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Sell This at Auction! 3 Strong Performers in the American Art and Antiques Appraisal Market

The American antiques market has recently seen a strong comeback from previous seasons. While collecting trends come and go, some objects always find favor with bidders and consistently hold their value. It’s good to know what’s hot at auction right now; it’s better to know what remains popular year after year. That’s your best bet for selling auction-ready property and netting the highest price possible, no matter what the collecting climate. Here are 3 top audience favorites at Skinner American antique auctions:

#1 Marine Paintings

William Bradford Marine Painting

William Bradford, The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head, 1853. Auctioned for $248,000


Handsome ship portraits and luminous seascapes are crowd pleasers that spur bidding frenzies among American art and antiques collectors.


Works by Antonio Jacobsen, James Butterworth, and William Bradford are especially sought after, often achieving world record prices. These celebrated classics are popular because they work on many levels—they’re historical, highly decorative, and most importantly, fine works of art. Who wouldn’t want a view of the ocean every day?

#2 Painted Antique American Furniture

Paint-decorated Pine Dower Chest

Paint-decorated Pine Dower Chest, Pennsylvania, early 19th century, Auctioned for $10,665


Whether formal, fancy, or country, the bright colors, cheerful decoration and classic profile of painted antique American furniture attracts a wide range of bidders. Lots of bidding translates to strong prices at auction. Don’t overlook painted antique American furniture—it may seem humble, but buyers love it because it mixes well with classic, primitive, and even contemporary decorating styles. Its bright hues—vibrant reds, cheerful yellows, and pleasing blues—never go out of fashion. Painted furniture can be the quiet sleeper of the auction that makes big headlines and nets high prices.

#3 American Folk Art

Portrait of George Morillo Bartol Aged 6 Years 7 Months

Susanna Paine, Portrait of George Morillo Bartol, Aged 6 Years 7 Months. Auctioned for over $38,000.


Like painted furniture, American folk art is equally at home in both traditional and modern settings – that’s what makes it an auction favorite. Game boards, weather vanes, whirligigs, school girl samplers, outsider art, naïve portraits, and early advertising—they’re all folk art and highly sought after. At its best, American folk art is wildly personal, always eclectic, graphically interesting, and sculpturally beautiful. Something this visually impactful should be auctioned off in front of an audience to realize its full value.


For more information on selling your property in Skinner’s upcoming American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction, contact the department at Americana@skinnerinc.com.

7 thoughts on “Sell This at Auction! 3 Strong Performers in the American Art and Antiques Appraisal Market

  1. Pingback: Why Not to Touch Original Surface on Antique American Furniture

  2. I enjoy reading your blog. After watching prices for antiques (esp. tall case clocks) it seems that pricing for the lower mid range and midrange furniture has not fully recovered. Fortunate for my wife and myself since we do collect. Tall case clocks from my perspective are 25-40% less than the same clock 4- to five years ago.

    Comments please.
    As a customer of Skinner we feel you are one of the best. Hope to make trip from west coast to attend a Skinner antique furniture auction when clock or something else comes up we think we cannot live without.


  3. Karen appraised a Paul Sormani table on the Roadshow. I have a the exact type of table with about half again Dore bronze ormolu mounts. Mine doesn’t have a lock with the signature and my question is can you do an appraisial with pic’s over e-mail and what would the cost be for documentation?

  4. The boy portrait looks a little like some of the Joshua Johnson portraits. It may have been touched up to make it looks more English as many of his portraits were, but I could be wrong. Is the book blank?

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