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Purchase Story

Winter Auction Bangs Out Over $3.2 Million

Mark Sisco | February 10th, 2017

James D. Julia, Fairfield, Maine

James Julia took a leave of absence for a few months before the February 9 and 10 auction in Fairfield, Maine, to be with his wife, Sandy, as she was being treated for a potentially devastating illness. As of this writing, the report is that Sandy is well on the way to a full recovery. Then on February 1, his father, Arthur Julia, died. Jim appeared behind the podium at the start of the second day of the auction, looking a bit tired, but as soon as he picked up the gavel, even though it was only for a short while, it was the old Jim Julia, back in action, in charge, and squarely in his element. In-person bidders braved the remnants of the previous day’s massive snowstorm to chase down over $3.2 million worth of sales.

Confederate American history came to the fore with a lot centered on Stephen Mallory (1812-1873), who served as a United States senator from Florida from 1850 until the secession preceding the Civil War. He was later chosen as the secretary of the navy of the Confederacy by Jefferson Davis. At the end of the war, he was charged with treason, imprisoned for over a year, and paroled by President Andrew Johnson. A collective archive of Mallory artifacts included a portrait of Mallory as a young man, a transcribed set of his bound diaries, and a document in full calligraphy signed by Davis and acting Secretary of State William Browne appointing Mallory to his post as secretary of the navy. William Browne served as interim secretary of state for only short periods of time in 1861 and 1862, making it unlikely that many other documents still exist with his signature in that capacity. Also included was a French or Mexican sword, most likely from the Second Battalion of the Cadiz Regiment, circa 1825. It came from the Mallory family but had no known connection to Stephen Mallory. The whole assemblage blew past the $8000/12,000 estimate and settled in at $84,700 (including buyer’s premium).


Sold in one lot were many historical artifacts concerning Stephen Mallory. One item was this oil on canvas portrait of Mallory as a young man, and also included were his transcribed diaries, a Mexican War-era sword, and a calligraphy appointment document signed by Jefferson Davis and William Browne. The lot commanded $84,700.

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This horse and rider weathervane was made by J. Howard & Co. and brought $66,550.

A rare horse and rider weathervane by J. Howard & Co. had a tangential connection to abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass. With an applied copper mane and zinc forebody, it was probably made in the third quarter of the 19th century, well beyond the period of Douglass’s life when he was enslaved at plantations near Emerson Point, which was owned by William Hambleton and was where the vane originally stood. Douglass was then owned by Thomas Auld and his wife. According to the catalog listing, in one of his autobiographies Douglass wrote, “One of my greatest faults, or offenses, was that of letting his horse get away, and go down to the farm belonging to [Thomas Auld’s] father-in-law. The animal had a liking for that farm, with which I fully sympathized. Whenever I let it out, it would go dashing down the road to Mr. Hamilton’s [sic], as if going on a grand frolic. My horse gone, of course I must go after it. The explanation of our mutual attachment to the place is the same; the horse found there good pasturage, and I found there plenty of bread. Mr. Hamilton had his faults, but starving his slaves was not among them. He gave food, in abundance, and that, too, of an excellent quality. In Mr. Hamilton’s cook, Aunt Mary, I found a most generous and considerate friend. She never allowed me to go there without giving me bread enough to make good the deficiencies of a day or two.” The listing further noted that one of Douglass’s early escape attempts involved stealing a dugout canoe from Hambleton’s property. Along with the weathervane came a sketch by marine artist John Moll (1910-1991) of the Emerson Point plantation with the weathervane in situ on the well house. The lot sold within estimate for $66,550.


This bronze sculpture of Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler and strongman Georg Lurich is by Amandus Heinrich Adamson and sold for $13,310. For modesty’s sake it came with a removable bronze fig leaf.

