many as five or six bidders and selling for multiples of their high estimates. Christina Prescott-Walker, Head of European Ceramics and Chinese Export porcelain, commented, “Sotheby’s is honored to have been able to present Chinese export porcelain from the private collection of Elinor Gordon and to celebrate her love of collecting.
From two sold-out lectures to a steady stream of visitors at the preview exhibition to a packed saleroom, we received a wonderful response to her collection. There was something for everyone in this sale, and we saw a great depth and breadth of bidding among both members of the trade and private collectors.”
Among the top prices achieved was a Chinese Export ‘Order of the Cincinnati’ plate, circa 1785, from the earliest service decorated with the order owned by George Washington and Henry Lee, which totaled $83,500 (est. $30/50,000). The plate was one of four pieces sold from services decorated with the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati. At least five bidders competed for Lot 1, a Very Rare Chinese Export Figure of a Reclining Stag from the second half of the 18th century, driving the price
past its $15/25,000 estimate to $62,500. A Rare Chinese Export Ship Plate inscribed ‘Friendship Salem’ sold for $53,125, far above its presale estimate of $6/8,000. The sale’s top price was achieved by a watercolor and gouache View of Hong Kong dated circa 1865, which brought $158,500, over five times the high estimate of $30,000. Many of the China Trade paintings saw fierce competition, with a Pair of Paintings of Canton and Whampoa circa 1820 fetching $40,625 against an estimate of $3/4,000 and a Style of Spoilum Portrait of a Hong Merchant circa 1800 totaling $68,500 against an estimate of $8/12,000.
The previous auction record for American silver was $775,750, paid for both The Richard and Alice Brackett Cup, An American Silver Wine Cup, John Hull and Robert Sanderson, Sr., Boston, circa 1660, sold from the collection of Quincy Church at Sotheby’s in January 2001, and A Superb Early American Silver Two-Handled Grace Cup and Cover, John Coney, Boston, circa 1715, also descended with a Royalist family in England and sold at Sotheby’s in January 2002. The most expensive piece of silver ever sold at auction is the Penthièvre-Orleans Service: A Louis XV Royal Silver tureen, cover, liner and stand, Thomas Germain, Paris, 1733-34. The service was sold in the sale of Royal French Silver: The Property of George Ortiz, Sotheby’s, New York, 13 November 1996, lot 3, for $10,287,500 including buyer’s premium.