No free rides on pricey Marklin carousel in Noel Barrett’s $1.3M Winter Auction

February 1st, 2013 by
Marklin Toy Carousel

Exquisitely detailed circa-1910 Marklin carousel, crank or steam driven, top lot of the sale, $218,500. Noel Barrett Auctions image.

NEW HOPE, Pa. – It took more than a brass ring to claim ownership of an exquisite Marklin carousel that topped prices realized at Noel Barrett’s $1.3 million Winter Auction. The circa-1910 German-made toy commanded $218,500 at Barrett’s Nov. 16-17 event, selling to a US buyer against stiff competition from collectors on both sides of the Atlantic. All prices quoted in this report include a basic 15% buyer’s premium; additional for Internet.

A toy fit for royalty, the carousel had surfaced during the disposition of an estate in Phoenix, and to Barrett’s great surprise, was in “astoundingly original condition.” Lavishly festooned with colored glass balls, mirrors, pennants, cartouches and metal embellishments, the cloth-canopied carousel could be operated either as a crank or steam-driven toy. It featured eight girl and four boy riders on diminutive hide-covered horses and in vis-à-vis chariots. Entered as the star lot of the sale, it carried a pre-auction estimate of $75,000-$100,000.

A rare and most impressive toy, the carousel will be in good company alongside a folk-art “Amor L Jones” loco and tender that was offered together with a photo of a young girl for whom the train may have been created. Selling price: $907.50. “The same person bid successfully on both the carousel and the Amor Jones train. He likes to buy the best of every category, and although the train was not one of the more expensive toys in the sale, it was definitely the best train in the folk art category. To me, this approach to buying proves the buyer has an eye, not just a pocketbook,” said Barrett.

Several train-related lots landed in the top 10, including a circa-1909 to 1919 Marklin PLM coupe-vent passenger set with pictorial box, which sold for $46,000. It had been shipped to Barrett’s gallery from Buenos Aires by the nephew of the original owner, who received the train as a young girl around 1920. “Apparently she preferred playing with dolls, so the train was packed up and stored away. It spent the next 90 years virtually untouched. It was in near-mint condition when it arrived to us,” said Barrett.

Althof Bermann Santa in Sleigh

Althof Bermann hand-painted tin Santa in Sleigh, one of only two known examples considered 100% original, $97,700. Noel Barrett Auctions image.

Other train highlights included a lithographed tin Grand Central Station made for the American market, $28,750; and a fully functional 89-inch-long live-steam model of the Empire State Express, whose detailed construction was covered in the May 1976 issue of Live Steam Magazine. It was bid to $27,600. A Carette 2350 gauge 1 live-steam loco and tender that appeared in the manufacturer’s 1911 catalog with the description “Latest design (an original scale model)” changed hands for $16,100; while a Marklin Washington Pullman observation car more than tripled its high estimate at $13,800.

One of the most popular toys in the 932-lot sale was a wonderful Althof-Bergmann Santa Sleigh drawn by two goats wearing royal blue and gold saddles with matching pairs of bells. For years the only known examples of this particular toy were those belonging to pioneer collector Bernard Barenholtz and another trailblazer of the toy hobby, Leon Perelman, founder of the Perelman Antique Toy Museum in Philadelphia. A third Althof-Bergmann Santa Sleigh with goat team was later confirmed in the collection of the Margaret Strong Museum. The sleigh in Barrett’s sale became the fourth, and quite likely will be the last, Santa Sleigh to emerge, Barrett said, noting that only the Barenholtz sleigh and the one in his sale are considered totally original. An iconic toy with immense charm, the sleigh sold for $97,750.

The auction included a fine array of high-end European and American toys, bolstered by selections from the renowned

Gerald Wingrove 1924 Hispano-Suiza No. 3 (top) 1933 Derham Tourster Duesenberg.

Gerald Wingrove hand-made scale models of a 1924 Hispano-Suiza No. 3 (top) and a 1933 Derham Tourster Duesenberg. Auctioned for $16,100 each. Noel Barrett Auctions image.

Athelstan and Kathy Spilhaus antique toy collection and the Rick Ralston collection of trains and trolleys. The two anchor collections were complemented by numerous attic discoveries and choice single pieces from several consignors.

A cloth-dressed clockwork Tambourine Player from a series of four African-American clockwork toys produced in the last quarter of the 20th century by Jerome Secor easily surpassed its estimate to ring up $17,200. Another American beauty, The Pittsburgh House was an extravagantly detailed circa-1890 architectural model formerly in the collection of the Toy Museum of Atlanta. It achieved $18,400 against a $6,000-$10,000 estimate.

Cast-iron mechanical banks made their mark in Barrett’s sale, as well. An excellent to near-mint J. & E. Stevens Clown on Globe made $18,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000; and an exceptional example of a Stevens Cat & Mouse bank streaked past its $3,000-$5,000 estimate to settle at $9,775.

Other highlights of Noel Barrett’s Winter Auction included Gerald Wingrove hand-made scale models of a 1924 Hispano-Suiza No. 3 and a 1933 Derham Tourster Duesenberg. Each was estimated at $7,000-$9,000 and each realized $16,100.

After the sale, Barrett commented that it had been “quite the international event. We shipped toys to sixteen countries. A brand new customer from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe bought twelve items, and two pieces from the top ten were purchased by collectors who knew me but who never laid eyes on the toys they bid on. They felt confident that our descriptions were accurate and thorough.”

Phone bidders were responsible for 40% of the gross, Internet bidders 24%, and absentee bidders just under 10%. The remaining 25% of the $1.3 million total was attributable to bidders in the room.

To contact Noel Barrett Auctions, call 215-297-5109 or e-mail toys@noelbarrett.com. Visit Noel Barrett’s website at www.noelbarrett.com.

