LOS ANGELES — John Moran Auctioneers will hold its last Traditional Collector auction of the year on Tuesday, December 6, beginning at noon Pacific time. Featuring more than 350 lots, this sale will include property from the estates of George David Sturges and artist Joan Strauss Carl as well as other private estates and collections. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Expected to be one of the most coveted lots is a Paul Storr Ascot Cup silver racing trophy from 1822, estimated at $30,000-$50,000. The racecourse on Ascot Heath in Berkshire, England and the Royal Meeting, a weeklong series of horse races held there in the summer, remains one of the major events of the British social calendar. This tradition is more than 200 years old and includes the Gold Cup racing event. This trophy, engraved “Ascot Races 1822,” is most likely referring to that race, and was made by Paul Storr, one of the premier English silversmiths of the day. The cup’s wine-related imagery is modeled after a large marble vase from the 2nd century A.D. that was found in pieces in a swamp near Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, northeast of Rome, in the 1770s.
Another silver treasure that appears in the December 6 sale is a Gorham Martele five-piece tea set. Martele was produced at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in Gorham’s Providence, Rhode Island plant by master silversmiths under the direction of William C. Codman. Each artisan handcrafted every piece in the same way that ancient silversmiths once did, producing decorative items such as bowls, vases, candlesticks, centerpieces, and tea and coffee sets. Martele production was separated by Gorham’s commercial line; its pieces were one-of-a-kind and expensive objects for selected customers. The trade name Martele derived from the French verb “marteler” (to hammer), denoting the distinctive hand-hammered surface of the silverware. Along with this tea set, which carries an estimate of $15,000-$20,000, also offered will be two lots of Martele candlestick sets, each with $3,000-$5,000 estimates, and a Martele vase estimated at $2,000-$3,000.
Turning the attention from silver sets to China sets is a partial dinner service by the Danish porcelain brand Royal Copenhagen. Its Flora Danica dinnerware remains one of the world’s most prestigious and luxurious porcelain collections, carefully created by hand just as it was in the 1700s. The original Flora Danica is considered an important Danish cultural treasure and is seen as both an ever-relevant tribute to the nature of Denmark and the most exquisite example of Danish design and artisanship. This set, consisting of more than 50 pieces, has an estimate of $22,000-$28,000.
Ably representing the fine art category is an untitled work by the Chinese master Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Qi was an influential Chinese painter who is credited for modernizing the gongbi style of classical Chinese painting. Having initial training in carpentry, he taught himself to paint using the Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden, a painting guidebook from the Qing dynasty era. Qi’s earliest works closely followed the gongbi tradition, a Chinese form of realism that favors fine brushstrokes and meticulous detail. This watercolor, depicting flowers and bees, is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.
A highlight in the decorative arts category is a Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel Austrian Art Nouveau Amphora vase, which has an estimate of $1,000-$1,500. Eduard Stellmacher of the porcelain company Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel and his brother-in-law and fellow classmate from the Arts and Crafts Academy in Dresden, Paul Dachsel, started their own company, Amphora I, with the goal of creating luxury porcelain objects. In 1893, a collection from the company won the highest awards in exhibitions in Chicago and San Francisco, which lead to increased sales in the U.S. During the two years that followed, Amphora opened two more factories that produced terra-cotta and earthenware items. Starting in the late 1890s, the Art Nouveau style was evident in their designs, and this vase is just such an example.
Musically inclined traditional collectors will adore a French grand piano, the work of Gaveau et Cie Louis Birarello, which will be offered with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Gaveau of Paris was a French piano manufacturer established by Joseph Gabriel Gaveau in 1847 and was one of the three largest piano makers in France. From the beginning, Gaveau was committed to making excellent solid upright pianos with a focus on the development of upright piano actions, such as the angle of escapement.
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