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Condition: In good found condition.

Sold at Hartzell's Auction September 18, 2016.

Estimate: $500-1,000

Price Realized: 16,750 (Does not include buyer's premium)

WORK TABLE, pine and maple, original lemon yellow painted finish, single board scrubbed top pegged onto base, thumbnail molded skirt, turned and tapered splayed legs, single dovetailed drawer with original turned pull, with old tag inside “Shaker table found near E. Canterbury, New Hampshire”, c. 1810-1830, (note: the drawer is painted in a different tone of yellow in a very early Shaker table), 27" h, 36" l, 23" d, (ex. Ed Clerk collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $3,000-5,000
Price Realized: $13,200
PAIL WITH LID, pine, original “Ministry” dark blue painted finish, interior painted light aqua, fitted lid with black painted metal pull, “28” in black script on top, heavy wire bail, with turned maple handle with central scribe line, diamond shaped metal bail plates, three black 1" metal wrapping bands, each held with two rivets, “28” in black script on the side, 16" h (with handle), 12" diameter (at base).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $3,000-5,000
Price Realized: $3,840
SMALL STORAGE BOX, pine, original bittersweet orange painted finish, two small flanking dovetailed drawers over a full drawer, all with dark walnut pulls, finely dovetailed case, c. 1840, 8" h, 13.75" w, 5.25" d.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,000-2,000
Price Realized: $3,720
TUB, pine staves and bottom, original blue painted finish, iron hoops with V-shaped ends, tongue and groove joined staves, original offset iron handles in black paint attached to the heavy top hoop with two rivets, Canterbury or Enfield, NH, c. 1840-1850, 7" h, 13.5" diameter.

Note: The rare blue color is usually indicative of the Ministry. The top hoop is thicker in gauge than the bottom hoop, and is quadruple riveted with double V-shaped ends to accommodate the handles.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,500-2,000
Price Realized: $4,080
TALL GARDEN PAIL, pine, original red painted finish, shaped hardwood swing handle reinforced at the ends with shaped tin plate wraps, symmetrically tacked, reinforced metal wraps over ends of back handle, original hardwood pins to secure handle, 12 finely tapered staves downward to the turned and fitted bottom, three original steel bands with shaped ends, stenciled “G” in black ink between the first and second bands on the side, Enfield or Canterbury, NH, c. 1840, signed on bottom in ink “Picked by A E…Cob, Onion, Beauty”, 19.5" h (at rim), 13" diameter (at rim).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,500-2,500
Price Realized: $3,300
RARE SHAKER RUG, cotton and wool, cut into silver dollar circles and folded into triangles, and then shaped into concentric overlapping rows of single colors, pointing towards a small red center, two of these 21" circles connected and edged with other triangular sewn “dollars”, a multicolor border edged with blue Shaker tape, mounted and wired for hanging, found in Harvard, MA, (see p. 116 and 118, Shaker Textile Arts, Beverly Gordon), exhibited at Fruitlands, Harvard, MA, 1990, 42" x 21".

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,000-2,000
Price Realized: $1,200
DINING TABLE, pine and cherry, traces of original red/ochre stained finish, 26" central board with two outer boards, 3" w, breadboard ends, square to turned legs with medial swell, double pegged into 5.5" skirt boards, Alfred/Sabbathday Lake, ME origin, c. 1830-1840, (“purchased in the 1980’s from Lititia Sousa of Cumberland, R.I.” in Ed’s handwriting), 28" h, 7' 9.254" l, 33.25" w, (ex. Ed Clerk collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $10,000-15,000
Price Realized: $15,600
FOLDING SEWING TABLE, original finish with red stained legs and scrubbed top breadboarded with splines, incised yardstick, hinged delicate legs with finely shaped supports, c. 1880, 25.5" h, 36" w, 22.75" d, (ex. Brecht family collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,200-1,800
Price Realized: $3,900
STANDING TRUSTEE'S DECK, pine, traces of original red stain, older varnish finish, single board top with half-round molding, over applied cove molding, inset panel pull down desk surface, with cast brass side supports, eight cubbyhole interior with shelf above, five small flanking dovetailed drawers, over two central small drawers, with larger drawers on either side, all with original hardwood pulls, above a two door cupboard with inset panels on a molded base, on carved feet, spring loaded door clasp, Enfield, CT, c. 1840, (note: see p. 20, Shaker, A Collector’s Source Book, Don and Carol Raycraft, 1980), 56" h, 35.5" w, 14.5" d, (ex. Don and Carol Raycraft collection; ex. Doug Hamel collection; ex. Bud Thompson collection).
OVAL BOX, pine and maple, original light tangerine painted exterior, original yellow painted interior, copper tacks and steel points, three finely carved and beveled fingers, original paint on bottom and under lid on rim, Canterbury or Enfield, NH, c. 1830-1840, 2.625" h, 7.125" l, 4.75" d.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Price Realized: $4,560

RARE CLASSIC REVOLVER CHAIR, pine seat, eight maple spindles, original red stained finish, turned hickory curved back, iron cleat under seat attached with screws, tapered shaft supported on four carved legs, printed paper label under seat “E. ANN.” for Eldress Eliza Ann Taylor, Head of the Ministry from 1869-1891, known to all as “Eldress Ann”, New Lebanon, NY, c. 1840, 18" seat h, 27" overall h, 15" diameter seat, (ex. Brecht family collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $15,000-20,000

Price Realized: $25,200

TRESTLE TABLE, pine, maple and oak trestles, single board pine top (6' 4" l, 25" w), attached to shaped and chamfered oak under braces with hand forged screws, and pegged into rectangular maple supports with slightly arched chamfered feet, 4" w, 24" l, through mortised and pegged, c. 1840, (note: rare small size indicating possible use in the Ministry), see p. 253 The Book of Shaker Furniture, John Kassay, for a similar trestle base and foot, 24" h.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $5,000-8,000
Price Realized: $13,800

SIX SPOKE BRAIDED “SPIRIT” RUG, circular scalloped design, forming a hexagonal circle with spokes in gray, black and peach in tiny braids of cotton construction, stretched and mounted for hanging, (note: a rare graphic Shaker design), see p. 109, Figure 55, Shaker Textile Arts, Beverly Gordon, 1980, for a similar example from Hancock Shaker Village, 33" dia, (ex. Doug Towle collection, sold WHA 9/4/05, lot 51; ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $3,000-5,000

Price Realized: $3,900

TALL CHEST, pine, original bittersweet red stained washed finish, finely dovetailed case, mortised and pegged construction, two small flanking drawers over two small flanking drawers, over six long drawers, all lipped and dovetailed, initials on one drawer “A C”, descended in the family of Arthur T. Barry who worked at Shaker Station Railroad Depot in the first quarter of the 20th century, chestnut back with five original tongue and groove vertical boards, Enfield, CT, c. 1840-1850, slight graduation of drawers going down (7.5" to 8.5"), needs small lip repair on right of fourth drawer from bottom, (note: a classic Shaker tall chest in good color), 5' 11" h, 36" w, 17" d.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $10,000-15,000
Price Realized: $32,400

