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Purchase Story

Mostly Nautical

Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo | November 26th, 2016

Marion Antique Auctions, Marion, Massachusetts

Marion Antique Auctions moved its November 26, 2016, sale to the Music Hall across from the harbor in downtown Marion, Massachusetts. The setting was slightly crowded but appropriate to the antiques offered, as most had a local or coastal connection.

Once known as Veterans’ Hall, the 125-year-old imposing brick building was given in 1891 to the town by Elizabeth Taber, who also built parks, a library, and Tabor Academy, which she named not for herself but for Mount Tabor and its biblical significance. The VFW hall, where Marion Antique Auctions ran previously, has closed for renovations to transform into a town and senior center.

Frank H. McNamee and C. David Glynn, who run Marion Antique Auctions, have deep roots in southeastern Massachusetts, and they deliver objects relevant to the area. Material from area estates and collections routinely draws a full house. The marine trade was present and accounted for—and busy.

The sale opened with marine and whaling objects from the collection of the late Michael Ippolito of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Ippolito was a historian, scholar, beloved teacher, athlete, and collector whose interest in whaling made for a deep collection. Four walking sticks from the Ippolito estate sold. A 19th-century scrimshaw whalebone and baleen example carved with a closed fist handle sold for $660 (includes buyer’s premium). A 19th-century example, also with a closed fist handle, had a scrimshawed lace cuff and brought $600. A pair of scrimshaw whalebone, baleen, and teakwood knitting needles with carved clenched fists brought $1200 (est. $300/500). A whalebone measuring stick, 29¼" long, and a 14" rolling pin with a turned handle and a mahogany center fetched $1020 together. A lot of two scrimshaw whales’ teeth, signed by 20th-century New Bedford scrimshander Robert Monfils, sold for $1860 (est. $400/600). One tooth depicted a stove boat and the other a stove boat with a portrait of Herman Melville. Both came from the Ippolito estate.

Ippolito also collected whaling tools.  A group of three including a chopper with a whalebone handle, signed “James Carr,” a whalebone seam rubber carved with a sailor’s knot, and a lignum vitae seam rubber brought $720. A 19th-century grommet iron harpoon with attached weaving strands, 13¼" long, brought $1320. A 19th-century cast steel sliver spade, signed “JD,” was determined to have been made by James Durfee of Fall River, Massachusetts, or Joseph Dean of Assonet, Massachusetts, and sold for $570.


Michael Ippolito’s group of 50 whalebone fids and other objects, many with carved fists and turned and geometric designs, is set in a shadow box and sold on the phone for $2880 (est. $500/800). Marion Antique Auction photo.

A lot of 34 New Bedford whale oil bottles, one of which contained Gay Head clay, boxes, and tins, with an advertising card, mostly from William Foster Nye’s 1844 oil company, today known as Nye Synthetic Lubricants, sold for $720. Three walrus tusks carved by Eskimos as cribbage boards, from the Ippolito estate, brought $1200.

A 19th-century carved wood folk art figure of Abraham Lincoln, probably sailor made, was the auctioneer’s favorite object in the sale. It realized $1800.


The carved and painted mid-20th-century American eagle advertising “The Butler Policy” had been retrieved from a building by Michael Ippolito. It brought $1440. Marion Antique Auction photo.

Ippolito had gathered an impressive collection of whaling books and ephemera. The highlight of them was a lot of four rare 19th-century books on whaling, two of which described whaling in the South Seas, that brought $1560 (est. $400/500). A lot of three books included Wrecks around Nantucket: 1664-1915 by Arthur H. Gardner and published in 1915 by the Inquirer and Mirror Press; History of Nantucket by Obed Macy; and a third book of letters from an American farmer published in London in 1782. The lot realized $1080.


The highlight of the Ippolito scrimshaw was a rare 9½" x 5 7/8" sailor-made watch hutch in the form of a house with a porch with a woman in the doorway beneath an upper balcony, where the watch would be placed. It brought $2760. Marion Antique Auction photo.

Two whales’ teeth, one decorated with a scrimshaw scene of an American whaleship and a pod of whales and the other with a whaleship and two whaleboats with crews hunting a whale, sold for $1250 online. A Nantucket friendship basket by José Formoso Reyes with an ebony whale on the lid and a broken hinge was accompanied by the original Reyes brochure of 1960 and was passed. (It had seemed to sell on the day.) The basket had been owned by astronomer Margaret Harwood, the first director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket.

A centennial American tip-top tea table on a tripod base with claw feet and inlaid with an American eagle, two American flags, and portraits of Martha Washington, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette sold online for $1980. An L. & J.G. Stickley quartersawn oak daybed with mortise and tenon construction, slatted sides, original finish, and some wear was signed on the side rail. There was no cushion. It sold for $540 (est. $800/1200). An 18th-century Newport mahogany slipper-foot tea table in the Goddard/Townsend style, estimated at $3000/5000, had some repairs and wear and was passed. A previous estimate from another appraiser had valued it at $28,000.

