• EAST DENNIS, Massachusetts
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  • June 30, 2021

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Jefferson Armorial Chinese Export Platter

East Dennis, Mass. – Property of a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, the contents of the Brick House at Coolidge Point, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., will be sold at Eldred’s on Thursday, July 15, 2021. The exceptional single-owner sale is highlighted by a yachting scene attributed to James Edward Buttersworth, important 19th Century furniture, and several lots of Thomas Jefferson armorial Chinese export porcelain. The auction will be conducted at the firm’s headquarters on Cape Cod, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

“It is a privilege to offer the contents of the Brick House at Coolidge Point,” said Joshua Eldred, president of Eldred’s. “Many of the items have been in the collection since the 19th century and this auction represents the first time in over a century they have seen the public market. Based on the amount of pre-sale interest we’ve had, I think our buyers are just as excited as we are.”  

The Brick House was a family residence on Coolidge Point, a promontory of land in Manchester-by-the-Sea purchased in 1871 by Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, a great-grandson of founding father Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. The property was also famously home to the Marble Palace, designed by Charles F. McKim of McKim, Mead & White, known for its massive Ionic columns that referenced Jefferson’s Monticello. The Marble Palace was demolished in 1958 and many of the furnishings were moved to the Brick House and are now presented in the auction.

Thomas Jefferson Coolidge was a successful businessman involved in textiles, banking, railroads, electricity and the United Fruit Company, and he served as a U.S. Ambassador to France. Coolidge acquired most of the 25 lots of Jefferson armorial porcelain presented in the sale.

The storied circa 1790 Chinese export “J” dinner service has long been associated with Thomas Jefferson. It is included in Margaret Brown Klapthor’s Official White House China (1984) and has been on display as Jefferson’s service at Monticello, the White House and other U.S. State Department facilities. The lots range from single platters to large sets of plates and bowls, estimated from $200/300 to $6,000/9,000 for a covered soup tureen. All feature a gilt script “J” enclosed within a shield with a blue outline studded with thirteen gilt stars and surmounted by a knight’s helm set on a garlanded arabesque.  

“It is truly unprecedented to have such a large group of Presidential-related china in one sale,” Eldred said. “The fact that it is related to one of the Founding Fathers and one of America’s most notable politicians makes it all the more exciting. I imagine it’ll be quite some time before another large group like this hits the market.”  

The anticipated top seller in the sale is a scene of a yacht off Boston Light under stormy skies, attributed to James Edward Buttersworth (American/English, 1817-1894), estimated at $20,000/30,000. Other painting highlights include “Soleil levant sur les bords de la Durance a Mirabeau, 1865” by Paul Guigou (French, 1834-1871), estimated at $12,000/18,000, a portrait of the ship Adrian by Duncan McFarlane (American/English, 1834-1871), and a scene of cattle viewed through the trees by Edward Mitchell Bannister (American, 1828-1901), a New England tonalist and one of the first American Black painters to win an important national award, when he took first prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Bannister’s work has performed strongly in recent months and this work could outpace its $8,000/12,000 pre-sale estimate.

More than 100 furniture lots are included, notably a Newport Queen Anne bonnet-top highboy, estimated at $15,000/20,000, and rare Boston Chippendale block front dressing table, estimated at $5,000/10,000.

“It’s an interesting selection because you have everything from English, to Pilgrim-era, to 19th Century and later, from superior examples to pieces that could see regular use in your home,” said Bill Bourne, head of Eldred’s Americana department. “Some of the pieces have been with the family since at least the time of the Marble Palace, if not before.”

Several Late 19th/Early 20th rugs are included, including room-size Bakhshaish and Laver-Kirman, both estimated at $3,000/5,000, and small scatter rugs and fragments estimated at $250/500.  The sale also includes almost 50 lots of silver, highlighted by a pair of George II sterling candlesticks, John Cafe, maker, estimated at $1,500/2,500, and a pair of Bigelow, Kennard & Co. / Kennard & Jenks sterling sauce boats, Boston, circa 1870, estimated at $1,200/1,800.

The sale is rounded out by a variety of decorative arts and furnishings, including Steuben stemware, an interesting selection of Chinese and Chinese export porcelains, an extraordinarily long narwhal tusk, bone china, and much more. 

The 326 lots in the auction are reflective of the variety of goods families acquire over generations, Eldred said. “Multiple generations of the family resided at the Brick House and little was sold, creating a time capsule that shows how styles and tastes evolved over the decades. This sale represents a rare and unique opportunity to purchase a piece of history from one of the country’s oldest families.”

An illustrated catalog is available online, at www.eldreds.com, or by mail. The auction will have in-person, absentee and phone bidding available, and online bidding through Eldreds.com.  A preview will be held Wednesday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 5:00, and by appointment. Those interested in setting up a telephone bid or submitting an absentee bid should call 508-385-3116, submit a bid form on the website, or email bids@eldreds.com.

About Eldred’s

The Robert C. Eldred Co. is New England's oldest established antiques and fine arts auction house, now in its third generation of ownership within the Eldred family. In addition to its headquarters on Cape Cod’s historic Old King’s Highway in East Dennis, Mass., the firm also has an office at 5 Roosevelt Avenue in Mystic, Ct. Eldred’s conducts approximately 25 auctions per year encompassing Americana, paintings, Asian art, European decorative art, maritime antiques, sporting art and collectibles. Eldred’s, the nation’s leading marine art auction house, conducts approximately 25 auctions per year encompassing Americana, paintings, Asian art, European decorative art, sporting art and collectibles in addition to marine art. It was recently named one of the top worldwide auction houses by Art + Auction and holds auction records across a wide range of collecting areas.  


For more information please call (508) 385-3116 or email info@eldreds.com. 

Cheryl Stewart
508-385-3116 x128

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.

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