Chinese Blue and White Fish Jar in the Yuan Style leads our special five Asian auction highlights

Chinese blue and white fish jar in the Yuan style, which hammered for €820,000 ($880,300) and sold for €1 million ($1.1 million) with buyer’s premium at Aste di Antiquariato Boetto June 19.

Chinese Blue and White Fish Jar in the Yuan Style, $1.1 Million

GENOA, Italy – There was saleroom drama at Aste di Antiquariato Boetto on June 19 when a 12in (30cm) Chinese blue and white jar estimated at €2,000-€2,300 ($2,150-$2,470) shot to €820,000 ($880,300), ultimately selling for €1 million ($1.1 million) with buyer’s premium. While the auction house dated this piece to the 18th century, bidders speculated it was a Yuan dynasty fish jar, or guan, from the 1350s.

The ‘fish-in-waterpond’ motif first appeared on Yuan dynasty blue and white ceramics. The subject was not just decorative. The species of fish – typically qingyu (a type of mullet), baiyu liyu (carp), and guiyu (mandarin fish) – conveyed a deeper Daoist meaning. Fish were considered the manifestation of spiritual freedom, the treasured aim of China’s intellectual elite.

Despite their great age, many Yuan fish jars are preserved. Although they vary greatly in quality and price, the best can bring spectacular sums. A particularly fine example in the Joseph Hotung collection sold for almost HK$40 million (roughly $5.1 million) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2022.

Large jars of this type – among the very first pieces of blue and white porcelain – were often made to contain alcohol, or water for making tea. Excavations suggest they were produced at several ceramic centers, including Longquan, the Cizhou kilns, and at Jingdezhen.

Chinese blue and white fish jar in the Yuan style, which hammered for €820,000 ($880,300) and sold for €1 million ($1.1 million) with buyer’s premium at Aste di Antiquariato Boetto June 19.
Chinese blue and white fish jar in the Yuan style, which hammered for €820,000 ($880,300) and sold for €1 million ($1.1 million) with buyer’s premium at Aste di Antiquariato Boetto June 19.

Uncut Qing Dynasty Apricot Yellow Dragon Robe, $33,282

Uncut Qing apricot yellow dragon robe, which hammered for $25,800 and sold for $33,282 with buyer’s premium at Kelmscott’s Gallery on June 15.
Uncut Qing apricot yellow dragon robe, which hammered for $25,800 and sold for $33,282 with buyer’s premium at Kelmscott’s Gallery on June 15.

PLANO, TX – The colors and designs of Qing dynasty robes were designed to convey rank and entitlement. The rules were set out during the reign of the Qianlong emperor under The Regulations for the Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the [Qing] Dynasty, completed in 1759, and they were strictly adhered to.  

According to the Qing court regulations, robes in the apricot yellow (orange) color embroidered with imperial symbols of authority were assigned to imperial princes of the first rank and his sons. 

An uncut robe in this color was offered at Kelmscott’s Gallery on June 15. It was consigned from the collection of a British family living in Dallas, and by repute had been among the many Qing works of art removed from the Old Summer Palace by Anglo-French troops in the final act of the Second Opium War in 1860.

Undated but probably from the Xianfeng (1850-1861) period, it was estimated at $1,500-$3,000, but hammered for $25,800 and sold for $$33,282 with buyer’s premium to a bidder via LiveAuctioneers.

Uncut Qing apricot yellow dragon robe, which hammered for $25,800 and sold for $33,282 with buyer’s premium at Kelmscott’s Gallery on June 15.
Uncut Qing apricot yellow dragon robe, which hammered for $25,800 and sold for $33,282 with buyer’s premium at Kelmscott’s Gallery on June 15.

Chinese Red Lacquered Scholar’s Painting Table, $407,460

Chinese red lacquered scholar’s painting table, which hammered for €300,000 ($322,100) and sold for €379,500 ($407,460) with buyer’s premium at Marques Dos Santos June 15.
Chinese red lacquered scholar’s painting table, which hammered for €300,000 ($322,100) and sold for €379,500 ($407,460) with buyer’s premium at Marques Dos Santos June 15.

PORTO, Portugal – The sale of Asian art at Marques Dos Santos on June 15 included a classic Chinese sleeper. This red lacquered table, inset to the top with a dali marble ‘picture stone’ panel, was estimated at €1,000-€2,000 ($1,075-$2,150), but hammered for €300,000 ($322,100) and sold for €379,500 ($407,460) with buyer’s premium.

