From ornately carved furniture by R.J. Horner to fine art, Kennedy’s Auction Service’s June 2 auction of the Carl Smith estate in Memphis’ central garden district, had it all but it was two ladies, each standing less than 2 feet tall, that drew the most attention. In a case of East meets West, the two figures — one from North Carolina, the other from China — brought much presale attention here and performed well.
A rare Moravian pottery flask in the form of a woman in a green dress, holding a bouquet of posies, 6 ⅝ inches tall, crossed the block for $28,600. The circa 1811 piece is thought to have been made in the shop of Rudolph Christ (1750-1833) in Salem, N.C., who was renowned among Salem potters from 1789 to 1821.
The figure descended in the family of a West Tennessee historian and collector and is in original condition. A smaller example of this flask is in the collection of the Old Salem Museum in Winston Salem, N.C.
The flask is in surprising good condition all things considered. The consignor found it laying in the grass at her grandmother’s house in 1990 in Collierville, Tenn., noted auctioneer Mark Kennedy. “They were cleaning out her grandmother’s house and she found it in the backyard,” he said. “She kept it for 25 years before deciding to sell and it survived years of sitting on a shelf in the TV room with games and children playing.” While the flask elicited much bidding online and on the phone, it ended up going to an appreciative local buyer for whom this is his first purchase of Moravian pottery.
The second lady featured in the sale was a late Nineteenth to early Twentieth Century Xu Yunlin Dehua figure of a guanyin in blanc de chine, 23 ⅞ inches tall, which fetched $23,100 from a Chinese buyer. The hooded bodhisattva is standing on a base featuring an animated koi fish emerging from circulating waves. The robe-clad figure is holding a scroll and she is embellished with Buddhist jewelry. It is marked with the seal of Xu Yunlin (aka Xu Youyi) and a Dehua seal mark.
The sale overall was deemed a success and had a total of 1,365 registered bidders. “We were quite pleased with how the auction performed,” Kennedy said. “Phone and Internet bidding was very active but in-house bidding was also strong. This auction was very wide-ranging, which helped drive a lot of interest. Our sales are usually quite diverse with offerings to appeal to many kinds of collectors.”
The top lot of the auction was an R.J. Horner mahogany grandfather clock with J.J. Elliott nine-tube works that attained $90,750 from an in-house buyer. Retaining its original finish, the 118 ½-inch tall clock has a silvered dial signed “Elliott London” and a retailers plaque reading “Muhr’s Sons Philadelphia.” The clock has standing mermaids flanking the glass door and is profusely carved with winged griffins, pierced carved angel crest, flowers, foliage and birds.
The parade of R.J Horner (1854-1922) furniture across the block continued with a 12-piece dining suite, with its pieces auctioned separately that a determined phone bidder acquired to keep the suite together. A figural maiden carved china cabinet, circa 1890, led the grouping at $12,430. The pieces in the suite sold for a combined total of $42,650.
Lighting up the auction was a Tiffany Tulip lamp shade marked Tiffany Studios on the interior lower edge that was put on a circa 1915 lamp base (not Tiffany) that earned $24,860. The family who owned it, Kennedy said, had not realized they had an authentic Tiffany shade.
Fine art offerings ranged from paintings to sculpture highlighted by an oil on canvas attributed to Nicolao Landucci (1801-1868) titled “The Gladiator,” which brought $6,497. The mid-Nineteenth Century painting, measuring 40 by 63 ½ inches, depicts a gladiator’s entrance into the Coliseum in ancient Rome to the cheers and jeers of the crowd while his opponent awaits him with trident and iaculum.
The sale was rich in historical significance and a Robert E. Lee Memorial engraved portrait, circa 1870, did well at $3,960. The 20-by-24-inch portrait contained in an Aesthetic Movement gold frame is inscribed “Sold by Authority of the Lee Memorial Association for the erection of a monument at the tomb of Genl. R. E. Lee at the Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia…”
Another standout in this category was a May 1936 Hindenburg archive that included a telegram, two brochures and three postcards sent to a couple in Memphis sold for $700. The postcards are stamped with German airmail stamps featuring swastikas and airships as well as the Hindenburg postmark. Postcards state that 21 passengers were on board.
Rounding out the auction were a pair of French Louis XV style Nineteenth Century bronze and ormolu ten-light candelabras that sold for $4,802, a pair of giant clam shells weighing 94 pounds each that made $3,503 and a gentleman’s presentation cane with an engraved gold cap, presented in 1906 to a Tennessee rector, going for $960.
All prices reported include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.
Kennedy’s Auction Service is at 4872 Highway 64 East. For more information, http://www.kennedysauction.com or 731-645-5001.
Kennedy's Auction Service
4872 Highway 64 East
About Kennedy's Auction Service
Kennedy's Auction Service brings over 50 years of combined real estate and personal property auction and appraisal experience to work for you! We believe that the auction process should be carried out in a respectful and well planned manner to maximize the value of your assets or those of your loved ones. We offer on-site or gallery auctions with live, absentee, phone and internet bidding. We have been selling real estate at auction, handling estate auctions, buying and selling antiques and conducting appraisals in Selmer, Tennessee, since 1983.