Theriault's July 28th Auction in Washington, D.C.
Annapolis, MD -- July 4, 2013
In what was nothing less than dramatic, Theriault’s, the Annapolis, MD auction firm that leads the world in the sale of dolls and childhood ephemera, displayed a resounding bidding at its July 28th Washington DC auction at the prestigious Willard Hotel, realizing prices that had not been seen at this level since 2008. Stuart Holbrook, Theriault’s President, who took to the podium for the 11-hour frenzy that featured the collection of antique doll luminaire, Estelle Johnston, noted “While the very top pieces have been doing outstanding the past few years, the mid-range and more entry level pieces have been somewhat lagging behind and inconsistent. Over the past six-months we have seen these categories begin to come back in pricing and, at this event, for the first time since the financial crises of 2008, every category of dolls was in heated demand and recording record results. Collectors are coming back in droves and with a pent-up enthusiasm that is driving the market forward as we have never witnessed before.” The Johnston collection, which featured one of the finest collections of early wood, papier-mache, wax and French Fashion dolls ranging from the 18th-19th century was a treasure trove of rarities that had collectors in rare form as they battled to become stewards to these remarkable dolls and accessories. Johnston, who has collected for some 50-years, had written numerous books and articles during this time and was considered one of the early preservationist collectors who recognized the importance of costumes as well.
Florence Theriault, Theriault’s founder commented “Mrs. Johnston’s prescient awareness of historic costumes and early doll genres was remarkable, and collectors honored her with a day full of raised bidding paddles and well-deserved accolades that were personally presented. I am delighted for her.”
Gasps and cheers were heard at nearly every turn as record prices came one after another amidst the thousands who were either in attendance, bidding online, or on the phone. The auction began with two French poupees. Lot 1, a 17” poupee with Clement signed body soared to $13,500 (pre-sale $4500/7500) and Lot 2, a poupee by Leon Casimir Bru peaked out at $25,000 (pre-sale $4000/6000). The two cover dolls, that had been couturier costumed by Estelle Johnston herself, included a wooden bodied gentleman that reached $7000 (pre-sale $3500/5500) and a bisque lady poupee lady with boutique label from Maison Simonne whose final price was $10,000 (pre-sale estimate $3800/5500). Other notable poupees included a 23” Gaultier poupee with Gesland body and original costume for $27,000 (pre-sale $4000/6000) whose buyer said, “I saw this doll featured in a doll journal years ago and when it came up for auction I was determined to own her!”, and “Lily” by Lavalle-Peronne with trunk and trousseau that sold for $20,000 (pre-sale $8000/11,000).
From earlier times, an 1840 paper mache French poupee by traditional wedding gown and coiffe of Northern France realized $7250 (pre-sale $2000/3000) while her partner gentleman in outstanding costume and with uniquely-braided wig went to $16,500 (pre-sale $2000/3000). An 11” early 19th century shell-costumed peddler doll went to $10,500 (pre-sale $800/1200) and an outstanding 21” German wooden doll with decorated original box quadrupled its high pre-sale estimate at $36,000 (pre-sale $7000/9000).
As well, there was no shortage of excitement for the more classic French and German dolls of their Golden Age as seen in the final bid of $42,000 for Kammer and Reinhardt’s Karl art character doll, $6000 for Gebruder Heubach’s 7746 character (pre-sale $2000/3000), $7500 for Heubach’s 7744 character (pre-sale $3200-3800), and other Heubach character, model 7761, affectionately known as “Spinach Boy” by collectors in reference to his squinched-up facial expression that went to $7000 (pre-sale $1800/2700).
Capping off the marathon event was the collection of 1920s/1930s American composition dolls from the legendary Don Jensen collection. The late night aggressive bidding for this category further brought the crowd to its feet as prices soared to record levels, including $1700 (pre-sale $600/800) for “Radiotron Man” designed by Maxfield Parrish for Cameo, $1600 (presale $400/600) for The Lone Ranger by Freundlich, $1600 (pre-sale $500/800) for Ideal’s Pinocchio in original box, and even more, $1700 (pre-sale $500/800) for his pal Jiminy Cricket, also in original box. Howdy Doody in near mint condition was estimate at $400/600 but soared to $1700, Ella Cinders was $1800 (pre-sale $400/600), the very rare composition model of early child silent film star Baby Peggy topped at $1400 against her pre-sale of $600/900), but W.C. Fields aced them all when he soared to $3250 (pre-sale $800/1200).
The July auction opens the gates to a major fall and winter season of Theriault’s antique doll auctions. A string of events starting in October and lasting until spring will feature European museums, private “legends” collections from around the world and a bevy of unique specialty offerings that will keep this energy alive and the bids flowing well into 2014. To be added to Theriault’s mailing lists to receive auction notices call 800-638-0422 or visit Theriault’s at www.theriaults.com and register.
Lot 14 and 15. Gracing the cover of Theriault’s auction catalog titled “In the Company of the Gentleman Bespoken” were a moustached gentleman poupee selling at $7000 and his lady companion who soared to $10,000.
Lot 99. The pair of 9” dolls dated from the mid-18th century and featured a poured wax lady and her personal maid. In original costume, they sold for $3600 (pre-sale $800/1200).
Lot 129. An outstanding wooden doll in original costume with 1827-dated leather satchel and wonderfully-woven market basket stood on original base inscribed “Schwaben” sold for a well-deserved $12,500 (pre-sale $3000/5000).
Lot 461. The Baseball Kids, named by their 1930s designer Valrie McMahan as Fan, Fan-ie, and Ginger, are extremely rare, and soared to a final selling price of $3800 (pre-sale estimate $1100/1600). The heads and torsos of the unique dolls were shaped as baseballs with detailed sculpting of baseball seams!
Lot 13. Karl, model 107, from Kammer and Reinhardt’s art character series, continues to be among the sought after dolls, reaching $40,000 in active bidding at Theriault’s July doll auction.