Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams & Butterfields SoMa Estate Auctions Present the Estate of Phyllis Butterfield on March 16th

Bonhams & Butterfields, international fine arts auctioneers, is honored to present the March 16, 2008 SoMa Estate Auction, featuring the personal effects and belongings of Phyllis Butterfield — of the family which founded the firm Butterfield & Butterfield in San Francisco in the 1860s.

More than 200 lots from the beloved woman’s estate will be offered including fine 18th century French furniture and decorative arts, silver, paintings, couture apparel and accessories, books and manuscripts, Asian works of art and jewelry. “This sale will allow a personal look into the luxurious life of a woman whose family legacy has not only made a tremendous cultural impact on the Bay Area, but created the foundation for the worldwide institution that Bonhams & Butterfields has become today,” said Christine Larson, Director of SoMa Estate Auctions.

In 1865, William Butterfield opened an auction business on what is now the site of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid. The business was initially involved in surplus goods consigned by sailing ships entering the San Francisco Harbor and catered to the Californian Gold Rush market. As the city became more sophisticated and prosperous, demand for fine art and furnishings grew and the business adapted accordingly. Fred R. Butterfield, William’s son, joined the firm in 1914 just prior to the upsurge in the auction market which followed World War II. Mr. Reeder Butterfield, Fred’s son and husband of Phyllis, joined the firm in 1935.

Phyllis Butterfield was born in Piedmont, CA in 1916 and married Reeder at the young age of 18. While Reeder was at the helm of Butterfield & Butterfield, she made her mark as a successful interior designer. In the 1950s she opened a wholesale showroom called Butterfield’s Imports, a trend-setting endeavor in what is now known as the antique and art district of Jackson Square. Her lifetime involvement in interior design and the antique trade led to the creation of a wonderful collection reflecting her elegance and refined taste.

A sample of the offerings includes: a Louis XV provincial walnut commode, second half 18th century (est. $8/12,000); a pair of Regency silver platters, Paul Storr, London, 1818 (est. $7,500/10,000), and an Italian Baroque polychrome painted armoire, first half 18th century (est. $15/20,000). Additional highlights include a selection of couture apparel and accessories including luggage, purses, belts, silk scarves, shoes, dresses and coats by Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Hermes and other noted designers.

The March 2008 SoMa Estate Auction will also feature American and European paintings, prints and photography including a large selection of marine-themed works in oil and furniture and decorative arts from multiple collections, rugs and carpets, Native American contemporary pottery, Southwest jewelry, and period and estate jewelry.

Bonhams & Butterfields’ SoMa Estate Auctions are monthly sales held in San Francisco’s South of Market area, in the heart of the city’s Design District. These exciting sales have long been a resource for interior decorators, dealers, beginning and established collectors and savvy buyers in search of unique property to decorate a room or an entire home.

Previews open Friday, March 14th, continuing daily until the auction at 10 am on Sunday, March 16. The illustrated auction catalog is online for review and purchase at