Skinner Americana Auction Grosses $1.5 Million

Rare escritoire acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

BOSTON, Mass. – September 3, 2013 – Skinner, Inc. today announced exceptional results for its recent American Furniture and Decorative Arts sale held on Sunday, August 11th. The sale grossed $1,534,312.75, including buyer’s premium, with many lots far exceeding pre-sale estimates.

American Furniture

William & Mary Walnut and Walnut Veneer Escritoire or Fall-front Desk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, c. 1705-10, Sold for $270,000

The auction’s top lot, a very rare walnut and walnut veneer escritoire made circa 1705, smashed its pre-sale estimate high of $50,000, bringing $270,000. The elegant fall front desk houses a complex interior of compartments and drawers, many of which can be removed to reveal additional secret drawers and compartments. Its rare form and choice of secondary woods had scholars buzzing about its origin even before the bidding started on the highly scrutinized piece of furniture.

“The William & Mary escritoire is among the rarest furniture that Skinner has handled, and its unusual form compelled interested parties to examine it for many hours during preview. It has since been determined to be unique and probably of Rhode Island origin,” said Stephen Fletcher, American Furniture & Decorative Arts department director. “Skinner is pleased to report that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston acquired the desk, one of several lots in the sale that went to various public collections.”

An early 19th century blue-painted octagonal form baby tender exceeded its pre-sale estimate high of $600 dollars, selling for $22,800 and a paint-decorated tall clock from Winchester, Connecticut, featuring a rare painted eagle decoration on the base sold for $21,600.

Portraiture and Maritime Art

Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (Danish/American, 1850-1921) Portrait of the Screw Steamer CITY OF MACON, Sold for $31,200

Portraiture also saw excellent results at the sale. The auction’s cover lot, a particularly subtle and early work by Ammi Phillips depicting a self-assured young man with painterly shock of ginger hair, confidently addressing the viewer brought $45,000 and a rare and arresting portrait by the highly-collected Chinese artist Spoilum portraying a member of the British East India Company sold for $39,600.

Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen’s portrait of the screw steamer City of Macon more than tripled its pre-sale estimate high of $9,000, bringing $31,200.

Online Auction

On August 5th through August 13th, Skinner hosted its first ever Americana – Online auction. The sale, which featured over 300 lots of American antiques, yielded strong results and Skinner’s Americana department is looking forward to hosting additional online auctions in the future. The auction’s top lot, a set of six early 19th century graduated pewter measures, brought six times its pre-sale estimate high, earning $4,800. Notable furniture lots included an inlaid mahogany crewelwork-upholstered easy chair, which brought $4,500, and a carved tiger maple chest of drawers in the Dunlap style that sold for $4,200. A painted wood and wrought iron well head from Maine circa 1858 sold for $4,500, exceeding its pre-sale estimate high of $600, and a muzzle-loaded percussion whaling shoulder gun brought $3,720.

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts with an international audience of bidders participating in person, by phone, and online through the SkinnerLive! online bidding platform. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter @Skinnerinc.



Stephen Fletcher
Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts

Kate de Bethune
Director of Marketing

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