NJ Historical Sells Treasures

The New Jersey Historical Society in Newark is catching heat this week as it has consigned another twenty items to Christie's, to be sold at two New York sales on Thursday and Friday (and in another sale in February). The items will include a portrait of George Washington attributed to NJ artist Charles B. Lawrence (seen here at right), several tall-case clocks, some furniture, and a lovely dinner service once owned by early NJ Govenor Mahlon Dickerson. The NJHS stands to make something in the range of $80,000-$150,000.

Last month, the NJHS sold its extremely rare Abel Buell map (see Ian McKay's auction report) through Christie's, bringing in $2 million in much needed funds. The NJHS is in debt, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, and it is selling off some treasures in order to stay afloat. Critics, however, have pointed out that it is unethical to de-accession parts of the collection in order to balance the budget.

Stanley Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, told the Star-Ledger, "Selling off the collection to help you escape from budgetary problems is a no-no, a bad practice," Katz said. "You could argue about tableware, about china. But the map is clearly relevant to their collections."