John Steinbeck’s apartment archive to be auctioned

NEW YORK — A trove of letters and manuscripts from the New York City apartment of Grapes of Wrath author John Steinbeck is going on the auction block.

Steinbeck lived in the Upper East Side apartment for 13 years year until he died in 1968. The material is being offered at Bloomsbury Auctions in New York on June 23. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

The archive contains Steinbeck’s 1962 Nobel Prize acceptance speech and manuscripts recorded in his neat script on lined yellow paper. Also among the material are some of his never-published works, including a reworking of “Don Quixote.”

Steinbeck is considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. He penned 27 novels, including Of Mice and Men and East of Eden. Many were adapted for film and the stage.

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Online: http://ny.bloomsburyauctions.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Las Vegas antique jewelry trade show reports uptick

Attendance was up 15 percent over last year at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show. Image courtesy of US Antique Shows.
Attendance was up 15 percent over last year at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show. Image courtesy of US Antique Shows.
Attendance was up 15 percent over last year at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show. Image courtesy of US Antique Shows.

LAS VEGAS – US Antique Shows today reported strong sales and a 15 percent increase in attendance over last year at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, an annual trade-only event. The show was held at MGM Grand during Jewelry Week, June 3-6.

The four-day show featured more than 300 national and international dealers that exhibited unique vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces. A sample of the beautiful merchandise exhibited included an amazing 7.34-carat pigeon blood Burmese ruby and diamond ring and an 18-karat yellow gold plique-a-jour diamond and emerald dragonfly brooch. Other unique pieces included heavy Georgian and Victorian jewelry that has intrinsic value and in great condition, such as a large gold and 3 carats of multicolored sapphire locket engraved with Peony blossoms.

“The gate saw a record number of buyers who were actively purchasing at this year’s show. This increase in attendees is a reflection of the stabilization of our industry,” said Andrea Canady, fair director for the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show. “This unprecedented number of dealers who came out to our show and purchased exceptional one-of-a-kind items for their customers proves the resilience of the antique and estate jewelry industry.”

Exhibitor comments on the last day of the show were favorable.

“It was the best and most high energy show we’ve had in years,” said John T. Haynes of John T. Haynes Inc. “The show had a lot of buying and selling activity.”

Todd Denaburg with Levy’s Fine Jewelry said, “The show has been much better than we thought it would be and the same has been said by all the other exhibitors I spoke to.”

Next year’s Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show will be held at our new location, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. The show is scheduled for June 2-5, 2011. The next show for US Antique Shows is the fourth annual New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show being held July 23-26 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.

For details call (702) 485-2219 or visit www.USAntiqueShows.com.

Paul Evans, heavy metal artist of mid-century furniture

This four-door welded cabinet with applied patina, made in 1974, sold for $72,000, including buyer’s premium, in the May 18, 2008 sale at Wright in Chicago. Image courtesy of Wright.
This four-door welded cabinet with applied patina, made in 1974, sold for $72,000, including buyer’s premium, in the May 18, 2008 sale at Wright in Chicago. Image courtesy of Wright.
This four-door welded cabinet with applied patina, made in 1974, sold for $72,000, including buyer’s premium, in the May 18, 2008 sale at Wright in Chicago. Image courtesy of Wright.

In 2000, the year the auction house Wright debuted, a 1974 four-door welded cabinet with slate top by artist and designer Paul Evans (American, 1931-1987) went on the block.

It failed to sell, although a small hanging stainless steel cupboard by Evans managed to eke out $489, including buyer’s premium.

Eight years later, an almost identical four-door cabinet came up at Wright, a Chicago-based specialist in modern and contemporary design. This time around, there were plenty of admirers competing for Evans’ futuristic fusion of sculpture and furniture. The winner paid $72,000.

“You can walk into a room that has one of his great, welded cabinets and see something unique, a very unselfconscious artistic style,” said owner Richard Wright. “Interior decorators understand his aesthetic and how to use his extreme pieces in a way that is tasteful rather than threatening.”

Evans designed monumental wood furniture with sculptured aluminum, bronze and copper decoration that ran counter to the sleek simplicity of the 1950s and 1960s. An artist and entrepreneur, he was intent on making handmade furniture, as well as a profit.

Mastering sculpture and jewelry design at the School for American Crafters in Rochester, N.Y., and Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Evans was artist in residence as a silversmith at the working history museum of Sturbridge Village near Springfield, Mass.