RARE SEWING COUNTER, pine, case is original reddish/orange stained finish, two board top (stained in original yellow), 1.25" thick, attached with beveled side cleats along left and right sides of case, two smaller flanking drawers on top over a bank of six drawers flanking two by two, all drawers are beveled and dovetailed, original turned pulls, “February 1844, #1" in pencil on underside of two drawers, other drawers numbered, New Lebanon, NY, c. 1840, 33" h, 66" l, 24.5” d, (ex. John Roberts collection, Shaker Farm, Canaan, NY, sold WHA 8/5/90, lot 160; ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $10,000-20,000

Price Realized: $12,400

TRUSTEE'S DESK, butternut and poplar, old refinish with natural varnish, two-piece, top section with tall inset panel doors over two flanking drawers over a long drawer, base section with double writing slides with original white porcelain pulls, over two vertical paneled doors with single shelf interiors, left door with original lock and key, walnut wood twist turn closures on doors and pulls appear to be replaced, two upper doors originally had diamond shaped escutcheons and locks, Enfield, CT, c. 1850-1860, 84" h, 54" h (top), 30" h (bottom), 35.5" w, 22.25" overall d, (ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $10,000-20,000

Price Realized: $8,400

CUPBOARD OVER DRAWERS, pine, original red stained finish, two door top with heavy raised panels, two shelves per section, original turned small wood pulls, carved bone door closures, doors are double pinned on the diagonal, keyed lock on left side, over seven lipped and dovetailed drawers, with original turned pulls, dovetailed case, minor imperfections, two vertical board back, c. 1820-1830, 7' 1.5" h, 37.5" w, 20.5" d.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $6,000-10,000
Price Realized: $5,100

SISTER'S SEWING DESK, birch and pine, traces of original red with old refinish, six small drawers on top gallery section finely dovetailed and lipped, original walnut turned pulls, over a birch work surface (shows an old repaired split and small chip in back right), over a hidden sliding work surface with breadboard ends, three small drawers on left, also dovetailed and lipped with walnut turned pulls, top drawer with brass diamond escutcheon plate, a shallow, full-length two-section patterned drawer added below the case (old repair to drawer front), fitted with knitting needles and crochet hooks in bone and wood, three large drawers on right end side dovetailed and lipped, with a brass diamond escutcheon lock plate on top drawer, all on tall turned and tapered legs, Enfield, NH, c. 1840-1850, 40.5" h, 30" w, 24" d (at case), 27" d (at work surface); comes with a copy of a 1927 letter from Eldress Josephine Wilson, E. Canterbury, NH, with reference to this particular desk, owned by a Great Aunt Addie, (ex. David Newell to the present consignor).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $15,000-25,000

Price Realized: $10,800

OVAL CARRIER, maple and pine, original cherry red painted finish, finely carved handle fixed to exterior with small copper tacks, three long elegant fingers, small copper tacks, painted interior, excellent condition, c. 1840, 3" h (to rim), 6" h (to top of handle), 8.5" l.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $3,000-5,000
Price Realized: $4,200

RARE DINING TABLE, pine and birch, original stained finish, drop leaves with original dark walnut stain, square tapered leg with original dark red stain, drop leaves, 7' 6" l, 11.5" d, single board top, 19.25" w, six original cast iron hinges, double boxed and pulled leaf supports, minor stains and small rule joint break at one hinge, overall very good condition, sold WHA, 8/3/86, lot 176, 28.25" h, c. 1840, (ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $10,000-20,000
Price Realized: $9,600

CUPBOARD OVER DRAWERS, pine, traces of original red varnish stained finish, single inset panel door through mortised and double pinned on the diagonal, two shelf interior, over seven lipped drawers with turned walnut central pulls, (some lip repairs), (note: a rare, narrow and well proportioned Canterbury cupboard over drawers), Canterbury, NH, c. 1840-1850, 81.25" h, 17" w, 17.5" d, (ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $6,000-12,000

Price Realized: $9,000

RARE DESK IN TRIPOD STAND, butternut, tiger maple, maple, pine and tin, with original ochre/red stained finish, carved backsplash board with curved ends 2" above the desk surface, hinged slant lid, (note: later Shaker covered leather top was removed while the tiny iron tacks symmetrically measured surrounding the writing surface remain intact), an applied cove molding above and below the butternut dovetailed desk box, on a tiger maple turned shaft, supported by three carved snake legs, three forged iron staples secure the dovetailed junction of the legs to the bottom of the shaft, some early Shaker repairs at base, on one foot and on the back, two flanking, small, shallow drawers on right side of the case, both early nailed construction and lipped (some missing lip pieces and one pull missing), very rare tin drawer bottoms with scratched drawing of a Shaker brother in wide brimmed hat and coattails, with initials "T R" on one bottom, and scratched into inside of other drawer in script is "Tom Richmond Shakers Station, Enfield Conn. & T.R.", on the side of the drawer in pencil script is "Edward J Lyman Dec 21, 1860, They shall get refreshments", (note: this rare desk is in as-found condition and one of a handful from Enfield, CT, c. 1830-1840), 31" h, 25" w, 20" d, see p. 339, Fig. 504, The Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture, Rieman and Burks, 2003.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $7,000-10,000

Price Realized: $7,500

SMALL OVAL CARRIER, maple and pine, old chrome over original yellow painted finish, hickory fixed handle, attached on inside with small copper tacks, three long elegant fingers with small copper tacks, very good condition, c. 1840, 2.375" h (to rim), 5" h (to top of handle), 6.375" l.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Price Realized: $4,800

OVAL BOX, maple and cherry, original light cherry red stained finish, four long elegantly shaped fingers, with prominent copper tacks, c. 1840-1850, (note: an exceptionally well made Shaker oval box in excellent condition), 3.5" h, 7.25" l.

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $1,500-2,500

Price Realized: $3,240

LARGE OVAL BOX, maple and pine, original chrome yellow varnished wash/stain, four fingers finely formed, copper tacks and points, overall excellent condition, 5.5" h, 14.75" l, 10.75" d, (ex. Flo and Howard Fertig collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Price Realized: $8,400

MEETING HOUSE BENCH, birch, pine and maple, dark natural stain (possibly original), shaped birch back with 39 maple spindles, finely shaped pine seat, three sets of front and back double stretchered legs, stamped on both ends "6" (probably indicating the sixth bench in a series of benches in the Meeting House), Enfield, NH, c. 1840, 9' 11.5" l, 16" seat h, 31" overall h, (ex. Brecht family collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $7,000-10,000
Price Realized: $33,600

SISTER'S WORK TABLE, two board pine top with rounded corners, maple base, old refinished varnish, slightly splayed turned legs, beveled cleats underneath top, support structure braced together with rectangular boards in extended rectangle, attached with screws, (note: probably used in the Shaker laundry as an ironing table), c. 1850, 28.754" h, 72" l, 24.75" d, (ex. Kippy Stroud collection).

Sold at Willis Henry Auctions September 10, 2016.

Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Price Realized: $3,600

A POLYCHROME HORSE AND RIDER: FRAKTUR DRAWING, The "Washington-Sussel" Artist (Active 1760-1785), probably Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Circa 1770, inscribed Jakob ist mein nahme 4 x 3 in.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $43,750

A PAINTED AND POLYCHROME-DECORATED PINE HANGING BOX, possibly Berks County, Pennsylvania, Dated 1841. The incised and geometric decoration of this hanging box bears a strong resemblance to the illuminated documents of Samuel Bentz, known as the "Mount Pleasant Artist." Bentz worked primarily in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and it is possible that the craftsman of this box was familiar with his work.

Provenance: Mr. and Mrs. George W. Scott, Jr., Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1956
Sold, Christie's, 10 and 11 June 1994, lot 529

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $56,250

A MONUMENTAL CARVED, PAINTED AND POLYCHROME-DECORATED SPREADWING EAGLE, Attributed to Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890), Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1865-1890.

The legacy of German immigrant Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890) rests in his wonderful pine, gesso and paint-decorated animals, which he carved in exchange for room and board from families around Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He fashioned lions, roosters, dogs and other figures, but his most successful sculptures are majestic spreadwing eagles. The example offered here is a monumental work, exceptional for its extremely rare large scale, crisp carving and elongated, delicate form. Using local pine, Schimmel carved the eagle’s body and wings separately, articulating them with angular, choppy feathers and joining them in the final construction. He primed his surface and added color and depth through red, brown, green and yellow paints that bring the bird to life.

A notorious figure in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Schimmel was memorialized in an obituary published in the Carlisle [Pennsylvania] Sentinel 7 August 1890: "Old Schimmel, the German who for many years trampled through this and adjoining counties, died at the almshouse on Sunday. His only occupation was carving heads of animals out of soft pinewood. He was apparently a man of very surly disposition." For more information on Schimmel's life, see Karl H. Pass, "Wilhelm Schimmel: Cumberland County Image Maker (1817-1890)," Folk Art, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 52-59. His work is in the collections of multiple major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Winterthur Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New-York Historical Society.

Provenance: Private Collection, Delaware 

Sold, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 15 September 1979, lot 131

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

Price Realized: $427,500

A GROUP OF THREE WATERCOLOR AND INK FRAKTUR BOOKPLATES, Pennsylvania, Late 18th/Early 19th Century, the first with a heart flanked by two mermaids; the second attributed to Johan Adam Eyer, a songbook for Samuel Rener, dated 1789; the third for Diedrich Braun, from 3.75 x 6.5 in. to 7.5 x 6.625 in.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $17,500


Attributed to Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890), Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1865-1890, 10.75 in. high, 18 in. wide.

Provenance: Sold, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 15 November 1978, lot 280

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $15,000

A JOINED AND PAINTED OAK CARVED "SUNFLOWER" CHEST WITH TWO DRAWERS, possibly The Peter Blin (CIRCA 1640-1725) Shop Tradition, Wethersfield area, Connecticut, 1675-1710, interior lid fitted with two engraved silver plates detailing family history; the top of a later date, 39 in. high, 48 in. wide, 21.25 in. deep.

Currently owned by direct descendants of Nathaniel Foote (1647-1703), a turner who lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut, this chest may provide new information on the production of "Sunflower" furniture over three hundred years ago. The Sunflower school of joinery flourished in central Connecticut during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and over eighty five examples are known today bearing the signature floral carving (once thought to be sunflowers, but now described as marigolds or stylized rosettes) as seen on this chest's central panel. With its large number of surviving examples, innovative design and construction and widespread influence, the Sunflower school is one of the most significant groups of early American furniture. Peter Blin (c.1640-1725), a French-speaking émigré, has long been associated with the production of Sunflower furniture as he arrived in Wethersfield in 1675, just prior to the production of the earliest known example of Sunflower furniture—a cupboard made for Rev. Joseph Rowlandson (1631-1678) in about 1677—and his inventory included both joiner's and turner's tools, indicating he was able to make both the chests and their applied turned ornaments. The Blin attribution remains conjectural as the large number of surviving chests, though remarkably consistent in ornament and construction, were undoubtedly made in several shops, perhaps concurrently or by apprentices emulating the practices of a master. In addition, two closely related but stylistically earlier chests with all-over carving and lacking applied ornament were made in Windsor, Connecticut. These chests are possible antecedents, which would indicate that the Sunflower tradition was locally born, rather than introduced by an immigrant such as Blin. 

One of the woodworkers who may have had a role in the production of Sunflower furniture is Nathaniel Foote, the grandson of one of the founders of Wethersfield. Foote was among the three craftsmen cited by Kevin M. Sweeney as possible participants in the school and as a turner, may have executed the applied ornament seen on these forms. Furthermore, Sweeney notes Foote’s account book now at the Wethersfield Historical Society includes several references indicating that he and Blin had dealings with one another (Kevin M. Sweeney, "Regions and the Study of Material Culture: Explorations along the Connecticut River," American Furniture 1995, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, 1995), pp. 153, 164, fns. 18, 19). In the nineteenth century, the chest was owned by the Ely family. As the Ely family hailed from Lyme, Connecticut in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, it most likely entered this family at a later date, very possibly upon the 1730 marriage of Margaret Olcott (1705-1767) and Captain Richard Ely (1690-1767). Margaret’s mother, Sarah Foote (1672-1756) was the daughter of Nathaniel Foote the Wethersfield turner and it is conceivable that Nathaniel made or helped make this chest on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage to Thomas Olcott (1671-1732) in 1691. 

Patriotism begins at home—in the family, in the school, in the city or town, and in the state… I know of no way in which we can better show our appreciation and respect for our Connecticut forefathers than by exerting our influence to establish Connecticut’s just claim to so rare and fine a title as The Constitution State.

--Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe, parting words to the Ruth Wyllys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, cited in "Connecticut, the Constitution State" (New Haven: The Connecticut Press Corporation, 1903). 

With these words, Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe (1852-1923) argued for the re-naming of Connecticut’s moniker (which was eventually enacted by the state legislature over fifty years later) and demonstrated her passion for Connecticut’s rich history. A great-great-great-great granddaughter of Sarah Foote and a later owner of the chest, Mrs. Holcombe was a pioneering preservationist—"a one-woman preservation society" as described by Connecticut historian Bill Hosley—who stands as one of the State’s greatest advocates. She organized and served as regent of the Ruth Wyllys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which in 1896 restored Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground and in 1903, she was instrumental in decorating the Oliver Ellsworth House in Windsor. The following year, she was on the Board of Lady managers for the St. Louis World’s Fair and as commissioner of antiques and historic artifacts for the Connecticut Building, she assembled the largest ever display of early American antiques. She was also instrumental in raising funds to restore the Connecticut State House and in honor of her dedication to her home state, Mrs. Holcombe was granted rights to be buried in the Ancient Burying Ground (Bill Hosley, "Emily S. G. Holcombe: Champion of Connecticut State Pride," lecture at the Connecticut Historical Society, 20 March 2013). A note handwritten by her dated 1913, records her purchase of the chest from her first cousin once-removed, Margaret Ely Seymour (1877-1952), who had been left the chest by Margaret’s grandmother (and Emily’s aunt), Emily Mary (Goodwin) Seymour (1817-1895) (handwritten note signed by Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe, dated 1913; for the lines of descent in the Pratt, Goodwin, Seymour and Holcombe families, see Charles B. Whittelsey, The Ancestry and the Descendants of John Pratt of Hartford, Conn. (Hartford, 1900), pp. 26-27, 40-41, 64, 102-103, 152-155). 

