Saturday, September 21, 2013

Antique Auction Finds

As I just mentioned in my last post, I spent almost all day at an antiques auction. This was one of the few local auctions we've had, and it was held just a few blocks away at the Trinity Church Hall (the nicest Gothic church in town).

The auction was by Theresa E. Taylor, and she's pretty much the only local auctioneer I know of. She does tag sales (a few that I've been to), and auctions, and she's actually very good at it, and isn't too hard to understand (which is good). If you've ever been to an auction, you might have an idea of what I mean by this. Some auctioneers go through items really quickly, and it's sometimes difficult to know what the bidding is at, or who's bidding (or who's turn it is, etc).

The preview started at 8:30am, with the auction starting at 10am. I got there around 9:00 and browsed around. I wasn't sure if we could take any photos, so at first I didn't, but then I noticed a whole bunch of people snapping cell-phone pictures, and I thought "Fuck it".

Unlike a lot of the auctions I've been to, the vast majority of this auction was what I'd consider to be "good stuff". Nice china, porcelain, watches, jewellery, fine furniture, art, primitives, old toys, etc.

Here's a quick sampling of some of the pieces that I found to be quite eye-catching and unusual.

This chair. Man oh man. If I would have had a car to take stuff home easily, or if I had know earlier whether or not someone could give me a ride, this is one of the pieces I would probably have bid on. It needed one of the carved pieces reglued, but it was a gorgeous mahogany chair, with a curly birch veneered back rest. I think it sold for only 40-60$.

They described this one as a "Carved Sisters" chair, and she seemed to think that it could date to the 1700s, but I highly doubt it. It looks purely Victorian to me, and I'd date it to around 1880-90. It's definitely extremely unusual. It needed a complete overhaul though, and as such, it only sold for 60$.

I wasn't a fan of the really pain bump in the centre. It seemed too plain for the detailed carvings on each side.

Two beautiful fan-back chairs similar to the one we redid at the shop a few weeks ago (see here: These, however, had carved French/Italian type front legs. They sold for the insanely cheap price of 20$ and 25$.

Next is one of the most unusual, beautiful, and detailed "square Victorian tables" I've seen. This type of table is fairly common, and they usually feature fancy pressed wood skirts, and spiral carved legs, but this one has very complicated decorations. The bottom has eagle/claw feet, followed by some type of griffon or wolf figures with open mouths pointing upwards. The rest is a mix of fluted/reeded turnings, and barley twists (all involving some hand carving), and a beautiful centre finial. I think it sold for around 120$. If you were to get this new today, you couldn't even have the finial made for this price.

A lot of the auction items went for very cheap prices. A lot of stuff was selling for under 20$. This fine Federal "Games Table", however, was an exception. I had wanted to bid on it, since I knew it was very old (early 1800s), and in very nice shape, but it went way over what I wanted to pay, and sold for 210$.

Another interesting little stool. Barley twist turnings (all hand carved), and a needlepoint top. I think it sold for 40$.

It looked quite solid, and it just needed a few replacement tacks.

I kind of liked this settee. It was mahogany, and the carved pieces on it almost matched the mahogany chair above (first photo). I think it sold for 120$.

Alright, if I had decided to take photos earlier, I would have taken more, but those are the only ones I got. Some stuff sold for pennies on the dollar. Some particularly sad sales were:
- An entire solid oak dining room set (6 chairs, table, sideboard, and buffet) for 100$
- A Victrola (cabinet/record player) with about 30 records sold for 55$
- 3 pocket watches at: 30$ (coin silver case), 40$, and 10$
- A solid oak (early, large) corner cabinet, for 100$
- An early step-back china cupboard, for 100$
- Entire sets of dishes (I think one was a 50 piece set) for 20$
- A brass Anniversary clock for 5$ (I really should have bid on it, but I didn't really want it).

A lot of stuff was going for yard sale prices. I was surprised. I really didn't think I'd walk away with anything, but I bought several pieces. The auction had close to 700 lots, and it finished around 5:30.

Here's what I took home.

The first lot that I snatched up was lot 193, a set of 4 early lithograph engravings/prints in matched frames (in perfect shape). I had thought I was only up to 60$, but I was actually at 65$, and I won them, so that was alright.

"Niagara" Engraving, dated 1873, custom framed in Cornwall in 1981.

"The Whirlpool Rapid" Engraving (no date), custom framed in Cornwall in 1981.

"The banks of the River Niagara" (below the falls) dated 1841, custom framed in Cornwall in 1981.

And "Bay of Quinte" Engraving (no date), custom framed in Cornwall in 1981.

After this, I stayed until after lunch, until around lot 315 or so (when they took a break), and I went home. I wanted to drop off the 4 prints, and get some additional bags in case I bought several paintings. I went back to the auction around 3:00 (having skipped over a lot of the boring items like the costume jewellery), and I arrived around lots 475 (ish).

The next lots I was interested in were some of the paintings. Particularly some of the ones I had written down on my card; lots 529, 530, 532, 533, 537, 540, 541, 545, and 548. These were the "more finely executed ones" from the bunch. I had previously missed another lot of paintings that were sold before 3:00, but I wasn't interested in any of those but at the same time I had no idea what they sold for, to compare.

When we got to the paintings, the auctioneer said "For the paintings, if we can't get 10$, we'll pass to the next one". This got me quite excited. There were still a lot of people, and I didn't know who might want to bid on them.

The first lot 529 got called, and it was a pencil drawing, which threw me right off, since it was supposed to be an oil painting. That one got a pass, and then I somehow also missed 530, which also got passed. I believe 532 got sold to someone else, then I got lot 533 for 10$.

533: Oil on Canvas Board ("Hi-Art Canvas Board" logo visible on the reverse dates to the 1950s or 60s) - Signed I McFarlane. I wasn't too crazy for the frame that it's in, but it actually looks good against my painted walls. Can't complain for 10$.

The paintings were being shown a bit off to my far right (20 feet away), and I couldn't see them that well, so at this point I didn't want to miss another one, and I was only listening to the numbers being called. There were a lot of paintings, and they were going through them quickly, since interest in them was low. I heard them call 537, and I got that one for 10$ as well.

537: Oil on Canvas Board - Signed Hillier (likely also from the 1950s or 60s). Unfortunately, the frame got quite a bit scuffed-up since the paintings were all crammed carelessly in a cardboard box, and people just flipped through them several times before the auction. I can probably touch it up, since the frame on this one is not bad.

540 and 541 I either passed on them, or someone else bought them before I could.

The next one I got is my favourite buy out of the whole lot, and I bid against another buyer to get it. In the end, it was still a very good buy at only 25$.

545: Beautifully framed original oil painting (on hardboard panel), signed A.M.Bray. The colours in the photo don't do it justice. It has more of a deep blue and brown tone to it, and the frame is just gorgeous. The frame looks fairly flat, but is actually quite deep.

And that's it. In the end, with the buyer's premium, and sales tax added, I spent something around 130$, which adds up to about 20$ per piece.

Before leaving, I asked about some of the paintings that had been "passed" and apparently you can just go to the back room and take them for the low bid (in this case, 10$). The one that I really wanted (and missed) was lot 530, and someone must have went and grabbed it before I could, because it was nowhere to be found. It was some sort of oil or pastel, and it had a bit of a "Group of Seven" vibe to it. Oh well. I'll know next time.

I went through the auction listing online, and I think it must have been this piece:

It doesn't look great in the photo, but it looked really good IRL. According to the listing, it was a pastel from 1947.

I also hesitated on this piece, and missed out on it at 10$ or 15$. It's an original oil painting from 1932, and it looks like it had a really nice frame, too.

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