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Purchase Story

Enameled Tiffany Box Erupts at Quinn's

Walter C. Newman | March 25th, 2017

Quinn’s Auction Galleries-Central Virginia, Louisa, Virginia

Photos courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries-Central Virginia

Quinn’s Auction Galleries-Central Virginia held its spring fine and decorative arts auction on March 25 at the firm’s facilities in Louisa, Virginia. The sale was relatively small, with only 359 lots, but it offered a good mix of traditional antiques and contemporary consignments.

The two-day marine chronometer was made by Johann Gottlieb Ulrich, London, 1818-30. The instrument is brass and double gimbaled. The mahogany case is accented with brass fittings and an ivory number plate. The chronometer has a 4" diameter face, and the case is a 6½" cube. The maritime instrument sold to an Internet buyer for $7500 (est. $1500/2500).

It was encouraging to see over 100 lots of furniture cross the block. None of the lots skyrocketed, but even within today’s environment of lowered expectations, furniture did sell. In addition to the items shown in the photo section, other noteworthy furniture lots included a mid- to late 18th-century Chippendale slant-front desk, cherry with white pine, that brought $720 (with buyer’s premium); a late 19th- or early 20th-century 24-drawer Globe-Wernicke oak barrister-style bookcase with a sliding glass base storage compartment that sold for $900; a 19th-century English mahogany slant-front desk with an upper blind-door bookcase that made $1440; and a circa 1825 Virginia walnut drop-leaf table, with a single-board top and leaves, raised on finely turned legs that sold for $510. All of these examples sold at the top of or slightly above their estimates.

This walnut Chippendale lowboy is likely from Connecticut and dates from the 18th century. The piece features a single-board top with a shaped edge over a case with a full-width drawer over three smaller drawers. The bottom rail is shaped and carved with a central shell design. The forward corners of the case are chamfered and fluted. The piece is raised on cabriole legs with shell-carved knees resting on compressed ball-and-claw feet. The brasses are replaced. The lowboy measures 29¼" x 32" x 18", and it sold for $2400 (est. $600/900).

The maker of this pair of 1780-90 Chippendale Virginia mahogany side chairs is unknown, but the catalog notes that it may be possibly be one of two Fredericksburg, Virginia, makers, Thomas Miller or James Allen. The chairs have a simple form, with shaped crest rails, rounded ears, and applied shoes. The back splats are pierced. The straight square-section legs are joined with a box stretcher. The chairs sold in the room for $1320 (est. $300/500).

The high lot of the Quinn’s sale was a small cedar-lined sterling silver cigarette box by Tiffany & Co. The box displayed a beautiful enameled scene of cockatoos among citrus foliage on the lid. Skip Usry, managing director of Quinn’s-Central Virginia, pointed out the box before the sale and stated, “This is really going to do well.” That was an understatement. With six telephone bidders, and an estimate of $700/900, the box opened at $12,000 and moved quickly upward. Ultimately two of the telephones were dueling for the box, which sold for $75,000. The winning bidder was the Tiffany Archives, and the underbidder was a Virginia collector.

The high lot of Quinn’s spring sale was this beautiful sterling silver and enamel cigarette box. The box has a monogram on the front, and the lid is decorated with five cockatoos perched on a limb within a citrus tree or bush. The enamel work is very intricate, and the colors are vivid. The scene is framed with a three-ridge border. The box measures 2½" x 6" x 4" and is clearly marked “Tiffany & Co.” and engraved with the date “November 5th 1915.” The box enjoyed intense bidding, ultimately selling on the phone to the Tiffany Archives for $75,000 (est. $700/900), underbid by a private collector, also on the phone.

One large component of the sale was a run of 50 lots of sculpture. With few exceptions the pieces depicted subjects related to Native Americans, the American West, or equestrian activities. A baker’s dozen of the lots were cast bronze figures by various artists with each example marked “CRR” (Charlie Russell Riders), followed by an identifying numeral. According to the C.M. Russell Museum website (, the Charlie Russell Riders was formed in 1985 as a not-for-profit offshoot of the museum’s National Advisory Board. The organization’s original concept was to expand the scope and knowledge of the museum and increase public involvement beyond its home state. The C.M. Russell Museum is located in Great Falls, Montana, and its mission is to “collect, preserve, research, interpret and educate on the art and life of Charles M. Russell [1864-1926]; the art and lives of his contemporaries; and the art of preceding and ensuing generations that depicts and focuses on the culture, life, and country of Russell’s West.”

This 8½" x 6" x 6" bronze sculpture of a seated bear is one of several wildlife sculptures by Dan Ostermiller (b. 1956) that were offered at the Quinn’s auction. This example is inscribed “C.R.R. 45” (for Charlie Russell Riders). It sold to an Internet buyer for $1250 (est. $400/600).

Competing with the bronzes was an equally large assortment of artwork with Native American and American Western themes. Well-known 20th-century American “cowboy artists” were well represented. Works by Joe Ferrara (1932-2004), Gary Lynn Roberts (b. 1953), William Steve Seltzer (b. 1955), Joe Abbrescia (1936-2005), and Harley Brown (b. 1939) were offered, albeit with mixed results. Most of the Western artwork sold at or below estimates.

For additional information, contact Quinn’s Auction Galleries-Central Virginia at (434) 293-2904 or through Quinn’s website (

In the world of dinnerware, the Amoy pattern falls within the Oriental category of flow blue ironstone. Here is a sample of a partial service in the Amoy pattern by Davenport, probably dating from the third quarter of the 19th century. Over 35 pieces were included. They exhibit some wear and minor chipping from age and use. The flow blue pieces sold to an Internet buyer for $1500 (est. $200/400).

This lithograph is after Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). It is titled Tête de Bouffon, which means “The Jester’s Head.” The 25½" x 19" (sight size) piece, circa 1964, is numbered 53 of an edition of 200. The print displays a “Picasso” signature in two locations. It sold to an Internet buyer for $3125 (est. $1500/2500).

This woodblock print was the final lot of the Quinn’s sale. The title is inscribed in pencil, lower left, Evening in a Hot Spring, and it is signed by the artist, Hiroshi Yoshida (Japanese, 1876-1950). While Hiroshi is noted for his depictions of subjects around the world, this is a traditional Japanese setting. The print measures 10½" x 15½" (sight size), and it sold to an Internet buyer for $1000 (est. $200/400).

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

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