Architectural Antiques And Victoriana Soar At Kamelot Auction House

. January 16, 2009

Architectural antiques continued to turn heads last month at Kamelot’s big sale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The breadth and drama of this event is singular enough that the attention comes as no surprise despite the current proliferation of poor economic forecasts. Bookcases stole the show, crowned by the sale of thirty-two running feet of antique commercial oak and glass display cabinetry, which sold to a New York publisher and fine art dealer for $52,800 at this signature auction, held on November 22, 2008. Carefully removed from a century-old Victorian era pharmacy, the massive, solid oak ten-foot tall cases are presently headed off to house the winning bidder’s formidable private collection of books, manuscripts, and objects d’art. (All prices mentioned include buyer’s premium).

Many other lots of oak and wood stacking bookcases, (mostly of Globe Wernicke fame), stirred intense interest on the floor of the spacious auction house gallery, selling for a total of more than $25,000. These lots along with dozens more had been the property of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. After 85 years at the same center city location, this important institution was moving out and in the process became the wellspring of several significant lots in the category of Victoriana, contributing substantially to Kamelot’s growing notoriety for quality American antiques. Noteworthy among the museum’s many interesting deacquisitions were several works attributed to or inspired by famed Philadelphia cabinetmaker Daniel Pabst. Kamelot bidders exalted in a large and elaborately carved Pabst bookcase that particularly characterized the cabinetmaker’s adroit craftsmanship. Bidding for this item manifested a final price tag of $7,500. Suffice it to say, the impeccable condition of this great bookcase – with its dramatic incised foliate carving – did not fail to meet appropriate enthusiasm and appreciation from Kamelot’s attentive buyers. Equal enthusiasm swelled on the crowded auction house floor at the presentation of a finely executed circa 1875 Pabst carved walnut mantel, having a molded top over dental molding, a Gothic style frieze supported on elaborately-detailed winged griffin pilasters and graphic paw feet. The final selling price for this extraordinary mantel came to $7,800. Interest soared way above even the Museum’s expectation as Philadelphians crowded out buyers from other parts of the country eager to obtain a piece of local
history.

Other architectural stunners at this event included an antique carved walnut staircase set into chamfered squares with ornate newel post (circa 1900) that brought $5,520 and a striking hand-painted, leaded and stained glass oval dome ceiling from the 1930’s that sold to a Chicago collector for more than $7,000.

An exquisite pair of massive bronze octagonal tiered Gothic sconces circa 1870, replete with multiple spires, slag glass and tracery work, commanded widespread interest from phone bidders across the country and eventually sold to a Colorado architectural dealer for just under $6,800. Several sections of Gothic style carved walnut paneling with applied arches also fared well, hammering down just shy of $3,500 to yet another Chicago area buyer. Three pairs of stunning Art Deco wrought iron doors with matching transoms defined another hot ticket item, sailing smoothly past their pre-sale estimate of $700 to $900 each to dock with a well-known New York City dealer who took the entire three piece lot for $7,200.

Interest in Victoriana remained very strong as bidders vied for two elaborately carved buffets from the late 1800’s. A beautiful Edwardian two piece rosewood buffet was ornately fashioned with a central arched top depicting crossed horns, floral wreath and bird carvings as well as having intricate openwork inlay, and brought $7,500. A highly carved figural French walnut buffet came adorned with griffins, putti and exquisitely carved flanking caryatids which commanded a final price of $10,800 from a Philadelphia area dealer.

Kamelot’s architectural auctions rarely close without a few delightful surprises and this sale was no exception. This time around a rare antique antler designed table circa 1860 filled the bill superbly. Originally documented in the German show catalogue GEWEIHMOBIL 1825-1925, the oval center table featured a molded marble top, horn decorated apron and dramatic, well-conceived antler-form legs. The table’s evident artistic flair and period personality sent it flying past its low estimate of $4,000 to settle at a lofty $7,200.

Keeping pace with the German table, several strong examples of Black Forest furniture and wood carvings attracted serious private collectors and specialized dealers from around the country. An antique carved hall rack circa 1890 in the Black Forest style measured ninety-three inches high and achieved $8,400. It featured a small bear poised in tree branches above a beveled mirror and a standing mother bear with cub at her feet. But the real surprise of the day was a large and dramatically executed wood carving of a standing bull circa 1900, that sailed past its presale estimate of $500 to $1,000 to settle at $8,700.

“In spite of all the negative economic developments hitting so many markets, good quality antiques are nonetheless showing sustained interest and continue to perform well,” says Kamelot founder Jeffrey Kamal. “We are the only auction house showcasing architectural antiques on a regular basis and a solid following clearly exists for this type of sale.”

“For all those who follow, may these sales continue to
flourish!”

Kamelot Auction’s next architectural event takes place in April 2009. The Antique Architectural and Garden Sale is an annual spring event that features a remarkable assortment of antique carved stone, marble and wrought iron garden fixtures, furniture and decorative arts. Call them at (215) 438-6990 or visit their Web site at www.kamelotauctions.com for more information.

Category: Auction News

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