He visited the artistic community of New Hope, Pa., in his native Bucks County, frequenting a shop owned by artisan Phillip Lloyd Powell, who would become his mentor. Powell allowed Evans to display several pieces in his showroom and in 1956 Evans decided to make New Hope his home.

In 1964, he became the designer for Directional, a furniture manufacturer that introduced such innovations as a buffet-style cabinet that is reminiscent of a fractured iceberg, veneered with large facets of chrome-plated steel. His Argente series is a groovy union of welded aluminum with applied ink. The Sculpted Bronze line is a study in industrial art; the Cityscape collection is typified by geometric metallic veneered panels.

“Evans had several distinctive styles and it can be difficult to compare,” said Lisanne Dickson, director of modern design at Treadway Toomey Galleries of Cincinnati and Oak Park, Ill.. “There is no perfect science to it.”

The man was as complex as his designs. A heavy drinker, Evans was impetuous, exasperating and charming. He posed with a welding torch for a Life magazine photographer, but in reality he rarely touched tools, focusing on design.

“He had a huge personality,” Wright said.

For years, demand for Evans’ work was overshadowed by his New Hope contemporary George Nakashima, whose naturalist wood pieces soared in price in the 1990s.

Soon, Evans will be getting his due as an artist in the community he called home. In 2012, he will be the subject of a retrospective exhibit at the James A. Michener Museum in nearby Doylestown, Pa.

“The materials, the methods Evans used were so different,” said curator Connie Kimmerly, who consulted with craftsman Dorsey Reading, who worked with Evans and collected his pieces. “His use of the new technology that was available in the 1950s made him a real force.”

In addition to various metals and stone, Evans embraced epoxy resin, which was applied to the surface of furniture and then sculpted freeform. He sketched the designs and handed them off to artisans, who assembled and finished the pieces for hip, latter mid-century buyers.

After a swift run up in the mid-2000s, prices for Evans cooled along with the economy. “It was like a huge wave,” Dickson said. “Prices built up rapidly, then took a hard hit with the recession.”

Recently, there have been significant signs of an uptick in value. On April 18, a 10-piece sculpted bronze dining room suite zoomed to $59,225, including 15-percent buyer’s premium, at Austin Auction Gallery in Austin, Texas. Since then, there has been a flurry of interest from prospective buyers and consignors.

“I just got an e-mail from a guy in Pennsylvania who is wondering if the person who bought the dining room suite might be interested in his coffee table,” said Austin Auction Gallery associate Chris Featherston.There is other evidence the market is perking up. A bronze disc-shaped bar cabinet more than doubled expectations, garnering $13,000 at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J., on April 25, according to sales information from LiveAuctioneers.

Demand for the top pieces remains hot, fanned by passionate collectors and committed dealers, most notably Todd Merrill Antiques of New York, an ardent champion of Evans’ industrial aesthetic. On April 28 a table with glass top and gilded steel base made the equivalent of $71,051 at a sale at Phillips de Pury & Co.

Still, Evans’ vision as an artist and designer has not aged evenly. His sculpted epoxy resin is prone to chips and is difficult to restore. The panels on the Cityscape series cabinets tend to lift.

That said, many of his massive metal cabinets and special occasion tables are in excellent condition. Featherston noted that Directional began making his furniture less than 50 years ago—and virtually all the pieces, signed and dated by Evans, went to well-heeled patrons.

“The dining room suite we sold cost $20,000 in 1970,” he said. “The original buyers were not the kind of people who let their kids beat up on the furniture.”

Richard Wright, who has handled more than 200 Evans lots, said the designer strikes a sweet balance between supply and demand. He died at 55, yet boasted a prodigious output, thanks to a dedicated staff. By contrast, his mentor Powell preferred to work alone and produced barely 1,000 pieces before his death in 2008 at 88.

“It’s a very well made, cohesive body of work,” he said. “Evans made enough furniture to feed a following, but not so much that the market would ever be flooded with it.”