While owned by Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe, the chest stood in her home at 79 Spring Street, Hartford, a large house that had been occupied by the Holcombe family since the 1840s (Anne Hamilton, "Shepherd Holcombe: A Passion For Hartford And Its History," Hartford Courant, 17 December 2012, available online). After she died in 1923, the chest passed to her son, John M. Holcombe, Jr. and his wife, Marguerite Chase (1886-1975) and the couple lived in the Chase family home, "Byde-a-Whyle," the 1815 house built by Timothy Cowles at 87 Main Street in Farmington and now part of Miss Porter’s School. The chest has since descended to their granddaughter, a 10th generation direct descendant of Nathaniel Foote. 

For more on "Sunflower" furniture, see Philip Zea, catalogue entries, The Great River: Art and Society of the Connecticut Valley, 1635-1820 (Hartford, CT, 1985), cats. 78, 79, pp. 198-201; Susan Prendergast Schoelwer, "Connecticut Sunflower Furniture: A Familiar Form Reconsidered," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (Spring 1989), pp. 26-29; Robert F. Trent, catalogue entry, American Furniture with Related Decorative Arts, 1660-1830: The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Layton Art Collection, Gerald W.R. Ward, ed. (New York, 1991), pp. 37, 39; Martha H. Willoughby, "From Carved to Painted: Chests of Central and Coastal Connecticut, c. 1675-1725" (M.A. thesis, University of Delaware, Delaware, 1994), pp. 14-76; Joshua W. Lane and Donald P. White III, Woodworkers of Windsor: A Connecticut Community of Craftsmen and Their World, 1635-1715 (Windsor, CT, 2003), pp. 60-61, 63, cats. 23, 25; Frances Gruber Safford, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: I. Early Colonial Period: The Seventeenth-Century and William and Mary Styles (New York, 2007), pp. 219-224.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $30,000

A CARVED OAK "HADLEY" CHEST WITH DRAWER, possibly Hatfield Area, Massachusetts, 1700-1725, the top an old replacement, 34.25 in. high, 48 in. wide, 20.5 in. deep.

Possibly made for a member of the Belding family in Hatfield, this "Hadley" chest illustrates one of the most distinctive and identifiable joinery traditions from early America. Defined by the use of a repeating tulip-and-leaf template, this tradition flourished in central Massachusetts along the Connecticut River Valley during the first decades of the eighteenth century and with almost 200 survivals today, "Hadley" chests have long captured the attention and imagination of American furniture scholars and collectors alike. This chest is said to have been collected by Charles Nicoll Talbot (1802-1874), a successful New York City merchant, who summered in his father’s 1825 Greek Revival house at 26 Prospect Street in Northampton, Massachusetts (later known as the Capen house and now part of Smith College). Talbot was evidently very fond of the arts from the region and was the original owner of Thomas Cole’s celebrated masterpiece, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm (1836), known as The Oxbow, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more on Talbot, see David Bjelajac, "Thomas Cole’s Oxbow and the American Zion Divided," American Art (Spring 2006), pp. 60-83. 

One of several Hadley chests collected by the Talbot family, this chest may have been made for a member of the Belding (Belden) family. Two others with Talbot provenance and Belding associations are known: The RB and MB chests made and Rhoda Belding (1716-1740) and her half-sister Mary Belding (1705-1747) or possibly their aunt, Mary Belding (1679-1724), wife of Ichabod Allis (1675-1747) (Clair Franklin Luther, The Hadley Chest (Hartford, 1935), p. 72, no. 13 and Christie’s, New York, 16 January 2004, lot 424). It is conceivable that all three were later purchased from a common source in the Northampton area. Rhoda and the younger Mary’s grandfather and uncle, Samuel Belding, Sr. (1632-1713) and Samuel Belding, Sr. (1757-1737), were carpenters and joiners in Hatfield, the latter a partner of Ichabod Allis, and all three have been proposed as possible makers of these chests. Additional chests with Belding family associations include an SB chest possibly made for Rhoda’s half-sister Sarah, and chests made for their first cousins, Lydia (1718-1789) and Hannah (1681-1747) Belding (see Sotheby’s, New York, The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Henry P. Deyerle, 26-27 May 1995, lot 376; Luther, pp. 71, 135, nos. 11, 12). For more on the Belding and Allis craftsmen, see Philip Zea, "The Fruits of Oligarchy: Patronage and the Hadley Chest Tradition in Western Massachusetts," Old-Time New England: New England Furniture, Essays in Memory of Benno M. Forman, vol. 72 (Boston, 1987), pp. 10-12, 34, 37; Luther, pp. 22, 25-31. 

The Belding family included Samuel Belding, Jr. (1657-c.1737), a joiner who worked in association with Ichabod Allis (1675-1747) in Hatfield, both of whom have been proposed as possible makers of these chests (Philip Zea, "The Fruits of Oligarchy: Patronage and the Hadley Chest Tradition in Western Massachusetts," Old-Time New England: New England Furniture, Essays in Memory of Benno M. Forman, vol. 72 (Boston, 1987), pp. 10-12, 34, 37; Luther, pp. 22, 25-31). In addition, several other chests made for members of the Belding and Allis families share similar details of design and construction. These, with their all-over use of the tulip-and-leaf pattern, are among those categorized by Patricia E. Kane as Group III. As noted by Kane, Group III's exclusive and repetitive use of the same motif on all components of the facade created a visual effect that was new and original, one that contrasted from the more traditional appearance of Group I and II chests in which the decorative details varied to emphasize the different parts of the joined forms (Patricia E. Kane, "The Seventeenth-Century Furniture of the Connecticut Valley: The Hadley Chest Reappraised," Arts of the Anglo-American Community (Charlottesville, Virginia, 1975), pp. 92, 96, 100, figs. 15, 16).

Provenance: Charles Nicoll Talbot (1802-1874), New York City and Northampton, Massachusetts

Edward Martin Talbot (1854-1927), son

John Alden Talbot (1890-1962), son

Thence by descent in the family

Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York

Property from a Maine Collection

Literature: Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc., In Search of Excellence: Catalogue VIII (New York, 1994), p. 3.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $32,500

GEORGE WASHINGTON AT PRINCETON OIL ON CANVAS, circa 1780, attributed to Pierre Augustin Thomire (1724-1808), after Charles Willson Peale, 61 x 44 in.

