An auction of the estate of Reiko and Charles E. Tuttle Jr., the former owners of Tuttle Publishing in Rutland and Tokyo, and Tuttle Antiquarian Books, is expected to draw a significant crowd to Prozzo Auction on North Main Street this Sunday.
The several hundred lots comprising the estate come primarily from the couple's former home at the corner of East Center and South Main streets and include a mixture of artwork, historical pieces and furniture. Among those are a number of Japanese items, according to auctioneer Bob Prozzo Jr.
That comes as little surprise, given Reiko's Japanese roots and Charles' focus on building a company that published "books to span the East and West," according to its Web site.
"The Tuttles also did a lot of traveling, so there are a lot of interesting things here," Prozzo said.
The piece currently drawing the most interest, according to Prozzo, is Lot No. 150. It is listed by the auctioneers as a "Stunning Double Portrait of Two Children & Cat." A full portrait painting circa 1830 that stands 47 inches tall, it features a young boy with an earring – unique for the time period – with his arm around the younger girl. The girl holds a cat, itself with a facial expression Prozzo describes as unique, while the boy holds a Bible in his free hand. It is unsigned and the artist is unknown, which is not unusual given that painters often did not sign paintings that were commissioned by families to hang in their homes.
"This painting, though, is different," Prozzo said. "Anyone who's looked at it says they've never seen anything like it."
Other items in the estate include a pair of 7-foot Famille Rose Palace vases, 20th-century Japanese carved ivory figurines, a West Rutland presentation Civil War sword, Oriental rugs and furniture, jewelry, serving dishes and utensils, several sets of Windsor chairs and Staffordshire china.
Prozzo said his company was selected to auction off the estate by a Tuttle heir who experienced one of their auctions and was impressed with the way they did business.
Charles Tuttle died in 1993, after which Reiko continued to run the company's Tuttle Antiquarian Books next door to the family home on South Main Street, until selling it to two longtime employees in 2001. She died in 2006, shortly before Tuttle Antiquarian Books closed its doors for good, its new owners citing the challenge of trying to compete with online booksellers.
Outside of their business, the Tuttles were known in the community as being great philanthropists and supporters of such organizations as the College of St. Joseph.
Jim Davidson, vice president of the Rutland Historical Society, on Friday described the auction of the Tuttle estate as "the huge passing of an era."
"The Tuttle family had deep roots in Rutland," he said, noting that they were one of a group of families prominent in Rutland around the same time, including the Meads, the Clements and the Chaffees, who were both financially successful and committed to the community.
Prozzo said his company took possession of the estate a couple of months ago and have since been advertising this weekend's auction through advertisements in popular antique publications in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont, and a 1,500-flier mailing to its customer base.
Prior to the auction, Prozzo will hold a special preview from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday. Those interested in the estate can also preview the items online at prozzoauctions.com. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.
"Hopefully the weather will be nice and the doors will be open," Prozzo said.
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