Tables of these proportions were likely used for painting in a scholar’s studio, its generous length and depth providing ample surface for free, unimpeded movement around a paper scroll. The corner leg and the recessed waist with reticulated narrow panels gives it its distinctive form, one pioneered in the Ming period. The magnitude of the price suggests a date from the late Ming or the early Qing period. 

Daoguang Mark Chinese Famille Rose ‘Cong’-form Vase Painted with Imperial Hunting Trip Scenes, $163,750

Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.
Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.

CHICAGO – This unusual famille rose ‘cong’-form vase is painted with scenes of huntsmen, two with camels and two on horses. Standing just shy of 12in (30cm) tall, it has an iron red six-character Daoguang (1821-1850) mark to the base. Although later mounted as a lamp, it was in fine condition and had not been drilled. 

This design of Manchu officials on different mounts comes from images of the imperial hunting trip called Qiuli (Autumn hunting), which was instituted by the Kangxi emperor and continued into the Daoguang reign in the early 19th century. 

The subject, which appears on a number of Daoguang-period objects, also creates several visual puns with auspicious messages of the type that delight Chinese decorators. For example, the combination of the dog and the camel creates the term huanluo, meaning joy and happiness.

The vase appeared at Freeman’s Hindman’s sale of property from the Aline Elwes McDonnell Trust on June 21. It came by descent to Aline McDonnell (1923-2023) via her husband Hubert McDonnell Jr. (1919-2004), who had inherited it from his father Hubert McDonnell Sr. It had an estimate of $2,000-$3,000, and it hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium.

Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.
Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.
Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.
Daoguang mark Chinese famille rose ‘cong’-form vase painted with scenes from an imperial hunting trip, which hammered for $125,000 and sold for $163,750 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman June 21.

Kangxi Clair-de-lune Monochrome Vase, $203,200

Kangxi clair-de-lune monochrome vase, which hammered for $160,000 and sold for $203,200 with buyer’s premium at Golden State Auction Gallery June 15.
Kangxi clair-de-lune monochrome vase, which hammered for $160,000 and sold for $203,200 with buyer’s premium at Golden State Auction Gallery June 15.

SAN FRANCISCO – The pale blue hue known as clair-de-lune is one of the most treasured Qing monochrome glazes, and was reserved exclusively for imperial porcelains. The color, inspired by the Ru wares of the Song dynasty, appeared first in Kangxi porcelain and remained popular throughout the Qing dynasty. 

This 8in (21cm) high vase has a six-character Kangxi (1661-1722) mark and is thought to be of the period. Offered by Golden State Auction Gallery on June 15 with an estimate of $20,000-$80,000, it hammered for $160,000 and sold for $203,200 with buyer’s premium.

It had provenance to the collection of C. Philip Cardeiro (1930-2014) of Boston, Massachusetts. He made his first acquisition in the 1940s and thereafter began a lifetime of collecting that continued unabated for the next six decades, with the greatest bulk of his collecting taking place in the late 1960s and 1970s. 

Kangxi clair-de-lune monochrome vase, which hammered for $160,000 and sold for $203,200 with buyer’s premium at Golden State Auction Gallery June 15.
Kangxi clair-de-lune monochrome vase, which hammered for $160,000 and sold for $203,200 with buyer’s premium at Golden State Auction Gallery June 15.

Gold ring with carnelian intaglio carved by Nathaniel Merchant leads our five auction highlights

Gold ring with carnelian intaglio carved by Nathaniel Merchant, which hammered for CA$80,000 ($58,365) and sold for CA$101,600 ($74,135) with buyer’s premium at AH Wilkens May 28.

Gold Ring with Carnelian Intaglio Carved by Nathaniel Merchant, $74,135

TORONTO — This gold-mounted carnelian intaglio ring depicting classical profiles of Cupid and Psyche embracing is signed in mirror image capitals for Nathaniel Marchant (1739-1816). Prolific in both Italy and England, he was probably the most famous gem engraver of the late 18th and early 19th century.  

In 1792, he published the Catalogue of One Hundred Impressions from Gems engraved by Nathaniel Marchant – listing the various subjects in his oeuvre and the names of the members of the social elite who commissioned them. This particular subject is listed there as ‘Cupid and Psyche: From a group in the Museum Capitolinum. This group was found in the year 1749, on Mount Aventine.’ 

The ring appeared at AH Wilkens on May 28, where it was fully cataloged but estimated at a modest CA$3,000-CA$5,000. It provided more evidence of a strong market for the glyphic arts when it hammered for CA$80,000 ($58,365) and sold for CA$101,600 ($74,135) with buyer’s premium.

