Ancient coins from lost civilizations come to market at Jasper52 May 7

Roman Empire Bronze Sestertius featuring Hadrian, estimated at $1,500-$2,000 at Jasper52.

NEW YORK — An auction of ancient and antique coins at Jasper52 offers a journey around the world and through time, from the Byzantine Empire to 18th-century Holland. The auction is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7 at 2 pm Eastern time, and the catalog is now available for review and bidding exclusively at LiveAuctioneers.

During the Mithridatic Wars, a conflict between Pontus and Rome, this silver tetra drachma was struck between 125 and 70 BC at the Odessus mint in Thrace. Weighing 16.6 grams and measuring 32mm in diameter, the coin was minted in the name of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), reflecting the enduring influence of his legacy in the Hellenistic world. The coin is estimated at $1,500-$2,000.

During the reign of Theophilos (829-842 AD) in the Byzantine Empire, this gold solidus was struck between 831 and 842 at the Constantinople mint. This coin, weighing 4.3 grams and measuring 20mm, features on the obverse a draped and crowned bust of Theophilos holding a patriarchal cross and akakia, inscribed ΘΕΟΦΙΛΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ (Theophilos Basileus). It carries an estimate of $1,500-$2,000.

Dating to the Roman Empire, this bronze sestertius weights 25.7 grams and measures 33mm. Struck around 120-121 AD, the obverse showcases a laureate and draped bust of Hadrian (117-138 AD) with the inscription IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRI ANVS AVG P M TR P COS III. On the reverse is Libertas, the goddess of freedom, with the inscription LIBERTAS PVBLICA S C (Public freedom, decree of the senate). Minted in Rome, this coin is in near EF condition, and is estimated at $1,500-$2,000.

Yonezawa Atom Jet Friction Race Car leads our five lots to watch

Yonezawa Atom Jet friction racer, estimated at $10,000-$15,000 at Milestone Auctions May 11.

Yonezawa Atom Jet Friction Race Car

WILLOUGHBY, OH – Released in 1954, Yonezawa’s Atom Jet friction race car is one of the largest lithographed-tin toys made in postwar Japan for the export market. Measuring nearly 30in in length, the toy rides on rubber tires and has a noise generator when pushed along the floor.

It was accompanied by a plain hinged-lid box with a four-color label pasted on that is almost never found in today’s market, making loose examples more the norm. The design is a combination of elements: a tribute to the Bonneville Salt Flats land-speed record contenders of the early 1950s and the burgeoning robot / space toy market that grew out of American science fiction of the pre- and postwar periods.

Milestone Auctions returns with round two of the Elmer’s Toy Museum liquidation series on Saturday, May 11 and has this example as a star lot. Lacking its original packaging, it nonetheless carries a strong estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

Marion Tuu’luq, Untitled Work on Cloth (Humans and Spirits)

Marion Tuu’luq, ‘Untitled Work on Cloth (Humans and Spirits)’, estimated at CA$15,000-CA$25,000 ($11,000-$18,000) at First Arts Premiers May 9.
Marion Tuu’luq, ‘Untitled Work on Cloth (Humans and Spirits)’, estimated at CA$15,000-CA$25,000 ($11,000-$18,000) at First Arts Premiers May 9.

TORONTO – First Arts Premiers, specialists in First Nations and Native American Indian art, brings Untitled Work on Cloth (Humans and Spirits) by Inuit tribal member Marion Tuu’luq to market Thursday, May 9 as part of its Inuit & First Nations Art sale.

Tuu’luq (1910-2002) favored mixed media and textiles as she interpreted her Inuit heritage in art. She used embroidery thread, felt, and dense woolen fabrics to create contemporary large-scale embroidered textiles.

Originally purchased in a gallery in Winnipeg, Canada, Untitled Work on Cloth (Humans and Spirits) dates to 1988 or 1989 and is made from stroud, felt, embroidery floss, and cotton thread. Vibrant in green, red, yellow, and purple felt, it measures 26.25 by 29.25in. First Arts Premiers estimates the work at CA$15,000-CA$25,000 ($11,000-$18,000).

