Punch figure realizes $542,400 at Philip Weiss auction A rare, turn-of-the-century Punch cigar store figure, over five feet tall and in all-original condition, sold for $542,400 at a sale held Oct. 20-21 by Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, New York.
News-Antique.com - Oct 28,2007 - 19th-CENTURY PUNCH CIGAR STORE FIGURE GAVELS FOR A STAGGERING $542,400
AT TWO-DAY, THREE-SESSION SALE HELD OCT. 20-21 BY PHILIP WEISS AUCTIONS
(Oceanside, N.Y.) - A rare, turn-of-the-century Punch cigar store figure, standing over five feet tall and in all-original condition, sailed past the high estimate of $150,000 to sell for a staggering $542,400 at a two-day, three-session multi-estate sale held October 20-21 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The figure was bought by Kennedy Galleries in New York City, on behalf of an anonymous collector.
“We knew the Punch figure was rare and would generate interest, but the final sale price exceeded our wildest dreams,” said Philip Weiss. He said the bidding at one point had stalled at around $400,000, and he asked the audience, “May I hear a bid of $405,000?” A woman in the crowd of about 200 people suddenly raised her paddle, and that sparked a whole new round of bids and counterbids.
But when the woman lifted her paddle again, at $480,000, she casually inquired, “You do mean $480, right?” “My heart sank,” Mr. Weiss said with a laugh. “I thought for sure she was serious. But then she smiled and said, 'Just kidding.' That was a close call.” The woman, it turned out, was the representative from Kennedy Galleries. She would only identify her client as “a discerning collector.”
The Punch figure was the top lot in a sale that grossed $1.6 million and saw 1,600 lots change hands. “It was a tremendous weekend for everyone, buyers and sellers,” Mr. Weiss said. “The crowd was filled to capacity, and we had about 2,500 registered online bidders and a very active phone and absentee bidding component. We had eight or nine phone lines all going at once. It was crazy.”
The Punch figure was attributed to the American carver Samuel Anderson Robb (1851-1928), a gifted artisan who emigrated from Scotland to New York City and specialized in tobacconist carvings. The figure sold showed some signs of paint chipping due to normal aging, but that did not deter bidders from engaging in a spirited battle to own it. The crowd gasped at the final winning bid.
Many of the top lots of the sale – including the Punch figure – came out of what can only be described as a true, fresh-to-the-market estate. Sold were the contents of an unassuming two-story brick house on Long Island that had been sealed shut for the last 25 years but held a treasure inside: the lifetime private collection of Joseph Kedenberg (aka “Keden on the Keys”). He passed away in 1983.
The house had walls full of early trade signs and advertising material; 200+ occupational shaving mugs; rare 18th- and 19th-century folk art carved ship figureheads; turn-of-the-century barber and pharmacy bottles; a cast-iron toy collection, featuring original mechanical banks; and more. What must have been a showplace for Mr. Kedenberg in the 1950's required two large trucks to haul away.
Following are highlights from the sale overall. All prices include a 13%