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Purchase Story

Diverse Sale in Chicago

Danielle Arnet | January 25th, 2017

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, Illinois

We’ll say this for the furniture, decorative arts, and silver sales at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: whatever you’re looking for in those categories, it’s bound to end up there sooner or later. For example, the January 24 and 25 sale included a set of 11 American Empire mahogany dining chairs, which sold for $1750 (includes buyer’s premium), massive Aubusson tapestries, Napoleon III furniture, fine French vitrines, a full-size Lyon & Healy harp, which sold for $3000, and you name it. Everything from collections of vesta cases to walrus tusks showed up at this one. So many items were monumental in scale that for one giddy moment, I thought I had become petite.

This 18th-century non-electrified giltwood Italian chandelier with eight lights sold for $16,875 (est. $2000/4000) to a U.K. buyer. The result was “a nice surprise,” said Horn. Hindman photo.

Credit the bounty to an ongoing shift in the business of collecting. As the well-to-do who embraced the “you are what you collect” culture of the 1980s through 2000s grow older, downsizing puts their goods on the auction block. Plus, during that heyday flush buyers often hired decorators, who made it their business to secure carte blanche to shop. And they did so, internationally and unfettered. Major buys for large homes ensued, often in abundance. And that’s exactly what made this sale so promising. With thanks to buyers with the means to make a statement and to grand homes with lots of space and to the decorators who filled them—most of all, we bow to the passage of time for the bounty at this sale.

For what it matters, the list of names credited in the catalog as “property from the collections of ” was more than three times as long as credits for “property from the estates and trusts of.” It seems that the Zeitgeist points to divesting while upright. A handful of consignors, especially one from a large home in a North Shore suburb of Chicago, accounted for the bulk of top lots.

The top lot was an early 20th-century Louis XV-style kingwood three-part vitrine with gilt bronze mounts by François Linke. It sold within estimates at $32,500. Another Linke vitrine minus side cases sold for the high estimate, $20,000.

The top lot was this $32,500 early 20th-century Louis XV-style kingwood vitrine, 91¼" x 53" x 20", by François Linke with gilt bronze mounts. Not shown, a smaller Linke vitrine brought $20,000. One went to a British dealer, the other to a collector in Vancouver. Hindman photo.

“I was pleased that we sold the Linke pieces well,” head of sale and Hindman specialist Corbin Horn told us. “There is a sweet spot where an estimate works. Too high and you discourage or turn off bidders.”

Such may have been the case with a Napoleon III gilt bronze and onyx clock garniture by Raingo Freres, Paris, late 19th century. The ten-light candelabras, almost 31" high, and the clock were the soul of elegance, but estimated at $8000/12,000, the set did not sell.

This pair of 17th-century Japanese Arita porcelain jardinières, each 12" high, soared above the $800/1200 estimate to sell for $12,500. Specialist Corbin Horn cited the appeal of 18th-century gilt mounts. Hindman photo.

From the same large North Shore home that provided many of the sale’s bestsellers, this 40¼" x 50½" x 26½" 17th-/18th-century Italian ebony chest of drawers with inlay and a concave front sold for $10,000 (est. $3000/5000). Hindman photo.

Most sales fell within expected parameters, although peppered with occasional surprises. A Louis XVI gilt-bronze-mounted gueridon, probably Russian, late 18th/early 19th century, estimated at $4000/6000, sold for $15,000 to a French bidder. Originally bought from a Paris dealer for the Chicago North Shore home, “It was as good a French-style table as we’ve ever sold,” said Horn.

The sale’s total was slightly over $1 million, with 47% of total sales, including advance bids, going to Internet bidders. Chairs in the salesroom were almost filled, yet only 20% of winning bids came from in house.

Results on tapestries were underwhelming. “It’s not a language people speak,” said Horn, but “buyers still look for fine, old, and big rugs with mellow colors that blend into a room.” To wit, a 19th-/20th-century Tabriz, 24'4" x 14'4", sold for $15,000. A Bakshaish 19th-/20th-century wool rug, 13'3" x 18'5", brought $9375.

For more information, check the website ( or call (312) 280-1212.

According to specialist Horn, fine silver did well in the sale. This Georg Jensen silver tray, Copenhagen, 1945-77, in the Blossom pattern with a spot-hammered finish sold for $8750 to a California Jensen collector known to the house. Hindman photo.

There’s probably a story behind this painted shadow box model of the schooner Rose Dorothea. Made in Provincetown circa 1915, “she’s going back to the Cape,” specialist Corbin Horn told us. Set in a carved frame measuring 40" x 48½" x 7¾", it sold for $5250 (est. $400/600). The same consignor brought a circa 1800 New England Hepplewhite cherry chest of drawers (not shown) that fetched $1875 and a New England late 18th-century walnut highboy (not shown) that sold for $2250 to a Chicago-area collector. Hindman photo.

Specialist Corbin Horn called this 19th-century lot “crazy cool.” The framed nautical curiosities from an Arctic expedition are in a shadow box inscribed “Taken by Thomas Charles When on his Voyage to the Arctic Region / in the Year 1848.” It was a viewer favorite. The assembly includes teeth, tusks, shells, and assorted artifacts, and it went for $5000 to a New England bidder, who was perhaps buying for someone else. Note the daguerreotype at center, perhaps of Thomas Charles. A small tag at bottom center of the frame reads, “Farmington, MI Nursing Home.” Hindman photo.

Demonstrating the large scale of many items, a tableau in the main showroom features, on the wall, a set of four late 19th-/early 20th-century Louis XVI-style gilt bronze military wall trophies; the tallest is 59". Estimated at $8000/12,000, the set sold for $22,500. According to specialist Corbin Horn, the lot went to a London dealer. One underbidder “decorates for a posh restaurant chain.” The garniture on the carved console table did not sell, but the 64½" wide table brought $8125. The Neoclassical giltwood mirror, 71" high, sold below estimate at $875. Two Louis XV-style walnut fauteuils fetched $813.

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

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