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On January 26th, Keno Auctions of New York City sold a highly important and historically significant document entitled ‘Letter from the Twelve United States Colonies, by their delegates in Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain. After heated competition between several phone bidders in a packed salesroom, the gavel dropped at $912,500 (including Buyer’s Premium), well above its presale auction estimate of $100,000 to $400,000.

The winning bid of $912,500 was by private collector Brian Hendelson who, shortly after the auction, said "I am very excited about adding this amazing piece of history to my collection.  To be able to buy any original manuscript written relating to our independence is an extremely rare opportunity. To have the opportunity to own the original draft of the final plea to Great Britain is even more extraordinary. The only thing I can compare this to would be to own the original draft of the Declaration of Independence”. The price is the highest for any lot sold at auction during Americana Week 2014 in New York.

This document was long thought to be lost, but in July 2013 archivist Emilie Gruchow discovered it in the attic of the Morris-Jumel Mansion inside a folder of colonial doctor’s bills tucked away in a drawer. The document, penned by Robert R. Livingston, was a final plea for peace by the Continental Congress to the people of Great Britain to avoid the Revolutionary War. It was also a prelude to the Declaration of Independence, which Livingston helped draft with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin less than a year later. This working draft fundamentally changes our understanding of the final document which was printed in July 1775 and is complete with fascinating edits, including entire paragraphs crossed out and rewritten in the margins.  Scholar Michael Hattem of Yale University stated, the document is “…the missing piece from the culminating moments in which the colonists began to think of themselves not as British subjects, but as American citizens.”

Leigh Keno, President of Keno Auctions, said, “I am elated that the manuscript did so well.  All of the proceeds benefit one of the finest house museums in New York City.” Carol Ward, President of The Morris-Jumel Mansion, said after the sale, “I am still in a state of shock. It was so beyond our expectations. This auction quadruples the size of our endowment and ensures that the mansion can serve the public for generations to come.”

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014 17:44

Christie’s Americana Sales Net Over $10 Million

Christie’s Americana Week auctions, which included the sales of Important American Silver on January 23, Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints on January 24, and Chinese Export Art on January 27, fetched a total of $10,189,025.

The Chinese Export Art sale realized $3,034,750 and the top lot was a rare set of four large Chinese export porcelain nodding head figures from the Qianlong Period, which sold for $173,000. The Important American Silver sale netted $1,737,875 and the top lot, a silver Brandywine bowl by Cornelius Vander Burch from the late 17th century, brought $317,000. The Important American Furniture, Folk Art & Decorative Arts sale was the biggest hit of the week and realized $5,416,400. The top lot was an 18th century Chippendale carved Mahogany scallop-top tea table from Philadelphia, which garnered $905,000. Andrew Holter, head of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Christie’s, said, “Today’s solid results underscore collectors’ continued appetite for works of exceptional provenance and quality.”

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Liz Lees and Meg Wendy, both well-known producers of art and antiques shows, have formed a partnership to co-produce the New York Ceramics Fair, which is in its 15th year. Lees, who formed Caskey-Lees with her husband, Bill Caskey, in 1985, said, “I am very pleased that Meg and I have joined forces. Her depth of experience in the world of art fair production, particularly in New York, is unparalleled and will prove invaluable to insuring the growth of the New York Ceramics Fair.”

The New York Ceramics Fair will take place in the Grand Ballroom of the Bohemian National Hall in New York from January 22 through January 26, 2014. The show will feature more than 25 leading ceramics dealers from the U.S., Europe and England including Leo Kaplan Ltd. (New York), Sylvia Powell Decorative Arts (Great Britain), Philip Suval Inc. (Virginia) and Lynda Willauer Antiques (Massachusetts).

The opening night preview on January 21, 2014 will mark the start of the highly anticipated event known as Americana Week in New York.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013 12:58

New York Americana Week Show Happenings

Kicking off New York City’s 2013 “Americana Week” show schedule is The New York Ceramics Fair (January 23–27), with an opening night preview party on January 22. At the Bohemian National Hall (321 East 73rd Street) for the third year in a row, the Ceramics Fair brings together forty galleries from England, Europe, and across the US. Offerings include porcelain, pottery, glass, cloisonné and enamels, as well as an educational lecture series. Visit

The Metro Show NYC opens its second year at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W. 18th Street) with a preview reception January 23 and extends through January 27. This year the show recasts the “A” word (antiques) into the now trendy Historical Design. New dealers include Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts and Fred Giampietro Gallery. The Metro Show welcomes Editions | Artists’ Book Fair to the adjoining building. Visit or call 800.563.7632.

Opening on January 25 and running through the 27, Antiques at the Armory, Lexington Avenue at 26th street, 69th Regiment Armory, features one-hundred select exhibitors of American & European antiques, period furniture, Americana, folk art, garden and architectural artifacts, fine art and prints, and much more. Shuttle service is available between the Armory show and the Winter
Antiques Show. Visit or call 973.808.5015.

Opening the evening of January 24 with a gala preview to benefit East Side House Settlement, the Winter Antiques Show, 67th and Park Avenue, marks its 59th year as the most prestigious antiques
show in the country. Through February 1, seventy-five exhibitors will offer works from antiquity through the 1960s with one-third of the show’s exhibitors specializing in Americana with the rest featuring English, European, and Asian fine and decorative arts. This year’s loan exhibit features “Newport: the Glamour of Ornament,” celebrating The Preservation Society of Newport County. Popular lectures relating to the exhibition and the Expert Eye series are held through the duration of the show. Among the new exhibitors is Allan Katz Americana. Visit or call 718.292.7392.

