Morphy returns to Las Vegas June 7-8 with Soda Pop & Antique Advertising

‘We Proudly Serve 7Up’ painted-metal flange sign, estimated at $6,000-$12,000 at Morphy.

LAS VEGAS – Soda fountain memorabilia, particularly lavish ceramic syrup dispensers and advertising signs, continue to dominate the category at auction. Morphy Auctions has mounted a 1,329-lot two-day sale scheduled for Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8 in Las Vegas. The catalogs are available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The top-estimated lot is a Hires Root Beer set described by Morphy’s advertising specialist Dan Morris as “perhaps the pinnacle of Hires Root Beer advertising items.” The set includes a ceramic dispenser, platter, and three mugs, all adorned with images of the brand’s mascot known as the ‘Ugly Kid.’ Made by the esteemed German ceramics firm Villeroy & Boch, it is possibly the only set of its type in existence, and it comes to auction with a substantial $40,000-$80,000 estimate.

Dating to the late 1950s or early 1960s is a Coca-Cola ‘Roll-O-Vend,’ a pop-up trailer that provided Coke distributors and retailers with stylish platforms for selling soda at special events. Fully restored, Roll-O-Vends are rarely seen today, leading to a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

‘We Proudly Serve 7Up’ is a painted-metal flange sign dating to the late 1950s. With only minor wear and slight scratches, Morphy describes it as ‘tremendous.’ Marked for the Stout Sign Co. of St. Louis, a company that was founded in 1886 and remains the industry leader, the flange sign is estimated at $6,000-$12,000.

This ‘Drink Coca-Cola Ice Cold’ double-sided porcelain sign is from the 1930s and was made by Tennessee Enamel Manufacturing Co. of Nashville. It measures 25 by 22in and is estimated at $8,000-$16,000.

Antique fishing lure auction at Blanchard’s delivered solid results

Haskell Minnow lure, which sold for $37,000 ($45,510 with buyer’s premium) at Blanchard's.

POTSDAM, NY — Described by Blanchard’s Auction Service as “one of the most important angling auctions in decades,” its Fishing Tackle & Sportsmen sale, held on April 26, did not disappoint, with numerous lots selling for five and even 10 times their estimates. Complete results can be found at LiveAuctioneers.

The king of the sale was an ‘extremely rare’ Haskell Minnow lure. Created by Riley Haskell of Painesville, Ohio and patented September 20, 1859, this very early lure retained amazing patina and was described as having ‘workmanship and detail … unrivaled by any maker in the 150 plus years of American lure making.’ Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it had 140 bidders watching on LiveAuctioneers, with a floor bidder finally edging out the internet competition with a $37,000 hammer price ($45,510 with buyer’s premium).

Bearing a November 1, 1910 patent date, the Immel Bait Co. floating ‘Chippewa’ minnow lure was the sale’s runner-up at $16,500 ($20,295 with buyer’s premium). Carrying a presale estimate of just $700-$1,000, LiveAuctioneers bidders sparred with more than three dozen bids. The crisp, original packaging and ‘definitely unfished’ condition delivered spectacular results. A second ‘Chippewa’ with an equally impressive original box brought $14,500 ($17,835 with buyer’s premium).

Described as ‘perhaps the finest known example — we are unaware of another in this overall condition’ was the Jim Donaly Redfin Minnow with original packaging. Finished with a bright green back and white belly with red accents, it, too, hammered for $14,500 ($17,835 with buyer’s premium).

Alexander Calder tapestries are taking off at auction

Two of Alexander Calder’s frequent motifs, stars and spirals, are combined in this Star tapestry, made after one of his designs. Woven in Guatemala, this example achieved $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024. Image courtesy of Roland NY and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK – In the 1960s, Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was ready for a new challenge. Having mastered kinetic sculpture and jewelry, he began working with some of France’s most renowned tapestry ateliers in Aubusson, not far from his home in Saché. He was no stranger to textile art, having already handcrafted several of his own neckties. Limited editions of his tapestry designs were produced under his supervision and instantly met with success. They also received attention from the museum world, earning exhibitions in prestigious institutions in Paris and New York City.

A decade later, Manhattan bon vivant Catalina ‘Kitty’ Meyer, who grew up in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, organized a project to raise money for victims of the 1972 earthquake that afflicted the countries of Nicaragua and Guatemala. Local weavers were paid four times their usual rate to translate Calder’s designs into mats and hammocks.

One of the highest prices achieved in the last few years for a tapestry after Alexander Calder was this Doll mat originally from the Kitty Meyer collection. Marked as number 53 from an edition of 100 and made for the 1972 quake relief effort, it brought €62,000 ($66,900) plus the buyer’s premium in November 2023. Image courtesy of Piasa and LiveAuctioneers.
One of the highest prices achieved in the last few years for a tapestry after Alexander Calder was this Doll mat originally from the Kitty Meyer collection. Marked as number 53 from an edition of 100 and made for the 1972 quake relief effort, it brought €62,000 ($66,900) plus the buyer’s premium in November 2023. Image courtesy of Piasa and LiveAuctioneers.