Gold ring with carnelian intaglio carved by Nathaniel Merchant, which hammered for CA$80,000 ($58,365) and sold for CA$101,600 ($74,135) with buyer’s premium at AH Wilkens May 28.
Gold ring with carnelian intaglio carved by Nathaniel Merchant, which hammered for CA$80,000 ($58,365) and sold for CA$101,600 ($74,135) with buyer’s premium at AH Wilkens May 28.

Early 20th-century Carved Wooden Tribal Figure from the Congo, $42,240

Early 20th-century Congo carved wooden tribal figure, which sold for $33,000 ($42,240 with buyer’s premium) at Bruneau & Co. May 29.
Early 20th-century Congo carved wooden tribal figure, which sold for $33,000 ($42,240 with buyer’s premium) at Bruneau & Co. May 29.

CRANSTON, RI — Mathia Komor (1909-1984) was a pioneering art dealer who was in the vanguard of promoting and selling primitive art from around the world to Western collectors. From the opening of his New York gallery in 1934 to its closing upon his death, Komor photographed and meticulously documented every item to pass through his business. The photographic archive is now part of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

On May 29, the auction house Bruneau & Co. had a large 29in-tall carved wooden tribal figure from the Congo that bore a Komor Gallery inventory sticker, along with another suggesting it had at some point been in the collection of the Linden, an ethnographic museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Conservatively estimated at just $800-$2,400, dozens of competing bids took the figure to a final hammer of $33,000 ($42,240 with buyer’s premium).

Pocket Watch Given to Winston Churchill by British Prime Minister Asquith, $131,000

Churchill's pocket watch, bearing the message ‘To Winston with gratitude H.H. Asquith Xmas 1905’, which hammered for £76,000 ($96,335) and sold for £103,360 ($131,000) with buyer’s premium at Dawsons May 23.
Churchill's pocket watch, bearing the message ‘To Winston with gratitude H.H. Asquith Xmas 1905’, which hammered for £76,000 ($96,335) and sold for £103,360 ($131,000) with buyer’s premium at Dawsons May 23.

MAIDENHEAD, UK — A minute-repeating pocket watch given to Sir Winston Churchill by Henry Herbert Asquith for Christmas in 1905 hammered for £76,000 ($96,335) and sold for £103,360 ($131,000) with buyer’s premium at the Berkshire auction house Dawsons.

Both men went on to become British prime ministers: Asquith as leader of the Liberal Party from 1908 to 1916, and Churchill for the Conservatives in 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

The gift of the watch relates to Churchill’s decision to ‘cross the floor’ in 1904, moving from the Conservatives to the Liberal Party. Churchill disagreed with the Conservative leadership’s stance on several policies and instead sided with the progressive wing of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party gained power a year later, and Churchill served as a member until 1908.

Asquith bestowed the gift to acknowledge this bold move. The 18K gold full hunter watch by John Bennett of 65 Cheapside, London is inscribed on its inner case ‘To Winston with gratitude H.H. Asquith Xmas 1905’ and engraved with Churchill’s coat of arms on the outer case.

The watch came for sale by descent from the Countess of Enniskillen, who bought it in 1983 as a gift to her husband from the London jeweler Hennell for £3,000 (roughly $3,800). At Dawsons’ sale on May 23, it carried an estimate of £20,000-£30,000 ($25,350-$38,025).

Oil Study Attributed to Pierre Hubert Subleyras, $91,950

‘The Hermit, Brother Luce’, an oil study attributed to Pierre Hubert Subleyras, which hammered for €65,000 ($70,700) and sold for €85,800 ($91,950) with buyer’s premium at Carlo Bonte May 28.
‘The Hermit, Brother Luce’, an oil study attributed to Pierre Hubert Subleyras, which hammered for €65,000 ($70,700) and sold for €85,800 ($91,950) with buyer’s premium at Carlo Bonte May 28.

BRUGES, Belgium — On May 28, the Carlo Bonte auction house offered The Hermit, Brother Luce, an oil study attributed to the French late Baroque painter Pierre Hubert Subleyras (1699-1749).

The painting is a variation on one of a set of pictures illustrating Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, which was commissioned by the duc de Saint-Aignan, the French ambassador to Rome from 1723 to 1741. Subleyras spent much of his career painting in Italy, settling permanently in Rome in 1728 after winning the Prix de Rome the previous year.