Painted in about 1780 in France, this portrait stands as one of the earliest replicas of Charles Willson Peale’s iconic portrayal of George Washington and symbolizes the Franco-American alliance that led to victory and American independence. In 1779, Peale was commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania to execute a likeness of the Commander-in-Chief and his life-size, full-length depiction of Washington celebrates a key moment in the Revolutionary War—the victories at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton on December 26, 1776 and January 3, 1777. After a year of defeat and retreat, the American forces were embattled by late 1776 when Thomas Paine famously declared, "These are the times that try men’s souls" (The American Crisis, 23 December 1776). Under Washington’s command, the tide turned with victories in Trenton and then Princeton, now known as "ten crucial days" by historians. While Peale’s original portrait hung in the State House (Independence Hall), several copies painted by Peale were sent abroad to promote the ongoing fight for American Independence (Christie’s, New York, George Washington at Princeton from the Collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, 21 January 2006, lot 547). 

Evidence strongly indicates that the portrait offered here was painted by the French artist Pierre Augustin Thomire (1724-1808) and that he was directly inspired by the copy painted by Peale and presented to Louis XVI in 1779. In composition and execution, this portrait relates closely to an example signed "Thomire/ 1780" now in the Union Club in New York City and the two are undoubtedly by the same hand. Comparison with known works and signatures of Pierre Augustin Thomire confirm that he is the artist who signed the Union Club example. Born in Paris and recorded as living there in 1769, Thomire was also active in Bordeaux. In 1773, he is noted to have painted portraits of the French royal family for Catherine the Great, an association that suggests he would later have had access to Peale’s portrait hanging at Versailles (for the discovery of the Thomire signature in 1933 and similarities among these four portraits, see John Hill Morgan Research Files, The Frick Collection/ Frick Art Reference Library Archives, MS.08, Box 2, folders 1-41). Furthermore, of all the known versions by Peale, it is the example made for Louis XVI, as well as one other dated 1779 (fig. 1), that are closest to Thomire’s renditions. As enumerated by Charles Coleman Sellers, Peale made subtle alterations to his versions of the portrait, which can be placed in chronological order. Peale's first portrait lacks the figures on the left and the blue flag on the right is at the height of Washington’s head and below. In Peale's other (fig. 1) 1779 portraits, the figures are included and the blue flag has been raised, but remains rigid. In later versions, Peale places the flag even higher and depicts it billowing in the wind while making further changes to Washington’s dress to keep up-to-date with regulations for an officer’s uniform, such as adding stars to the epaulettes and removing the blue sash (Charles Coleman Sellers, Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale (1952), pp. 225-233). 

Dated 1780, the Union Club portrait was executed in the midst of the Revolution and before Peale had completed his series. Assuming that the example offered here was painted around the same time, its commission indicates that there was a significant appetite in France for imagery of the American General while he was fighting for independence. At least two other examples that appear to be by the same hand are known and are now in The Huntington in San Marino, California (fig. 2) and a private collection (see Sotheby’s, New York, 3 December 1992, lot 19). The French government’s military and financial support of the Revolution, secured by Benjamin Franklin in early 1778, meant that the French people were also heavily invested in the outcome of the War. Furthermore, although the French Revolution was nine years away, the American fight for liberty resonated deeply at this time among many of France’s citizens. Thomire’s renditions of Peale’s portrait, therefore, are among the earliest works of art celebrating this important alliance. 

While the four paintings all seemingly by Thomire vary in size, they are on a smaller scale than Peale’s life-size full-lengths. Another artist known to have executed small-scale versions of the same scene was Charles Willson Peale’s brother, James Peale, who beginning in 1779, worked in his brother’s studio. Aside from differences in modelling and execution, James Peale’s examples diverge from Thomire’s in a number of details and depict Yorktown (rather than Princeton) in the background, George Washington with a ceremonial sword (rather than a sabre) and riding crop but lacking the blue sash and key fob, and green and white (rather than green and blue) standards at the lower right. All of these details contrast with Thomire’s works, which are more faithful to the elder Peale’s life-size portraits (Sellers, p. 226; for an example of James Peale’s version, see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession no. 85.1). 

The painting of Washington by Ch. W. Peale belonged to my aunt Mlle de la Fresnaye at the end of the last century. The tradition was that this painting was brought from America during the times of Louis XVI by a friend of Rochambeau. The painting was requested by the French Government for the World’s Fair in St. Louis. It was taken to America to be placed in the salon of honor of the French Commissariat, among the Gobelins that decorated this salon. 
-P. de Nolhac to Monsieur Seligmann, 26 December 1921

Although incorrectly identifying its artist and American origins, the above provides clues to the painting’s nineteenth and perhaps late eighteenth-century history. It is an extract of a letter written by Pierre Girauld de Nolhac (1859-1936), the last known family owner of the portrait, and provided by the art dealer Jacques Seligmann & Co. to later owners in the Schiff family. Nolhac was the curator at Versailles and his "aunt Mlle. de la Fresnaye" was most likely his wife’s aunt Marguerite de la Frenaye (circa 1856-1940). Nolhac’s wife, Alix de Go's de Mézcyrac (1862-1939) was the daughter of Marie de la Frenaye (1836-1897) and was very close to her aunt Marguerite who was only six years older. Marguerite remained unmarried and spent much of her time with the Nolhac family at their Paris residence, 3 Rue de Lille, or their country estate, the chateau Vert-en-Drouais. Among Alix and Marguerite’s direct ancestors, there are several who were prominent in the French court around the time this painting was executed. One of these was "le marquis David de Lastours," who in 1789 was the King’s first page. This very well could be the individual listed as "Charles-Henry David, vicomte de Lastours," a soldier in the Boulonnais regiment who fought under Rochambeau in the American Revolution and the basis for the family tradition that the painting was owned by a friend of Rochambeau’s (Claire Salvy, Pierre de Nolhac, 1859-1936 (2009), pp. 27-28, 31). Although no corroborating evidence can be found, it is likely that the painting offered here was, as Nolhac states, on display at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Nolhac’s letter refers to another example—"a copy and inferior in technique"—in the collections at Versailles and it is this second painting that John Hill Morgan and Mantle Fielding claim was at the same fair. Hence, it seems very likely that at least one of these paintings was included and as Nolhac was curator at Versailles in 1904, his seems to be the most reliable information (Copy of letter, P. de Nolhac to Monsieur Seligmann, 26 December 1921, Yale University Art Gallery files). 

World War I witnessed a revival of the Franco-American alliance and this painting’s French provenance most likely greatly appealed to its next private owner, Mortimer Loeb Schiff (1877-1931) of New York City and Oyster Bay, Long Island. The painting was acquired directly from Nolhac by the firm of Jacques Seligmann & Co., who owned the painting in joint account with the firm M. Knoedler & Co. In 1925, Seligmann wrote to Schiff, his long-time client and friend, and gave a detailed account of its history in France no doubt because he knew of Schiff’s allegiances. Eight years previously, Seligmann had written to Schiff from Paris days after America had joined the War: "I do not need to write you, because you certainly know it, that Paris is flagged with American and French flags, and the friendship which the French people have for the Americans and especially for you and Mr. Kahn [Schiff’s business partner], because we often read in the papers of your kind charity for our countrymen" (letters, Jacques Seligmann to Schiff, April 17, 1917 and Jacques Seligmann & Co. to Mortimer L. Schiff, April 11, 1925, Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Box 6, folder 11, no. 59 and Box 86, folder 18, no. 1). Schiff, active in the Jewish War Board, even travelled to France in 1918-1919 to assist with their work (Lee Joseph Levinger, A Jewish Chaplain in France (New York, 1921), pp. 108-109). 

