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Antiques and Fine Art Auctions Blog

Skinner expert appraisers and auctioneers discuss antiques, fine art, and collectibles. Keep up on market trends and get collecting tips from antiques experts. Discover the stories behind the art and antiques Skinner offers at auction.

Just for him: Skinner’s Gentleman’s Auction Offers One-of-a-kind Gifts for One-of-a-kind Guys

Boxed Hardwood Domino Set, Taxco, Mexico, third quarter 20th century (Lot 1145, Estimate: $200-300)

Perfectly timed for Father’s Day, graduation, and all of the festive occasions of summer, Skinner’s Gentleman’s Auction offers a wide variety of items that are destined to be favorite possessions. Some are practical, some are beautiful, and some are just plain fun.  Many combine all these desirable qualities. All have been selected by Skinner’s specialists to intrigue and delight both purchaser and recipient. It is totally permissible for one bidder to fill both roles…

The online-only auction opens for bidding at 10AM on Thursday, June 1 with lots beginning a staggered close on Friday, June 9 at 2PM. Auction previews will take place at Skinner’s Boston Gallery on Wednesday, June 7 from 12-5PM and Thursday, June 8 from 12-5PM.

There are fine choices to please a gentleman with a playful spirit:

♦ A unique set of playing cards, the Harlequin Transformation Deck, with humorous decorations by multi-talented Charles Edward Carryl, successful businessman and author as well as a whimsical illustrator. Produced by Tiffany in 1879, these are a lively example of the Victorian love of embellishing cards with comic versions of the traditional pips. (Lot 1144, est. $400-600)

♦ A handsome Boxed Hardwood Domino Set, Taxco, Mexico, third quarter 20th century. The silver-inset dominos and domed box all are embellished with inlaid Aztec eagle tokens. (Lot 1145, $200-300)

Stainless Steel and Found Object Sculpture of a High Speed Race Car, late 20th century (Lot 1147, Estimate: $4,000-6,000)

♦ The Stainless Steel and Found Object Sculpture of a High Speed Race Car, artful late 20th century embodiment of motion and power. Chris Barber, Deputy Director, American Furniture & Decorative Arts, admires this sleek piece for its “unapologetic coolness.” The riveted sheet steel body and cockpit incorporate other metal pieces including part of a small engine, all on four cast metal wheels with hard rubber tires. The sculpture is an impressive 79 ¾ inches long. (Lot 1147, $4,000-6,000)

There are numerous items to delight the gentleman host, from fine barware to rare spirits. Offerings include a Sterling Silver Tiffany Cocktail Shaker (Lot 1000, $800-1,200), five St Louis or Baccarat Crystal Decanters (Lot 1008, $200-250), and forty lots of splendid spirits both European and American.

Of special note are Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Years Old (Lot 1052, $1,500-2,000) and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Years Old (Lot 1053, $1,200-1,500). Also offered are several examples of spirits from Kentucky’s legendary Buffalo Trace distillery, said to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the nation (they had a license from the Federal government during Prohibition for the production of “medicinal whisky”). (Lots 1031-1037, $200-500)

Pair of Chesterfield Chairs, 20th century (Lot 1085, Estimate: $1,200-1,800)

This auction features a carefully curated selection of furniture and accessories that cater especially to masculine style and masculine comfort. Chris Barber confesses that his personal favorites are the Pair of Chesterfield Chairs (Lot 1085, $1,200-1800). He comments that “they are “so classically ‘Gentleman’ that I can’t help but talk about them. They look like they have the patina of years of men’s club gatherings on them, and are so honestly weathered as to be instant old friends.”

Another fine piece is the Carved Walnut-cased “Neptune Chelsea” Ship’s Bell Clock, the apparently unique case carved in high relief and in the round, the crest with Neptune holding his trident, on a base of rockery and marine plants. (Lot 1067, $2,500-3,500)

There are numerous intriguing art works, including several examples of small oil pastels by contemporary American artist Paul Plante. His meticulous hyper-realistic oil pastels most often feature close-ups of the eyes of Maine birds, in which the bright unwinking eyes truly are, as the artist stated, mirrors of the soul. Barber’s personal choice is Four Bird Eyes, each work 4 1/4 x 4 1/4, framed and matted together two by two. (Lot 1151, $200-300).

The Gentleman’s Auction offers choices to satisfy the wants and needs of almost every gentleman. There are gifts for the sporting gentleman, such as Five Carved and Painted Wooden Fish Decoys, carved bodies with sheet metal fins and tails, inset lead weights (Lot 1140, $200-400). Or the Pair of Vintage Red Vinyl 12-ounce Boxing Gloves, Everlast, with nylon laces and yellow labels. (Lot 1179, $50-75).

And there are accessories for the elegant gentleman, from money clips to dress sets, rings, cufflinks and more. Estimates range from $50 to 800, with objects in a wide range of materials and styles.

A Conversation About Collecting Asian Art with Richard Kenworthy, PhD

Richard Kenworthy, Former Professor of Architecture at Auburn University in Alabama and Asian Art expert discusses collecting with Melanie Mitcheson, Skinner’s Auction Coordinator.