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Fine Art Collection of Dixie Cup Mastermind is Centerpiece of Myers’ Feb. 10 Auction

January 31st, 2013 by

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – It was an elegantly simple but universally embraced paper container – the cone-shape Dixie Cup – that enabled millionaire inventor and philanthropist Cesare Barbieri to amass the spectacular collection of European paintings, bronzes, Asian art and Oriental rugs featured in Myers Fine Art’s Feb. 10 auction.

The Italian-born Barbieri (1878-1956) held more than 100 patents, including one issued in 1926 for conical Dixie Cups and the machinery that manufactured them. He also possessed a finely tuned eye for classical art and design.

“He bought the best of everything for his multiple residences, but he was also very generous toward others,” said Myers co-owner Mary Dowd. “His will provided for the establishment of a Dixie employee pension fund, and his Dixie Cup royalties funded an endowment for Italian cultural studies at Trinity College that continues to this day. He also helped to finance the post-World War II reconstruction effort in his hometown of Bologna, Italy.”

Barbieri’s largesse extended to those who cared for him in his declining years, in particular his nurse and companion Anita De Paulis. Barbieri bequeathed to De Paulis the entire contents of both his lavish Manhattan apartment and Villa Barbieri, his estate in Tuxedo Park, N.Y. De Paulis retired to a town near Sarasota, Fla., and after her death in 2011, Myers acquired the Barbieri collection directly from the De Paulis Estate.

Myers has a policy of only conducting a European & Asian Art auction when a collection of exceptional quality is available to headline such a sale. The 480-lot Feb. 10 event is the first of its type to be scheduled in two years and consists of fresh goods acquired almost exclusively from estates.

The featured Barbieri collection includes magnificent paintings, bronzes, antique clocks, Oriental rugs, furniture and carved ivories. Among the top pieces is a graceful marble nude titled “The Flower of the Alps,” by Attilio Piccirilli (Italian, 1886-1945). A similar Piccirilli sold a few years ago at Sotheby’s for $19,000. Myers Fine Art has placed an estimate of $10,000-$15,000 on the signed Piccirilli in their sale. A signed Giuseppe Gambogi (Italian, 1891-1965) statue of Shakespeare’s “Ophelia” carries an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.

An extraordinary artwork from Villa Barbieri, “Portrait of Gabrielle de Bourbon,” depicts the 26-year-old daughter of Louis I, Count of Montpensier, a direct descendant of Saint Louis (1214-1270). The richly detailed portrait, created possibly as early as the 15th century, exhibits an extremely high standard of artistry, evident by the level of detail in the sitter’s ornately embroidered silk dress and ermine-trimmed robe. A gold figural pendant adorns her pearl-trimmed bodice, and pearls embellish her Renaissance cap. The 17 by 12½-inch painting is presented in an elaborate gilt tabernacle frame from the late-18th or early 19th century. It is expected to make $4,000-$6,000.

Other Continental artworks in the sale include an 18th/19th-century French portrait of a lady holding a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Charles Cousin (French, 1904-1972) Venetian canal scene, and a J. Eisenhut oil painting of a Venetian doge. Additional enticements include an Italian pietra dura specimen table and micromosaic pieces; French cameo glass, majolica, silver, Louis XV bronze candelabra, and Austrian ivory and wood figures. There will also be fine European porcelain, an inlaid Italian marquetry chest and antique Italian walnut cupboard; and a pair of French Empire bronze table lamps. A Continental relief-carved ivory plaque depicts a frenzied battle scene of warriors on horseback. Dating to the mid-19th century and possibly from Dieppe, France, it is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Another standout is a signed Tommaso Gentile (Italian, 1853-?) bronze mirror adorned by two nude women. It bears the Kunst-Erzgieserei Vienna foundry mark and is estimated at $6,000-$8,000.

Timepieces include European mantel clocks, a miniature tall-case clock with chinoiserie artwork, and a highly desirable tall-case clock with Joshua Wilson (London) 17th/18th-century movement in a Philadelphia Chippendale walnut case. The musical moon phase clock stands 95 inches tall and, although missing some of its mechanical parts, is likely to achieve $4,000-$6,000.

An interesting estate collection contains antique Japanese samurai swords of various lengths. The edged weapons are in good company with the auction’s grouping of early Persian armor and trio of 18th-century Japanese Edo Period matchlock rifles.

The sale’s extensive Asian section covers all imaginable forms and media. Ceramics include Japanese Imari, antique Chinese hand-painted plates and a pleasing selection of Chinese export porcelain. Among the carved figural pieces are a 77-inch oxblood Buddha, an ivory Siddhartha bust, jade and hardstone objects, and numerous Chinese and Japanese ivories. Other highlights include a Japanese inlaid and carved screen, a set of four Chinese Qing silk paintings, 19th-century Chinese reverse paintings, a pair of yoke-back armchairs, an early 19th-century Kano school 4-panel screen painting, and an array of Asian bronze and mixed-metal vessels and other items.

 

Not to be missed if one is considering the renovation of a special room is the lot containing more than 25 rolls of Zuber et Cie. (French) panoramic wallpaper in the “Views of North America” pattern. The rolls were printed from Zuber’s original 19th-century woodblocks.

“In the 1970s, Jacqueline Kennedy chose the very same wallpaper for the White House [Diplomatic] Reception Room,” said Mary Dowd. “It depicts American scenes such as Boston Harbor, Niagara Falls, and Natural Bridge in Virginia. The rolls we are auctioning are in perfect condition. They were ordered from Zuber in the 1970s but were never installed.”

The garden and architectural category is led by a 19th-century marble bench side support depicting a winged mythological creature, and an impressive pair of 19th-century marble Bacchanalian garden herms topped by carved busts of a satyr and nude maiden. Each herm stands 62 inches tall, and together they tip the scales at 1,000+ lbs. Formerly ensconced at a Southampton, N.Y., estate, the pair is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.