The story is not one for 21st-century mores. A local hermit, who has become enamored of a widow’s pretty daughter, disguises himself as a priest and convinces the girl that God wishes their union to produce a new pope. The hermit’s deception is discovered after the baby is revealed to be a girl. Several versions are known, including one dated to circa 1745 that is in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The work was also made into a print that is a mirror image of this composition.

The auction house was reluctant to declare this 12 by 9in (30 by 22cm) canvas an autograph work, demonstrating caution both in the cataloging and in the estimate of €800-€1,200 ($850-$1,285). However, bidders were more confident in the quality of the picture and its connections to Subleyras. It hammered for €65,000 ($70,700) and sold for €85,800 ($91,950) with buyer’s premium.

Late 19th-century Sterling Snake Pitcher Attributed to Gorham, $20,000

Late 19th-century sterling snake pitcher attributed to Gorham, which sold for $16,000 ($20,000 with buyer’s premium) at Akiba Galleries May 23.
Late 19th-century sterling silver snake pitcher attributed to Gorham, which sold for $16,000 ($20,000 with buyer’s premium) at Akiba Galleries May 23.

DANIA BEACH, FL — Although the designer and silversmith are unknown, this sterling silver snake pitcher is likely part of the group of trompe l’oeil objects produced by during the 1870s and 1880s by the Gorham factory in Providence, Rhode Island. The marks to the base of a lion passant and an anchor, plus the gothic letter G, were those used by the Gorham from circa 1863 until the 1890s.

Few other examples of this vessel, formed as two coiling snakes, are known, but there is one in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is pictured on the front cover of the catalog for the 2008 exhibition Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000

Rather than cast, the bodies of pieces such as this were raised with a hammer, with the contours formed using the repoussé technique. The scratch marks to the example in the MFA indicate that the factory net price for this item was a substantial $160.

Akiba Galleries offered this pitcher in its May 23 Hidden Gems sale. It was cataloged as ‘20th century’ and ‘after a piece by Gorham’, and some 232 prospective bidders were watching this item on LiveAuctioneers when it came up for sale. Estimated at $1,000-$3,000, it hammered at $16,000 and sold for $20,000 with buyer’s premium.

Custom Colt .41 revolver owned by Texas Rangers captain Alfred Allee leads our five lots to watch

Custom Colt .41 revolver owned by Texas Ranger Captain Alfred Allee, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Vogt Auction July 20.

Custom Colt .41 Revolver Owned by Texas Ranger Captain Alfred Allee

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Alfred Allee (1905-1987) was destined for a legendary career in law enforcement. Like his father and grandfather, he became a Texas Ranger, the state-sanctioned law enforcement agency founded during the Republic of Texas period in 1835. Allee gained national prominence investigating political corruption in Duvall County in the 1950s. He gained notoriety in the 1960s breaking up civil rights demonstrations by farm workers.

Allee’s personal circa-1893 Colt .41 caliber wheel gun will be offered Saturday, July 20, at Vogt Auctions as a featured lot in its 637-lot Firearms sale. The piece features fantastic deep custom scroll engraving throughout the frame and barrel and includes walnut grips. It carries a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Admiral Richard Byrd’s polar exploration gloves and mukluks

Admiral Richard Byrd’s polar exploration gloves and mukluks, estimated at $400-$600 and $800-$1,200, respectively, at Bruneau & Co. July 17.
Admiral Richard Byrd’s polar exploration gloves and mukluks, estimated at $400-$600 and $800-$1,200, respectively, at Bruneau & Co. July 17.

CRANSTON, RI — Four artifacts from the estate of Admiral Richard Byrd (1888-1957) come to market at Bruneau & Co. Wednesday, July 17 as featured lots in its Historic Arms & Militaria sale.

Byrd is best remembered as a naval officer, aviator, and explorer, having been the first man to fly over both the North and South Poles. These mittens and mukluks have been photo-identified as the ones used by Byrd on his Antarctic expedition in 1928-1930. They were originally sold from the estate of his widow, Marie A. Byrd, in October 1988. Both items are marked BYRD. The mittens are estimated at $400-$600 while the mukluks have an estimate of $800-$1,200.

Admiral Richard Byrd’s polar exploration gloves and mukluks, estimated at $400-$600 and $800-$1,200, respectively, at Bruneau & Co. July 17.
Admiral Richard Byrd’s polar exploration gloves and mukluks, estimated at $400-$600 and $800-$1,200, respectively, at Bruneau & Co. July 17.

