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Italian-market Michelin poster from 1925, sold for €80,000 ($87,040, or $113,115 with buyer’s premium) at Aste Bolaffi April 16.

1925 Michelin stone-lithographed poster leads our five auction highlights

1925 Michelin Stone-lithographed Poster, $113,115

TURIN, Italy – Italian auction house Aste Bolaffi’s April 16 Advertising Posters sale was dominated by its anticipated top lot: an Italian-market 1925 poster for Michelin tires.

Printed with the now-lost stone lithography method, the colorful poster measured 55 by 39in and featured an oddly turned-away Bibendum, aka the Michelin Man, riding in a Michelin tire while perusing a Michelin map of Italy and enjoying a cigar. Reading Il Cable Confort (the comfortable cable, presumably talking about the cables embedded in the tire rubber) and Miglora La Strada (Improve The Road), the legend information on the poster noted that it was Stampato in Italia (printed in Italy) by Reproduzione Vietata, the lithographer.

Estimated at €10,000-€15,000 ($11,000-$16,000), the poster received dozens of competing bids, finally hammering for €80,000 ($87,040, or $113,115 with buyer’s premium).

Yellow-ware Mortar and Pestle Emblazoned with the Word ‘LEECHES’, $832

Yellow-ware pottery store mortar-and-pestle display jar emblazoned with the word ‘LEECHES’, which sold for $832 with buyer’s premium at Hunt and Peck Estate Services on April 18.
Yellow-ware pottery store mortar-and-pestle display jar emblazoned with the word ‘LEECHES’, which sold for $832 with buyer’s premium at Hunt and Peck Estate Services on April 18.

In its single-owner Staffordshire and Ceramics sale on April 18, Hunt and Peck Estate Services offered an unusual little piece: a yellow-ware pottery store display jar in the form of a mortar and pestle, in two separate pieces, with embossed letters on the front that spelled the word LEECHES.

The combination of these details prove that the mortar and pestle was for a pottery store display and not an apothecary. While leeches have a long history of medicinal use and are employed today by doctors who perform tissue grafts and similar operations, it doesn’t appear that they were routinely ground up and crushed into powder.

Described as ‘unusual’ and ‘early’, the mortar-and-pestle set was estimated at $300-$500, hammered at $650, and sold for $832 with buyer’s premium.

Two Pieces of 1990s Chicago Bulls Championship Jewelry, $30,000

14K gold Chicago Bulls World Championship ring from the 1991-1992 season, and a 1998 Chicago Bulls World Championship 18K gold pendant on a 14K gold necklace, which sold as separate lots for $30,000 with buyer’s premium at Leonard Auction on April 21.
1998 Chicago Bulls World Championship 18K gold pendant on a 14K gold necklace, which sold for $13,750 with buyer’s premium at Leonard Auction on April 21.
14K gold Chicago Bulls World Championship ring from the 1991-1992 season, and a 1998 Chicago Bulls World Championship 18K gold pendant on a 14K gold necklace, which sold as separate lots for $30,000 with buyer’s premium at Leonard Auction on April 21.
14K gold Chicago Bulls World Championship ring from the 1991-1992 season, which sold for $16,250 with buyer’s premium at Leonard Auction on April 21.

ADDISON, IL – The top two lots in Leonard Auction’s April 21 sale were both sports-related pieces of jewelry, issued to mark world championships won by the Chicago Bulls.

The two pieces neatly bracket that 1990s era of dominance when the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and coached by Phil Jackson, won the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship six times between 1991 and 1998.

The leader overall was a 14K gold Chicago Bulls World Championship ring by Jostens, commemorating the 1991-1992 season. Estimated at $8,000-$10,000, it hammered for $13,000 and sold for $16,250 with buyer’s premium. The other item, a 1998 Chicago Bulls World Championship 18K gold pendant on a 14K gold necklace, hammered for $11,000 and sold for $13,750 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

Both pieces of championship jewelry were consigned from the West Chicago estate of a longtime Chicago Bulls office administrator.

Hummel Possible Future Edition Off To School figurine, $3,840

Hummel Possible Future Edition Off To School figurine, which sold for $3,840 with buyer’s premium at Valley Auctions on April 20.
Hummel Possible Future Edition Off To School figurine, which sold for $3,840 with buyer’s premium at Valley Auctions on April 20.

DUBLIN, VA – The dizzying array of Hummel figurines released by Goebel Porcellainfabrik in Germany have been enjoyed by generations of collectors worldwide since 1935. Most are commonplace and possess only modest value for the collector.

That is not true for a small fraction of Hummels, called by Goebel ‘Possible Future Editions.’ These limited-run figurines are hand-decorated and fired, then presented to the sisters at founder Maria Innocentia Hummel’s convent in Germany. The sisters keep Maria’s critical eye alive and approve – or disapprove – of all possible releases.

The ones that the nuns flunk never go into production, and at least at one point, the handful of extant samples were routinely given out as trinkets to employees and others.

One such PFE appeared at Valley Auctions on April 20. Known as Off To School, the figurine has two classically styled Hummel children in a walking pose. Modeled in early 1955 by master sculptor Arthur Möeller with an incised 1955 copyright, its base is clearly marked W. Goebel with an accompanying 72/89 mark, indicating this was number 72 of a run of 89 pieces. It is documented on the official Hummel site as a genuine PFE. Bidders clamored for Off To School, issuing dozens of bids before finalizing a winner at $3,200 ($3,840 with buyer’s premium).

Replica 13-star American Flag Stitched by Betsy Ross’s Great-granddaughter, $7,150

Replica 13-star American flag stitched in 1907 by Mary Catherine Albright Robison, the great-granddaughter of Betsy Ross, which sold for $7,150 with buyer’s premium at Jackson’s International Auctioneers on April 23.
Replica 13-star American flag stitched in 1907 by Mary Catherine Albright Robison, the great-granddaughter of Betsy Ross, which sold for $7,150 with buyer’s premium at Jackson’s International Auctioneers on April 23.

CEDAR FALLS, IA – A 13-star American flag made in 1907 by Mary Catherine Albright Robison, the great-granddaughter of Betsy Ross, claimed top-lot honors in Jackson’s International Auctioneers’ April 23 sale. Estimated at $800-$1,200, it hammered for $5,500 and sold for $7,150 with buyer’s premium.

It seems that several generations of descendants of Betsy Ross engaged in the all-American pursuit of cashing in on her fame by stitching replicas of the first-ever American flag, which she is purported to have made in 1777. The lot notes for the example offered at Jackson’s state:

‘Flags made by Robison are much rarer than the flags made by her mother. It is understood that Betsy’s granddaughter Rachel Wilson Albright began making little flags for tourists in the East Wing of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, possibly around the centennial of 1876 but certainly by the end of the 19th century. Her daughter Mary Catherine and niece Sarah Wilson joined in the making of flags. Records indicate that the sale of these flags was in support of the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association. Both Rachel Wilson Albright and her daughter, the maker of this flag, are buried in Fort Madison, Iowa.’