Other items of note include a John Wallace (1841-1905) landscape of a hilltop castle, a carved R.J. Horner partner’s desk with carved griffin legs ($3,000-$5,000), 18th-century ecclesiastical vestments, and a chic F.V. Manti (Italian) 18K yellow gold openwork bracelet adorned with women’s faces ($2,000-$4,000). Last but certainly not least, the sale includes a sporty red 2007 Ferrari F430 with less than 3,000 miles on its odometer – a stylish vehicle in which to transport one’s purchases home on auction day.

Myers Fine Art’s Sunday, Feb. 10 auction of European & Asian Antiques & Fine Art featuring the Cesare Barbieri collection will commence at 12 noon Eastern Time. A preview will be held from 10-6 on Saturday, Feb. 9, and from 10 a.m. till noon on auction day. The gallery is located at 1600 4th St. North in St. Petersburg, FL 33704. All forms of bidding will be available including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information, call 727-823-3249 or e-mail auctions@myersfineart.com. Online: www.myersfineart.com.

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Baby Doe Tabor Bedroom Set

January 25th, 2013 by

Baby Doe TaborKnown as the “Baby Doe Tabor suite”, this set was purchased by U. S. Senator Horace “Silver Dollar” Tabor. Owning incredible silver mines in Colorado, he was also one of the wealthiest men in the world.  Known as the “Silver King”, he created quite the scandal when, while still married, he fell in love with Elizabeth McCourt, also known as Baby Doe, a beautiful woman many years his junior.  As the story goes, the Senator bought the suite during their Honeymoon in Philadelphia for his bride. It was brought back to Colorado (where Tabor lived) and installed in their house where family history had it that President Ulysses S. Grant slept in it.

Tabor was heavily leveraged and in 1890 when the Sherman Silver purchase act was passed, silver prices dropped and Tabor unfortunately lost all of his money. There are actually stories of him becoming a miner in his own mine in order to survive. Despite being broke, Horace and Baby Doe stayed together and were still very much in love in 1899 when Horace died. Numerous books, an Opera, as well as a MGM movie were done on her life as she was one of the most fascinating personages of her day.

The suite’s exceptional history did not stop with the Tabors. After Horace’s death, Baby Doe sold the set to the famed William Randolph Hearst. He kept it until approximately 1930 when he gave it to his publisher Dr. Barham for his Santa Ynez, New Mexico ranch, which he shared with Hearst.

The suite is primarily made of finally carved and burled walnut and was almost certainly crafted by the great Philadelphia cabinetmaker Daniel Pabst. It is one of two great sets he made, the other exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia “World’s Fair” and now at Saganore Hill Museum, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay home. The bed, which will perfectly hold a modern queen size mattress, has upon its cornice nocturnal animals such as owls and bats. Its footboard holds hidden compartments and overall it is a stunning example of aesthetic art. It stands 104” high. The dresser, which is equally as impressive, displays hummingbirds and other daytime animals in its cornice. It also has drawers for jewelry as well as a unique pull out shelf to lay out the day’s accessories. It stands an impressive 115” high.

In all of our experience, we have never seen another suite equal to this one. It is not only extraordinary; but it also has one of the most interesting provenances of any object we have ever offered. I would love for you consider this masterpiece. Our toll free number is 1-800-544-9440. Can we tempt you?

Dresser: 62 3/4″ wide x 27″ deep x 107″ high
Bed: 65 3/8″ wide x 92 1/2″ deep x 104″ high

Sincerely,

Susan

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Pennsylvania ‘dwarf’ clock whistles while it works the crowd at Stephenson’s New Year’s auction

January 23rd, 2013 by

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – Good things came in small packages at Stephenson’s Jan. 1 auction in suburban Philadelphia. An early 19th-century Henry Bower “dwarf” clock standing only 50 inches tall rang in the New Year in fine style, leading prices realized with a buoyant selling price of $31,625. All prices quoted include 15% buyer’s premium.

The diminutive walnut clock sourced from an estate in Pennsylvania’s Poconos region gave indications early on that it might be a sizzler on auction day.

“You can tell a lot by what goes on during the preview,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers. “All of the top clock people were here looking at it. One expert spent half an hour inspecting it. Another customer pulled out an old clock book that explained the meaning of ‘Feste Swome,’ which was written on the clock. Feste Swome is Pennsylvania German for ‘Falkner Swamp’ and refers to the location in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, where Henry Bower manufactured his clocks.”

The winning bidder, an antique dealer and clock collector, called Cindy Stephenson a few days after the auction and told her he was having a gear made for the clock to ensure it would be in perfect running order going forward.

“He was very happy with the clock. He told me he had sold a few other dwarf clocks over the years, but never one by that particular maker,” Stephenson said.

 

The clock had passed by descent to the estate from which it came, but no other information was known about its ownership history. Its desirability was validated on auction day, however, when 11 phone lines were required to accommodate all phone bidders. “Every phone line in the house was occupied, including all of our personal cell phones,” said Stephenson.

The other big story of the day was an old and well-provenanced collection of ivory and jade that had come to Stephenson’s from a Montgomery County residence. Its contents attracted many bidders in the gallery, online and on the phones.

A pair of circa-1890-1920 Chinese carved ivory figural urns decorated with relief village scenes and foo dogs had formerly been in the collection of Oliver Smalley of Epsom, England. Estimated at $2,000-$4,000, the matched duo sold online for $6,490.

 A beautiful 19th-century Japanese ivory and shibayama table screen encrusted with mother of pearl and decorated with tinted-ivory relief figures of people running in the rain and huddling in a shelter was bid to an above-estimate price of $7,475. Other Asian highlights included a carved white jade Buddha, $5,605 to an online bidder; and a celadon jade figure of an official with a scepter, $5,750.

“Our buyers were very pleased with the Asian selection we offered. The pieces were just fabulous. And the consignor was so pleased with the results, he’s also going to consign his furniture. We’re certainly looking forward to that,” said Stephenson.

