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Highlights from the Sara and Bob Hunt Collection of Early English Oak

The Sara and Bob Hunt Collection of Early English Oak

The Sara and Bob Hunt Collection of Early English Oak

The Sara and Bob Hunt Collection of Early English Oak is an exemplary collection which brings together the best elements of English craftsmanship of the 17th-18th century (and earlier), and will be featured as part of the European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction on July 18th, 2015. Highlights from the sale to be auctioned include the following oak pieces and Bellarmine, which reveal many stories about how they were used, and how they could fit into your home today.

Withdrawing Table (Lot 12, Estimate $10,000-20,000)

Trees that were used to create oak furniture during its height of popularity in the Elizabethan period were often 150-200 years old.  Most trees this age would be about 100 feet tall, and single planks were often used to construct cabinets and tables, and are most desirable for the collector when such craftsmanship is used.  In England it was not unusual to find oak also applied to the walls of the home, as a weatherproofing mechanism, eventually called clapboard or wainscot (“wainscot” is found in Chatsworth’s records as early as c. 1600). Oak was used in everything from construction of houses, furniture, to ships – it provided heartiness, strength, and longevity under the harshest conditions.

The Elizabethan table in the 16th-17th century was used as a multi-functional object.  It was a dining table, a meeting table, the type of table that would be found in the country/manor house world, when English country houses were used for seats for political power, and often were villages unto themselves.  Some of the finest Tudor furniture can be found in England at Hardwick Hall, Knole, Parham House, and others, filled with furniture crafted of solid oak, like the grand example in Skinner’s July 18th sale, with its playfully pompous and hearty bulbous cup and cover posts at the ends of the table supporting the table’s long board surface.  In the Elizabethan era, furniture seldom held just one specific location in a household, but was moved from place to place, or against the wall, depending on how a room was to be used.  So, a removable top for a large table like this one would be out of sheer necessity so the table could in fact be moved, though larger tables no doubt were moved less often than smaller pieces of furniture.

Today, this table could be used in a large great room, would look striking with tall, clean-lined chairs of wood or leather, and the heavily carved posts are elegant and substantial all at once.  Or for those with more traditional tastes, the table can transition from many different time periods to blend with many flavors of furniture and interior schemes.  Note on the Lot 12 withdrawing table the large iron ring at the corner– perhaps used to keep man’s best friend nearby.

Two-door Oak Livery Cupboard (Lot 585, Estimate $1,200-$1,800)

Two-door Oak Livery Cupboard (Lot 585, Estimate $1,200-$1,800)

Livery Cupboards (Lot 585, Estimate $1,200-1,800)

Livery cupboards were used in English households for food, drink, and candles, a practice which originated as early as the 15th century, when supplies were often put in the upper reaches of the cupboard as an allowance for a guest in the middle of the night.  Many examples of these cupboards were made with turned stiles in the upper portion of the cabinet, as also appears in the livery cupboard in the July 18th sale. Spindles on the upper regions of the cupboard were often made to allow air circulation, while the location of the storage of food and supplies would keep it off the floor away from small furry scampering “guests”.  As early as 1483 mentions of livery cupboards can be found, and though the practice of distributing supplies to bedchambers of each member of a household, including guests and servants with overnight supplies somewhat dwindled by the 17th century, the term was still often used into the later period.  In a long Winter’s night, with no electricity, it had been necessary to outfit the cupboard with loaves of bread, wine, and “one percher wax, one candle wax” (written in 1483 in The Black Book) (p. 335, Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition).

Today, a livery cupboard could be designed to fit in a foyer, a dining room, a kitchen, a bath, a bedroom, to hold any number of supplies or books that one needs to keep handy.  Our modern sensibility will enjoy the simple lines of the livery cupboard, its geometric carved lozenge base, the strikingly cool and almost Mediterranean/Minoan-styled lunette frieze at the top, and deep, rich wood.  And it’s sturdy oak wood and storied past make it a great purchase to talk about and enjoy for another few centuries.

