On November 9th-11th, Brunk Auctions held an auction of over 1,600 lots of fine and decorative arts, maps, and more. Hundreds of bidders participated in what was the largest ever auction by lot-count for the Asheville-based firm. Several exceptional results ensued, including numerous auction records for Maps Deaccessioned by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund.
The high lot from Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was an extremely rare copy of a privately published journal by John Graves Simcoe entitled Operations of the Queen’s Rangers. The journal included all ten engraved fold-out battle plans, and provides one of the most complete firsthand accounts of the Revolutionary War. Published in 1787, this work was unknown to the public until 1844, as it was initially circulated only to Simcoe’s closest friends and family.
John Graves Simcoe was perhaps the most successful British officer in the Revolutionary War, and is known for his fervent abolitionist beliefs. Before his command of the Queen’s Rangers, he sought to lead a company of free blacks against the colonists. In 1793, as Lieutenant-Governor of what is now Ontario, he pushed the ratification of the Act Against Slavery, making his colony the first in the British Empire to abolish slavery.
The 184 page leather bound journal was in virtually unused condition considering its age, and brought serious interest from a number of bidders. Phone bidders battled it out until the hammer fell at $168,000, a record price for the extremely rare journal at auction.
Other notable maps from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation include the Map of the Middle British Colonies by Lewis Evans selling for $102,000 and The Posts of York and Gloucester by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres also selling for $102,000. The following three maps sold for a record price at auction: The Battle of Yorktown by Esnauts & Rapilly selling for $78,000, A Plan of Yorktown and Gloucester by Lieutenant John Hills selling for $45,600, and a Map of Virginia by Ralph Hall based upon John Smith’s model selling for $26,400. The following two maps, both later editions, sold for a record price for their specific state at auction: A Chorographical Map of the Province of New York in North America by Claude Joseph Sauthier from 1779 selling for $16,800, and L’Amerique by Nicolas de Fer from 1739 selling for $26,400.
The co-top lot in the auction was a rare New England Pilgrim Century Carved Oak Chest from the collection of Bob and Diane Ruggiero. The early chest is attributed to Guilford, Connecticut circa 1670-1710. It is believed that there are only a handful of these chests known to be in existence. This one offered at Brunk Auctions was purchased privately decades ago and was new-to-market. Despite an early restoration to part of the lid, numerous bidders pursued it aggressively. After a flurry of bidding in the gallery and on the phones, it was a private phone bidder that won the chest for $168,000.
Some of the other exceptional lots in the auction include an 8.15 Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond Ring selling for $90,000, a painting of a Bay Horse from Franklin Brooke Voss selling for $31,200, and a landscape by Charles Fraser selling for $28,800. In total, the auction achieved over $3.2 million during the three sessions with 91.4% of lots sold. All prices listed include Buyers Premium. The next catalog auction at Brunk Auctions will be held on the weekend of January 27th.
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