Sotheby's sale

Jeff Saylor

Well-known member
I think it was last January that Sotheby's had a sale that featured a pie crust table that was highly carved and even had a supplemental catalog featuring the piece.  Does anyone know the exact date of the sale or the name of the piece?  If I remember, it's estimated value was $2-4 million but ONLY sold for less than $2 million.

The sale occured on January 19th, 2008. The table was the McMichael-Tilghman "Acme of Perfection" Tea table, Lot number 168.

Sotheby's did publish a suplimental catalogue specifically on this table. The catalogue contains excellent pictures and quite a bit of information about comparable pie crust table.
I think it sold for 1.6 million, as a face saving gesture, to one of the Keno brothers.  Rumor has it that the Kenos made the mistake of putting it side by side with the Fisher-Fox table that sold the previous October.  The Fisher-Fox table appears to have an original surface history.  The Acme table was really goofed up by a botched refinish job long ago, and you can see it in the pictures in the catalog.  Really mushed over edges and lost details, etc.  So I guess when the moment came that the two were side by side, it really made the Acme table look horrible.  Maybe would have gone for a decent amount if no one ever saw them in the same room together.
There were a couple of other reasons that it brought "only" 1.6 million.  A piecrust table also attributed to the "Garvan Carver" was on the block at Christies a day earlier (not sure if that was the Fisher-Fox table;  another of equivalent quality was sold be Christie's the previous September).  The "Acme of Perfection" table top was apparently made of two slip-matched boards rather than the single board of the two tables at Christies, and apparently the carving design on the Christie's tables was better integrated to the tripod form.

I wasn't aware that substantial damage had been done to the Acme table (possibly by sanding?), but it wasn't filthy as the two tables at Christie's were.  Antique dealers have (inappropriately) convinced collectors that a cruddy finish means authenticity.  Funny thing is that the Acme table sale was considered a disaster because it "only" brought 1.6 million.  That figure exceeded the record price for a table by $600,000 only 10 years ago...
Ha ha, yes "only" 1.8 or whatever.  But that is compared to the insane 6.76 for the Fisher-Fox from Oct 3, 2007.  Wasn't it a Jugiez table that made 5.5 million the day before the Acme of Perfection auction?   The Acme looks heavily sanded in the catalog.  The top match must be good, not obvious in the pictures-  figure is pretty nice!

I am about half done with a tea table with elements from the State Dept table, the Acme table, and the Fisher-Fox.  Pillar from State dept, feet from Acme, most of the  leg carving from the Fisher Fox and the Chipstone's firescreen.  Working on the feet right now...
The rather shocking thing is that -any- historical artifact fetches 6.7 million, let alone a piece of furniture.  It should be interesting to see what the philadelphia lowboy that's on the block at Sotheby's in September will bring.  The really strange thing about the antique market is that individuals will pay shocking amounts of money for the furniture, and virtually ignore the tools used to make them.

Though a "yankee" plow plane produced at about the time of the Revolution has certainly gone up in price over the last few years, they fetch next to nothing compared to the furniture that they made...