Though after Americana Week, be sure to visit Outsider Art Fair at Center 548, 548 West 22nd Street in Chelsea, from February 1–3 with a preview party January 31. Under new ownership (Wide Open Arts), the fair celebrates its twenty-first year. Visit or call 212.337.3338.

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Wednesday, 02 January 2013 11:24

Christie’s Announces Americana Week 2013

Christie’s announced that Americana Week 2013 will be held from January 24-25 and on the 28th in New York. The week will include a series of public viewings and auctions focusing on American craftsmanship and artistry. An Important American Silver sale will be held on the 24th, an Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Prints auction will take place on January 25th, and on the 28th, Christie’s will hold English Pottery and Chinese Export Art sales. The Americana Week auctions will present over 400 lots, many of which are from the 18th and 19th centuries and have never been offered at auction until now.

Highlights from the American Silver auction include a drum-form teapot by Paul Revere (1734-1818), a Japanesesque mixed-metal and hardstone style tea service by Tiffany & Co., and a set of silver casters by Simeon Soumaine (circa 1685-circa 1750) from 1740.

Leading the American Furniture, Folk Art, and Prints sale is a Chippendale carved mahogany block-and-shell bureau table signed by John Townsend (1733-1809). The bureau table will be offered alongside a Queen Anne carved maple armchair attributed to John Gaines III (1704-1743), an Edward Hicks (1780-1849) painting depicting William Penn’s treaty with Delaware tribal chiefs, a number of early needlework samplers from The Stonington Collection, and much more.

The English Pottery auction presents over 50 lots including early salt glazed stoneware, redware and creamware formed by William Burton Goodwin, and a London delft polychrome dish, which is painted with the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.

Highlighting the Chinese Export Art sale are a Chinese export ‘orange Fitzhugh’ armorial dinner service from the early 19th century, a pair of Chinese export famille rose fishbowls, and a Chinese export ‘Lady Washington States China’ dish, which was presented to Martha Washington by Andreas van Braam (1739-1801), the director of the Dutch East India Company, in 1796. Van Braam designed the dish as an introductory gift for the First Lady.

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Sotheby’s Americana Week auctions concluded today in New York with a combined total of $17,900,261 – Sotheby’s highest total for this annual week of sales since 2007. The Important Americana auction on Friday and Saturday was led by two record-setting results: the previously undocumented Exceptional Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Arnold Shell-Carved and Figured Mahogany High Chest of Drawers with Open Talons made by John Townsend in 1756, which set an auction record for any high chest of drawers in selling for $3,554,500 (est. $2/3 million*), and An Extremely Rare and Highly Important Gold-Inlaid and Deep Relief Engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver, Samuel Colt, Hartford, Connecticut, circa 1853 that brought $1,142,500 and set a record for any single firearm at auction (est. $800,000/1.2 million). On Sunday, Important American Schoolgirl Embroideries: The Landmark Collection of Betty Ring totaled $4,389,503 – exceeding its pre-sale high estimate of $3.4 million – and set a new auction record for any needlework sampler at auction when a Rare and Important Needlework Sampler, Mary Antrim, Burlington Country, New Jersey, Dated 1807 achieved $1,070,500, more than ten times its high estimate of $120,000 (pictured next page). 

Important Americana – 20 & 21 January 2012
The first day of the Important Americana sale saw top prices for American silver, featuring an exceptional group of 17th, 18th and 19th century pieces from First Parish Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts that brought a total of $1,721,313, led by The Governor Stoughton Cups: A Rare Pair of American Silver Standing Cups that achieved $1,082,500 (est. $1/2 million). The Church will use the proceeds from the sale of this historical group to move its mission in the Dorchester community into the 21st century – not only by updating the physical building and its systems, but also becoming a resource and active center for its multi-faceted community. 

In addition to strong prices for American furniture and decorative arts, Saturday’s session saw several remarkable results for American folk art:
Ammi Phillips’s Portrait of a Winsome Young Girl in Red with Green Slippers, Dog and Bird, circa 1840 – one of only 11 portraits in red by the  artist – well exceeded its $500,000 high estimate in selling for $806,500, while a View of the John Hancock House, Beacon Hill, Boston
(Fireboard / Overmantel) painted circa 1780 achieved $614,500 above a high estimate of $250,000. The work is one of the earliest and most
complete views of the famous Hancock residence.

Important American Schoolgirl Embroideries: The Landmark Collection of Betty Ring – 22 January 2012
In addition to the record-setting result for the Mary Antrim sampler (pictured left), Sunday’s auction dedicated to the celebrated collection of Betty Ring was highlighted by several pieces that greatly exceeded pre-sale expectations: a Fine and Rare Needlework Sampler, Susannah Saunders, Sarah Stivours School, Salem, Massachusetts, Dated 1766 nearly quadrupled its high estimate of $80,000 in achieving $314,500; a Fine and Rare Needlework Sampler, Betsy Gail, Marblehead, Massachusetts, circa 1790 brought $170,500 above a high estimate of $60,000; and a Rare Needlework Sampler, Sarah Cooper, attributed to Ann Marsh’s School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Dated 1792 sold for $170,500 above a high estimate of $80,000. 

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