The son of a German immigrant, Schiff was a partner in his father’s investment bank, Kuhn, Loeb and Company, and among his many interests, amassed an impressive collection of fine and decorative arts. This painting may have adorned his apartment on Fifth Avenue or his estate, Northwood, in Oyster Bay. After his death, the collection was inherited by his son, John M. Schiff, who sold much of it at auction. He worked in his father’s firm, which in 1977 merged with Lehmann Brothers. This painting was among the art works of his father’s that John M. Schiff kept and after his death in 1987, it was given to his alma mater, Yale University.

Provenance: Mlle de la Frenaye (Fresnaye), probably Marguerite de la Frenaye (circa 1856-1940), Paris and Verte-en-Drouais, France
Pierre Girauld de Nolhac (1859-1936), Paris and Verte-en-Drouais, husband of niece of above
Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., Paris and New York in joint account with M. Knoedler & Co., purchased from above in 1922
Mortimer Loeb Schiff (1877-1931), New York City and Oyster Bay, Long Island, purchased from above in 1925
John Mortimer Schiff (1904-1987), son

Property of the Yale University Art Gallery sold to the benefit of its acquisition fund. 

Literature: M. Knoedler & Co., advertisement, Art and Decoration, February 1922. 
John Hill Morgan and Mantle Fielding, The Life Portraits of Washington (1931), pp. 32-34, nos. 20, 27.
Gustavus A. Eisen, Portraits of Washington, vol. 2 (1932), p. 359.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $81,250

THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SILVER-HILTED SMALL SWORD, probably Spanish, Circa 1760, with tapering Colichemarde blade of hollow triangular section, etched at the forte with scrollwork, and engraved inscription (a 19th century addition) in French Epée que portait Benjamin Franklin dans les combats livrés en Amérique pour la cause de la Liberté. / Il la donna depuis à son ami P.J.G. Cabania (sic) [Sword worn by Benjamin Franklin in the battles fought in America in the cause of Liberty. / He then gave it to his friend P.J.G. Cabanis], silver hilt comprising symmetrical shell-guard, quillion-block, knuckle-guard and pommel (rear-quillion missing) pierced with scrollwork and stylised trophies, and grip bound with silver wire and ribbon; with brown leather scabbard with silver locket decorated en suite with the hilt and struck on the reverse with a silversmith’s mark, and later silver chape with iron finial; and later close-fitted velvet-lined leather-covered case with brass mounts.

The sword: 33.5 in. (85 cm.) blade; 40.325 in. (102.5 cm.) overall
The case: 42.625 in. (108.3 cm.) long
The locket (upper scabbard mount) bearing a silversmith’s mark of SS in a rectangle, determined to be that of Samuel Soumaine (1718-circa 1769) of Annapolis, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wielded in the courts and among likeminded philosophers rather than on the battlefield, this small sword is a testament to America’s foremost statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and his unprecedented diplomatic, scientific and intellectual achievements. After fighting for his country’s interests in London during the events leading up to 1776, Franklin secured military and financial support from the French government for the American Revolution with the 1778 Treaty of Alliance. His was a victory as great as any fought in combat as American independence depended upon French intervention. Franklin’s biographer, the Yale historian Edmund S. Morgan has hailed Franklin’s negotiations as "the greatest diplomatic victory the United States has ever achieved."1 In addition to this treaty, Franklin was a key figure and signatory to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and the United States Constitution in 1787 and stands as the only figure to have signed all of the most crucial documents relating to the founding of America. During his nine years in France, Franklin also won over the hearts and minds of the French people and one of these was Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis (1757-1808), a young student of medicine and philosophy. Despite a fifty-year age gap, Cabanis and Franklin were true kindred spirits. Both men of the Enlightenment, they shared not only a love of scientific study but a broader interest humanism, morality and liberty. The two developed a deep friendship and before departing back to America in 1785, Franklin gave this sword to Cabanis. Until the present sale, the sword has been in the possession of Cabanis’ direct descendants and beginning with the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, long celebrated as a symbol of Franco-American amity.

With its scabbard locket bearing the silversmith’s mark of Samuel Soumaine (1718-circa 1769), Franklin’s neighbor in Philadelphia, the sword can be assuredly ascribed to Franklin’s ownership. The mark on the scabbard, an SS in a rectangle, is virtually identical to that on several pieces ascribed to Soumaine. Born in New York, Samuel probably trained with the City’s renowned silversmith Simeon Soumaine (circa 1685-1750) who was presumably one of his relations. In the early 1740s, the younger Soumaine moved to Annapolis and from 1754 to 1765 advertised in Philadelphia. There, he lived close to Franklin’s house at 325 Market Street between Third and Fourth Streets. Franklin referred to Soumaine as "one of my Good Friends and Neighbours" and surviving correspondence indicates that the two families were in frequent contact. In 1755, Franklin offered employment to Soumaine’s lodger and in 1762 Franklin and Soumaine were both involved with a debt owed by a printer in Jamaica. When Soumaine’s daughter, Elizabeth (Soumaine) Epsom, moved to England, Franklin wrote a letter of introduction and while Franklin himself was in London, his wife’s letters from 1765 to 1769 often remark upon the deteriorating health of the Soumaines.2

The presence of Soumaine’s mark indicates that the sword was in the silversmith’s shop and thus can be placed in Philadelphia in the 1750s or 1760s. The sword was most likely with Soumaine when both he and Franklin were in Philadelphia at the same time: Between 1754 and 1757, when Soumaine first advertised in Philadelphia and before Franklin departed for London or between 1762 and 1764, when Franklin arrived back from London only to return again two years later. The sword’s design is distinctive and seen on the shell-guard, knuckle-guard and scabbard locket are stylized motifs comprising a drum lying on its side, clusters of scroll-work and wing-like elements with inner borders and dots. These same details are seen on a Spanish sword in the Lattimer Family Collection with a blade marked "Toledo," a center of sword-making in central Spain.3 Supporting a possible Spanish attribution is the absence of assay marks and the lack of any parallels in England, France and America. Soumaine may have imported the sword or its component parts and assembled them in his shop or Franklin may have otherwise obtained the sword in Philadelphia. Alternatively, it is possible that while in London between 1757 and 1762, Franklin purchased the sword or received it as a gift and then when he returned to Philadelphia, he had reason to place it in Soumaine’s shop for a minor repair or adjustment at which time the silversmith applied his mark to the scabbard. Confirming that the sword and scabbard are original to each other, metallurgical testing reveals that their composition of silver, copper and traces of lead and gold are consistent to each other and other examples of eighteenth-century silver.4 Furthermore, the decoration on the scabbard locket is en suite with the same scroll-work, drums and wing-like motifs. European small swords were fairly common in colonial America. Franklin also owned a French sword and several of Washington’s swords were London-made, including a 1767 small sword now at Mount Vernon.5 