Of the antique silver offered in the sale, a circa-1814 George III inkstand with winged paw feet, hallmarked for Rebecca Emes and Edward Barnard, London, more than doubled expectations at $1,725. It sold to a buyer in the gallery.

The top jewelry lot was a man’s hand-made 18K gold ring with a bezel-set center diamond weighing approximately 2.0 carats, surrounded by 58 round champagne and white diamonds. It surpassed presale expectations, selling via the Internet for $5,015.

An Alexander John Drysdale (American/New Orleans, 1875-1934) Louisiana bayou landscape artwork has returned to familiar surroundings after selling to a Louisiana phone bidder for a within-estimate price of $2,300. “The buyer was very pleased, and so were we. It’s always nice to see regional art returning to its place of origin,” said Stephenson.

Stephenson’s has a full slate of auctions planned for the first quarter of 2013. For additional information, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail info@stephensonsauction.com. Online: www.stephensonsauction.com.

CAPTIONS:

Lot 410 – Pennsylvania walnut miniature tall case clock, Hy (Henry) Bower, F. (Feste) Swome, early 19th century. Top lot of the sale: $31,625. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

Lot 105 – Pair of Chinese carved ivory figural covered urns decorated with figural village scenes, foo dogs, circa 1890-1920, ex collection of Oliver Smalley, Epsom, England; $6,490. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

Lot 109 – Ivory and shibayama table screen encrusted with mother of pearl and tinted ivory, figurines in rain and shelter, signed on one panel, Japan, 19th century, $7,475. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

Lot 160 – George III glass and silver inkstand, winged paw feet, engraved on back ‘Dame SJ Paston-Cooper,’ circa 1814, hallmarked for Rebecca Emes and Edward Barnard, London, $1,725. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

Lot 235 – Man’s handmade 18K gold and diamond ring; center bezel-set stone approx. 2.0 carats; additional 58 round champagne and white diamonds, weight 40.4 grams/26.0 dwt, $5,015. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

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Cultural Treasures Take the Spotlight in Antiquities Saleroom’s Feb. 1 Auction

January 17th, 2013 by

BOULDER COUNTY, CO – Provenance and pedigree combine to form a compelling reason to bid in Antiquities Saleroom’s Feb. 1 sale of premier Pre-Columbian art. The 110-piece selection offered in the absentee, phone and Internet auction comes from the carefully curated collections of two Hollywood notables – an Emmy Award-winning executive producer/writer, and a producer/director who specializes in movie trailers.

Together, the collections provide an unbroken timeline that traces the fascinating and mysterious ancient civilizations of Central and South America. The auction showcases all of the better-known cultures, such as Aztec, Incan and Mayan; as well as the Pre-Columbian Moche, Salinar, Chancay and Chinesco cultures. Together, the collections are valued at no less than $900,000.

“We are accustomed to handling very fine pieces, but the examples in these two collections are genuinely investment grade and would be welcomed with open arms at any major museum in the world,” said Bob Dodge, co-owner of Antiquities Saleroom. “The first collector – the TV producer – specialized in Mayan and Southeast Mexican artifacts, including pieces from Veracruz and Olmec. The second collection is very wide ranging and includes articles from far south Peru and Chile to Northern Mexico and the West Coast cultures. The owner immersed himself in the antiquities trade so he could become a well-educated buyer. He attended all of the major shows and bought from every prominent dealer.”

Most pieces in the auction boast provenance from distinguished sources, including Sotheby’s, Christie’s, the Denver Art Museum and even Andy Warhol, who reportedly had a discerning eye for antiquities. In addition, several artworks are of monumental height, exceeding 30 inches. “That is almost unheard of in this business and is always exciting to collectors,” Dodge noted.

Some of the finest Moche art to reach the auction market in a decade will be featured in the Feb. 1 sale. According to Dodge, Moche artisans (Peru, circa 400-500 CE) were among the earliest to incorporate portraiture and humor into their pottery production. A prime example is the erotic drinking vessel of a male with well-defined facial features and a disproportionately large, erect phallus that serves as a spout. It is expected to make $12,000-$15,000. Other Moche highlights include a terracotta stirrup vessel shaped as a stern-faced warrior with a diminutive prisoner of war hoisted onto his shoulder, est. $8,000-$12,000; and a beautifully patterned pottery jar modeled as a mythological creature, part serpent and part jaguar with deer antlers. Formerly in the Platt Friedenberg and University of Virginia Art Museum collections, it is estimated at $6,000-$10,000.

Very rare and desirable, a Colima (West Mexico, circa 200 BCE – 200 CE) terracotta redware vessel is formed as a row of three finely detailed ducks with a spout emerging from one side. It measures 11 inches wide and could reach $5,000-$7,000 at auction.

From the Central Mexico Mixtec culture comes a carved redstone stele carved with the image of a fierce running warrior in full battle dress, holding a feather shield and war club. “This object would have been used as a boundary marker to warn intruders to stay away or their warriors would come after them,” said Dodge. Formerly in a Zurich museum, the lot is expected to sell for $20,000-$30,000.

A two-tone janiform Jalisco (Mexico, circa 0-200 CE) pottery jar depicts a pair of dogs conjoined on four feet. Acquired many years ago from the Ron Messick Gallery, the Pre-Columbian rarity is entered in the sale with a $5,000-$7,000 estimate.

From the Mayan Territories, a circa 500-900 CE carved volcanic stone skull exhibits deep eye sockets and applied shells to replicate teeth. A large-beaked bird is carved into the top of the skull and points its beak into the center of the skull’s forehead. Macabre and alluring at the same time, it is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Formerly in the personal collection of pop art genius Andy Warhol, a three-tiered Pre-Columbian Mayan polychrome jar from Honduras, circa 500-900 CE, features dancing stick figures, glyphoids and lotus blossoms on its bands. It commands an auction estimate of $3,000-$4,000.