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Ten-piece sculpted bronze dining suite, made in 1970 and featuring a Stalagmite glass-top dining table, eight dining chairs with purple micro-suede seats and backrest; and a sideboard with two slate tablets and bi-fold doors concealing interior shelves. Signed ‘PE 70.’ Offered as three lots, total selling price: $59,225. Image courtesy of Austin Auction Gallery.
Ten-piece sculpted bronze dining suite, made in 1970 and featuring a Stalagmite glass-top dining table, eight dining chairs with purple micro-suede seats and backrest; and a sideboard with two slate tablets and bi-fold doors concealing interior shelves. Signed ‘PE 70.’ Offered as three lots, total selling price: $59,225. Image courtesy of Austin Auction Gallery.

A hanging welded ‘eye’ cabinet sold for $60,000 in the April 12, 2008 sale at Rago in Lambertville, N.J. It was consigned by Dorsey Reading, who worked with Evans. Image courtesy of Rago Arts.
A hanging welded ‘eye’ cabinet sold for $60,000 in the April 12, 2008 sale at Rago in Lambertville, N.J. It was consigned by Dorsey Reading, who worked with Evans. Image courtesy of Rago Arts.

A bronze disc bar with interior cabinet made $13,000 against a $5,000 estimate at Rago in an April 25, 2010 sale. Image courtesy of Rago Arts.
A bronze disc bar with interior cabinet made $13,000 against a $5,000 estimate at Rago in an April 25, 2010 sale. Image courtesy of Rago Arts.

Veneered in large facets, this cabinet in chrome-plated steel brought $35,000 in the March 24, 2009 sale at Wright. Image courtesy of Wright.
Veneered in large facets, this cabinet in chrome-plated steel brought $35,000 in the March 24, 2009 sale at Wright. Image courtesy of Wright.

The winner of a dining table with beveled glass top and base with diamond-shape patinated and gilded steel base served up $71,050 at Phillips de Pury on April 28. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury.
The winner of a dining table with beveled glass top and base with diamond-shape patinated and gilded steel base served up $71,050 at Phillips de Pury on April 28. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury.

East meets West June 26-27 at Austin Auction sale of religious relics, art

Antique swords in the auction include an early 19th-century Indo-Persian example (center) with gilt grip and guard terminating in three-dimensional horse-head form with jeweled ruby eyes. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Antique swords in the auction include an early 19th-century Indo-Persian example (center) with gilt grip and guard terminating in three-dimensional horse-head form with jeweled ruby eyes. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Antique swords in the auction include an early 19th-century Indo-Persian example (center) with gilt grip and guard terminating in three-dimensional horse-head form with jeweled ruby eyes. Austin Auction Gallery image.

AUSTIN, Texas – The stellar Whit Hanks collection of European antiques and Vietnamese French Catholic religious relics serves as the centerpiece of Austin Auction Gallery’s June 26-27 East Meets West cataloged Estates Auction. A total of 600 lots will be offered, 350 coming from the Hanks collection. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

Owner of a high-profile antiques center located in Austin’s original Coca-Cola bottling plant, Whit Hanks is also a real estate developer known for rescuing and relocating two complete 19th-century Vietnamese churches to a country property in Dripping Springs, near Austin.

“Mr. Hanks is an antiques icon in Austin and always ahead of the next collecting trend,” said Austin Auction Gallery associate Chris Featherston. “He owns the city’s premier multi-dealer gallery and is known for his impeccable taste in European antiques and Mexican religious art, which he bought and sold for nearly 30 years before discovering the colonial treasures of Vietnam.”

Initially drawn to antiques after inheriting his grandfather’s lavishly furnished New York apartment in the 1970s, Hanks made dozens of trips to Europe in pursuit of architectural antiques. “He would bring back spectacular stained glass and monumental mirrors, similar to the 8½-foot-tall gold leaf mirror with a carved putto and wolves’ heads that’s included in the June sale,” said Featherston.

The auction’s inventory list is also rife with evidence of Hanks’ attraction to offbeat items that aren’t standard fare in an antique gallery – things like the 30 to 40 antique terra-cotta olive jars acquired in northern Spain, each of substantial heft and standing 3½ feet tall. “If Mr. Hanks saw something he knew was special and there was a shipping container large enough to accommodate it, he would buy it,” Featherston said.

Whit Hanks’ appreciation for religious icons began in the 1980s, Featherston said, and some of his purchases were made at sales conducted by Austin Auction Gallery. “At that time, we’ve been told that it was possible to buy retablos in Mexico, six for $10. The interest in these objects was not all that great back then, but now those same retablos may be valued at $2,000 to $3,000 apiece.”

