Records Fall At Eldred’s Annual Summer Americana Auction

  • EAST DENNIS, Massachusetts
  • /
  • October 12, 2010

  • Email
Charles H. Gifford - Indians at Gay Head
Ralph Cahoon
Shang Wheeler Canvasback Decoy

For over three decades Eldred's summer Americana auction has been a destination event for collectors, dealers, and antiques enthusiasts. The sale always features a broad array of mostly "fresh to the market" material spanning all areas of Americana from furniture to folk art, and from fine paintings to decoys. Always one of the most anticipated and popular sales of year, this year's event drew unprecedented participation with registered bidders from over forty states and eleven countries.

Highlights where achieved in all areas of the sale, starting with a section of over 100 lots of silver. Sales of note included an unusual Gorham centerpiece and plateau selling for $3,105 and a Dominick & Haff flatware set in the "Louis XVI" pattern for $2,645. Not surprisingly the highest prices of the section were achieved by examples from Tiffany with an early tea and coffee set in the "Ivy Chased" pattern coming in at $7,475, an equestrian trophy for $3,450, and a flatware service soaring past the estimate at $6,325.

The summer Americana sale is never complete without a selection of decoys including works from local carver A.E. Crowell. Located a mere town away from where Crowell maintained his studio, Eldred's always seems to find a fresh group of both decorative and working Crowell decoys for every sale. This year featured a choice group of decorative miniatures which crossed the block for an aggregate price of over $12,000. The top two individual sales in the decoy category were achieved by a wonderful Charles E. "Shang" Wheeler canvasback finishing up after active bidding at $25,300 and a pair of red breasted mergansers by Will Smith of Long Island at $12,650.

This year's furniture offerings provided further evidence that the market is on the rebound, with consistent results and strong interest across the category. Examples included a Rhode Island tall chest and shell carved chair for $6,325 and $4,600 respectively, and a NY sideboard for $5,750. Culled from a local Cape Cod collection, a small but quality section of antique clocks was highlighted by a well-preserved William Cummins tall case clock that hammered down just shy of $20,000. Rounding out the group was a Taber shelf clock at $10,925 and rare Massachusetts wall clock garnering a final bid of $5,750.

While all categories of the auction saw consistent sales, the most spirited and aggressive bidding came from the painting section. Most of the pre-sale "buzz" was centered around the cover lot, Charles H. Gifford's 1876 masterpiece, Indians at Gay Head. A classic example of 19th Century American luminism, the painting also possessed a sterling provenance and was in an excellent state of preservation. Bidders on the phone, internet, and in the room quickly pushed past the conservative pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. In the end, a determined gentleman in the room prevailed over the phone for a final tally of $109,250, easily besting the previous auction record for the artist's work by over $40,000.

Arguably the artists most associated with Cape Cod are the husband and wife folk art painters Ralph and Martha Cahoon. Their whimsical, naive depictions of mermaids and sailor's mischievous adventures have become highly desirable by collectors and staples of Eldred's Americana auctions. This August's sale featured an important large work by Ralph, titled A Shocking Incident at the Boston Public Garden. Originally purchased in the '60s at one of the artist's first one man shows at Vose Galleries, the work  featured mermaids and sailors enjoying an excursion on the city's famed swan boats. Estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 the painting easily surpassed the high estimate, finally selling for an impressive $207,000 shattering the previous auction record of $179,900.

Rounding out painting highlights were a Lillian B. Meeser for $33,000 (auction record), a R.S. Dunning still life for $19,550, a William R. Richards seascape for $66,700, a Ralph Cahoon oil for $36,800, an A.W. Thompson genre scene for $11,250, and a James Brade Sword landscape for $17,500.

Eldred's next Americana auction is slated for November 19th and 20th. In addition to the usual fine American antiques, the sale will be highlighted by an 1876 C.H. Gifford luminous landscape and a private collection of Provincetown paintings including two Charles W. Hawthorne portraits and a Richard E. Miller seascape. Eldred's will also be offering an important collection of papers from Katharine Lee Bates including an original copy of hand scribed sheet music for America the Beautiful. For more information, see

Annie Lajoie

1483 Route 6a
East Dennis, Massachusetts
About Eldred's

Eldred's is New England's oldest established antiques and fine arts auction house. Approximately 25 auctions are held year-round encompassing Americana, Asian Art, Americana and European paintings, European decorative art, Maritime antiques, and collectibles.

  • Email

Related Press Releases