Circa-1955 Fotal Miniature Camera

Circa-1955 Fotal Miniature Camera, estimated at €7,000-€9,000 ($7,500-$9,500) at Auction Team Breker May 11.
Circa-1955 Fotal Miniature Camera, estimated at €7,000-€9,000 ($7,500-$9,500) at Auction Team Breker May 11.

COLOGNE, Germany – As the German economy in the Allied zones began to rebuild after the devastation of World War II, a number of traditional German trades began to recover first – most notably, optics. What served as superior glass for high-altitude bomber sights became photographic lenses for the burgeoning postwar photography market.

Fabrik Fotografische Apparate (FFA) was based in Lübeck, Western Germany, which was directly on the border of the Communist-controlled eastern zone of Germany, which became known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). Having suffered heavy losses due to Royal Air Force (RAF) bombing runs, FFA rose from the ashes to create numerous consumer camera products.

This round-format Fotal miniature camera is resplendent in a fine red leather finish and can be worn around the neck. It shoots 10 exposures of special 16mm film and features an E. Rau Wetzlar Anastigmat Optar 2.8/20mm lens. A featured lot in Auction Team Breker’s Science and Technology, Mechanical Museum, Photography and Film sale scheduled for Saturday, May 11, the house notes that less than 100 examples of the Fotal were ever produced. Accordingly, the camera is estimated at €7,000-€9,000 ($7,500-$9,500).

Carl Rungius, ‘The Old Man of the Mountains’

Carl Rungius, ‘The Old Man of the Mountains,’ estimated at $120,000-$180,000 at Doyle New York May 15.
Carl Rungius, ‘The Old Man of the Mountains,’ estimated at $120,000-$180,000 at Doyle New York May 15.

NEW YORK – One of the leading American wildlife artists of the 20th century, Carl Rungius (1869-1959) was actually born in Germany and studied at the Berlin Art Academy in the late 1880s. His first trip to the United States in 1894 was at the invitation of his uncle, Clemens Fulda, to hunt moose. On his second trip he visited Wyoming, where he stalked big game for inspiration in later works. That trip convinced him to emigrate to the States, which he did in 1896.

As a Realist, Rungius’ art was almost photographic in quality. He depicted his subjects in their natural environments, and he focused solely on big game, with the moose being a favorite subject matter.

Doyle New York presents a particularly interesting Rungius oil on canvas in its 160-lot Estate of Bartlett Burnap sale, scheduled for Wednesday, May 15. Burnap was an avid sportsman and and collector, and one of the stars of his collection is Rungius’ The Old Man of the Mountains, a 30.25 by 45in work featuring a mountain bear overlooking a mountainous terrain. What makes it so striking is its soft focus and lack of trademark realism so commonly associated with his body of work. The painting was originally in the collection of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, and was sold at Sotheby’s in 1993, where Burnap purchased it. The Old Man of the Mountains returns to market with a strong $120,000-$180,000 estimate.

Silver Edwardian Wine Cistern by Garrard & Co.

Silver Edwardian wine cistern by Garrard & Co. of London, estimated at $100,000-$150,000 at Heritage Auctions on May 16.
Silver Edwardian wine cistern by Garrard & Co. of London, estimated at $100,000-$150,000 at Heritage Auctions on May 16.

DALLAS – Almost 3ft (90cm) wide and weighing a massive 710 ounces, this 1903 Edwardian wine cistern is marked for Garrard & Co. of London. The exuberant design, featuring a Bacchanale scene in high relief and the British royal coat of arms on the front and the back, recalls the work of sculptor Edmund Cotterill (1794-1860), the head of Garrard’s design department in its Victorian pomp.

Although evidently an important aristocratic commission or diplomatic gift, its early history is unknown. It is first recorded on American soil in the 1950s, when it was used as a horse racing trophy in Detroit (a plaque on the wood pedestal reads ‘The Michigan Mile September 21, 1957, won by My Night Out, owner DH Wells’) and it was later displayed at the Churchill Downs racing complex in Kentucky. 

