October 20, 2020 Auction

1650s drawing sells for $514,000 at Marion art auction

by Tim Seeberger

Oct 16, 2020

Frank McNamee of Marion Antique Auctions holds up the Jan Lievens drawing that sold at auction for $514,000 at an Oct. 10 auction. Photo by: Tim Seeberger

MARION — Lot 389 at Marion Antique Auction’s Oct. 10 auction was a 1652 hand drawing of Dutch Army General and Navy Admiral Maarten Tromp by Dutch painter Jan Lievens. 

Frank McNamee, co-owner of Marion Antique Shop, figured it would sell for $80,000. Well he was off…by $434,000. 

“I knew it was going to fly, but I didn’t think it was going to go for that much,” he said.

For the Lievens piece, McNamee said there were eight phone lines going: one from London, from New York, from France, two from Amsterdam and one local art dealer. 

The auction itself drew in 5,000 viewers online across three websites and 2,000 participants from over 5 countries.

After a slow move to the final bidding price of $514,000, the piece was sold to an art dealer from the Connecticut/New York area. 

The drawing was a late addition to the sale that came from an Southeastern Massachusetts estate which gave over 100 other items. 

Lievens was a well-known painter and printmaker in the 1600s from the Netherlands. He was famous for his portraits and was a contemporary of Dutch painter Rembrandt, with whom he shared a studio in Amsterdam.

The drawing of the prominent general was only signed with a feint “IL.” McNamee thought it looked like a Rembrandt piece, but couldn’t figure it out.

When he saw the signature, McNamee had the sense “it was more significant.”

So he made the push to highlight it in international ads for the auction. Once collectors and dealers started picking up on it, “the phone started ringing and I knew.” 

Covid regulations only allowed 25 people in the Marion Music Hall. Eight were bidders, and the other 17 were workers who helped bring in and out the 500 pieces that were sold in the auction. The cancellation of a June auction led Marion Antiques to sell many more pieces than they normally would.

In the nine years that Marion Antiques has been running auctions, McNamee said it’s the high individual item sold. 

Prior to the Lievens drawing, the title belonged to a $300,000 original manuscript for Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm,” the last poem Poe wrote before his death. 

Other notable sales from the auction included an early 19th century inlaid ebony and whalebone for $10,000, an early 20th century hammered silver and enamel box for $8,000 and an assortment of John F. Kennedy memorabilia for $950.

“It was a good result even without the major piece,” McNamee said.




JUNE 10,2017 AUCTION    

Antiques and The Arts Weekly –  July 14, 2017   –   Auction Action In Marion, Mass.

Fairhaven’s Town History Keepers Yield Items To Marion Auction

Marion Antiques Auction partners David Glynn and Frank McNamee assembled an impressive collection of American antiques, nautical and whaling items for their summer auction June 10. Much of the material for the auction was from the Colonial Club of Fairhaven, Mass., founded in 1912, which is moving out of its current home for the last 105 years.

Company partner Frank McNamee, who also runs the Marion Antiques Center, mans the phones during his sale.

Company partner Frank McNamee, who also runs the Marion Antiques Center, mans the phones during his sale.

The top lot was an oil painting by American artist C.H. Gifford (1839-1904), which measured 33‚½ by 54½ inches and was signed on the lower right “C F Gifford 1878.” Titled “The Coast of Grand Manan,” the painting had a magnificent original carved and gilded frame and had been purchased by the club in 1921 for $320 at a W.S. Bourne auction and was accompanied with the original receipt. It depicts two men pulling a dory ashore with ships in the distance. Bidding started at $27,000 and quickly went just over high estimate at $57,330, going to a customer at the auction.

A William Bradford (1823-1892) oil on board, “Near Cape St John, Labrador,” which was signed on the lower right, and was in original untouched condition, 13‚½ by 20 inches, from the club’s historical committee, was sold. Purchased from Mary Bradford, daughter of the artist, for $200, it opened at $5,000 with an absentee bid, and with action from the floor and the phones, it sold quickly for $24,570 to an in-house bidder. Another oil on board by Bradford depicted the Old Tack Works Wharf in Fairhaven in 1888. It was signed on the lower right, sight size was 6‚½ by 10¼ inches, and it was a gift to the club from Miss Bradford in 1921. Miss Bradford was a member of the club. Bidding opened with a $1,000 phone bid and quickly escalated to its final price of $21,060. Another Bradford oil on board under glass, “The Coast of Labrador,” was signed on the lower left. Measuring 6‚¾ by 9‚¾ inches (sight), the painting achieved $5,616.

