Two Federal Dressing Chests made by John and Thomas Seymour of Boston, an Extraordinary Pictoral Needlework, and Three Important Collections Highlight Skinner's Americana Auction

BOSTON, Mass – October 19, 2012 – Skinner, Inc. will host an auction of American Furniture and Decorative Arts on Sunday, October 28th at its Boston gallery. The Patriotic Americana Collection of Marilyn and Michael Gould will be offered, along with selected items from the Collection of Robert Skinner, a fine assortment of Federal furniture from a prominent New York collector, and two impressive Seymour dressing chests.

Selections from the Collection of Robert Skinner

 The auction begins with more than 100 lots from the collection of Nancy Skinner, co-owner of Skinner, Inc., and her late husband Robert Skinner. The Skinners’ private collection was built over 60 years and demonstrates Bob Skinner’s impeccable taste in country furniture with old paint and surface, early American wrought iron, folk art, wooden ware, painted tin, silhouettes, and children’s objects.

Among the highlights of this grouping are a charming candle sconce with a petal-and geometric-embossed tin reflective pan (lot 52, estimated between $300 and $500), a make-do red-painted pine-framed mirror (lot 16, $400 to $600), and a well-formed inlaid cherry candlestand, which features traditional quarterfans on the top, geometric patterns on the turned post, and whimsical hearts on the knees (lot 21, $1,500 to $2,500). This endearing selection offers a glimpse into Bob Skinner’s prodigious understanding and love of Americana.

The Patriotic Americana Collection of Marilyn and Michael Gould

Over 200 lots are dedicated to the Patriotic Americana Collection of Marilyn and Michael Gould. This large, single-owner collection is focused on items associated with American politics, and decorated with patriotic symbols such as the American flag, shields and eagles. Within this specific focus, the Gould collection offers items of great diversity, including a flag-painted turned maple juggling pin (lot 632, $600 to $800), a pair of hand knit Civil War-era wool socks with flag motifs (lot 569, $800 to $1,200), and cast-iron eagles ranging in form from small doorstops to large architectural ornaments. The cover lot, a sheet-metal union shield (lot 542, $3,000 to $5,000) captures the essence of this collection: it is painted with the stars and stripes and is surmounted with a copper eagle figure.

American Furniture

 An impressive selection of Federal furniture from a New York collector will be offered alongside high-style Queen Anne and Chippendale pieces crafted by both urban and rural cabinetmakers. Highlights include a Chippendale carved mahogany scroll-top chest-on-chest from Boston (lot 293, $8,000 to $12,000), and a satinwood-inlaid mahogany Federal card table from Baltimore, Maryland (lot 338, $4,000 to $6,000). Exquisite examples of inlaid American furniture include a Federal mahogany tambour desk (lot 317, $6,000 to $8,000), and a Federal mahogany inlaid and parcel-gilt eglomise mirror (lot 329, $8,000 to $12,000). Taken together, these examples demonstrate the range of variation found from the early eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century.

Two rare and extraordinary Seymour Federal dressing chests will be featured in the sale. English immigrants John Seymour and his son Thomas were innovative cabinetmakers who introduced new styles and forms to Boston with their arrival. A brilliantly inlaid Federal carved mahogany and bird’s-eye maple veneer mirrored dressing chest circa 1805-10 (lot 169, $150,000 to $200,000), believed to be one of two known extant, is stunningly elegant and outstanding in its pure expression of American form.

 Another impressive example of the form made later in the Federal period is a carved mahogany and bird’s-eye maple veneer dressing chest with gilt and glazed leafage by John Penniman executed in collaboration with the Seymour shop, circa 1809-14, (lot 182, $100,000 to $150,000). The two chests, each a masterpiece in its own right, show how tastes and styles shifted in a relatively short period of time between 1805 and 1814. These examples are among only a few dozen such Seymour chests extant.

A carved oak armchair (lot 165, $10,000 to $15,000) made by Bembe & Kimbel for Thomas Ustick Walter, New York, circa 1857 comes with an interesting history. This chair was part of a group designed to furnish the newly constructed chamber of the House of Representatives. In a wave of construction and renovation that included the addition of the current, iconic dome, Walter designed expansions that house the chambers still used by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Following in the tradition of a long line of architects for whom furniture design was an extension of architectural execution, Walter designed these pieces to be used by members of the House of Representatives.

American Paintings & Needlework

A folk art watercolor masterpiece by John Orne Johnson “J.O.J.” Frost (lot 218, $75,000 to $125,000) depicts a pre-Revolutionary War event known as “Leslie’s Retreat,” which took place on February 26, 1775. This watercolor is, perhaps, one of the finest examples of Frost’s work.

A needlework (lot 159, $20,000 to $30,000), stitched with silk and chenille threads on a silk ground, displaying George and Martha Washington strolling the grounds of Mount Vernon, is an excellent example of early 19th century neo-classical needlework, perhaps one the finest example of American needlework that Skinner has ever offered.


A number of weathervanes will be offered, including a late 19th century monumental gilt copper weathervane (lot 349, $10,000 to $15,000). It depicts a full-body standing allegorical nude female figure with shaped animal-form ears and wings on her feet. One arm is held aloft while the other bears the staff of caduceus, the symbol of commerce and negotiation. A molded copper steer weathervane (lot 353, $8,000 to $12,000) and a copper and cast zinc standing horse weathervane (lot 352, $2,000 to $3,000) round out the selection.

John Quincy Adams Objects

A number of lots descended in the family of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), sixth president of the United States, will be offered during the sale. Most significant is the rare gold presentation medal (lot 185, $30,000 to $50,000) given to John Quincy Adams to commemorate the construction of the Erie Canal, which was successfully completed during his presidency. Other items include a 14kt gold and cameo brooch depicting John Quincy Adams (lot 195, $3,000 to $5,000) and a 14kt gold and hardstone cameo suite given as a christening present to Mary Louisa Adams (1828-1859), granddaughter of John Quincy Adams, from her godfather General Stephen Van Rensselaer (lot 192, $3,000 to $5,000).

Previews, Events, Catalogue, and Bidding

Previews for the auction will be held on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Friday, October 26, 2012, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, October 27, 2012, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Stephen Fletcher, Department Director, and Chris Barber, Deputy Director, will offer a gallery walk on Friday, October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Boston Gallery. To register, please visit:

Illustrated catalogue #2618B is available by mail from the subscription department at #508-970-3240. It is also available at the gallery. Prices realized will be available at during and after the sale. Skinner’s site also allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogues, and bid live in real-time through SkinnerLive! Like us on Facebook at

About Skinner

Skinner, Inc. is one of the world’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art. With expertise in over 20 specialty collecting areas, Skinner draws the interest of buyers from all over the world and its auctions regularly achieve world record prices. Skinner provides a broad range of auction and appraisal services, and it is widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the auction business. Skinner’s appraisal experts regularly appear on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, and its specialty departments include American Furniture & Decorative Arts, American & European Works of Art, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, 20th Century Design, Fine Ceramics, Fine Silver, Fine Jewelry, Couture, Fine Musical Instruments, Asian Works of Art, Fine Wines, Rare Books & Manuscripts, Oriental Rugs & Carpets, American Indian & Ethnographic Art, Fine Judaica, Antique Motor Vehicles, Toys, Dolls & Collectibles, Discovery and Science, Technology & Clocks. Skinner galleries are located in Boston and Marlborough, Mass. For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s web site





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