Sunday, October 16, 2011

Auction Accidents

I am a little late to the party on this one, but this is a subject that is always exciting and generates much ink in the art world. I like to call them auction accidents...when items are mis-catalogued and achieve stunning results to surprised onlookers. May I present the Chippendale "style" mahogany dining chairs that were offered by Pook & Pook of Downington, PA in June of 2009.
Image via Pook & Pook
They came from the collection of El Roy and Helene Master which was known in Americana circles as a multi-generational collection spanning the last 100 years. For more about the collection see the review in the Maine Antiques Digest. The chairs were believed to be copies of 18th century Boston chairs after the designs of Robert Manwaring and were offered at a mere $1500-2500.
Parlour Chair: Plate 9 of The Cabinet and Chair-Maker's Real Friend and Companion, 1765, by Robert Manwaring via
The chair design on the left is clearly the inspiration for these chic chairs. While they are Rococo holdovers I love the little flicker of gothic seen in the ogee at the bottom of the splat.
Detail of a Master collection chair
Detail of Manwaring design via
It turns out that the chairs were indeed period and nearly identical to a rare 18th century pair of Boston chairs that were given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1939.
Image via
Image via
Luckily the sale at Pook & Pook was well advertised and well attended. The mis-catalogued chairs made an astounding $163,800 even in the down economy and at a small regional venue....that is no small feat and speaks volumes about their rarity and quality. Until next time. --AR

1 comment:

  1. An exciting find and auction moment. I love your pointing out the delicacy of the Gothic detail among the heavier baroque curves.

    I once saw a photo of the Metropolitan chairs in which they were described as typical Salem work. Have they changed their minds?
    --Road to Parnassus