Americana Meets Fantasy in Cordier’s Fall Fine and Decorative Arts Auction

October 25, 2018

Three ships are tossed on choppy waves, the American flags rippling out from each one’s prow in the fierce easterly wind. Behind them, a lighthouse stands as the marker between safety and adventure, a nod to the Massachusetts landscape that master clockmaker Simon Willard called home.


The ships, perpetually heading out to sea, decorate the arch of a tall case clock by Willard that Cordier Auctions will be selling in its Fall Fine and Decorative Arts auction. The painted automaton increases the rarity of this clock, itself one of only 1,200 manufactured by Willard during the late 1700’s. Cordier expects that the clock will bring between $8,000 and $12,000 in the auction, which will be held November 10th and 11th.


Along with the clock, other pieces of American history will be crossing the block, including a very early Pennsylvania Windsor settee, likely made in Harrisburg during the early days of the 18th century. A 19th century needlepoint sampler, a 1900 Koken oak and leather barber chair, and a mid-18th century Queen Anne tiger maple highboy will also highlight this category.


Over the course of two days, the auction will span categories from antique furniture to fine jewelry and sterling. Among the latter categories, stand out lots include a wristwatch by renowned Swiss manufacturer Patek Philippe, as well as an 18K brooch by mid-century jewelry artisan Ed Wiener. Wiener started his career in silver, but his later gold pieces were considered by critics as a move “from craft into art,” as his New York Times obituary puts it.


The popular jewelry and sterling category will also include a truly striking Towle sterling flatware set in the Lady Mary pattern, containing nearly 250 pieces of sterling and sterling-handled utensils and serving pieces in a massive storage case.


Woven throughout the auction are threads of fantasy and wonder inspired by artists like Mathurin Moreau, whose mythology-derived works grace numerous noble courtyards in France. A bronze sculpture after his work, depicting a woman and a fairy, lends an air of otherworldliness to this auction, which also includes a French gilt and marble mantle clock topped by a sculpture of a fairy, as well as a beautifully patinated Tiffany & Co desk clock with a pattern influenced by the rhythm and storytelling of Native American tribes. 


Hundreds of other lots of interest will be offered throughout the sale, including a collection of pieces by Walt Huber and Alden Turner, a miniature redware spittoon by John Bell of Waynesboro, an anthropologic collection of early shark tooth tools, and mid-century modern furniture by makers like Paul Evans, George Nelson, and Paul McCobb. Bidders will have the opportunity to participate both live and online, with the complete catalog available at A live preview will be held at Cordier’s Harrisburg, PA auction house on Friday, November 9th from 12-4 PM.


Simon Willard Tall Case ClockTiffany Desk ClockKoken Barber ChairTiger Maple Highboy