Fontaine’s Auction Gallery kicks off 2021 with back-to-back auctions

Art Daily
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A self-playing, coin-op Mills Novelty Co. Double Violano-Virtuoso, circa 1913-1915, that can play for an hour on one nickel brought $56,870.
A self-playing, coin-op Mills Novelty Co. Double Violano-Virtuoso, circa 1913-1915, that can play for an hour on one nickel brought $56,870.

PITTSFIELD, MASS.- Boasting a curated selection of fine leaded glass lamps, vases, silver, sculpture and much more, Fontaine’s Auction Gallery started off the new year on a high note. The two-part Fine & Decorative Arts auction that ran January 23 and 30 grossed over $2 million. It saw two Tiffany Studios lamps tie for top lot status at $87,725 with a total of nearly 40 items performing above the $10,000 mark. “There was a diversified selection of ‘Tiffany’ items, from fine lamps to sterling silver, but we also saw strong performances across the board, including paintings, musical items and carved Black Forest pieces,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.

Unsurprisingly, the “Tiffany” name accounted for the top lots in both sessions of the auction, starting with two Tiffany Studios lamps that each fetched $87,725 on January 23. First up in the auction’s prime real estate — lot 100 — was a Tiffany Studios “Dragonfly” table lamp with a “Pepper” base, circa 1905-1910. It was followed up less than 20 lots later by a “Peony” floor lamp, circa 1910. In the second session, a 15-piece grouping of Tiffany & Co. “Chrysanthemum” sterling silver pieces sold comfortably over high estimate at $29,645.

Dominating the auction’s Top 10 list is a fine selection of even more Tiffany Studios table lamps, including a “Dogwood” table lamp that sold for $56,550, a “Tulip” table lamp at $48,400 and a “Spider” table lamp at $45,980.

Making sweet music in the auction were a trio of lots that crossed the block: a Mills Novelty Co. double violano-virtuoso, which can play violin and piano music for an hour on one nickel and has an electronic MIDI system, attaining $56,870, a Mermod Freres marquetry cylinder music box in rosewood and bronze at $30,250, and an Ideal Soprano cylinder music box in quarter sawn oak, embellished with filigree, mythological faces and acanthus ornaments, which fetched $26,620.

Furniture is often hit or miss at auctions these days but seems to consistently do well at Fontaine’s, and this auction saw several standouts. A pair of Grohé Frères Louis XVI style satinwood and fruitwood cabinets with gilt bronze moldings and marquetry, surmounted by a rouge marble top, realized $24,800, an R.J. Horner & Co. figural hall bench in quarter sawn oak with a beveled mirror, featuring carved female caryatids, griffins, filigree and mythical faces, sold over its high estimate at $21,780, an Allen & Brother walnut bench outperformed its estimate to fetch $19,965, and a pair of Daniel Pabst walnut bookcases tripled the estimate to sell at $18,150.

The second session started off on a robust note and saw several lots outperform their high estimates, including a Black Forest carved dog umbrella stand that nearly doubled its high estimate at $28,435.

Fine art saw several paintings by listed artists do well, including a Guy Carleton Wiggins oil on canvas, “Fifth Avenue in Winter,” that brought $13,310, an unsigned 18th Century oil on panel, “Christ Carrying the Cross,” at $12,705, and a Benjamin Champney oil on board, “The Homestead,” for $8,470.

Rounding out the auction was a group of rare and diverse items, including an American Mutoscope & Biograph Company mutoscope at $17,545, a Gustav & William Dentzel carousel giraffe at $12,100, a Murad Cigarettes double-sided porcelain flange advertising sign that nearly doubled high estimate to bring $7,260, and an Art Deco platinum, diamond and sapphire bracelet having a 1-carat European cut diamond, which performed well at $6,655.

All prices reported include the 21 percent buyer’s premium.

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