By Susan Mellish
PITTSFIELD, MA – Finding an auction offering several items labeled “Horner” or “Belter” is a thrill. Finding an auction loaded with fabulous Victorian furniture including pieces by these makers and more is a special treat. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s November 21 sale was just such an event. Loads of wonderful Victorian era furniture were not only offered, but sold; strong.
Case in point, lot 341, an Egyptian Revival [Note from John: I would probably diverge from Fontaine's and consider it Neo-Grec] marble top credenza marked “Allen Bros. Phila.” sold for $24,150. Prices include a 15 percent buyer’s premium. Having figural carving with four winged griffins above the legs and claw feet, the credenza was also heavily carved throughout with burled panels and incising. The large door in the center sported a repousse bronze plaque of a maiden dressed in flowing garments. The side doors were angled towards the back and had marble inserts. The three tiers above also had marble tops. Though the center marble had a crack and the side marbles had repairs, overall, this was a bold piece. Wearing its original finish helped too. The credenza measured 64″W x 57″H x 20″D.
As dining room sets go – this one was a winner. Described by Fontaine’s as being a “monumental nine piece figural oak dining room set,” they also attributed it to R.J. Horner. The large sideboard (79″W x 77″H x 26″D) had deep figural carved panels on the lower door and back, carved maiden and mountain man pilasters, curved doors wearing suits of armor, as well as claw feet, beveled mirrors and decorated drawer fronts complete with winged maiden supports. The serpentine front china cabinet (55″W x 73″H x 20″D) wore matching maiden and mountain man pilasters, carved griffins, a filigree top, and had claw feet, a single serpentine glass door and serpentine side glasses. The pedestal dining table (59″D x 3.5″H) had five legs, a massive center pedestal and four devilish figural griffin legs. Rounding out the set were six side chairs having lion’s head posts, leather seats and claw feet on cabriole legs. Dressed in a distinctive original black finish and in overall good condition, the set sold for $18,400.
Bedroom sets continue to sell well. A four piece walnut Renaissance marble top grouping came in at $13,225. Wearing a retailer’s tag stating “Arad Evans, Portland, ME” and then handwritten on it “Thomas Goodall – Sanford, ME,” the set included a bed – carved center crest, arched burled panel, turned finials (63″W x 83.5″H x 78″D); a three drawer dresser – arched swivel mirror with glove boxes, carved crest, marble top, fourth secret drawer at the bottom (46.5″W x 91″H x 23″D); a full commode – marble backsplash; and a matching half commode.
Carved hall benches don’t come any finer than the example offered by Fontaine’s. This mahogany example by R.J. Horner was heavily carved and came with a beveled mirror on top which was encased in a filigree carved frame with a figural winged cherub crest. Having a lift seat, the back panel was carved with maidens centered with a medallion and three putti. Large winged griffins offered support for the arms. The lower front panel was decorated with carved figural griffins centered with a maiden and gargoyle faces on either side. The bench wore its original deep red finish with the mirror frame having a slightly darker finish. Measuring 67″W x 98″H x 22″D, this bench made $13,800.
Attributed to A. Roux, a large oak game carved sideboard was an outstanding example of this type. The carving here could define elaborate. Its carved crest was of a large deer head over a shield, with the main paneling having an applied carved hunting scene including two dogs chasing a wild boar in the forest. Each of the side crests has a turned column with a bird feeding on a cluster of fruit. The base of the sideboard sported two large doors in the center and curved sides under drawers. Each door panel wore large carvings of hanging wild game including wild boar, deer, ducks and fish decorated with bugles, ribbons and filigree. Also, between each door were hanging carved fruit clusters. Drawer pulls were various berry clusters and leaves with dogs’ heads in between. Measuring 83″W x 101″H x 23″D, this magnificent sideboard sold for $14,950.
Many other wonderful items crossed the auction block this day including
* Mahogany console attributed to A. Quervelle, $13,800
* Carved mahogany partner’s desk attr. to R.J. Horner, $7,188
* Pair of R.J. Horner winged griffin armchairs, $6,325
* R.J. Horner figural carved oak partner’s desk, $11,500
* Inlaid rosewood Renaissance Revival credenza, $6,613
* Monumental Egyptian Revival jardinière and pedestal, $5,750
* Two-piece walnut marble top bedroom set attr. Thos. Brooks, $8,050