Estimates were certainly modest – there were suggestions that Hamilton had paid a six-figure sum for this array of showroom-condition pieces from New Hampshire specialist dealer Antique American Wicker c.2000 – but at auction at least this felt like new price territory.
Time and again pieces were competed by multiple phone and rooms bidders to sums that were 10 or more times printed expectations – and way in excess of those realised by the handful of more traditional antique pieces.
Pairs of chairs changed hands at up to $9000 ($6670), a sofa at $7500 ($5550) and pairs of plant stands at $1600 (£1190) each. Sold at a remarkable $19,000 (£14,080) was a large mirror c.1900 painted with kitschy peacock decoration.
A group of 19th century sailor’s valentines – the folksy shell pictures fashioned by a cottage industry in Barbados – were well-received as too were pieces from the American Arts & Crafts movement such as the Newcomb College pottery of New Orleans and the furniture of Gustav Stickley.
Sold at $21,000 (£15,550) was a pair of bronze and wrought iron andirons by Greene & Greene. These geometric forms were made for the Robinson House in Pasadena, California in 1905 and appear in period photographs of the time. Lambertville, New Jersey auctioneers Rago had sold these in 1999.
Other glimpses of Hamilton’s interior taste were provided by Chinese export porcelain, later Meissen figures and a vast collection of Victorian cottage pastille burners and comforter dogs.
“If Staffordshire spaniels are your thing then this could be a defining moment in your life,” quipped Nichol from the rostrum as a lot of close to 50 models (some of them rarities) were hammered down at $5000 (£3700). Offered on their own, an outsize pair – of recent (and probably far eastern) manufacture but huge at 2ft (60cm) high – took $1700 (£1260).