In 2007, while visiting his son who lives in Asia, Hanks discovered and made an immediate connection with the French-influenced religious antiques and architecture of Vietnam. He began to buy the relics with the same fervor that spurred his earlier trips to Europe and Mexico. Now headed to auction, the Asian collection includes more than 40 antique French colonial statues up to 45 inches tall, several relief-carved religious panels – one of them after a 15th-century Italian painting – carved altar adornments and stone heads; and a compartmented Vietnamese marriage box with lacquered faux-tortoiseshell lid. These beautiful artworks would find a fitting home in either of the two French religious cabinets to be auctioned.

A consignment that came in just under the wire proved to be the perfect complement to the Hanks religious relics collection: a pair of monumental parcel gilt and polychrome-painted carved-wood statues of St. Michael the Archangel. Both statues are the work of contemporary Mexican artist Agustin Parra Echaurri (Mexico, b. 1960-). One of the statues stands 9ft. 11 inches tall and depicts St. Michael wielding a sword in a dramatic pose. The companion piece, which stands 9ft. 5 inches tall, is a depiction of St. Michael standing with his foot atop the head of Lucifer, after a painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642). Each of these exceptional 20th-century artworks is artist-signed “A. Parra.” They will be offered as separate lots, each with a presale estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

The sale also features property from several distinguished estates, including art and ivory from the Marshall estate, formerly of New Orleans. Thirty pieces of Chinese and Japanese ivory will cross the auction block, including an extraordinary chess set whose “kings” each measure 12 inches tall, a profusely carved censer on tripod feet, and other fine carvings featuring deities and elders. A walking cane collection includes examples that are entirely of ivory as well as some that feature carved-ivory heads of dogs and other creatures.

A small but highly select collection of swords includes an early 19th-century showstopper of Indo-Persian origin. The sword’s decorative gilt grip and guard terminate in a three-dimensional horse-head form with jeweled ruby eyes. A foliate-decorated scabbard completes the regal presentation of this connoisseur’s edged weapon.

In the fine-art section of the sale, one of the most sought-after names in Texas regional art, Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), is represented by a signed, oil-on-canvas landscape painting of a quintessential Hill Country scene. Handsomely framed, the artwork titled Springtime II, Texas, Bexar County measures 11¼ inches by 8½ inches and is additionally signed and titled on verso.

The furniture category is led by a circa-1880 Eastlake bedroom suite with marble-top dresser, a Victorian half-tester bed, and numerous pieces of French furniture, including a large oak vasselier.

An Italian crystal chandelier of near-diamond shape has a drop length of 38 inches and a width of 34 inches. Another lot expected to light up the gallery on auction day is the late-19th-century bronze chandelier with six lights on arms formed as winged griffins.

Additional items of note include a pair of marble lions that formerly guarded the entrance to a palace in India, 2-ft.-tall Murano millefiori glass eggs converted to lamps, several 18th-century French clocks, a pietre dure table, a circa-1900 Ernst Plank (Germany) magic lantern with 23 colored-glass slides, and a selection of Native-American art highlighted by a circa 1200 A.D. to 1350 A.D. Southwestern pottery bowl. An actual cage-style elevator from a Paris building would be a guaranteed conversation-starter in any home.

All forms of bidding will be available for Austin Auction Gallery’s June 26-27 East Meets West sale, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 512-258-5479 or e-mail info@austinauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Excellent polychromed-wood religious statue of St. Michael the Archangel standing on Lucifer, carved and signed by Agustín Parra Echaurri, (Mexico, b.1960-) after a painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642), heavily gilded detail throughout, wood sword, standing on gilt-accented base. Stands 9ft. 5 inches tall. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Note: A companion piece is offered in this sale. Image courtesy of Austin Austin Gallery.
Excellent polychromed-wood religious statue of St. Michael the Archangel standing on Lucifer, carved and signed by Agustín Parra Echaurri, (Mexico, b.1960-) after a painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642), heavily gilded detail throughout, wood sword, standing on gilt-accented base. Stands 9ft. 5 inches tall. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Note: A companion piece is offered in this sale. Image courtesy of Austin Austin Gallery.

