Benefit Shop sale Jan. 20-21 linked to Duchess of Windsor

Duchess of Windsor

Jade items already eliciting bidder interest include this antique Qing dragon head nephrite jade ceremonial belt buckle from the early 1900s. Benefit Shop Foundation image

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. – Provenance, connection with royalty and a wide range of antiques sourced from around the world are the hallmarks of a specialty two-day auction that the Benefit Shop Foundation Inc., will host Jan. 20-21, starting at 10 a.m. EST each day. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The auction features the estate of the late Janine (nee Spaner) Metz, who was social secretary to the Duchess of Windsor from 1962 to 1972 and lived with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in their Manhattan penthouse. This is the first multiday single-estate auction to be conducted by the Benefit Shop Foundation, which is necessitated because of the size of her estate.

Born to a French couturier, she lived and worked for a time in the 1950s before returning to Paris, where on a lark she answered a newspaper ad placed by a diplomatic couple seeking a secretary. That ad changed her life and even after marrying in 1964, she continued work for the Duchess (Wallis Simpson). She often traveled to the couple’s homes in London, Paris and New York and developed a passion for collecting. Her estate features collections of chinoiserie, English silver, netsukes, garden statuary, historical ephemera, fine art, decorative arts, collectibles and miniatures.

“She had quite the charmed life and in her position as secretary, she traveled frequently to attend social events and became friends with a host of aristocrats and expatriates,” said Pam Stone, owner and founder of the Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. “I believe that her travels and the charitable galas she attended inspired a true passion for collecting.”

Metz especially liked collecting finely made art in miniature form and netsuke was a particular passion. The auction has over a dozen carved wooden animals sprinkled throughout both sessions. Most are katabori netsuke, a sculptural form of these toggles, and each is signed on the underside with Asian characters. Highlights include a cockerel/rooster with extensive decoration all over its body, a double bird, a cat wearing a robe and sandals, and two mice holding onto a peanut.

While drawn to smalls, Metz often bought larger items too, including a 500-pound cornerstone from an English castle. There are about two dozen pieces of garden statuary crossing the block in this sale, most in the first session. Birdbaths and fountains featuring frolicking cherubim vie for attention with stone planters/urns and animal-form statues. A veritable zoo is represented, including a raven, goose and a bear. Figural items include a patient fisherman sitting in a chair.

Duchess of Windsor

Henri Toulouse Lautrec lithographic advertisement poster, 30 x 24in wide. Benefit Shop Foundation image

Silver is another genre that Metz ardently collected and this sale features about 150 pieces running the gamut from nut dishes to trinket boxes as well as platters, bowls, drinking vessels, hors d’oeuvres forks, ladles and more from noted English and French silversmiths.

Highlights include an oversized silver-plated serving platter by Christofle, 38 by 14 inches oval; an early Produx silver plate champagne bucket with horse head handles, engraved with Louis Roederer’s name and monogram; and a Kirk Steiff sterling centerpiece bowl having an 8-inch diameter ($500-$2,000).

The auction spans the globe with items hailing from Asia, Europe and America. Highlights range in diversity from a 19th century Venetian carved gilt polychromed blackamoor statue, 35 inches tall ($200-$2,000) to several Indian traveling prayer boxes having intricate Gattaji art on one side and a reflective metal surface on the other, as is common.

Duchess of Windsor

A 19th century Venetian blackamoor statue, 35in high will cross the block during the first session. Benefit Shop Foundation image

Jade items were already attracting a lot of interest and already racking up bids well over their high estimates. Included is a group of four signed vintage polished jade cylinders on wood stands ($50-$200) to be offered in the first session and an antique hand-carved white jade fish form with fish faces on both sides, on stand ($100-$300) crossing the block on the second day.

Rounding out the auction will be an antique footed Victorian cast-iron porcelain stove ($1,000-$4,000) having an Art Deco design; a Lalique antique signed Lievres art glass vase, circa 1920s, globular shape with a flared neck ($500-$2,000), 6 inches tall; and a vintage midcentury modern glass-topped console table, 75 inches wide, decorated in a chain link pattern on the front ($600-$3,000).

Duchess of Windsor

Highlighting the second day of the auction is this midcentury modern glass topped console table, 75in wide, decorated in a chain link pattern on the front. Benefit Shop Foundation image

For more information, contact the Benefit Shop Foundation at 914-864-0707.


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