Three Bellarmine Jugs (Lot 102, $1,000-$1,500)

Three Bellarmine Jugs (Lot 102, $1,000-$1,500)

Bellarmine Jugs (Lot 102, Estimate $1,000-1,500)

Items featured in the Sara and Bob Hunt Collection of Early English Oak that are not oak but were important to the early home are three Bellarmine jugs from the 17th century.  The Bellarmine (or Bartmann) jug has been long researched by collectors fascinated with the unique male faces/relief masks that are inscribed into the necks of the jugs, and often have varied motifs inscribed into the bulbous bodies.  The myth of the Wild Man, states David Gaimster in German Stoneware 1200-1900 was part of Northern European folklore predominantly in the 14th-16th centuries, often appearing in textiles, metalwork, glass, and other elements now known as decorative arts/material culture. “Wild Men” lived in the forested mountains of Germany or in Tyrol, and appears in stoneware as early as the 15th century. These jugs have characteristic “Wild Man” faces, coat-of-arms, rosette medallions, and other recurring motifs such as the ones represented in Lot 102. By 1700, these armorial devices almost all but disappeared in favor of other relief ornamentation.  Underwater archaeological expeditions of Dutch East India ships have recovered remains of them for further study, as well as archaeological sites ranging from Maine to Virginia in the United States. In Skerry and Hood’s Salt-Glazed Stoneware in Early America they describe The Wild Man as being phased out gradually as jugs in the 18th century were made with and without faces, as a newer demand for English brown stoneware took over with England’s newer dominance in the market and the decline of Netherlandish naval control.

Collectors at Skinner enjoy the stories that the “Wild Man” Bellarmine can tell, of days of oak, of manor house and country estates, the world market on creaking oak ships, and the longevity and timelessness of good design and craftsmanship.

Dining Elegance: A Magnificent Surtout de Table Service Offered on July 18th

Regency Ormolu Nine-light Figural Centerpiece, London, early 19th century (Lot 359, Estimate $8,000-$12,000)

Regency Ormolu Nine-light Figural Centerpiece, London, early 19th century (Lot 359, Estimate $8,000-$12,000)

At the turn of the 19th century, the art of table decoration transformed as dining patterns changed. The once popular dining à la française in which all of the courses were laid out for the guests at the start of the meal began fading out of popularity as a new fashion of eating was ushered in: dining à la russe. Similar to modern restaurant service, food was prepared in the kitchen and brought out to the guests in courses, leaving room on the table for decoration.… Read More

So You Know…

Twirl, 1997, Pine bark. Courtesy of the Artist. Image by Will Howcroft.

Terry Albright ’82, Spring, 1995, bittersweet bark, 95″ x 43″ x 32″. Courtesy of the artist. Image by Will Howcroft.

A special exhibition celebrating artist Terry Albright

Skinner is proud to host an exhibition of works by Massachusetts artist Terry Albright in our Boston Gallery, from July 30th through August 14th.

So You Know… showcases select sculptures from the past thirty-five years of Terry Albright’s career.… Read More

Country Americana at Skinner in July

Gilt Copper Setter Weathervane (Lot 45, Estimate $2,000-$3,000)

Gilt Copper Setter Weathervane (Lot 45, Estimate $2,000-$3,000)

MARLBOROUGH, MA – July 9, 2015 – Skinner is hosting a live Country Americana auction in its Marlborough, MA Gallery on Thursday, July 16th at 10 A.M. The auction may be viewed in person at the Marlborough Gallery on July 14th and 15th or online at any time.

The July Country Americana auction comprises nearly 700 lots of Chippendale, Federal, country, and British furniture, together with broad offerings of folk art, weathervanes, textiles, ceramics, and glass.… Read More

Collecting Trends in British Delftware and Dutch Delft

Dutch Delftware Blue and White Five-piece Garniture (Lot 897, Estimate $800-$1,200)

Dutch Delftware Blue and White Five-piece Garniture (Lot 897, Estimate $800-$1,200)

In the 17th and 18th century the manufacturing of tin glazed earthenware in Holland and the British Isles (including Scotland and Ireland) referred to as delft or delftware, was all the rage.