Closeup of Lucifer's head from Agustin Parra Echaurri's 9ft. 5in. statue of St. Michael reveals the artist's great talent for detail and expression. Image courtesy of Austin Auction Gallery.
Closeup of Lucifer’s head from Agustin Parra Echaurri’s 9ft. 5in. statue of St. Michael reveals the artist’s great talent for detail and expression. Image courtesy of Austin Auction Gallery.

Monumental religious statue of St. Michael the Archangel wielding a sword, carved by Agustin Parra Echaurri (Mexico, b. 1960-), parcel gilt and polychromed wood with glass eyes, signed A. Parra (Agustín Parra Echaurri, Mexico, b.1960). Stands 9ft. 11 inches tall. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Note: A companion piece is offered in this sale. Image courtesy of Austin Austin Gallery.
Monumental religious statue of St. Michael the Archangel wielding a sword, carved by Agustin Parra Echaurri (Mexico, b. 1960-), parcel gilt and polychromed wood with glass eyes, signed A. Parra (Agustín Parra Echaurri, Mexico, b.1960). Stands 9ft. 11 inches tall. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Note: A companion piece is offered in this sale. Image courtesy of Austin Austin Gallery.

American half-tester bed. Austin Auction Gallery image.
American half-tester bed. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Examples from a selection of more than 40 antique French colonial religious statues from the Whit Hanks collection. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Examples from a selection of more than 40 antique French colonial religious statues from the Whit Hanks collection. Austin Auction Gallery image.

French 8½-foot-tall gold leaf mirror with a carved putto and wolves’ heads. Austin Auction Gallery image.
French 8½-foot-tall gold leaf mirror with a carved putto and wolves’ heads. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Antique cage-style elevator from Paris building. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Antique cage-style elevator from Paris building. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), Springtime II, Texas, Bexar County, 11¼ inches by 8½ inches, oil on canvas, signed lower right, signed and titled on verso. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), Springtime II, Texas, Bexar County, 11¼ inches by 8½ inches, oil on canvas, signed lower right, signed and titled on verso. Austin Auction Gallery image.

An extensive selection of carved Chinese and Japanese ivories will be auctioned. Shown here is a tripodal censer with dragon motif. Austin Auction Gallery image.
An extensive selection of carved Chinese and Japanese ivories will be auctioned. Shown here is a tripodal censer with dragon motif. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Circa 1200 A.D. to 1350 A.D. Southwestern Native-American pottery bowl. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Circa 1200 A.D. to 1350 A.D. Southwestern Native-American pottery bowl. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Four examples from a grouping of 30-40 antique earthenware olive jars acquired from northern Spain, each of substantial weight and standing 3½ feet tall. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Four examples from a grouping of 30-40 antique earthenware olive jars acquired from northern Spain, each of substantial weight and standing 3½ feet tall. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Carved-ivory chess set with "kings" standing 12 inches high. Austin Auction Gallery image. Austin Auction Gallery image.
Carved-ivory chess set with "kings" standing 12 inches high. Austin Auction Gallery image. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Pittsburgh to be second stop for Vatican art show

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Sen. John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh will be the second United States venue to host a traveling exhibition of rarely seen art and artifacts from the Vatican.

“Vatican Splendors: A Journey through Faith and Art” will be at the museum from Oct. 2 through mid-January. The collection is now on display at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.

The exhibition is one of the largest collections of Vatican art, documents and historically significant objects ever to tour North America. Some of the items have never left the Vatican.

Highlights include artwork by Michelangelo, Guercino, and Bernini.

The exhibit also includes a bronze cast of the hand of Pope John Paul II that visitors will be encouraged to touch, as well as a jeweled chalice used by the late pope.

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On the Net: http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-06-15-10 0941EDT

 

Pennsylvania collector’s 19th-century rifles stolen

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) – A western Pennsylvania collector says 25 long rifles from the 19th century have been stolen from his home.

State police are investigating the thefts from the home of Bill Jacobson. The 68-year-old man says he had planned to donate the guns to the Sen. John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, but returned home after being ill for several months to find the guns were stolen.