In the late 1750s and 1760s, Franklin twice served in London as an agent of various colonial assemblies and during this time he may have worn the sword. From 1757 to 1762, he represented the Pennsylvania Assembly, and from late 1764 to 1775 he represented Pennsylvania as well as Massachusetts, Georgia and New Jersey. Samuel Soumaine probably died soon after October 1769 when Deborah Franklin noted that "poor Mr. Sumain has laid like one near his end," her last mention of their neighbor. A 1767 portrait of Franklin in London shows him wearing an elegant blue coat with gilt buttons and gold braid, a wig and spectacles. Here, he is dressed for court and a sword such as the one offered here would have completed the ensemble. An evolution of the rapier, small swords or "dress" or "ceremonial" swords were standard accessories for a gentleman’s dress. In the same year, Franklin travelled to France where he was received by Louis XV in Versailles. From Paris, he wrote "I had not been here Six Days before my Taylor and Peruquier had transform’d me into a Frenchman" and noted that he wore a "bag wig," which revealed the ears. Although not otherwise described, his dress was undoubtedly equally stylish and may also have included this sword.6 At this time, Franklin was still very much a loyal British subject and adhered to courtly customs. When he next visited Europe, he did so as an American patriot whose country had recently declared itself independent of Britain and its monarch. After securing French military support with the signing of the Treat of Amity, Franklin and the other commissioners were officially received by Louis XVI in March 1778. Although ceremonial swords were generally required in court and porters were even on hand to lend such items to visitors, Franklin pointedly eschewed a sword, a wig and any formal attire. Instead, he proudly wore his signature simple brown suit and distinctive glasses, symbols of his persona that had already endeared him to the French nation.7 However, on other official occasions during his nine year stay in France, Franklin probably did carry a sword as the French example in fig. 4 is said to have been worn at the French court. 

Regardless of Franklin’s adherence to customs in his dress, the statesman would have been acutely aware of the significance of swords as gifts. On the one hand, they could represent official recognition of services performed, such as the sword commissioned by Franklin on behalf of the American Congress in 1778 and presented to the Marquis de Lafayette to commemorate his successes in battle during the early years of the Revolution. Seven years later, Congress employed the same Parisian fourbisseur to craft swords for ten other heroes of the War.8 However, when a sword was owned by the gift bearer, its offering signified a more personal connection. Among the gifts believed to have been exchanged between Washington and Lafayette, for example, was Lafayette’s French infantryman’s sword, which the Marquis is believed to have been given to Washington after his return from France in 1780.9 

Just as Washington and Lafayette held each other in the highest esteem, Franklin and Cabanis formed a deep friendship based on professional admiration, likeminded political beliefs and great personal affection. They met in 1779 through Madame Helvétius (1722-1800), a widow whose house in the Parisian suburb of Auteuil became a center for intellectuals such as Turgot, Condorcet, Voltaire and Diderot known as "L’Académie d’Auteuil." At the time, Cabanis was a twenty-two year old student of medical philosophy living in an outbuilding on the property. He served as Mme. Helvétius’ secretary but became more like an adopted son and upon her death, she bequeathed him her Auteuil estate. Living nearby in Passy, Franklin was equally close to "Notre Dame" as he penned Mme. Helvétius. They enjoyed a witty repartee and close friendship that continued long after she politely declined Franklin’s marriage proposal in 1779.10 At the first meeting of Franklin and Cabanis, the American was struck by the younger man’s "passion and ardor" and is quoted as saying, "At your age, a man’s soul is still at the window, looking outside."11 For seven years, the two lived within walking distance and appear to have seen each other at least twice a week. They were both also members of La Loge des Neuf Sœurs, the Masonic lodge of Nine Sisters. Cabanis was in awe of Franklin’s scientific accomplishments and probably witnessed France’s first lightning rod, which Franklin installed on the roof of his house in Passy.12 Cabanis was even more impressed by his methods of self-improvement. While together, Franklin recounted his life history and began his autobiography, which included a chart for measuring his development of selected virtues. Now it was Cabanis’ turn to discuss souls. "We touched this precious booklet," he later wrote, "we held it in our hands. Here was, in a way, the chronological story of Franklin’s soul!"13 

Je vous les laisse comme des reliques et comme des souvenirs d’amitié [I leave these to you as relics and memories of friendship]
--Benjamin Franklin to Cabanis and his friends at Auteuil, 1785. 

Their friendship continued after Franklin decided to return to Philadelphia in 1785. His departure from Auteuil was particularly difficult and as noted by Cabanis, "many honorable tears… were shed on both sides."14 To his various friends, Franklin bestowed several of his personal items to serve as mementoes. In addition to the sword offered here, Cabanis also received the hollow cane Franklin used for his experiments with oil and water.15 As recorded by Cabanis himself and published posthumously as part of his Oeuvres in 1825, Franklin said, "I leave them to you… as relics and as memories of friendship."16 The following year, Franklin made several of his French friends, including Cabanis, honorary members of the American Philosophical Society and upon the statesman’s death in 1790, Cabanis wrote a detailed and extensive biographical note, "Notice Sur Benjamin Franklin," in which he faithfully recorded and extolled Franklin’s many accomplishments.17 

By this time, Cabanis was gaining increasing recognition and like Franklin, his career encompassed both politics and science. A physician and physiologist, he published a well-received treatise on the management of hospitals, served as Professor of hygiene at the Medical School of Paris and from 1789-1791, was the personal doctor of Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791), the popular leader during the early years of the French Revolution. Cabanis was initially an ardent supporter of the Revolution and a member of the Council of Five Hundred and later the Senate, but during the Reign of Terror, he declined to be appointed as a representative to the United States, preferring to stay in France in order to help and protect his friends. He was also Deputy of the Seine, Member of the Académie Française and Commandeur of the Légion d’honneur. During the rule of Napoleon, he abandoned politics and concentrated on his academic career. His principal work, Rapports du Physique et du Moral de l'Homme [On the relations between the physical and moral aspects of man] (1802), was a groundbreaking study on the links between physiology and psychology and Cabanis is widely regarded as a major pioneer of modern neurology. In 1796, Cabanis married Charlotte Félicité de Grouchy (1768-1844) and for a time, the couple lived in Mme. Helvétius’ Auteuil estate with their two daughters. After his sudden death in 1808, Cabanis was buried in Paris in the Pantheon, a church where the most distinguished of France’s citizens are interred and was granted posthumously the title of Count of the Empire by Napoleon. 