Chinese porcelains strongly influenced much of their designs, first in blue and white and then in the beautiful soft polychrome enamels. Certainly the influx of these porcelains to Holland via the Dutch East India Company helped inspire the beautiful designs and motifs, particularly on the large elegant chargers.… Read More

Collecting Jeweled Coalport Porcelain

Jeweled Coalport Porcelain Box and Cover, England, late 19th century (Lot 948, Estimate $800-$1,200)

Jeweled Coalport Porcelain Three-handled Loving Cup, England, late 19th century (Lot 970, Estimate $800-$1,200)

Established in 1795 in Shropshire, England, Coalport porcelain has a long and storied history of quality craftsmanship dating to the late 18th century. The manufactory produced both ornamental and table wares, beautifully decorated, in a very high standard to meet the demand of discerning patrons.

Late in the 19th century the Coalport manufacturers added yet another specialization to their repertoire of hand decorated porcelains.… Read More

Skinner to Present Exceptional Offering of European Furniture & Decorative Arts in July

Jeweled Coalport Porcelain Perfume Bottle and Cover (Lot 943, Estimate $1,500-$2,500)

Regency Ormolu Nine-light Figural Centerpiece, London, early 19th century (Lot 359, Estimate $8,000-$12,000)

Two-day Auction Spotlights Superb Collections of Early English Oak, Wedgwood, Fine Silver, and More

BOSTON, MA – June 26, 2015 Skinner, Inc. announces an outstanding two-day auction of European Furniture & Decorative Arts, taking place July 18th and 19th in Boston. Twelve-hundred lots, distributed evenly over the two days, showcase a wide range of fine furniture, ceramics, bronze works, sculpture, silver, glassware, and more, with many examples hailing from significant private and museum collections.… Read More

Stock up for Summer during Skinner’s Fine Wines Online Auction

Cayuse Bionic Frog Syrah

Cayuse Bionic Frog Syrah

BOSTON, MA – June 19, 2015 Skinner, Inc. is pleased to announce a Fine Wines – Online auction, beginning Wednesday, June 17th and running through June 24th. Find wonderful wines, spirits and ales to re-stock your cellar, supply a weekend getaway or savor at a dinner party with friends this season, among more than 500 selections from around the world to suit any budget, taste or occasion.

Fine Wines

Skinner invites buyers to take a tour through the world’s best wine-growing regions; the auction begins in Champagne, moves steadily through Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone, leaving France for Italy, Germany, Spain and the New World.… Read More

Impressive Range of 20th Century Design at Auction, June 20th

2002 Ferrari Modena 360 Spider Convertible (Lot 1, Estimate $75,000-$85,000)

BOSTON, MA – June 16, 2015 Skinner, Inc. is pleased to announce its June 20th auction of 20th Century Design, featuring over 500 lots of intriguing offerings, many fresh to market.

“Design collectors and enthusiasts will find much to appreciate in this auction, with strong collections of Italian design, Dunbar furniture, Scandinavian design, mid-century American Modern, and early 20th-century pieces on the block.… Read More

Buckets, Pails, and Firkins; What’s the Difference?

Buckets were used to draw water, such as from a well. Five Staved Wooden Containers (Lot 1132, Estimate $400-$600)

Buckets were used to draw water, such as from a well. Five Staved Wooden Containers (Lot 1132, Estimate $400-$600)

Whether painted or undecorated; staved or tinned, with or without lids; utilitarian buckets, pails, and firkins have for over a century, been popular with collectors. Like so many things with the passage of time, the terminology that is used to describe these humble objects has become muddled.  I have always been a firm believer that when describing historical objects, we should describe them today as they were described during their original period of use.… Read More

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