Estonian painter and sculptor Amandus Heinrich Adamson (1855-1929) produced a bronze sculpture of Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler and weightlifter Georg Lurich (1876-1920). It was signed on the base “Champion Lurich / sculpt. et cisel. / A. Adamson / 1903 St. Peterbourg.” Following Lurich’s premature death at age 43, legends of his feats of strength and athleticism took on national folkloric proportions. He was also the inspiration for an Adamson plaster of Paris sculpture known as Kalevipoeg (Kalev’s Son) at the Gates of Hell. Kalev is the subject of an Estonian epic poem. The bronze, believed to be the only example of this sculpture to come to the auction market, closed at $13,310.


This trophy rhino horn with a dedication to Ambrose Lambert, a compatriot of Theodore Roosevelt on his hunting trip to Africa, brought $22,990.

Among the more esoteric historical artifacts was a trophy rhinoceros horn bearing an inscription on the silver ferrule reading in all capital letters “Presented to / Frederick Townsend Martin / by Ambrose J. Lambert / Who Shot the Rhinoceros / Accompanying Colonel Roosevelt / on his Trip to South Africa. / 1907.” Martin and Lambert accompanied Theodore Roosevelt on some of his adventures. Frederick Townsend Martin (1849-1914) was a New York City writer known as an advocate for the poor. He was quite active in that calling, but it’s a curious vocation for a man who in his 1911 book The Passing of the Idle Rich wrote, “It matters not one iota what political party is in power, or what President holds the reins of office.... (W)e are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how; but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing all the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connection, our purchased senators, our hungry congressmen, and our public-speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislation, any political platform, any Presidential campaign, that threatens the integrity of our estate.” I have to wonder how that one would fly in today’s political climate. The 1907 date coincided with Roosevelt’s second presidential term. I was unable to confirm that Roosevelt traveled to Africa in that year. He didn’t leave on his first major safari until after leaving office in 1909, and on that trip he traveled to Kenya, not South Africa. Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and others basically annihilated everything in sight on that safari, killing about 11,400 creatures from bugs to moles to elephants. At Julia’s somebody bagged the horn for $22,990, nearly twice the estimate.

For more information, visit the website (www.jamesdjulia.com) or call (207) 453-7125.


By far the front-running price of the sale at $359,000 was for this 10" x 20" oil on canvas signed lower right “M. J. Heade” for Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), a towering price for a Heade landscape (Florida) of that size and well within the $300,000/500,000 estimate. Included in two catalogues raisonnés by Theodore Stebbins, it bears labels from several prominent galleries and collections.


This 13" x 9¼" (sight size) charcoal drawing of a gentleman in evening attire happily enjoying a hot toddy appears in the Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) museum catalogue raisonné as item number 25083. It was also used in a 1949 advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post for Shenley whiskey. Here it drew $45,980, north of the $20,000/40,000 estimate.


The story behind this “inverted great star” flag was that it had been flown in Washington, D.C., at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral. According to the catalog, it would have been flown with one point of the star facing downward as a symbol of mourning. With a few holes and rust stains, the 4' x 6' banner easily crushed the $4000/6000 estimate and flew proudly for $20,570.


This early 20th-century covered engraved brass ink box with marks indicating Chinese artist and author Yu Shaosong (1883-1949) trashed the $2000/4000 estimate and ended at $36,300. Julia photo.


A pair of globes by John Senex (1678-1740), one terrestrial (below) and one celestial (above), sold well. Senex was one of the premier cartographers of early 18th-century England. Each was mounted on its original baluster-and-ring-turned stand. Until sometime after 1719, Senex depicted California as an island separate from the North American mainland, a delineation shown on the terrestrial globe of this pair. With considerable staining, varnish darkening, and a major “meteorite crater” that obliterated much of the plaster and paper showing the northeastern American coast, the pair still edged over the $30,000/50,000 estimate, finishing at $51,425.


Works by Thomas Hoyne (1924-1989) of Illinois and Massachusetts have sold well at Julia’s in the recent past. Hoyne served aboard a tank landing ship in the Pacific in World War II and used his experience at sea to help create ultra-realistic works of marine art. This time it was a 22" x 28" depiction in oils on masonite of a longboat pulling toward a three-masted whaling ship flying the American flag, and it nearly doubled the high estimate at $54,450. Julia photo.


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

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