A new auction record for American silver was set at Sotheby’s when a Silver Punch Bowl by Cornelius Kierstede, made in New York between 1700 and 1710, sold for an astonishing $5,906,500. With a pre-sale estimate of $400/800,000 auctioneer David Redden opened the bidding at $275,000 and almost instantly a bid of $500,000 was called out by Ian Irving of Ian Irving Ltd. As many as six different bidders raised their paddles, but at around $3 million the battle was reduced to two determined clients, an anonymous gentleman seated in the room and New York dealer S.J. Shrubsole. The competition continued for several minutes before the winning bid was cast by the anonymous purchaser in the room; bringing the gavel down to rousing applause. The final price of $5.9 million is more than seven times the previous record for American silver, and is the second highest price ever paid for any piece of silver at auction.
The bowl has descended in the family of Commodore Joshua Loring, whose stately home in Jamaica Plain , Massachusetts , the Loring-Greenough House, has been preserved as an historic site. A Royalist, Loring abandoned his residence in August 1774 to take refuge in Boston , and the family emigrated to London in 1776. According to tradition, the bowl was hidden in a well on the property during the Revolution. Retrieved by the family, it descended quietly with them in England , completely unknown, until the owners sent a grainy photograph to Sotheby’s London silver department in March of 2009.
The punch bowl was included in Sotheby’s sale of Important Americana, which continues tomorrow morning at 10am, and will be followed by Chinese Export Porcelain from the Private Collection of Elinor Gordon at 2pm.
The previous auction record for American silver was $775,750, paid for both The Richard and Alice Brackett Cup, An American Silver Wine Cup, John Hull and Robert Sanderson, Sr., Boston, circa 1660, sold from the collection of Quincy Church at Sotheby’s in January 2001, and A Superb Early American Silver Two-Handled Grace Cup and Cover, John Coney, Boston, circa 1715, also descended with a Royalist family in England and sold at Sotheby’s in January 2002.
Image: American Silver Punch Bowl, Cornelius Kierstede, New York, 1700-1710 (est. $400/800,000) Sold for: $5,906,500. Photo: Sotheby’s