Lalique yellow amber opalescent Bacchantes vase

Lalique yellow amber opalescent Bacchantes vase, estimated at $70,000-$100,000 at A. B. Levy July 18.
Lalique yellow amber opalescent Bacchantes vase, estimated at $70,000-$100,000 at A. B. Levy July 18.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL — It is the appeal of colored or opalescent glass that helps explain why two apparently similar pieces of Lalique can be priced quite differently. René Lalique made some of his most popular designs in multiple different colors and for some collectors the joy is displaying them together.

The yellow amber opalescent version of the Bacchantes vase designed in 1927 (model no. 997 in Félix Marcilhac’s catalogue raisonné of Lalique glass) is perhaps the most coveted of all the variants of this celebrated design. Prewar examples are very hard to find. The example on what is possibly a period illuminated bronze base comes for sale at A. B. Levy on July 18 with a guide of $70,000-$100,000.

Two works by Gertrude Abercrombie, ‘Little Black Cat’ and ‘Snail’

‘Little Black Cat’ by Gertrude Abercrombie, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Freeman’s Hindman July 18.
‘Little Black Cat’ by Gertrude Abercrombie, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Freeman’s Hindman July 18.

CHICAGO — Two tiny works by American surrealist Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) are featured lots at Freeman’s Hindman July 18. Both works come from the estate of Shirley Mann, Chicago, Illinois.

Known as the “queen of the Bohemian artists,” Abercrombie (1909-1977) was an integral part of Chicago’s arts scene. In a Bid Smart piece on Abercrombie, Freeman’s Hindman vice president and senior specialist for fine art, Joe Stanfield noted, “Abercrombie’s works sort of defy logic as far as their per-square-inch value. A 5-by-7in painting, a 6-by-8, and an 8-by-10 — that is kind of her wheelhouse and where she excels.”

Little Black Cat is an oil on masonite dated to 1958 and measures just 3.5 x 3.125in. It carries a presale estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Snail is a 1964 oil on masonite measuring 1.825 x 2in. It is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

‘Snail’ by Gertrude Abercrombie, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Freeman’s Hindman July 18.
‘Snail’ by Gertrude Abercrombie, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Freeman’s Hindman July 18.

19th-century Tiffany, Young & Ellis .800 silver kettle on stand

19th-century Tiffany, Young & Ellis .800 Silver kettle on stand, estimated at $2,000-$4,000 at Schmidt’s July 20.
19th-century Tiffany, Young & Ellis .800 Silver kettle on stand, estimated at $2,000-$4,000 at Schmidt’s July 20.

YPSILANTI, MI — Schmidt’s brings a 19th-century Tiffany, Young & Ellis .800 silver kettle with its stand to market Saturday, July 20 as a featured lot in its July Gallery sale.

The kettle was made by silversmiths John C. Moore & Son. Tiffany, Young & Ellis was the initial name of the retail business in New York City headed by Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902). It would shed the other two names in 1853, after Charles took over and shifted its focus from stationery and ‘fancy goods’ to jewelry.

The Tiffany empire would grow to include Charles’s son, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), who gained fame for his exquisite glass creations.

The tea kettle, which dates to between 1854 and 1869, is monogrammed E. R. B. for Eliza Ripley Buckingham, the wife of William A. Buckley, the former governor of Connecticut. It is impressed Tiffany & Co. /  M Late M / Tiffany, Young & Ellis and 550 Broadway on its base. The entire set weighs 53.98 troy ounces and features some minor wear and file marks. Standing 13in tall with its handle, the handsome kettle and stand are together estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

Late 19th-century Russian silver cycling trophy leads our five auction highlights

Late 19th-century silver cycling trophy by St. Petersburg silversmith Alexander Lyubavin, which hammered for €39,000 ($41,800) and sold for €50,700 ($54,340) with buyer’s premium at Antiqon May 18.

Late 19th-century Russian Silver Cycling Trophy, $54,340

RIGA, Latvia – According to the engraved plaque, this Russian silver cycling trophy, offered for sale by Antiqon on May 18, was presented by Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich to the best cyclist in northern Russia and champion of the Tour of St Michaels.

Mikhailovich (1869-1918), a passionate aristocratic supporter of the new sport of cycle racing in late 19th-century Russia, was a founding member of his nation’s first cyclist society, formed in 1883 in Tsarskoe Selo. Cycling had its practicalities for the Grand Duke: the halls and corridors of the Michaelovsky Palace in St Petersburg were so vast that Sergei used a bicycle to visit his brothers who lived in other wings.