Many high-carat gold antiquities are included in the sale. A Pre-Columbian Moche (Peru, circa 100-400 CE) royal ceremonial scepter or “atl atl” is decorated with a standing lord carved from bone on a turquoise mosaic platform. Highly important, it carries a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$40,000. There are several bas-relief gold masks in the auction, as well as a Sican (Chimu Culture, Peru, circa 800-1,000 CE) beaker with the face of the god Naylamp crafted in relief on its surface. The deity wears gold earrings with turquoise beads and has repousse “hair.” The piece formerly belonged to Ian Arundel, proprietor of The Curiosity Shop on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. In the 1950s and ’60s, Arundel’s shop was a magnet for collectors of the day, including Vincent Price and John Wayne. The beaker is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.

Bob Dodge stressed that all items offered for sale in the Feb. 1 auction have been legally acquired, are legal to resell and are unconditionally guaranteed to be authentic and as described in the catalog. “We do not sell replicas or anything ‘in the style of’ any ancient culture. Also, no sale is ever final. We want only satisfied customers,” Dodge said.

Antiquities Saleroom’s Exceptional Pre-Columbian Art from Hollywood Auction will commence at 12 noon Eastern Time on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Bids may be placed through a variety of methods: absentee (including absentee online), by phone or live via the Internet on auction day through LiveAuctioneers.com. All items may be viewed online at www.LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information call 720-890-7700. E-mail antiquitiessaleroom@gmail.com. Web: www.antiquities-saleroom.com.

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Beach Modern To Auction Steve Rubell’s Studio 54 Archive January 19th

January 14th, 2013 by

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the only place hip New Yorkers wanted to be seen after dark was Studio 54. But slipping past the uber-chic disco’s velvet rope, which separated jet setters and film stars from ordinary folk hoping to gain admission to the glitzy inner sanctum, was a near-impossible feat – unless you knew, or caught the eye of, Studio 54’s charismatic co-owner Steve Rubell.

The ultimate insider, Rubell partied with the arts and entertainment world’s biggest stars, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra, among hundreds of other celebrities. His West 54th street nightclub was known for its outrageous soirees and offbeat moments, like the time Bianca Jagger entered the club on her birthday in 1977, astride a white horse. When Steve Rubell died in 1989, he left behind a virtual time capsule of unique memorabilia associated with Studio 54’s extraordinary four-year run. That portion of his estate, which has remained in situ for the past 28 years at the apartment Rubell shared with fashion designer Bill Hamilton, will be auctioned Jan. 19 by Palm Beach Modern Auctions in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The archive consigned by Bill Hamilton includes hundreds of remarkable paparazzi photos of stars frolicking at Studio 54, original invitations to special events at the club, rare VIP drink tickets, and many letters and notes to Rubell handwritten by famous personalities of the day. An especially revealing “diary” of the club’s history is the Studio 54 guestbook in which Rubell would record the names of VIP guests expected on any given night. Beside each name, Rubell would indicate whether or not the person was to receive complimentary admission and drinks. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000.

The collection also includes original works of fine art, such as a monumental graffiti-style painting of Rubell by Michael Vollbracht, est. $10,000-$20,000; and a bronze dollar-sign sculpture by Andy Warhol. The 20in-diameter Warhol sculpture is artist-signed and dated in felt pen along the bottom edge of one of the metal panels. Possibly unique, the piece was a gift from the artist to Rubell. It is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

“Warhol and Rubell were very close friends,” said Palm Beach Modern’s auctioneer, Rico Baca. “They were both part of the Studio 54 inner circle.”

Warhol chose to feature Rubell on the cover of his magazine, Interview, in February 1979. That milestone in Rubell’s life is documented in Lot 1 of the Jan. 19 auction with a grouping of items that includes a Warhol-signed copy of the magazine, a Polaroid of Rubell taken by Warhol for use on the cover, and two prints – possibly proofs – of the final cover art. The lot is expected to make $4,000-$6,000 at auction.

The Studio 54 archive is being auctioned in two parts, divided by a selection of artworks and designer furnishings from the Studio 54 era. Additionally, the sale includes important mid-century modern, European, American and Brazilian furniture and decorative objects.

“We chose designer pieces from several premier collections to create an auction atmosphere reflective of Steve Rubell’s lifestyle and environment. He rose to fame during a golden era when homes were decorated with ultra-chic furniture and compelling modern artworks,” said Baca.

Leading the Brazilian section is a pair of circa-1950 Sergio Rodrigues prototype lounge chairs made of rosewood, leather and chrome. Originally purchased directly from the designer, the chairs are entered in the sale with a $16,000-$18,000 estimate.

“The level of quality in this particular consignor’s collection is very high. They also consigned two outstanding Italian pieces by Ico Parisi – a faceted mahogany spherical bar (est. $22,000-$25,000) and a rare circa-1950 ‘duck foot’ rosewood desk (est. $25,000-$35,000),” Baca said.

A private collector in Paris consigned two items by French designer Maria Pergay – a circa-1960 silver-plated tea table, est. $10,000-$20,000; and a circa-1970 silver-plated brass and wood box with belt-buckle motif, est. $1,500-$2,000.

Top American designs include a circa-1960 four-poster bed with starburst finials (est. $6,000-$8,000) and pair of sophisticated brass and glass sconces (est. $4,500-$6,500), both by Tommi Parzinger.

Many other high-end designers are represented in the 400+ lot sale, including Paul Evans, Gio Ponti, Armand Jonker, Guglielmo Ulrich and Milo Baughman, to name but a few. Of special interest are five glass artworks by Anzolo Fuga. The pieces include a charger and four vases, each either accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from A.V.E.M. Murano, or a confirmed reference-book example.