It will be the headline lot in Heritage AuctionsFine Silver & Objects of Vertu Auction on Thursday, May 16. The estimate is $100,000-$150,000.

Meissen 18th-century porcelain figure collection exceeds $1M at Bonhams

Circa-1745 Meissen group of lovers with a birdcage by Kaendler, which sold for €171,450 ($183,470) with buyer’s premium at Bonhams Paris.

PARIS — The first part of one of the finest assemblages of 18th-century Meissen porcelain figures still in private hands generated a premium-inclusive €948,450 ($1,010,480) at Bonhams on April 17. A total of 44 of the 55 lots from the collection formed by German businessman Hadrian Maria Oskar Merkle (1942-2018) were sold. The auction results can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

Porcelain figures and groups were an essential part of table culture at European courts in the 18th century. The discovery of the secret of hard-paste porcelain at Meissen around 1710 led to the replacement of sugar sculpture on the table with the finer and more durable material that could also be painted and gilded. These table sculptures were made both as an expression of court grandeur and as amusing tableau to stimulate conversation among the dinner guests.

Merkle’s goal as a collector was to show the incredible ambition of the Meissen factory as well as the genius of its master modeler, Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775). A student of the Dresden court sculptor Benjamin Thomae, Kaendler joined the royal porcelain factory in 1731. He perfectly understood the possibilities of the new material, and, during the course of more than 40 years, created a magnificent and unique body of sculptural work in the late-Baroque and Rococo styles.

The Merkle collection includes some exceptional examples. Considered one of the most beautiful of Kaendler’s early figures is the crinoline figure of a lady with a fan circa 1737. Based on an engraving published in 1736, the model is first mentioned in Kaendler’s work records in December 1736. This example was previously part of two exceptional US collections of Meissen: that of Charles E. Dunlap (sold by Sotheby Parke Bernet in 1975) and the Christner collection (sold by Christie’s New York in 1979). Estimated at €20,000-€30,000 ($21,385-$32,080), it hammered for €100,000 ($106,925) and sold for €127,000 ($135,795) with buyer’s premium.

A coveted model of lovers with a birdcage dating from 1745 shared the sale’s top estimate of €40,000-€60,000 ($42,770-$64,180) and returned the top price of €135,000 ($144,460), or €171,450 ($183,470) with buyer’s premium. The piece is mentioned in Kaendler’s work records in March 1741: “A group, consisting of a man with a birdcage in which there is a parrot, beside him a woman giving the parrot cherries to eat and putting feathers on the man’s head, whereas he presents her with a titmouse.” Another example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Subject to bidding in the room, on the telephones, and online was the 10in (25cm) figure of the Dresden court jester Joseph Fröhlich (1694-1757) with an owl perched on his left shoulder. Estimated at €20,000-€30,000 ($21,385-$32,080), it hammered at €62,000 ($66,325) and sold for €78,740 ($84,225) with buyer’s premium.

The earliest record of the figure is in Kaendler’s work reports in September 1736, however in April 1737, following a visit to Joseph Fröhlich in Dresden, he reworked the head of the figure to make it more lifelike. He added an owl to the jester’s shoulder in May 1738 when completing an apparently urgent order for six figures.

Another example of this variation is in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Budapest, Hungary. Merkle’s figure, inscribed with the gilt date 1739 and initials JF, was previously in the Meissen collections of both EA Treherne (sold at Sotheby’s in 1958) and Sir Henry Tate (sold at Christie’s in March 1995).

Fröhlich, who began his career as a juggler and jester in 1725, rose to become the Electoral and Royal Court juggler, Adviser Kurzweiliger Rat, and the Royal Polish Mühlenkommisar. Some of these titles may have been bestowed in jest, but his proximity to the ruler gave him status and power that only few at the court could hope for.

Additional auctions of the Merkle collection will take place in Paris later in 2024 and in spring 2025.