Skip to content
Gio Ponti lacquered wood, upholstery, and brass Triennale armchairs by ISA Bergamo, which hammered for $90,000 and sold for $117,900 with buyer’s premium at Wright on March 28.

Gio Ponti Triennale Armchairs lead our five auction highlights

Gio Ponti Triennale Armchairs, $117,900

CHICAGO – Among the starring lots at the Wright Design sale on March 28 was this pair of Gio Ponti lacquered wood, upholstery, and brass Triennale armchairs dating to 1951.

The design is one produced for ISA (Industria Salotti e Arredamenti), the luxury furniture firm. To achieve the effect of ‘weightlessness’ in a wing-back chair, Ponti deconstructed the traditional form and inserted a metal frame within the wooden structure of the upholstered backrest to reinforce it. This pair, with manufacturer’s labels to the back stretchers, have a provenance to Count Luigi Baldini of Ravenna, whose family owned several important Ponti designs. The Triennale chairs were estimated at $70,000-$90,000 and hammered at the high end of their estimate, ultimately selling for $117,900 with buyer’s premium.

18th-century Tiger Maple Highboy, $55,250

Circa-1760 Philadelphia Queen Anne tiger maple highboy in the manner of William Savery, which hammered for $42,500 and sold for $55,250 with buyer’s premium at William Bunch on March 26.
Circa-1760 Philadelphia Queen Anne tiger maple highboy in the manner of William Savery, which hammered for $42,500 and sold for $55,250 with buyer’s premium at William Bunch on March 26.

CHADDS FORD, PA – The majority of 18th-century New England tiger maple highboys bring relatively modest numbers today. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Estimated at $2,000-$4,000, this Philadelphia Queen Anne chest raced to $42,500 and sold for $55,250 with buyer’s premium at William Bunch on March 26 as bidders made the connection with a well-known furniture shop.

This particular design – notably a scalloped frieze and cabriole legs with shell carving over Queen Anne feet – is associated with the celebrated Second Street shop of William Savery (1721-1787). He first earned the attention of scholars and collectors in 1918, when his label was found on a dressing table in the collection at Manor House at Van Cortlandt Park, New York.

While enjoying the patronage of colonial Philadelphia’s elite (Benjamin Franklin owned several pieces), Savery also made more affordable furniture for the middle classes and relatively plain pieces catering to the conservative taste of Quaker clients. This tiger maple highboy will require some restoration, including work to correct the discoloration around the handles caused by overzealous cleaning with an abrasive.

19th-century German Book on the Danube River, $20,635

Plate from Adolf Friedreich Kunike’s ‘Two hundred and sixty-four Danube views following the course of the Danube’, which hammered for £13,000 ($16,380) and sold for £16,380 ($20,635) with buyer’s premium at Forum Auctions on March 27.
Plate from Adolf Friedreich Kunike’s ‘Two hundred and sixty-four Danube views following the course of the Danube’, which hammered for £13,000 ($16,380) and sold for £16,380 ($20,635) with buyer’s premium at Forum Auctions on March 27.

LONDON – Leading Forum Auctions’ March 27 sale of more books from the remarkable library of Norman Bobins was a complete copy of a German work following the course of the Danube from its source to the Black Sea. This sequence of 264 lithographs was issued in three editions (1820, 1824, and 1826) by Austrian lithographer, illustrator, and publisher Adolf Friedreich Kunike (1777-1838).

The commission to produce the drawings for Kunike’s prints was initially undertaken by Rudolf Alt, but he resigned the post halfway through the journey, fearful of the dangers inherent in the later reaches of the Danube as it entered the Ottoman Empire. Instead, the intrepid Ludwig Erminy completed the sketches. Forum could not find another complete hand-colored set that had appeared at auction, and this was reflected in the price. Estimated at £3,000-£5,000 ($3,775-$6,300), it hammered for £13,000 ($16,380) and sold for £16,380 ($20,635) with buyer’s premium.

This was the fourth tranche of Norman Bobins’ splendid library of color plate books offered at auction since Christie’s New York held the first sale in June 2023. 

Doulton Stoneware Pâte-sur-pâte Vases by Hannah Barlow, $7,812

Doulton stoneware vases decorated in pâte-sur-pâte by Hannah Barlow, which hammered for $6,250 and sold for $7,812 with buyer’s premium at Lion and Unicorn on March 26.
Doulton stoneware vases decorated in pâte-sur-pâte by Hannah Barlow, which hammered for $6,250 and sold for $7,812 with buyer’s premium at Lion and Unicorn on March 26.

HOLLYWOOD, FL – Sisters Hannah and Florence Barlow, both graduates of the Lambeth School of Art and leading artists at the nearby Doulton art pottery studio, came to an arrangement in the early 1870s. Hannah would focus on sgraffito decoration – carving animal designs into soft clay – while Florence would work predominantly in the pâte-sur-pâte technique, painting her studies of birds in raised slip. They largely stuck to the agreement, although occasionally Hannah Barlow did do some designs in pâte-sur-pâte.

This pair of 14in-high vases, offered by Lion and Unicorn on March 26 on Day One of its Impressive Decorative Arts auction, are decorated with a frieze of hounds chasing a fox picked out in high relief. Estimated at a modest $200-$800, the pair hammered at $6,250 ($7,812 with buyer’s premium).

1969 Grateful Dead and Bonzo Dog Band Concert Handbill, $2,405

1969 Grateful Dead and Bonzo Dog Band concert handbill, which hammered for £1,400 ($1,765) and sold for £1,905 ($2,405) with buyer’s premium at Dawsons Auctioneers March 28.
1969 Grateful Dead and Bonzo Dog Band concert handbill, which hammered for £1,400 ($1,765) and sold for £1,905 ($2,405) with buyer’s premium at Dawsons Auctioneers March 28.

MAIDENHEAD, UK – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band was an experimental performance art group created by British art-school students in the 1960s. They combined music hall, jazz, and psychedelia with comedy and avant-garde art in what can only be described as an unmatchable performance.

Today, the band is best remembered for being asked by the Beatles’ Paul McCartney to appear in their contractual commitment to United Artists, the incoherent, drug-fueled, and commercially unsuccessful 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour. In it, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performed Death Cab For Cutie, a single that would later provide name inspiration to a successful American rock band.

Vivian Stanshall (1943-1995) was a founding member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which was invited to play with the Grateful Dead on October 2-4, 1969 at The Boston Tea Party, a concert venue located at 15 Lansdowne Street. On a handbill for the show, the group was touted as ‘Bonzo Dog Band.’

Stanshall’s son Rupert received that concert handbill as part of his father’s legacy. He sent it to auction March 28 at Dawsons Auctioneers in its Vivian Stanshall Collection: Part Two sale, which showcased Stanshall’s lifetime collection of artifacts and memorabilia from his career. The handbill hammered for £1,400 ($1,765) and sold for £1,905 ($2,405) with buyer’s premium.