A Lemuel D. Eldred (1848-1921) oil painting on canvas was offered early in the sale. The Fairhaven, Mass., artist’s view of Venice harbor, was signed on the lower right. The painting, measuring 17 by 26‚½ inches (sight) was in untouched original condition and retained its original carved and gilded frame. Also from the club, it opened at $1,000 and earned $2,340. Another Eldred oil on canvas, “The Old Harris House, Middle Street, Fairhaven,” signed on the lower right L D Eldred ’96, was accompanied by the original $200 receipt from November 1921. It opened with a $3,000 bid, and made $5,265. An oil on canvas by Nineteenth Century artist Ralph Albert Blakelock (1845-1919), a western mountain sunset scene, which was signed on the lower left with monogram, achieved $2,691.

Whaling items sold included a late Nineteenth Century scrimshaw whale’s tooth, depicting three elegantly dressed women, with a farmyard scene on the other side, and measuring 6-5/8 inches long, which achieved $1,638. Another Nineteenth Century whale’s tooth with engraved religious scene and polychromed decoration, 6 inches high, from the Barbara Johnson collection went to a customer on the phone for $1,755. A Nineteenth Century whalebone sailor-made swift, with red paint decoration, measuring 14‚½ inches high, opened at $800, and sold quickly for $1,755. A sailor-made Nineteenth Century jagging wheel, with inlaid floral designs, with abalone and baleen spacers brought $1,872.

Two whaling journals to the Pacific Ocean, one from the whaleship Good Return of New Bedford, Mass., dated May 30, 1839, and the other from the Eliza Jenney of Fairhaven, 1842, surfaced at this auction. The first journal chronicles a voyage from 1839 to 1843. There were numerous whale stamps, and the journal was kept by the ship’s captain, John Smith Taber. With lots of phones and action from the floor, a bidder on the phone won the journal for $5,382. The second journal is from the Eliza Jenney’s voyage to the Pacific Ocean. This journal contained 131 handwritten pages. Finback whales are mentioned, as is sailing past the Galapagos. The journey takes the ship to the coast of Peru, and returns home with 2,400 pounds of sperm oil. This journal brought $3,627.

An American Nineteenth Century painted schoolgirl box, featured decoration of a country landscape, river and house painted on the lid. The box, which retained its original key and brass feet, saw rapid bidding from customers at the sale and on the phones, driving the price to $23,400 from a floor bidder.

An impressive collection of 13 historical signatures, mostly US presidents and cabinet members, during and after the time of the Lincoln administration, was assembled in the Nineteenth Century. Signatures included Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Webster, Ulysses Grant and Andrew Jackson. After a round of competitive bidding, the signatures achieved $3,393.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.

For additional information, or 508-748-3606.

This classic William Bradford (1823–1892) oil on board, which was signed on the lower right, was titled “Near Cape St John, Labrador.” Notes from the catalog state that the painting, measuring 13½ by 20½ inches, was the property of the Colonial Club of Fairhaven, which purchased it from Mary Bradford, daughter of the artist, for $200. It was accompanied by a canceled check and the receipt, dated September 12, 1921. Bidding opened with a $5,000 absentee bid, and with lots of action from the floor and the phones, a buyer at the auction won it for $24,570.


This scarce and desirable early Nineteenth Century painted schoolgirl box depicted a country landscape with a river and a house on the lid. With garlands and horn of plenty on the front, with brass feet, original key, it was won by a customer at the sale for $23,400, considerably higher than its $2/3,000 estimate.


The top lot of the auction was this striking oil painting by American artist C.H. Gifford (1839–1904) that measured 33½ by 54½ inches and was signed on the lower right C.H. Gifford 1878. “The Coast of Grand Manan” had a magnificent original carved and gilded frame and had been purchased by the Colonial Club in 1921 for $320 at a Bourne auction and was accompanied by the original receipt. Bidding opened at $27,000 and quickly achieved $57,330, going to a customer at the auction.

A stamp collection, dating from the Nineteenth Century was framed and under glass, and had 180 examples of early US and Canadian stamps, and many rare variations. Bidding opened at $2,200 and with four phones and bidders at the auction competing, the stamps sold to an online buyer for $7,839.

There was a great deal of interest in a late Nineteenth Century French Jumeau bisque head doll. The doll had a jointed composition body, with fixed eyes, pierced ears and original clothing. Measuring 21 inches tall, it brought $5,733.


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