perform well. Only ten of the 22 lots sold, and seven of the 12 Audubon prints failed to sell. There was no interest in the North American Indian Portfolio after George Catlin that was estimated at $100,000/150,000. A small folio Currier & Ives print, Catching a Trout, sold for $625 (est. $3000/5000), and two other small Currier & Ives prints, Home to Thanksgiving and New England Winter Scene, sold together for $7500 (est. $1500/2000).


This Chinese export large famille rose fish bowl, circa 1740, painted on the exterior with a phoenix among rockwork and on the interior with carp among weeds, the rim with blue-enamel cloud panels alternating with triangular foliate-edged iron-red scroll panels, and with applied mask handles with metal rings, 24¼" diameter, sold in the salesroom for $16,250 (est. $4000/6000) to Michael Cohen of Cohen & Cohen.

Of the 180 lots offered in this part of the sale, only 91 lots sold, which added $1,612,698 to the total of $5,106,376 for the entire various-owners sale. This portion of the sale brought the sold percentage down to 73% sold by lot and 75% by value. The furniture offered on Saturday afternoon from the same catalog was 82% sold by lot and accounted for $3,493,688 of the sale total.

For more information, go to (www.sothebys.com).


Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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