“We’re very proud of the selection to be auctioned on January 19th,” said Baca. “We hold only five single-day auctions per year, and they’re always very nice events, but for this particular sale we reserved only the most important modern designs. The Studio 54 archive is iconic and unique. We knew it would attract widespread attention and wanted to present it alongside the finest modern design available in the marketplace today.”

The Studio 54 Steve Rubell & Important Modern Design auction will commence at 12 noon ET on Sat., Jan. 19, 2013. The exhibition center and auction venue is located at 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information, call 561-586-5500, e-mail info@modernauctions.com. Web: www.modernauctions.com. View the fully illustrated auction catalog online at www.LiveAuctioneers.com

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Jacobean Furniture

December 5th, 2012 by

Jacobean furniture dates all the way back to the year 1600. The revival of this style lasted for almost a century. The period represents the growth of foreign influence and the passing of the oak styles. The Jacobean style was made popular during the reign of James the first and was also popular under his son Charles the second.

The earliest Jacobean furniture was influenced mainly by Elizabethan (1603 -1688) styled furniture. During this time the furniture took on different styles. Early Jacobean furniture was somewhat inward looking, not fully embracing exotic influences that were more ornate. Colonial Americans copied the early styles of the furniture as best as they could since they did not have skilled furniture makers.

Commonwealth Style (1649-1660) marks the middle of the Jacobean Period, when the furniture was of simpler design and undecorated. The late Jacobean Period is that of the Carolean period, named for King Charles II. Charles the first was more cultured than his father and took much care and interest in the furnishings of his palaces and mansions and especially in the collection of great art and paintings. During Charles’s reign over England, he paid more attention to domestic comfort with much more use of padded upholstery, carpets instead of rush mats, and finer embroidery. The Latin name for James is Jacobus. The English style in vogue beginning with James I’s reign is referred to as “Jacobean”. The Jacobean, or Jacobethan, era was another phase of English Renaissance architecture, theatre, and decoration and formed a continuation, begun in the Elizabethan age, of the Renaissance’s penetration into England. In America, Jacobean style furniture is synonymous with Pilgrim style because the early English settlements in America took place during the Jacobean era.  Very little American furniture of the earlier part of the Jacobean period is still surviving; but later pieces, from about 1670, are more numerous. Most of the American primitive furniture was produced during this period by colonists to make do, because there were few skilled cabinetmakers in the colonies.

There were many different features in the Jacobean furniture style. Oak was the chief wood and Ash and maple were used for turning and whittling. Using pine wood was also a popular method. There were also a few different types of Jacobean furniture.  This included turned chairs, highly carved mirror frames, footstools, and gateleg tables. Upholstery was used to improve chairs. Upholstery is the work of providing furniture, especially seats, with padding, springs, webbing, and fabric covers. Materials such as silk, tapestries, crewelwork, linen, velvet, and even leather were used on various types of chairs. There were four different chair styles in the Jacobean era that included three-legged, carver, and Brewster. Almost all flat surfaces on chairs, chests, etc. are carved in low relief. Jacobean furniture was very sturdy, massive in size, notoriously uncomfortable, and made to last. The furniture pieces that were produced consisted mainly of chests, cupboards, trestle tables, wainscot chairs, and gate legged circular tables. Some veneering and inlay were used, and many pieces were painted. Spiral turning was also very popular. Tables were rectangular in shape, with small melon ball turning on the legs. As a rule, Jacobean furniture construction was simple. It was assembled with mortise and tendon joints, held together with pegs.

Jacobean period furniture can mainly be found in the auction houses of England. Being built to last, many pieces have not only survived, but are still in good condition. Understandably expensive, most “Jacobean antiques” available for sale are actually 19th century reproductions. Lines of furniture today have the same styles and will reference the Jacobean era.

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THE ANATOMY OF A SALE

December 3rd, 2012 by

Buying antiques and fine art is a very enjoyable experience but can have its pitfalls for both professional dealer and amateur alike.

In this short guide, I hope to be able to give an insight in how many dealers operate in the international market. This is by no means a definitive working practice in every case, and the views presented here are simply personal ones based upon 20 years of experience. Nevertheless, I believe that they have some merit and have served me well over the years.

Firstly, a professional dealer is no different from a private collector or individual when it comes to making a purchase. What many people forget is that dealers are also owners of their stock. They put their money where their mouths are in the hope that they can turn a profit. Sometimes the market is such that they cannot sell an item for many years, or if they do will have to take a loss on their original investment. It happens to every dealer at some stage, but that is the learning curve they, and everyone else for that matter, is on. We are all just fallible after all. This brings us nicely to a set of informal buying stages that I operate by on a typical transaction. So here is the first.

Stage 1

Do you love the item? Forget the investment potential. Forget the price. Forget any selling schpeel or scarcity of the piece. Forget the worry of where you’ll put it at home. Simply, do you like it? How do you respond emotionally to it? Whether you are an individual or dealer, only you can really decide this.

OK, so you’ve fallen in love with a piece. Now what?

Stage 2

Can you afford it? So let’s say that the piece you have chosen has an affordable price tag – and by that I mean on a personal level you will be able to pay for it without mortgaging your home or selling your children! Only you can gauge this, and the same also applies to the dealer. After all, they could be stuck with it for sometime and not be able to free up their working capital.

Stage 3

What price are you prepared to pay? This is where for the most part the dealer has the edge on a private client. It is their specialist knowledge of market prices and current trends, which will assist them greatly in completing a sale, that will in turn be driven by their business margins.

So how can an individual ‘compete’ with a dealer? Well there are many ways, which we’ll touch on later in the article, but here is the main one. Research.

It’s somewhat obvious, but if you are buying anything with a signature, try to research the artist. If the piece is attributed to someone, what is the basis for the seller claiming this? This is also loosely described as provenance – the holy grail of authenticity.

