Fontaine's Fine & Decorative Arts Auction Realizes Over $2 Million

Fontaine’s Fine & Decorative Arts Auction Realizes Over $2 Million


PITTSFIELD, MASS. — Not one, not two, but three early 20th Century Tiffany Studios lamps each topped the $100,000 mark at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery on February 5. They were just three standout lots in a sale filled with breakout items that also saw the fine art and furniture category performing robustly.

First, the Tiffany Studios lighting, which took six out of the top 10 spots in the auction, ranging from floor lamps to sconces and table lamps. The top lot was a Tiffany Studios “Curtain Border” leaded glass and patinated bronze floor lamp, 77 inches tall, that attained $181,250 and was one of a few the auctioneer has dared to describe as “in excellent condition.” Another floor lamp star crossed the block an hour or two later: a Tiffany Studios “Byzantine” floor lamp ($150/250,000), 78 inches tall, which took $115,625. Rounding out the trifecta of Tiffany, each hitting six-figures, was a Tiffany Studios “Nasturtium” table lamp ($80/120,000), circa 1905, whose 20-inch diameter shade was signed twice, one being an early tag impressed “Tiffany Studios New York” that fetched $109,375. Another Tiffany lighting standout was the early 20th Century pair of sconces with Favrile glass “Pulled Feather” shades, 11¾ inches tall, which was more modestly priced but still doubled its high estimate at $26,875. The sale had over 90 items with the word “Tiffany” in the lot titles.

“The best Tiffany Studios lamps combine brand name, historic significance, superior craftmanship and gorgeous design so we are very pleased to have three such wonderful examples, but this auction was much more than just Tiffany,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “We had a great variety of fine items in almost every collecting category and were able to attract a diverse group of buyers.”

Besides Tiffany Studios lamps, this auction featured a nice selection of other fine leaded glass lamps from other makers, including a John Morgan & Sons “Pansy” table lamp that took $23,750 and a Handel “Underwater” and “Mermaid” table lamp with reverse painted glass shade, $20,000.

Fine art offerings were small but select, designed to appeal to discerning tastes. Highlights were led by a Giambologna bronze sculpture of Aphrodite, Goddess of the Sea, 71 inches tall, which fetched $53,750.

It’s an oft repeated notion that brown wood doesn’t sell well but buyers here do well to ignore that and eagerly snap up good pieces when they come to market. Among the lots achieving strong results here was a Hertz Brothers figural carved oak banquet table, late 19th Century, having four winged maidens and signed with the firm’s label. The table, which included eight leaves, went for $35,000.

Trying to predict which lots will do well is fairly easy to do, just by what the item is and the estimate the auctioneer assigns. Sometimes, however, things that were not predicted to be big sellers just blow up after the auction catalog goes live. Several lots became happy surprises in this sale, far outstripping their presale estimates. They included a Tiffany Studios-style “Cobweb” table lamp that more than tripled its high estimate to sell for $24,375, an early 20th century American plated and leaded glass landscape window with orchids, 51 by 37 inches, that bloomed past its $2,5/3,500 estimate to go out at $20,000 and a set of six American Victorian gilt bronze and glass curtain tie backs, 19th Century, in the form of flowers that were estimated at $600-800 but attained $9,375.

Fontaine’s sales are strong across the board and while one can easily find the usual fare from Tiffany lamps to paintings and clocks, niche collecting categories are given their due here. In this auction, highlights included an A.T. (Andre Jean Thuillier), bisque head doll, circa 1880, with a composition body and wooden joints, measuring 36 inches tall, which took $17,500, and a Black Forest figural carved umbrella stand, 80 inches tall, with a seated dog, hanging rabbit and a rifle, $16,250.

Rounding out the auction were a Ming Dynasty brown-lacquered figure of a seated dignitary ($3/5,000), Seventeenth Century, measuring 21 by 12 by 12 inches, that more than doubled its high estimate to bring $16,250 and a 19th century Baccarat gilt bronze mounted glass tantalus ($3/5,000), measuring 13½ by 15 by 12 inches, which fetched $8,438.

All prices reported include a 25 percent buyer’s premium.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is the oldest operating auction gallery in Western Massachusetts. It has earned the trust of collectors, investors and gallery owners worldwide. All cataloged lots receive nationwide exposure to the firm’s database of more than 24,000 select buyers. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery has been voted “Best Antique Auction Gallery” eight times by the public.

Consignments are currently being accepted for the spring and summer auctions. Fontaine’s is actively seeking quality items for all upcoming auctions, to include furniture, lighting, art glass, clocks and watches, paintings, porcelains, bronze and marble statuary, Asian items, art glass and cameo glass, Russian objects, silver, musical, coin-op, advertising, toys, banks, gaming and carousel items.

The firm will buy outright or accept on consignment. Call (413) 448-8922 and ask to speak with John Fontaine, or you can send Mr. Fontaine an email to [email protected]. For more information about the company and the upcoming auction schedule, visit Updates are posted frequently.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is located at 1485 West Housatonic Street (Route 20), Pittsfield, Mass. For more information, visit or call 413-448-8922.