|By Nancy Kelly
YPSILANTI, Mich. — Schmidt’s Antiques and Auctions has a well-established reputation for selling fine quality European and American furniture, antiques, and decorative art. A beautiful selection of items is on display at their 15,000 square foot Antiques Gallery showroom and select lots are offered at cataloged quarterly auctions. The family-run business was started in 1911 and has continuously grown since then, with the fifth generation now actively involved.
However, the last Friday night of the month they take off the proverbial gloves and the resulting free-for-all is raucous and fun. No catalog, no buyer’s premium, no reserves, and a fast-paced event that quickly moves many quality items as well as a few surprises.
The youngest Schmidt family member, Zack, started calling the general auction that night while his father Chuck simultaneously drew the clock collectors off to the side to disperse 65 desirable timepieces. Zack’s uncle Jay and auctioneer Doug Dalton helped Zack keep the buyers on their toes as items flew out the door.
The highest-selling item here was the Holland and Holland (H & H) handmade side by side 1835 16 gauge shotgun. It was carefully displayed and those handling it used a white cloth to avoid hand oil tarnish. The bidding was enthusiastic, and the triumphant high bidder was able to claim their prize with a final bid of $5,000. While this was the highest-selling item of the night, the auctioneers declared it also the best bargain.
A Daisy 1889 wire stock BB gun, the original model of this style produced, was happily taken home with a high bid of $1,100. A handsome Browning semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun that was manufactured in Japan but had an intricate Belgian hand-engraved metal panel drew a final bid of $800. Another interesting firearm dated 1816 was manufactured by the Virginia Armory in Richmond and was in good condition. It left with a new collector for a final bid of $1,400.
Many beautiful furniture pieces were scattered around the room and offered for consideration. Leading this category was the mid-century Danish modern Sven Madsen teak dining room set consisting of three side chairs, one chair with arms, and a flawless table with extension leaves. The unusual chair design and beautiful wood grain were too much to resist, and the bidding soared to a final price of $1,950. An early Danish modern Dyrlund credenza of similar wood with two sliding front panels was also in demand, closing at $500 while a Carlo Jensen buffet with built-in shelves and cabinets drew a $750 high bid. The 18th-century George III Chippendale chest, described as a “gentleman’s chest” complete with pull out dressing slide drew much admiration before finishing at $525. There was a massive, ornately-carved walnut cabinet from the 1920s with hand-painted panels that stood proudly along the wall before being claimed with a high bid of $800, and a map storage chest with 8 drawers that finished at $500. An impressive Victorian bedroom set consisting of the bed head and foot boards and the matching dresser was sent to a new home with a high bid of $600. Many more wonderful items such as carved chairs, dressers, book shelves, and cabinets were also greatly appreciated by their discerning high bidders.
Two carefully monitored showcases at the front of the room displayed several trays of silver jewelry, antique collectibles, and trays of sterling silver flatware. Prior to the start of the auction, bidders were encouraged to step up and examine the contents, as each tray would sell as a unit. When the bidding began, it became apparent that the buyers had done their research. When a group of jewelry trays was offered as choice-out the first two left with final bids of $1,500 each or $3,000 total to that high bidder. Another tray sold for $900, one for $725, and the rest of the jewelry closed for smaller prices. The selection of sterling silver flatware lots proved popular as well. Sold in 50 Troy ounce lots, the first three offered for consideration were claimed at $950 each, or a total of $2,850 for that transaction. The next left for $850 and two more trays finished at $1,700 for the pair.
Early in the auction, a second ring was opened to sell to the clock collectors in attendance. The selection of 66 clocks was unusual and eye-catching. They ranged from tiny square Waterbury carriage clocks to several ornate wooden wall clocks, table-top clocks and a 1920s Franz Christ Vienna 2-weight floor clock in an oak case that closed at $200. One of the most fascinating clocks was the Ansonia swinging arm clock with a standing woman holding a clock pendulum extension with her arm. Although the arm had been repaired and there was some overall wear to the piece, it still commanded a final price of $1,050. Nearby, the Ansonia double statue clock consisting of the two figures Pizarro and Cortez was much admired before closing with a high bid of $475. A Welch, Spring and Company calendar wall clock drew a final bid of $350 despite some missing molding, and a Waltham weight driven banjo clock with mahogany case, missing the hands, was still popular with a final bid of $375. The auctioneer claimed that this clock was never wrong.
A small collection of early wooden carved and painted “Santos” figures was offered. A santo (Spanish word for saint) is a religious art piece that was from Spain. The most impressive one appeared to be a monk with a saffron robe, mouth open in prayer or song, and hand upraised as if to hold a candle.
This approximately 30-inch figure, mounted on a wooden base, stirred up a bidding flurry before finishing with a high bid of $650.
Many beautiful collectible and decorative pieces with familiar names like Roseville, Weller, Van Briggle, Nippon, Hummel, and Cranberry were interspersed with the larger items and added to the variety and appeal of the sale. An unusual and very detailed blush ivory Royal Worcester jug with a brown lizard wrapped around it forming a handle left with a high bid of $140. A four-piece set of cups or small vases consisting of bronze with a sterling silver pattern overlay caught the attention of many before closing at $160.
In addition, various Majolica pieces consisting of beautiful and colorful images painted onto pottery items were also available. An attractive 19th-century grouping of four such pieces, featuring a brown, wood-like pitcher, a flowered fruit bowl, a light blue woodsy pitcher with tree branch handle, and a plate decorated with branches proved popular, drawing a final bid of $350 for the group.
Numerous original paintings done on canvas or board were hung around the room and patiently waited for their moment on stage. A large portrait painting of Judge A. G. Boynton of Detroit by artist Lewis T. Ives left for a new home with a final bid of $175. A large painting of the Moulin Rouge of Paris by the artist “Bernardo” was held high in the front of the room before closing with a final bid of $125.
A large tapestry rug was hung on the wall for display until it was claimed with a high bid of $275, and a restful painting of three sailboats docked in the harbor closed at $100. Other home furnishings with exquisite flair included many unusual lamps. An Art Nouveau lamp featuring a bronze-colored female figure looking upward with the two original ornate bulb covers was very popular, drawing a final bid of $375.
Years ago, founding family member Alfred Schmidt advised his customers to “always buy the best example that you can afford”. Schmidt’s Antiques and Auctions continues to live by that mantra, offering many fine items for consideration.
Refer to their website for future auctions at www.schmidtsantiques.com or call (734) 434-2660.