These earthquake relief tapestries have gained favor among bidders, with many beating their estimates. At times, they have even surpassed prices paid for Calder’s Aubusson tapestries. A Doll mat originally from the Kitty Meyer collection realized €62,000 ($66,900) plus the buyer’s premium in a November 2023 auction at Piasa in which all 14 tapestries after Calder, each marked 53/100 along with an artist’s proof, sold well above their €15,000-€20,000 ($16,225-$21,630) estimates. The Doll mat was based on Calder’s circa-1928 steel wire sculpture of French dancer-singer Josephine Baker (1906-1976).

Details of Star, an after Alexander Calder tapestry that was one of several designs woven in Guatemala in the 1970s to raise money for earthquake victims. It achieved $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024. Image courtesy of Roland NY and LiveAuctioneers.
Details of Star, an after Alexander Calder tapestry that was one of several designs woven in Guatemala in the 1970s to raise money for earthquake victims. It achieved $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024. Image courtesy of Roland NY and LiveAuctioneers.

The market for Alexander Calder tapestries has been downright hyperactive since late 2023, roughly corresponding to the time of the Piasa sale of Meyer’s collection. As of May 2024, more than a dozen Calder tapestries have crossed the auction block at assorted houses in the US and Europe, with all beating their estimates. These include the 1975 Star tapestry after Calder shown at the head of this article, which earned $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024 at Roland NY.

A Pyramids tapestry after Alexander Calder, made for CAC Publications/Bon Art USA in 1975 in hand-woven maguey fiber, bested its $8,000-$10,000 estimate and brought $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers.
A Pyramids tapestry after Alexander Calder, made for CAC Publications/Bon Art USA in 1975 in hand-woven maguey fiber, bested its $8,000-$10,000 estimate and brought $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers.

The parade of results also includes a tapestry after Calder with an image of pyramids, made in 1975 for CAC Publications/Bon Art USA. It exceeded its $8,000-$10,000 estimate in April 2024 to secure $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Wright.

The next month, another tapestry after Calder with the same date and from the same source, dubbed Turquoise Tapestry and featuring a black squiggle separating colorful ovals, circles, and teardrops, achieved $28,000 plus the buyer’s premium against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000 at Heritage Auctions.

This after Alexander Calder Floating Circles tapestry, number 3 in a series of 100, attained €75,000 ($81,265) plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Piasa and LiveAuctioneers.
This after Alexander Calder Floating Circles tapestry, number 3 in a series of 100, attained €75,000 ($81,265) plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Piasa and LiveAuctioneers.

Piasa triumphed again in May 2024 with Floating Circles, another after Calder tapestry from the Guatemala quake relief project, which sold for €75,000 ($81,265) plus the buyer’s premium.

And a May 2024 auction at Rago featured Sun and Star, two after Calder tapestries from the same endeavor. Each was estimated at $9,000-$12,000, and they hammered for $28,000 and $35,000, respectively.

This 1975 Star tapestry after Alexander Calder, estimated at $9,000-$12,000, went for $28,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.
This 1975 Star tapestry after Alexander Calder, estimated at $9,000-$12,000, went for $28,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.

“The works are cycling back onto the market from the original owners, and the market for these has changed a lot through the years. A decade ago, Calder tapestries sold for under $10,000,” said Richard Wright, CEO of Rago/Wright. “Piasa did a special focus on these tapestries. They have been selling them for a while and getting some great prices. I definitely feel like they have contributed to the market in a positive way.”

It should be said that after Calder tapestries from the Kitty Meyer earthquake relief project come with wrinkles that the French Calder tapestries lack. Some sources claim there is clear evidence of communication between Meyer and Calder, a noted humanitarian, regarding this effort. Officially, the Calder Foundation’s stance on these mid-1970s tapestries is that they were meant to be sold as household objects, not editioned artworks.

According to the text presented on the foundation’s website with pieces from the Meyer project, which are shown in a section of the site titled Misattributed Works, it states: “Calder was never directly involved in this project … Unfortunately, Meyer falsely marketed the objects as editioned tapestries, though Calder did not intend those products to be works of art nor did he approve for them to be in numbered editions.” 

An after Alexander Calder Sun tapestry bears a passing resemblance to Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ in the way the natural jute fabric swirls around the colorful circles. The Guatemalan-made tapestry, number 37 of 100, went out at $35,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.
An after Alexander Calder Sun tapestry bears a passing resemblance to Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ in the way the natural jute fabric swirls around the colorful circles. The Guatemalan-made tapestry, number 37 of 100, went out at $35,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.

