The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. is known for eclecticism but its upcoming Red Carpet auction on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, will go well beyond the usual collecting categories. Ranging from antiques, artwork and jewelry to Oriental carpets, designer furniture and fashion, the auction also features not one but three separate collections of Americana from area estates.
“From small and finely made goods to larger than life items like a taxidermy elk mount and an extra-tall library filing cabinet with 104 drawers, we are out to impress with the goods on offer in this auction,” Pam Stone, owner and founder of The Benefit Shop Foundation, said. “Collectors love examples of Americana that are whimsical and handcrafted and we coincidentally got three estates in time for this sale all loaded with folk art and Americana. We will also have interesting items in all the usual collecting genres that buyers here have come to expect.”
Kicking off the auction is a strong sampling of Americana, including mill weights, weathervanes, painted boxes, a Pennsylvania Dutch candlebox, folk art, whirligigs, trade signs and Outsider art. Highlights include a pair of antique and handcarved, painted haberdashery folk art sculptures of a man and woman ($100-300), originally from a New York City haberdashery shop selling elegant men’s and women’s clothing, 24-1/4 inches tall each; an oversized barnyard painted folk art dairy cow piece of decor ($100-300), 46 inches tall, taken off a barn in Lightfoot, VA; and a vintage Adirondack birch bark checkerboard ($40-80), 17 by 17-1/2 inches.
Horses are well represented among Americana here from a hackney horse weathervane ($50-100), circa 1890-1920, 38 by 26 by 9 inches, to an antique Americana cast iron horse windmill weight ($100-300) in the style of a bobtail horse, originally from Iowa, circa 1905, 16-1/2 by 17-1/2 inches.
Whimsy is a key buzzword of the Americana category, such as an antique folk art farming figural whirligig ($200-500) with two men and a donkey that came out of a New Hampshire estate, 50 by 28 inches; and a signed Mary L. Proctor mixed media folk artwork ($500-1,000) composed of ceramic plate fragments and acrylic paint on wood board. The piece depicts a grandmother and child with dresses made entirely of blue ceramic fragments and handwritten on the verso is “My Grandma Old Blue Willow Plates / I remember when I was a child I broke my grandma old blue willow plates…”
Also notable in the auction is a collection of folky painted double-sided trade signs, led by a “Woody’s Good Egg” sign ($200-300) and a life-size Uncle Sam folk art trade sign ($200-600). The most striking sign however is a colossal antique folk art display sign ($200-500) in the form of a white boot that measures 90 by 75 by 28 inches. It was believed to have been used on the roof of a shoe store.
Animals as a theme runs throughout the auction and the first lot across the block is a life-size, lion’s head wall hanging piece of Italian majolica ($100-300). The piece measures about 17 by 14 by 10-1/2 inches.
A veritable menagerie of life-size animals continues across the auction block, including an American Elk taxidermy trophy mount ($1/3,000) by Connecticut Wild Arts Taxidermy, 91 inches tall and weighing about 300 pounds; an antique floor-size sitting deer sculpture ($200-600), 32-1/2 by 41 by 18 inches; a pair of life-size antique cast stone dog sculptures ($800-2,000), each 28-1/2 inches tall; and a vintage, floor-sized iron bronze dog sculpture ($200-500), possibly bronze or iron, 27-1/2 inches tall. Proving good things come in small packages too is a Staffordshire fox, marked B. Linley ($50-100), measuring 6 inches tall.
Besides Americana, fine art will be prominently featured in this sale, led by a signed Edgar Degas (1834-1917) mixed media sketch of ballerinas ($5/15,000), colored pencil or pastel on paper, about 10-1/2 by 7 inches; an oil on wood panel signed G. Armfield ($500-1,500) titled “White and Black Dog on the Scent,” 7-3/4 by 9-3/4 inches, and a signed oil on canvas portrait of a hound in a landscape ($100-400), after British artist Richard Dodd Widdas.
The art on offer here truly spans the world. There are two examples of Aboriginal Australian art: a Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula acrylic painting ($500-2,500) depicting a geometric pattern in tones of brown, peach, and rust red, 24 by 36 inches, and a signed Judy Watson Napangandi acrylic painting on board ($500-2,500), “Women’s Dreaming,” made in the Aboriginal dot painting style, about 16-3/4 by 20-3/4 inches. A select grouping from a collection of African masks and figures recently acquired by The Benefit Shop Foundation, Inc., includes a Nkisi Nkondi nail fetish figure ($100-1,000) in carved wood with glass detailed eyes and belly, which is a power figure from the Bakongo People in Zaire, Congo, 28 inches tall. “These Nkisi nkondi figures make a striking appearance and are known for having sharp objects embedded into their surfaces like nails or blades,” Stone said. She added that the glass covering the belly (in which medicine could be stored) was symbolic of the spirit world. Also on offer is a Baule Kpan mask from the Ivory Coast of West Africa ($100-1,000) having an elaborate coiffure and refined carving to represent senior female in ceremonies. The 15-inch long mask is made of carved wood and painted in red, black, and white.
An expected standout in the furniture category that would make a dramatic statement in any office is a rare Harvey Probber curved walnut top executive desk ($1/3,000) having a rolled edge, 84 by 30 by 35 inches. Other highlights include a rare 104-drawer apothecary library card filing cabinet ($400-800) with hand dovetailing and porcelain knobs, standing over 72 inches tall, and a Chromcraft smoke Lucite dining set ($800-1,500) comprising six swiveling Tulip chairs and an oval table, circa 1970.
Among fashion and jewelry crossing the block are two Carlos Falchi caiman leather handbags (each estimated at $1/2,000) in deep brown (one with teal lining, the other chartreuse).
Among a diverse and fine selection of ceramics and porcelain in the auction are a German ceramic pitcher in black tones with straight and zigzag details, 7-1/2 inches tall; a Burleigh England porcelain milk pitcher having intricate floral, leaf and bird detail, 5-1/2 inches tall, and an Amita porcelain chinoiserie umbrella holder with playful monkeys climbing and eating in the jungle, 23-1/2 inches tall.
Rounding out the auction are a faux bois cement, multi-tiered arched planter display ($1/3,000) from the Arts and Crafts era, 66-1/2 by 30 by 80 inches; a rare antique chinoiserie six-tier wood bird cage ($300-600) intricately detailed with painted floral details in relief, 85 inches tall and a vintage oversized candelabra sconce with tole lampshades from Italy ($100-200) having a center scroll design, 40-1/4 inches tall.
The monthly Red Carpet sales feature choice collections of antique, Midcentury Modern, brand furnishings, sterling, china, crystal, jewelry and fine art. With a mission “to donate, to discover and to do good,” the foundation is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit and auction proceeds support community organizations. Consignors get a tax deduction, the buyer gets a great deal, and local non-profits get much needed funds.
The auction gallery is at 185 Kisco Avenue, Suite 201, Mount Kisco, NY. For more information, www.thebenefitshop.org or (914) 864-0707.