Indian Hardwood Valuables Chest (Lot 1520, Estimate $400-600)

What are the Asian countries represented in the current auction?

Primarily China and Japan. We do have a very unusual piece from India:  a dark wooden valuables chest with decorative straps around it—in the right space, it would be very dramatic (Lot 1520).Read More

Charles Prendergast’s Rare and Exquisite Decorative Panels

Charles E. Prendergast (American, 1863-1948) Untitled (Vase with Flowers and Birds) (Lot 382, Estimate $30,000-50,000)

A skilled and inventive frame maker, admired by artists and collectors for his ability to create frames that corresponded perfectly to the style and intention of the canvases they surrounded, Charles Prendergast (1863-1948) did not begin working on his own artworks in earnest until he was in his fifties. After having spent years as a woodworker and craftsman, he created his painted panels, like Lot 382 in our upcoming Fine Paintings and Sculpture auction, with many of the same materials and techniques he had used for his frames.… Read More

Lecture | May 31 | Radiant with Color and Art: McLoughlin Brothers & the Business of Picture Books

Radiant with Color and Art: McLoughlin Brothers & the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920

A Lecture by Laura Wasowicz




Laura Wasowicz, curator of Children’s Literature at the American Antiquarian Society is delighted to share her research on New York picture book publisher McLoughlin Brothers.  Rising from the gritty printing district of lower Manhattan, McLoughlin Brothers blew the international picture book trade wide open with its embrace of cutting edge technologies like chromolithography and branding techniques that are still strikingly modern today. … Read More

Skinner to Host Books & Manuscripts Online Auction, May 23 – June 2

Wyeth, Andrew (1917-2009) Archive of Forty-three Signed Autograph Letters and Notes, with Sketches (Lot 1106, Estimate: $80,000-120,000)

MARLBOROUGH, MAAn archive of forty-three unpublished love letters written by secretive and celebrated artist Andrew Wyeth highlights Skinner’s spring auction of Books & Manuscripts. The online-only auction features 592 lots of historical and literary documents, fine and rare books, prints, and maps.… Read More

Rodin and Fragments

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) Tête de la Luxure, a Later Casting (Lot 385, Estimate: $8,000-12,000)

Two bronze sculptures by Rodin will be offered in our May 19th American & European Works of Art auction. Both were conceived by the artist as parts of larger works, and can therefore be considered fragments, but both also stand as unique and expressive works of art in their own right.

Tête de la Luxure (Head of Lust) (Lot 385, Estimate $8,000-12,000) was first created as the head of the figure Crouching Woman, one of Rodin’s favorite compositions, likely originally dated to 1881-82, and one of the earliest figures Rodin modeled for the Gates of Hell. … Read More

Andrew Wyeth’s Unpublished Love Letters Offered at Skinner in May

Wyeth, Andrew (1917-2009) Archive of Forty-three Signed Autograph Letters and Notes, with Sketches (Lot 1106, Estimate: $80,000-120,000)

Writings Provide New Insights To Secretive Painter’s Work and Life

An extensive archive of letters previously unknown to scholars and collectors concerning one of the most secretive and celebrated American artists of the 20th century will be offered in Skinner’s May Fine Books & Manuscripts online auction.… Read More

The Nick Lucas Special Guitar

[Detail] 1936 Gibson Nick Lucas Special Acoustic Guitar (Lot 36, Estimate: $15,000- 20,000)

Before Les Paul and his namesake guitar became poster boys for Gibson in 1952, and before Tiny Tim popularized “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in 1968, Nick Lucas did both by 1929.

Nick Lucas was born in 1897 in Newark, New Jersey, and his Nick Lucas Special Guitar was born in the mid-1920s in Kalamazoo, Michigan (although Gibson did not make the guitar available to the public until 1927).… Read More

Ansel Adams’s Mural-size Photographs Are “Statements of Importance and Beauty”

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) Leaves and Raindrops, Glacier Bay National Monument, c. 1948 (Lot 142, Estimate: $15,000-25,000)

Among the highlights of Skinner’s May 19th Fine Photographs auction are two mural-sized gelatin silver prints by noted photographer Ansel Adams. Adams was a founding member, along with Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, and others, of Group f/64, a San Francisco Bay Area-based alliance of eleven American photographers that formed in 1932.… Read More

Charles Prendergast: A Glimpse of Heaven | A Lecture by Carol Clark | May 17

Charles E. Prendergast, Untitled (Vase with Flowers and Birds) (Lot 382, Estimate $30,000-50,000)

Charles Prendergast: A Glimpse of Heaven

A Lecture by Carol Clark




Carol Clark will discuss the distinctive career of Charles Prendergast (1863-1948) who, along with his brother Maurice, participated in key aesthetic movements of the first half of the 20th century. Inspired by a wide range of art from the past, such as Persian miniatures and Egyptian reliefs, and by folk and modern painting, Charles’s contribution as a frame maker and his creation of fewer than 125 carved, painted, and gilded panels offer insight into an exciting moment in American art.… Read More

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