Provenance could include, but not be limited to, anything from a verifiable source of past ownership to documentation proving the substance of the piece. It may also just be a gut feeling for example where an old lady has had something in the family for as long as she can remember. Remember this though, never take anyone’s word for what you are looking. It may be that the seller is simply trying to turn a quick profit and hasn’t dug too deep into an items value in either direction.

Now I’m not advocating a cynical view to buying. For the most part private and trade sellers are honest people simply trying to make a profit and not deceive, but it is amazing how often this lack of research happens. If you don’t believe me, look at the many stories of hugely valuable treasures being discovered at car boot (garage) sales or in auction. Remember the Chinese vase that sold in the UK for in excess of £45m, well that was valued earlier by a dealer at £800. Ooops. You can’t be an expert on everything, so the lesson here, is do your research. You may not get it right every time, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

But where and how I hear you ask? Well you’ll find that the internet is a hugely valuable and free resource for this. There are also subscription based services which will track a particular artist or edition in the salerooms worldwide. See Benezit online (soon to be launched), Artprice etc.

The internet has really changed the way the way in which we shop and consume all sorts of products. For the novice, it is an invaluable tool for researching whether there is a similar item for sale, and at what price, or to simply learn more about the piece you are about to purchase. Within the trade, there are mixed views about this, mostly because this kind of market intelligence was predominantly the domain of the professionals and it is seen as somehow weakening the commercial advantage. I’m of the opinion though that this sea-change of the way we now acquire art it is a good thing, as in the long run it benefits everyone dealing in expensive works of art and raises the reputation and transparency of those bona fide dealers.

Now a word of warning here about using auction salerooms as valuation indicators. An auction price is simply a measure of what someone is prepared to pay for a piece in a competitive environment – nothing more, nothing less. Along with frequency of appearance on the open market, these are broadly how market prices are ‘set’ for an item or artist. Remember Stage 1? That is principally what is at work here and why dealers and private individuals get carried away and sometimes pay beyond their set limit. Then again, that’s the excitement of a ‘room’ – they are environments that provoke tests of nerve, bank balances and many times a large measure of egos thrown in.

If you’ve never been to an auction, then I urge you to go. They are great fun, but if you do happen to see something you want, set your limit and stick to it. A useful trick is to imagine yourself as a big cat hunting on the plains of Africa and your prey is an auction item. Sometimes you’ll give chase and be successful, but more often than not you’ll have to let it go to conserve your energy (read money!) and live to hunt again. If you do get carried away though, don’t worry. We’ve all done it, and at the end of the day you’ll come away with something you love. Right?

 

Ok, enough of the analogies. You get the picture. Back to the matter in hand. What do you pay? If you are a private client, the answer to that is, what is it worth to you? Assuming that you have done your research, the piece checks out and you love it, what’s the next move. How do you actually negotiate a sale and what do you say and do? Here are my thoughts on this.

The anatomy of a sale:

a.            Now I’m a great advocate of telling a seller that you love the piece. It doesn’t weaken your position. This is a Stage 1 statement and nothing to do with what you will ultimately pay. This doesn’t mean that you’ll not have any bargaining points either; it simply aligns you with the seller on an emotional level. You can even get into a bit of small talk on where they found it and how long they’ve had it etc.

b.            As an opener, ask the dealer what their best price is. If they try to draw you on what you’d be prepared to pay, simply joke with them and tell them that you can’t be both buyer and seller!

c.             If you think that the piece is worth 40% less than they are asking (this is a bit extreme), then tell them that you see it at 50% less than what they are asking (this will give you a bit of a buffer). The principle here is start low and keep it friendly. You can always go up, but never down. Once the seller has regained consciousness (!) they’ll probably tell you to get lost.

d.            At this point you’ll need to reinforce that you love it and you are serious. You can do this by saying ‘look, this artist /sculptor/item recently sold for X amount in auction’. It shows you have done your research. If they haven’t done the same then you’ll have an advantage. If their asking price is close to the last auction room sale, try to average out the previous saleroom performance for the piece/artist. If the seller is insisting that this is the value then you can always say that on the day that’s what someone was prepared to pay and today is another day. Remember to keep it light and friendly. Don’t get ruffled or intimidated by a sellers apparent indignation at your offers.

e.            Ask them where they ‘see it’. They’ll probably drop a bit.

f.             At this point start to focus attention on the item. Is it in perfect condition? Has it been repaired or restored, all of which can affect value. Is there something that you can use to reduce the price e.g. is it a picture which needs reframing or relining? Perhaps it’s a bronze which needs repatinating. Remember to reinforce that ‘you love it but because of XYZ you see it at X price.

g.            It is not uncommon at this stage for a seller to tell you that your offer is lower than what they paid for the item. This may or may not be true, but most dealers will have at least a 20% margin in the piece, so even at this level you’ve got, say, a 10% discount you could negotiate.

h.            Assuming that you are both engaged in the negotiating process (in as much as there have been at least three price movements of at least 5% (of original asking price) and moving closer to a ‘strike price’ you’ll find that at this point the going will probably get tougher.

i.              You can either agree to the sale if you think it’s fair or decide on a more extreme tactic of calling the sellers bluff and walking away. Stand up and say something like. ‘Look, you know I love it, but we’re just too far apart. I can do X amount’. This can provoke them to agree to your price or it may not. If not, walk away. Now you may be willing to pay more and think you may have blown your chances, but you haven’t. So where to now?

j.             Spend some time to think and calm down. Do you still love the item? Can you make the ‘strike price’? What really is your limit?

k.            OK. Final round. You go back to the seller. Say something like ‘Well I’m back. I just can’t forget that picture/sculpture/piece. Look, what is your very, very best on it?’ They may make some final concession which is within your top limit, or they may not budge at all. You’ve probably got only another couple of price moves here at the most.

l.              So now it’s crunch time. You’ll have three options. You agree on your maximum price, agree to pay more, but only if that includes any repairs, shipping, etc (or whatever else you can negotiate), or you walk away (remember the hunting analogy).