Since the early nineteenth century, the sword has passed down from generation to generation among Cabanis’ descendants, many of whom had distinguished military careers, and its significance as a symbol of Franco-American unity continues to resonate to this day. The sword presumably remained among the possessions of Cabanis’ widow before passing to their eldest daughter, Geneviève Aminthe (1793-1876) (figs. 7, 10), the wife of Jean-Pierre Hecquet d’Orval (1783-1859) and subsequently to their son Emile Hecquet d’Orval (1816-1887). At the time of its loan to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the sword was owned by Emile’s son, Fernand Hecquet d'Orval (1851-1911), a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war who resided at Château du Bois de Bonance in Port-le-Grand in northern France, a house he had also inherited from his father. The house and sword continued to descend together to Fernand’s son, Honoré Hecquet d'Orval (1892-1950), who is recorded as the sword’s owner when it was exhibited in Paris in the 1920s. A veteran of World War I and part of the French Resistance during World War II, Honoré would have personally experienced American reciprocity in the twentieth century for French military support in the eighteenth. More recently, the sword was featured in an exhibition celebrating French involvement in the American Revolution on the occasion of the two-hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1976 and has been treasured as a family heirloom. With no direct descendants to continue the tradition, the current owners have decided to sell the sword in America and celebrate the enduring legacy of one its most famous and beloved Founding Fathers. 

Christie’s would like to thank Donald L. Fennimore, Curator Emeritus, Winterthur Museum, for his assistance with this essay. 


1 Edmund S. Morgan, The Birth of the Republic: 1763-89 (4th edition, Chicago, 2013), p. 83. 

2 "From Benjamin Franklin to Daniel Fisher, 28 July 1755," "Charles Somerset Woodham to Samuel Soumain, 22 July 1762," "From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 4 May 1764" and "To Benjamin Franklin from Deborah Franklin, 8?–13 October 1765, 12 January 1766 and 4 October 1769," The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. (New Haven, 1959-1969), vol. 6, p. 113, vol. 10, pp. 135-136, vol. 11, p. 190, vol. 12, pp. 299-304, vol. 13, pp. 29-35 and The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. William B. Willcox (New Haven, 1972), vol. 16, pp. 212-214. Unless otherwise noted, all letters cited are available at Founders Online, National Archives,

3 Daniel D. Hartzler, Silver Mounted Swords: The Lattimer Family Collection (2000), p. 51, fig. 85.

4 Arms and Armour Research Institute, University of Huddersfield, "Analysis of a sword traditionally associated with Benjamin Franklin and presented to Pierre Georges Cabanis," 9 August 2016. Please contact the department for a copy of this report. 

5 This second sword descended to Franklin’s grandson William Franklin Bache and was given to the Franklin Institute in the late 19th century. See For Washington’s 1767 small sword, see

6 "From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 14 September 1767," The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree (New Haven, 1970), vol. 14, pp. 250–255.

7 Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (New York, 2003), p. 348. 

8 See for example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 17.87.3a, b

9 See

10 For "L’Académie d’Auteuil," see Claude-Anne Lopez, Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris (New Haven, 1966), pp. 273-301; Isaacson, pp. 363-375; Robert Middlekauff, Benjamin Franklin and His Enemies (Los Angeles, 1996), pp. 18-20; Martin S. Staum, Cabanis: Enlightenment and Medical Philosophy in the French Revolution (Princeton, 1980), pp. 17-18.

11 Lopez, op. cit., p. 273. See also Antoine Guillois, Le Salon de Madame Helvétius; Cabanis et Les Idéologues (Paris, 1894), p. 60.

12 Franklin was highly regarded among France’s scientific elite and one of only a few non-French citizens elected to its most prestigious institutions, the Royal Academy of Science and the Royal Society of Medicine. 

13 Lopez, op. cit., p. 277. Cabanis and Franklin were also members of the Masonic Loge des Noeufs Soeurs. See R. William Weisberger, "Benjamin Franklin: A Masonic Enlightener in Paris," Pennsylvania History 53, no. 3 (July 1986), p. 168.

14 Lopez, op. cit., p. 299. 

15 The cane descended along the same lines of descent as the sword and was included in the exhibition at the Musée de Rennes in 1976 cited in Literature, above. 

16 Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis, Oeuvres Posthumes de Cabanis, Le Tome Cinquième de Ses Oeuvres Complètes (Paris, 1825), p. 251. 

17 Cabanis, op. cit., p. 220-274. Staum, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $247,500

PAUL REVERE ENGRAVER (1734-1818). THE BLOODY MASSACRE PERPETRATED IN KING STREET, BOSTON, ON MARCH 5TH 1770, by a Party of the 29th Regt. Boston: Engrav'd Printed & Sold by Paul Revere, [March 1770]. Engraving with hand-coloring, (plate, 7.875 x 8.6875 in., with text, 9.75 x 8.75 in. on a 11.125 x 9.5 in. sheet). Several tears repaired on verso, marginal losses along top, left and bottom margin, all in-filled with paper and missing text replaced in ink, light soiling, and a few minor wormholes. Brigham 14; Stokes & Haskell, 1770-C-10, Stauffer, 2675. Second state with a small clock tower reading 10:20 (the clock reading 8:10 in the first state). Printed on laid paper with indistinct watermark at extreme left margin. Engraved caption at top, at bottom 18 lines of verse ("Unhappy Boston! See thy Sons deplore...") and a detailed list of the American casualties: "Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks, and Patrick Carr," plus "Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally." 11.125 x 9.5 in.

Paul Revere's inflammatory engraving The Bloody Massacre was one of the most evocative propaganda pieces printed during the American Revolution. Revere lived in Boston and made his living as a silversmith, engraver and metalworker. A member of the Sons of Liberty, a militant group formed in 1765, he produced engravings with proto-revolutionary themes to raise money for the dissident organization. The best known among these are a depiction of the arrival of British troops in 1768 and the present depiction of the March 1770 Boston Massacre. Revere also made a Sons of Liberty punch bowl (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) in 1768, which is widely regarded as the most famous example of American presentation silver.

The sanguinary events of 5 March 1770 in which five Bostonians died by British musketry took on great symbolic significance in the highly charged tenor of public affairs between England and its colonies, particularly Massachusetts. Revere immediately recognized the propaganda value of the incident, and "saw the opportunity of furthering the patriot cause by circulating so significant a print" (Clarence S. Brigham, Paul Revere's Engravings, (New York, 1969), pp. 52-53). Revere's powerful depiction was based on a sketch of the bloody confrontation by Henry Pelham. Revere's engraving was advertised for sale in the March 26th editions of the Boston Evening Post and the Boston Gazette as "a Print, containing a Representation of the late horrid Massacre in King-street." Two days later Revere noted in his Day Book that he paid the printers Edes & Gill to produce 200 impressions.

Revere was a ringleader in the Boston Tea Party of 16 December 1773, when, in protest of unfairly levied taxes, American colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor from the British merchant ship Dartmouth. Revere’s exalted place in American legend was cemented by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" (1860), which recounted the patriot’s dangerous mission in April 1775 to warn colonists of the impending invasion of British troops. Famously, one lantern would be lit in the steeple of the North Church in Charlestown to alert townspeople if the British were arriving by land, and "two if by sea." '

Provenance: Sold, Christie's, New York, 24 September 1980, lot 274

Property of the Jack Warner Foundation

Sold at Christie's Auction September 20, 2016.

PriceRealized: $75,000

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