Auction Action Online
WESTMORELAND, N.H. – Less than two years old, Flying Pig Antiques operates a 40-dealer group shop open seven days a week and conducts regularly scheduled online auctions. The firm makes extensive use of social media to promote both the group shop and the auctions. The most recent sale was on January 11 and included a wide assortment of Americana: early painted furniture, stoneware, a collection of Noah’s Arks, blinking eye clocks, coins, toys, lighting and much more. The business is a partnership of Ian McKelvey, Paul and Kris Casucci and Roxanne Reuling. McKelvey and the Casuccis have long partnered and are well known in the antiques world, having shops and participating in numerous shows. Reuling grew up in her family’s auction business, Stanton Auctions of Hampden, Mass. The group shop and auctions build upon each of their strengths.
A few days before the auction, we spent some time previewing the sale, checking out the group shop and discussing business with three of the partners. Reuling said, “The auctions are a lot of work but it’s paid off for us, especially in the current business environment. We have about 400 items in this sale and we have more than 2,500 photos online, showing the items as accurately as possible. If someone wants more photos or more information, we quickly provide whatever they want. We do the same for the 150 or so items we have on Etsy for our group shop dealers – many photos and a good description. We pack and ship in-house, so we’re pretty busy after the auctions, but that really keeps costs down for our clients.”
Having said that the auction included a wide selection of Americana, the top selling item was not part of that selection. A salesman’s sample Louis Vuitton trunk topped the day. It was in the “Malle Fleurs” pattern and was just 11 inches long. Before the sale, McKelvey predicted that the small trunk would probably be the highest priced item in the sale, and he was right. It finished within the estimate at $7,200, going to an internet bidder. A well-used, hard sided Vuitton suitcase earned $960.
Early furniture was a strong category, with numerous items from which to choose. Bringing $4,800 was a circa 1680 Bermuda chest on frame. With heavily turned legs and a scalloped base, it was an unusual form, constructed of heavy, dense mahogany, cedar and satinwood. By the end of the Seventeenth Century, Bermuda had developed a major industry building small sailing vessels for service in the Caribbean, and most of this carpentry work was done by slave labor. It’s not inconceivable that the woodworking skills developed by slaves carried over into other woodworking trades, such as furniture making. Bidders liked a late Seventeenth Century New England turned ash and maple armchair with large, turned finials that had once been in the Catherine Prentis Murphy collection, much of which was dispersed by Skinner in 1983. The chair, which sold for $2,400, had an old but not original surface, and the legs had been ended out.
Murphy was an influential collector in the earlier years of the Twentieth Century, counting among her friends Henry Francis du Pont, Ima Hogg, Electra Havermeyer Webb, Joseph Downs, Israel Sack and many others. Much of the material Skinner sold in 1983 had been on loan to the New Hampshire Historical Society as well as the New-York Historical Society. She was a passionate, if somewhat controversial, collector of early New England furniture and used her collections to furnish “period” rooms in numerous institutions.
The partners in Flying Pig are known for offering furniture and accessories in old paint, and there were several examples in this sale. An especially nice one-drawer blue pipe box earned $600, while a green-over-old-blue tavern table with one drawer reached $570. Although conservatively cataloged as not being the original surface, a simple, blue Nineteenth Century Sheraton four-drawer chest sold for $2,040, and a gray Nineteenth Century one-door, counter-height cupboard brought $1,440.
In keeping with the Americana theme were some items that surprised all. The sale included three early, shaved brooms from a Connecticut collection, One, more than 50 inches tall, sold for $1,680 against a high estimate of $600, and a smaller, 21-inch example, less sought-after, finished at $390. A miniature one, just 9 inches long, finished at $450. After the sale Casucci said, “We had a couple of brooms in our last sale and they did well. I was certainly a little surprised at how well this group did, but people really like the shaved brooms.” A double-arm, tabletop, adjustable candleholder, 16 inches tall, brought $1,680, also exceeding the high estimate. A decorated miniature pair of painted tole candle sconces, only 6Ã½ inches tall, realized $720, also well over the estimate, and an inked face, outstanding homemade cloth doll, dressed as a soldier or militia man, with sword and epaulettes, brought $1,560.
There were a number of early copper weathervanes. Most popular was a 48-inch spread-winged eagle, which sold for $3,600. It was perched on a gilt copper ball and had a zinc head. A running horse vane, just under 30 inches, earned $1,680, and another about the same size reached $1,400. An unusual example would have made a good mascot for the shop – a copper miniature pig, only 9 inches long on a tall stand, sold for $960. One couldn’t help but think of a flying pig.
Many folk art collections include a Noah’s Ark. This sale, however, included a collection of them, all with animals. A 14-inch example brought $570; a slightly smaller one with fewer animals brought $450, and a smaller one brought $330. There were more. Folk art offerings included a Pennsylvania fractur dated 1776. With flowering vines, it recorded the family history of Daniel Sieberling, and it sold for $1,200. A very folky oil on canvas with a pair of oxen dwarfing farm buildings reached $480. It was appropriately titled “Oxen” and signed E. Caset.