The auction market is not an easy one to predict or analyze, and many factors come into play when determining values. An interesting comparison can be made between an after Alexander Calder Sun tapestry, mentioned earlier, which sold for $35,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2024 at Rago Arts and Auction Center, and a nearly identical Sun tapestry, numbered 99/100, which sold at Rago in January 2024 for $20,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

Despite the emphatic results for the tapestries woven in Guatemala, Calder’s Aubusson tapestries tend to bring the highest sums, and as the broader market for textile art has grown during the last decade, interest has been climbing. The sudden strong appetite for Calder tapestries bears some resemblance to that seen for Picasso ceramics. Collectors who find themselves priced out of works created in the most desirable medium – paintings in Picasso’s case, and kinetic sculptures in Calder’s – turn their attentions to a long undervalued one instead.

Tapestries created during Calder’s lifetime were handwoven in small editions, and this inherent scarcity is helping fuel the fever-pitch demand. About 20 to 30 works described as ‘after Calder’ or ‘Calder’ tapestries have appeared on LiveAuctioneers since 2020. Of those sold, only 10 carry the Aubusson distinction.

A Sillons Noirs sur Rouge tapestry by Alexander Calder, handwoven in wool at Ateliers Pinton Freres circa 1970, made $38,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.
A Sillons Noirs sur Rouge tapestry by Alexander Calder, handwoven in wool at Ateliers Pinton Freres circa 1970, made $38,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.

A recent Alexander Calder tapestry high point was a Sillons Noirs sur Rouge (Black on Red) tapestry, handwoven in wool circa 1970 at Ateliers Pinton Freres, which attained $38,000 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2024 at Rago. A month later, another Calder tapestry made at Pinton Freres in 1975 brought $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Wright.

This second work, rendered in vivid red, white, blue, and yellow hues and having the Les Trois Spirales (The Three Spirals) design often used by the artist in his mobiles and jewelry, was created to celebrate the United States bicentennial. Numbered 100 from an uncharacteristically large edition of 200, it was also among the last works Calder designed before he died in November 1976.

Spirals, one of Alexander Calder’s favorite motifs, are represented in this tapestry titled ‘Les Trois Spirales (The three spirals)’. Woven at Pinton Freres in France, it took $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2024. Image courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers.
Spirals, one of Alexander Calder’s favorite motifs, are represented in this tapestry titled ‘Les Trois Spirales (The Three Spirals)’. Woven at Pinton Freres in France, it took $30,000 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2024. Image courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers.

“To me, the Aubusson works are superior, but that doesn’t always play out in the auction results,” said Wright. “As a matter of course, we still call those ‘after Calder’, because there’s a much cleaner association of his designs being basically licensed for Aubusson to produce.” Regarding the earthquake relief tapestries, he added, “The historical record on this is complicated, but Calder was well aware that his designs were going to be woven in this material.”

While Calder’s French tapestries were woven in wool, the Nicaraguan and Guatemalan weavers used jute. “They are Calder designs, they’re woven in this wonderful material, and that’s what speaks to people,” Wright said, citing the sense of warmth that the natural fibers give these works.

This tapestry after Alexander Calder, depicting balloons, earned $23,000 plus the buyer’s premium in December 2023. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
This tapestry after Alexander Calder, depicting balloons, earned $23,000 plus the buyer’s premium in December 2023. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Calder brought a vibrant sense of play to every medium he chose, and he is famously quoted as having said, “My work is an expression of the joy and excitement I find in the world.” Though he did not, and could not, personally weave these tapestries, relying instead on skilled artisans to execute them, they radiate the same sense of joy seen in his artworks in other media. A cheery tapestry of balloons, woven in Guatemala, brought $23,000 plus the buyer’s premium in December 2023 at Neal Auction Company.

The market for Alexander Calder has long been strong and shows no signs of waning. With textile art, once a disparaged field, finally earning the respect of collectors, the boom in Calder tapestries makes sense. “To have Calder’s art and to have the wall power at the scale that these tapestries are made, it’s not crazy prices,” Wright said. “They scale relatively proportionately to the top of his art.”

Modern Master Prints Auction comes to New York June 5

Henri Matisse original woodcut for 'Pierre a feu | Les miroirs profonds,' estimated at $800-$1,000 at Jasper52.

NEW YORK — Jasper52 presents a Modern Master Prints Auction Wednesday, June 5 at 3 pm Eastern time. Featuring nearly 200 lots of fine art prints from contemporary masters, the complete catalog is now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

From a 1947 edition of 950 prints comes this Henri Matisse woodcut Pierre a feu / Les miroirs profonds. Published in Paris by Maeght, the image area is 8.25 by 6.5in. It is estimated at $800-$1,000.

Felix Buhot’s L’Hiver a Paris original etching was executed in 1879 and published in Paris in 1881 for L’Art. It measures 9.5 by 13.75in and carries an estimate of $800-$1,000.

Al Held (1928-2005) was an American abstract expressionist painter from the same generation as Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. His silkscreen serigraph White Goddess was printed in 1967 by Domberger for the rare Formen der Farbe portfolio, published by Kunstverein Stuttgart of West Germany. The serigraph is estimated at $150-$200.