A 92" tall American mahogany tall clock, circa 1810, with a Scottish dial and works by John N. Smith of Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland brought $2640. The clock was not in working order, but its fretwork was original; its brasses had been stripped for the World War II metal drive and later replaced. Smith was known for producing complicated mechanisms and distinctive dials. A late 18th-century English mahogany bracket clock by Joseph Catherwood of London with brass trim and engraved works had a replaced dial but retained fragments of the original paper dial. The 19" high clock had been working but was not guaranteed to continue to do so. It sold for $1800.

Ferry Crossing, thought to be a view of the Acushnet River, which runs between New Bedford and Fairhaven, was an oil on canvas, 12" x 20", by the Rotterdam artist Albert van Beest (1820-1860), who in his 20s arrived in New York and set up as an instructor. One student was William Bradford of New Bedford, and the two artists later shared space in New Bedford where they collaborated. The painting came from the Hill estate and sold for $9600.

A 20" x 27¼" sunset seascape signed by John Hammerstad (1842-1925) brought $1560 (est. $200/300).


As the Storm Nears, a 34" x 55" oil on canvas by Charles Henry Gifford (1829-1904) in a period carved and gilded frame that is probably original, sold for $22,800. The painting, dated from 1877 or 1878 and estimated at $20,000/30,000, retains a Vose Galleries label and a collection label for R. Judge and D. Hanrahan. It came most recently from the estate of Noel Taber Hill.

A 19th-century alabaster of a nude on a rock with a crab in the surf, 25" high, by Pietro Bazzanti (1842-1881) of Florence, Italy, sold for $2520. A 27½" high bronze figure of a white male slave by New York sculptor Helen Gertrude Sahler (1877-1950), who was also a painter and a writer, sold for $2280.

A Tiffany & Co. sterling footed asparagus tray with an inset sterling liner with a floral and shell decoration sold for $2640 (est. $1500/2000). A late 19th-century silver serving spoon and fork, each  decorated with a figure serving two cherubs and the fork engraved with a lobster, sold for $984 (est. $200/400). A Gorham sterling flatware service for 12 in the Chantilly pattern brought $1680; a Towle service for 12 was $1440. A five-piece sterling, ebony, and Formica coffee and tea service, designed by Donald Colflesh for Gorham, circa 1970, was estimated at $18,000/26,000 and was passed.

A late 19th-cenury pair of 12½" tall Bohemian cranberry and enamel lusters with portrait medallions of children and flowers and fancy cut prisms sold online for $1750. They came from a Block Island antiques dealer.

For more information, see (www.marionantiqueauctions.com) or call (800) 648-7523 or (508) 748-3606.


A 38" x 96" oil on canvas view of Clark’s Point Lighthouse in New Bedford by contemporary New Bedford artist Robert Duff with a dory in the foreground and sailing vessels offshore sold for $2400 (est. $1000/2000). The painting was one of three commissioned by a New Jersey pharmaceutical company for $25,000 each. A New York couple who summered in Marion consigned the painting, and it went to an area collector.


This 19½" x 30" oil on canvas scene of a beached sailing vessel with figures and a horse cart is signed and dated 1888 by Samuel Phillips Jackson (British, 1830-1904), who painted frequently along the coast of Devon and Cornwall. The painting brought $3900 (est. $2000/3000).


This 16½" x 20" oil on canvas scene of sailing vessels off the Isle of Wight by Thomas Buttersworth (British, 1768-1842) retains much of the original label from the London gallery H. & P. de Casseres. From the estate of Noel Taber Hill (1941-2016) of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, airline pilot, antiques dealer, sailor, fisherman, and entrepreneur, it fetched $9000.


This circa 1950 oil on canvas, a 20" x 24" view of the general store at Truro by Provincetown artist Robert N. Berglund (1921-2016), was shown in 1953 at the Cape Cod Art Association show in 1953 where, according to a label on the back of the canvas, it had been priced at $275. Here it realized $1560. Berglund taught fine art at Boston University for some years and spent much of his career as an advertising executive in Boston.


Loch Ness, a 20" x 30" oil on canvas view by British Royal Academy artist Alfred de Bréanski (1852-1928), is unframed but signed by the artist and sold online for $1562.50.


Cape Ann artist Wayne Morrell (1923-2013) was represented by Nor’east Winds off Camden, Maine, a 24" x 36", oil on canvas that brought $2400. The painting bears two labels from Roger King of Newport, Rhode Island, and is inscribed, “This is one of my finest ship paintings I’ve ever painted.”


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

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