Top Prices in Historic Documents, Fine Art Spring Forth from Eldred's Spring Sale

  • EAST DENNIS, Massachusetts
  • /
  • April 12, 2019

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Portrait of a Mongolian attributed to Russian artist Alexandre Yakovlev sold for $72,000.

East Dennis, Mass. – If you were late to Saturday’s session of Eldred’s two-day Spring Sale on April 5 and 6, you missed a few of the day’s most exciting lots, notably a portrait of a Mongolian man attributed to Russian artist Alexandre Yakovlev, just the ninth lot to cross the block that day, which sparked a flurry of bidding and soared past its $4,000/6,000 estimate to sell for $72,000. The truly diverse sale, held at the firm’s headquarters in East Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, also included historic and political ephemera, Sporting Art and important sculpture.


The auction session kicked off with four Albrecht Durer (Germany, 1471-1528) etchings, all of which also sailed past their combined $9,100/12,800 pre-sale estimate to sell for a $40,040 total. Also coming in the day’s first twelve lots were a bronze of a couple in a winter troika by Evgenii Aleksandrovich Lanceray (France/Russia, 1848-1886), which netted $51,000, and “Accident in a Mine,” an oil on canvas by D.H. Lawrence (United Kingdom, 1885-1930), which sold for $28,800. Lawrence, much better known as a writer, became a painter in his older years. This painting was included in a show of his works at the Warren Gallery in London in 1929, but many of the pieces were deemed extremely controversial and were seized by the police and nearly destroyed. James Joyce and other of Lawrence’s literary contemporaries wrote letters condemning the destruction; Joyce’s letter accompanied this painting.  


“The typed note defending Lawrence’s work, signed by fellow author James Joyce, added another layer of interest to this painting,” said Annie Lajoie, the Eldred’s specialist who catalogued the lot. “We were pleased the Lawrence painting achieved this recognition and realized this price – there are virtually no auction records for his artworks.”


The portrait of the Mongolian attributed to Alexandre Yakovlev (Russian Federation/United States, 1887-1938) was painted circa 1918 and purchased by the consignor from the artist’s family in Paris in 1978. At 61” x 25”, the portrait was nearly life-size. It sold to a phone bidder after fierce competition from other phone, online and floor bidders.


The sale’s other top seller was a freestanding woven enameled copper wire basket by Ruth Asawa (California/ North Carolina, 1926-2013), which more than tripled its pre-sale estimate to sell for $72,000. Dating from the 1940s, this was an early example from the artist, who is internationally recognized for these types of wire sculptures. It was exhibited by Sillman and McNair Associates, New Haven, Conn., in the fall of 1953 and afterward owned by the gallery owners, one of whom attended Black Mountain College with Asawa.


Other standouts from the day included “Fishing Village, Perkins Cove, a 24” x 30” oil on canvas view of Ogunquit, Me., by Charles H. Woodbury (Maine/Massachusetts, 1864-1940), which sold in the room at just under estimate for $24,000, and “Missouri Farm”, an egg tempera by regionalist painter Roger Medearis (California/Missouri, 1920-2001), which far surpassed its conservative $5,000/10,000 pre-sale estimate to settle at $21,600. A brilliantly colored view of Il Molo, Venice, painted by Robert Salmon after he left Boston around 1842, sold within estimate for $13,200, and a scene of a captain delighting over a mermaid on a swing by Ralph E. Cahoon, Jr. (Massachusetts, 1910-1982), sold over estimate for $7,800, continuing the firm’s recent record of very strong prices for Cahoons.


“Almost every area of the painting and fine art market performed very well. I was very impressed with the prices on the prints and on the contemporary art pieces, particularly a Charles Green Shaw abstract that brought over $20,000”. The Shaw (New York, 1892-1974) piece, a blue, red, black, yellow, white and greige composition titled “Magic Moment 1956”, sold for $21,600 on a $2,500/3,500 estimate.    

Eldred also remarked he was extremely pleased by the results on the historic and political documents and ephemera that were sold in the auction’s first session. “This is a relatively new department for us, stemming from the Dan Schofield Collection of Political Memorabilia, a single-owner auction we held in fall 2017, which was remarkably successful. I’m happy to see our entrance into this collecting category has been so well received by consignors and buyers.”     

The pieces in this auction were all fresh on the market, coming from a variety of private collections, and covered an array of material, from early American imprints to Civil War-era maps. Most of the bidders were in the room or on the phone, and they frequently drove sale prices far above their conservative estimates. Highlights include a rare song sheet “Two Favorite Songs Made on the Evacuation of the Town of Boston …”, which sold for $8,400, a 1776 Massachusetts Proclamation of Independence broadside, which brought $19,200, and three 1784-85 journals belonging to Rhode Islander John Francis while conducting business in Haiti, which brought $6,000.

The two top lots were a 1777 pamphlet copy of the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the U.S. Constitution, which netted $36,000, and a collection of maps and pamphlets pertaining to the annexation of Texas, which sold for $26,400. Garnering the most attention prior to the sale was a rare 1862 gameboard with portraits of Presidents and generals published by the National Chess & Checker Board. It sold online for $2,040, a significant jump from its $200/400 estimate.

Rounding out the sale were antique furniture and clocks, silver, Oriental rugs, ethnographic art, marine art and sporting art. Top sellers include an exceedingly rare, nearly life-size circa 1930 carving of a snowy egret by A. Elmer Crowell (East Harwich, Massachusetts, 1862-1952), purchased directly from Crowell by the consignor's father. It sold just shy of estimate for $48,000. Two Oushak rugs sold within estimate for a combined $6,120, a Riley & Whiting tall-case clock with a sponge-painted case brought $2,760, and an oversize silver-plated lighthouse cocktail shaker netted $2,520.


 “It was a wonderfully diverse sale, and it was wonderful to see so much of it was so well received by a wide array of collectors” Eldred said.


Eldred’s next sale is the Spring Asian Art Auction on May 2 and 3, highlighted by “Hong Kong Morning”, an oil painting attributed to Wu Guanzhong, estimated at $6,000/8,000. All lots can be viewed on Eldred’s website, It will be a live auction, with phone and absentee bidding available with pre-registration. Online bidding is also available through An exhibition will be held in the days leading up to the auction, and material can also be viewed on the sale date. Please call 508-385-3116 with any questions or to order a catalog.


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 under the Eldred and Schofield families. 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. 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 

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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