So that’s kind of it. Every sale will be different. You will win, but some of the time you will lose.

If you remember to do only one thing, it’s engage with your heart, but negotiate with your head.

You won’t go too far wrong with this strategy. Good luck and happy hunting!

R. Santana / Palladium Fine Art Brokerage

© Copyright 2012

www.palladiumfineart.com

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“Meissen Blue Onion,” Cherished by Collectors Since 18 Century

November 8th, 2012 by

Blue Onion is a Chinese pattern originally manufactured by Meissen since the 18th century, copied by other companies since the late 19th century and is still in production today.

The “Blue Onion,” pattern was originally named “bulb” pattern according to historians. While modeled closely after a pattern first produced by the Chinese, the plates and bowls styled in the Meissen factory in 1740 adopted a feel that was distinctly their own. One of the earliest examples is the blue and white porcelains of the early Ming Dynasty in 1420. The flowers and fruits pictured on the original Chinese pattern were unknown to the Meissen painters; they created hybrids that resembled more familiar to Europeans. The so-called “onions” are not onions at all, but according to historians, are most likely mutations of the peaches and pomegranates modeled on the original Chinese pattern. The whole design is an ingeniously conceived grouping of several floral motifs with stylized peonies and asters in the pattern’s center, the stems of which wind in flowing curves around a bamboo stalk.

Collectors beware …the second quality work are those with the “strike lines,” and later ones NO LONGER CARRY the BLUE CROSS SWORDS and carry the work Meissen in a oval in blue.

This and others can be seen at;

http://www.antiques.com/classified/1127033/Antique-Early-Meissen-Soup-Bowl-Blue-Onion

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Government Auction Offers Superb Redmond Painting, Diamonds, Gold Coins on Oct. 28

October 25th, 2012 by

TEHACHAPI, Calif. – Government Auction’s Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 auction is brimming with original art, precious gems and other treasures. Antique gold coins, diamond necklaces and a fine oil-on-canvas painting by renowned California Impressionist Granville Redmond (1871-1935) are among the top highlights in the sale. Most of the 1,300 lots have $2 starting bids and will be available to bidders worldwide through LiveAuctioneers.com.

The Granville Redmond work, titled “Sunny Stubblefield,” is a 9½ by 12½-inch landscape that features a slumbering ranch house surrounded by turquoise skies, old oak trees and blades of California sage grass. The label on verso reveals provenance from “Schussler Bros., Art Dealers, 285 Geary St., San Francisco.

Redmond is regarded as one of the first tonalist painters of the California school. As a child, he was deaf due to a bout with scarlet fever. He attended a school for the deaf where he was taught painting, and went on to study in San Francisco and Paris. He is best known for landscapes featuring poppies, trees and mountains.

“Usually paintings of this caliber are snatched up by a high-end auction house such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s. We are truly pleased to have acquired the Granville Redmond oil on canvas through a California estate sale,” said Government Auction’s chief auctioneer Paul Sabesky. The work is expected to realize $25,000-$30,000.

Among the top pieces of fine jewelry to be auctioned is a stunning 26-carat diamond necklace. The 14K white gold eternity necklace measures 17 inches and is styled as a flexible “ribbon” with 59 graduating round-cut brilliant diamonds that terminate in a concealed clasp with twin safeties. Also included within the multitude of elegant jewelry pieces is a 51.28-carat tanzanite and diamond necklace. Measuring 18 inches long, it is 14K white gold with 22 oval-cut natural tanzanite surrounded by round-cut diamonds having a total weight of 7.39 carats. Those diamonds are in addition to the main gemstones, which weigh 51 carats. In total, the necklace weighs 60.30 grams.

Leading the watch category is an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore men’s watch. Audemars Piguet is known as the master of precision in watch manufacturing. The watch is comprised of a black leather band with a copper case that encloses a white face and black dials. Another luxury timepiece in the sale is a 14K gold ladies’ Rolex with gold serpentine band and octagonal gold case with white face and gold numbering.

A much larger timekeeper highlights the antiques section of the sale – a 3-piece Ansonia clock set estimated at $2,250-$4,500. The Ansonia Clock Company was a major 19th-century American clock manufacturer based in New York. The firm crafted thousands of clocks in a wide variety of styles that are as popular with today’s collectors as they were with families of more than a century ago.

Gold coins have become a staple at Government Auction event, and based on the excitement and number of bids placed on them in the California company’s recent auctions, it’s obvious that collectors are pursuing them aggressively. A special entry in the Oct. 28 auction is an 1883 $10 Liberty gold coin. Also known as the “Coronet,” the coin was designed by sculptor Christian Gobrecht. The Coronet features Lady Liberty wearing her hair in a loose bun with a coronet on her head inscribed with the words “Liberty.” An American Eagle is shown with the words “United States of America” and motto “In God We Trust.” The composition of the coin is 90% gold and 10% copper, which accounts for its beautifully warm, golden hue. Another numismatic treasure to be auctioned is a $5 Indian Head gold coin.

Last but certainly not least, a 2001 Bentley Azure stands ready to transport some lucky bidder to their home or other destination. Equipped with a ‘Special S’ package, the black with black interior luxury vehicle is in excellent condition and has only 17,000 original miles on its odometer. Estimate: $300,000-$600,000. Note: This car must be picked up from Government Auction’s premises in Techachapi, California.

Government Auction’s Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 auction event will commence at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time/9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Debbie on 661-823-1543 or e-mail info@governmentauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

About Government Auction:

Government Auction is one of the most reputable jewelry and gem clearinghouse companies in the United States, with more than 20 years of experience. The Southern California-based firm works closely with agencies and individuals, including the IRS, bank and trust officers, and estate and bankruptcy trustees to liquidate confiscated assets such as fine jewelry, luxury vehicles, gold coins and artworks.

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