A few days after the sale, Roxanne Reuling commented, “We’re really developing a niche for ourselves and people are noticing. We had more than 1,000 prospective bidders register for this sale. That was an increase of more than 400 from our last sale. We all were impressed with that increase. The folk art did well. We had a lot of interest in the weathervanes. A couple of our customers commented that the small pig may have been a salesman’s sample. I don’t know, maybe it was, but the group did well. So did the collection of Noah’s Arks. We were conservative in our descriptions of painted surfaces. If we weren’t 100 percent sure that a surface was original, we cataloged the item as having possibly a later surface and let buyers make up their own minds. The small blue four-drawer obviously looked original to most people and the final price reflected that. We have a busy schedule ahead with a single-owner clock collection scheduled for late February or early March and another Americana sale right after that. We’re all pleased with the way the business is developing.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.flyingpigantiquesnh.com or 603-543-7490.
Nicholson’s Hardware Store used a Brownie to illustrate its sign. It was one of several signs in the sale and sold for $840, way over the estimate.
It wasn’t quite the highest priced sampler in the sale, but it finished at $1,140. It was believed to date to about 1728-29 and depicted a pastoral scene, including sheep and a well-dressed man and woman above a verse. It was just over 17 inches tall.
Early lighting included a double-arm, tabletop, adjustable candleholder, 16 inches tall, which brought $1,680.
For vintage airplane enthusiasts, an early sign from Connecticut seemed like a good buy as it reached just $150.
The Nineteenth Century document box was described as having later paint. Perhaps, but it was very well done and sold for $420, above the high estimate.
Circa 1820, two “boxes” of intaglio carvings reached $540.
Early proof sets dating from 1953 to 1967, although not a complete run, helped push this coin lot to $2,280. The lot also included several Kennedy half dollars, Franklin half dollars and other coins.
The only word that describes this doll is “exceptional.” Facial features were done in ink, and the doll was dressed as a soldier or militiaman. He had a sword and his uniform had epaulettes. Although estimated at a high of $400, the doll reached $1,560.
Each of the collection of Noah’s Arks included some animals. The 14-inch example shown here earned $570. A slightly smaller one, with fewer animals went out for $450.
Appropriately titled “Oxen,” this oil on canvas was signed E. Caset and seemed reasonable at $480. The farm buildings in the background are dwarfed by the oxen.
The sale included more than a dozen pieces of stoneware. Probably from the mid-Hudson Valley, this ovoid crock with incised cobalt decoration sold for $840. It was 13½ inches tall.
Of the three running horse weathervanes, one sold for $1,680. The copper molds, sold as a lot of nine, brought $540.
Blue Staffordshire was sold in small lots and was displayed for easy examination during the preview.
A portion of the collection of Noah’s Arks shown during the preview, as well as some of the ships-in-bottles.
The 40-dealer group shop, not surprisingly, leans towards country Americana. The group shop and the auction previews are in the same building.
Flying Pig Antiques and Flying Pig Auctions is a partnership of four experienced hands. Paul and Kris Casucci are on the left and Roxanne Reuling stands next to Ian McKelvey.
It was once part of the Catherine Prentis Murphy collection. The late Seventeenth Century New England ash and maple armchair sold for $2,400, perhaps held back by the ended-out legs.
The circa 1680 chest-on-frame topped the selection of early furniture. Constructed of mahogany, cypress and satinwood with an old finish, it realized $4,800.
Perhaps the 9-inch copper pig weathervane had been a salesman’s sample. The unusual size helped it sell well over the estimate, finishing at $960.
One of the pleasant surprises of the sale was the price achieved by this mounted collection of Indian arrowheads. It would have been difficult to count them, but the collection on a 36-inch-square mounting earned $2,280, more than five times the estimate.
The $3,600 realized by this copper eagle weathervane was the top price of the category. It had a zinc head and a 48-inch wing spread.
The sale included more than a dozen pieces of stoneware. Probably from the mid-Hudson Valley, the ovoid crock seen near center with incised cobalt decoration sold for $840. It was 13½ inches tall.
The painted furniture and accessories in the sale were, for the most part, cataloged as possibly having later surfaces, leaving it to the buyer to decide if the surface was original or not. This blue one-drawer pipebox finished at $600, three times the estimate, and was one of the pieces that buyers apparently decided had an original surface.
Shaved brooms did well at the previous Flying Pig auction, and there were three in this sale. The largest, more than 50 inches tall, far surpassed the estimate, finishing at $1,680. The 21-inch example finished at $390, while a miniature one, just 9 inches long, was bid to $450.
Although much of the sale was devoted to folk art and country accessories and furniture, this Louis Vuitton trunk was the highest priced item in the sale. It was a salesman’s sample, only 11 inches long and in good condition. It finished at $7,200.