Jacobson says the guns used in the Mexican War and the Civil War were worth as much as $40,000. The guns were the only items taken from his home in Burrell Township, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Jacobson says a neighbor fed his cat while he was ill and didn’t notice anything amiss. The guns were stored in various parts of Jacobson’s house.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-06-15-10 0957EDT

 

Gallery Report: June 2010

An untitled painting by Arthur Luiz Piza sold for $48,800 at a Fine Art Auction held May 15 by Rago Arts & Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J. Also, Theodoros Stamos’ work titled Infinity Field, from the Tericho Series, made $45,140; Chaim Gross’ Performer in a Diamond reached $40,260; Marilyn Minter’s Climber rose to $37,820; an untitled painting by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner soared to $35,380; and another work by Verner, titled Hagar, went to a determined bidder for $24,400. Prices include a 22 percent buyer’s premium.

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Cowan’s Corner: Ancient art glass makes a cameo at auction

This Gallé Cameo art glass vase is estimated to bring $400-$600 is Cowan’s July 31 Continental Fine and Decorative Art Auction.

This Gallé Cameo art glass vase is estimated to bring $400-$600 is Cowan’s July 31 Continental Fine and Decorative Art Auction.
This Gallé Cameo art glass vase is estimated to bring $400-$600 is Cowan’s July 31 Continental Fine and Decorative Art Auction.
Art glass sprang from a revolution in glassmaking in the mid 1800s, when glass blowers began experimenting with different colors, patterns and textures. The subsequent melding of artistry and technique resulted in a wide variety of beautiful handmade objects. One of these art glass techniques was known as Cameo glass, or art glass with small sculpture designs executed in low relief, creating a difficult and time-consuming process.

Cameo glass techniques were first used in early Roman era and the results were nothing less than magnificent. The famous Portland vase, which took 10 years to complete, is such a product from this era. A highly skilled Roman gem-carver likely created it around 30 B.C. The vase was made of violet-blue glass, and surrounded with a single continuous white glass cameo, depicting Roman and mythological figures. This vase has served as an inspiration to many a glassmaker from about the beginning of the 18th century onward.

After the Portland vase was broken while on display in the British Museum, John Northwood, a Stroubridge glass designer and manufacturer was commissioned to replicate the famous vase. It took three years to complete and received rave reviews, which helped establish him as a fine glass engraver. Northwood started to produce other pieces of Cameo glass, for the demand was evident that it was indeed an accepted and desirable form of collectible art. This then began the revival of cameo glass, which was suited equally to Neo-Grec taste and the French Art Nouveau.

Due to the onset popularity of Cameo glass in the late 1800s, other English glass manufactures followed Northwood’s revival of glass carving. By 1890-1899 many of the top European glass companies and designers were producing Cameo glass. George Woodall, Stevens and Williams, Thomas Webb & Sons, Joseph Locke, Emile Gallé, Daum and others were among the list of prestigious glass carvers. Cameo glass is the result of two or more layers of glass having been laminated together by means of acid and hand-tool carving, the final pattern on the outer surface is left in high relief by removing the surrounding area.

The Cameo art glass market was well received and the demands for production by British glass manufactures continue into the 20th century. Today the interest in early Cameo glass is still strong among collectors. The skill involved to produce a piece of Cameo glass is well appreciated and respected. Daum, Gallé, Val St. Lambert, Thomas Webb & Sons, and Woodall are just a few names that are associated with fine Cameo art glass and thus bring a respectable price at auction. In today’s auction market a 5-inch Daum Cameo vase would sell for approximately $1,000 and an exceptional wheel carved Cameo vase could sell for $5,000 or more.

Avid collectors who can’t wait to add to their growing collection of Cameo glass and even novice collectors can see the beauty and realize what it took to make that glass vase. From the hours designing, the skill in carving, the finished product, no two Cameo glass vases are alike, each being individually created. It is an art form from early history that will always be appreciated.

altWes Cowan is founder and owner of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. An internationally recognized expert in historic Americana, Wes stars in the PBS television series History Detectives and is a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow. He can be reached via email at info@cowans.com. Research by Janet Rogers.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


A Legras Cameo art glass vase is estimated to bring $1,000-$1,500 in Cowan’s July 31 Continental Fine and Decorative Art Auction.
A Legras Cameo art glass vase is estimated to bring $1,000-$1,500 in Cowan’s July 31 Continental Fine and Decorative Art Auction.

A Pair of enameled Cameo glass barber bottles sold for $160 in Cowan’s 2007 Shaving Mugs and Barbershop Collectibles Auction.
A Pair of enameled Cameo glass barber bottles sold for $160 in Cowan’s 2007 Shaving Mugs and Barbershop Collectibles Auction.