Skinner, has announced that Session I of the Richard Wright Collection will be held in the Marlborough gallery on Oct. 10, 2009. The eclectic sale is comprised of more than 450 lots. Wright’s vast collection of dolls and doll furniture and accessories up for auction is truly a study of the history of playthings.
Richard Wright was an antiques trailblazer, marked by his success as a dealer and his passion as a collector. A prominent and colorful appraiser on the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow, Wright had an appreciation not only for the valuable, but the unusual, the rare and the original. His collection represents one of the most prominent to be seen in the auction world in many years.
Skinner has teamed with Andy and Becky Ourant of Adamstown, Pennsylvania on this exceptional event. The Ourants, well-known figures in the field of dolls and doll collectibles, as well as close personal and professional friends of Mr. Wright, will bring their extensive knowledge and love of the material to the sale of this estate.
A nice selection of early dolls grace the sale. Of note is a Queen Anne lady doll in a mahogany and walnut case (lot 40, est. $50/70,000), c. 1720 – Wright’s signature doll, which was often captured in his business marketing materials. Also highlighted is an important portrait-type carved wood doll from Germany (lot 52, est. $40/60,000), which is believed to have been acquired by Wright via private treaty sale at Sotheby’s London in the 1980s. Undocumented anecdotal history purports that this doll was commissioned by a member of Dutch royalty. Other featured dolls include a German wooden doll with wardrobe, maker unknown but probably Oberammergau (lot 251, est. $50/70,000); a China lady with bun and wardrobe and glazed porcelain head (lot 352, est. $15/20,000) made in Germany; and a Queen Anne lady doll from England, c. 1750 (lot 70, est. $8/12,000). Finally, two gentleman (lots 221 and 224) and two lady (lots 222 and 223, all four estimated at $3/4,000) 18th century gesso-over-wood German dolls round out the early offerings.
An important papier-mâché lady is expected to draw interest due to the rarity of its looped braids of waxed human hair (lot 61, est. $10/15,000). Also being offered are two highly sought KPM China dolls, a lady with bun (lot 53, est. $8/10,000) and a gentleman (lot 54, est. $7/9.000); and a Kris Kringle doll (lot 21, est. $6/8,000), the body covered by approximately fifty-five period playthings, offers an extraordinary glimpse of Christmas in 1852. The cover lots, several boy dolls, far rarer than their female counterparts, include a gentleman with a molded hat (lot 246, est. $3/4,000); a Scottish highlander (lot 3, est. $3/4,000); and a soldier with molded helmet (lot 66, est. $3/4,000).
A fine selection of German character dolls will also be offered including a Kestner 208 doll (lot 79, est. $25/30,000); a Steiff German soldier (lot 102, est. $1,5/2,000); a gentleman candle holder (lot 103, est. $2/3,000); an Armand Marseille girl (lot 106, est. $10/12,000); a Kämmer & Reinhardt 107 boy (lot 107, est. $20/30,000); a Kämmer & Reinhardt girl, “Elise” (lot 108, est. $15/20,000); a Franz Schmidt 1262 girl (lot 225, est. $20/25,000); a Heubach toddler child (lot 234, est. $10/12,000); and a rare Simon & Halbig 1388 smiling girl (lot 235, est. $25/30,000).
Other German dolls to be featured include portrait dolls such as an Admiral George Dewey doll (lot 115, est. $1,5/2,000); another admiral doll (lot 116, est. $1,5/2,000); and a President William McKinley doll (lot 117, est. $1,5/2,000). Two fine African American portrait dolls up for bid are a Recknagel doll (lot 119, est. $3/4,000) and a Simon & Halbig 1358 doll (lot 120, est. $6/8,000), each more truly ethnic looking than other black dolls of the time that were made from white doll molds, but painted black.
A small selection of French dolls represents the country’s golden period of doll making. Far more fashion oriented than those from Germany, fine examples include two Jacob Petit China ladies (lots 25 and 67, est. $8/10,000 and $7/9,000, respectively). Also featured are good examples of Bebés including a wonderful Jumeau Bebé, so called “Elizabeth” (lot 95, est. $10/12,000) that was Wright’s mother’s doll; and a rare all original Joanny Bebé (lot 285, est. $10/12,000). Finally, both doll and automata collectors alike will find a Roullet & Decamps magician automaton (lot 137, est. $25/35,000) of interest, as well as a Vichy waltzing couple musical automaton (lot 138, est. $4/6,000) and a bisque Mephistopheles automaton head and arms under a dome (lot 139, est. $1/1,500).
Highly sought Izannah Walker dolls include two painted cloth children (lots 128 and 335, est. $15/18,000 and $10/12,000, respectively). Also offered is a fine selection of Martha Chase dolls highlighted by a rare “Alice in Wonderland” four-piece set (lot 30, est. $30/40,000). Additional Chase dolls include rare Dickens characters, “Little Nell” (lot 131, est. $4/6,000), “Mr. Micawber” (lot 132, est. $4/6,000), and “Mrs. Gamps” (lot 133, est. $4/6,000); as well as a girl with side-part hair (lot 130, est. $8/1,200).
Several lots of teddy bears will also go on the block. Of note is a rare Steiff Petsy bear (lot 226, est. $7/9,000) and a Steiff white teddy with glass eyes (lot 232, est. $6/7,000).
Also included in the sale is material that simply spoke to Wright’s whimsical and curious nature. Included in this category is a rare prosopotrope three-face doll head by Ozias Morse with original label (lot 121, est. $2/3,000); a Belsnickel squeak toy (lot 68, est. $2/3,000); an early carved wood knitting lady toy (lot 69, est. $3/4,000); and a Goodyear patent rubble doll (lot 92, est. $6/800).
Doll accessories and furniture
An impressive Georgian wood three-story doll house (lot 149, est. $10/15,000), previously owned by noted doll collector Dorothy Dixon, is the focus on the accessory offerings and much of the furniture being offered in the sale come out of its dwelling. For collectors of furnishings, also of note is a rare American tin toy sled (lot 27, est. $2/3,000) and an American red painted and carved miniature ladder-back rocking chair (lot 247, est. $2/2,500).
Previews, Catalog and Bidding
Previews for the auction will be held on Thursday, Oct 8th from 12 to 5 p.m., on Friday, Oct 9th from 12 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, Oct 10th from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Illustrated catalog #2476 is available by mail for $35 ($42 for foreign requests) from the subscription department at 508-970-3240. It is also available at the gallery for $32. Prices realized will be available at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sale. Skinner’s site also allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live in real-time through Skinner-Live. To register for real-time bidding go to http://www.skinnerinc.com/buy-sell/skinner-live.php. Or, for more information call 508-970-3000.