The winner of this trophy was a once-internationally famous Russian athlete, Mikhail Diakov (1872-1959), a member of the Tsarskoe Selo club who held the national cycling record over 7.5 versts (the Russian unit of distance equal to 1.067 kilometers) – the blue riband race at the time. Some months after he received this trophy, on March 6, 1896, Dyakov traveled to London to compete in the English Open Championship, where he won a sensational victory. 

This trophy, which measures 18in (40cm) high and comes in its original wooden carrying case, is a detailed study of a late 19th-century elite cyclist and his machine, plus a fine example of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg silver, marked for the fashionable maker Alexander Lyubavin. Estimated at €15,000-€20,000 ($16,075-$21,435), it hammered for €39,000 ($41,800) and sold for €50,700 ($54,340).

Early 19th-century Imperial ‘Twelve Symbols’ Blue Silk Dragon Robe, $249,500

Early 19th-century imperial 'Twelve Symbols' blue silk dragon robe, which hammered for £150,000 ($190,200) and sold for £196,800 ($249,500) with buyer’s premium at Dreweatts May 21.
Early 19th-century imperial 'Twelve Symbols' blue silk dragon robe, which hammered for £150,000 ($190,200) and sold for £196,800 ($249,500) with buyer’s premium at Dreweatts May 21.

NEWBURY, UK – An early 19th-century imperial ‘Twelve Symbols’ blue silk dragon robe, or jifu, hammered for £150,000 ($190,200) and sold for £196,800 ($249,500) with buyer’s premium against an estimate of £30,000-£50,000 ($30,000-$63,400) at Dreweatts in its May 21 Asian Art auction.

The robe was only very recently rediscovered, packed in a tailor’s box at the back of a drawer in the home of the Villiers family – direct descendants of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628), the favorite of King James I.

It was purchased by Eric Hyde Villiers (1881-1964), who visited China in 1913 as a partner of Martell Cognac. The robe was said to be a gift for his father, Sir Francis Hyde Villiers (1852-1925), and it remained undisturbed in the family home in England for more than 100 years. Stored out of the light, it has retained its original colors and survived in its original condition.

Sewn with the 12 symbols of imperial authority arranged in three groups of four around the neck, the robe would have been used by the emperor twice a year for harvest festivals at the Temple of Heaven. Dated to the early 19th century, it may have been made for the emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820), or his second son and successor Daoguang (1820-1850).

An earlier imperial yellow-ground dragon robe from the Yongzheng period topped Bonhams’ Fine Chinese Art sale on May 16 at £290,000 ($367,750). Probably made for an empress or empress dowager, it had a provenance to Marie Joséphine Eugénie Brégère-Kromer Violet (1864-1921), the head of France’s premier aperitif brand Byrrh. 

First Edition of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Inscribed by Harper Lee, Offered with a Christmas Card Containing a Handwritten Message from Lee, $65,000

First edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, inscribed by the author to architect Harold Caufield, offered along with a Christmas card in which Lee wrote a long message, which hammered for $50,000 ($65,000 with buyer’s premium) at Swann May 23.
First edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, inscribed by the author to architect Harold Caufield, offered along with a Christmas card in which Lee wrote a long message, which hammered for $50,000 ($65,000 with buyer’s premium) at Swann May 23.

NEW YORK – Not only is this 1960 first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird inscribed by author Harper Lee inscribed to her friend Harold Caufield, it was sold with a Christmas card from the author penned with a lengthy message. 

The book, having the scarce pictorial dust jacket featuring Lee’s portrait by Truman Capote, is a rarity in its own right. This copy, signed ‘For Harold, with love, Love, LOVE’, was given to Caufield, a New York-based architect who worked on the Upper East Side apartments and townhouses belonging to the Brown family, where Nelle Harper Lee lived when she moved to Manhattan in 1949. Lee, who lived rent-free while writing To Kill a Mockingbird, spent much time with the Browns at their home during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Christmas card, signed ‘Nelle Harper’, includes a long greeting discussing her holiday travel plans and her family. It ends with these lines: “I loathe people who write letters on Christmas cards, don’t you?. But I ramble on – waiting for the plumber to return with an antique part for an antique john. It never fails-some part of this house collapses every Christmas. It’s as traditional as you dropping the turkey – oh, how I miss you and love you!”

Offered for sale at Swann Galleries in New York as part of a May 23 sale titled Focus on Women, it was estimated at $10,000-$15,000, but hammered for $50,000 and sold for $65,000.

First edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, inscribed by the author to architect Harold Caufield, offered along with a Christmas card in which Lee wrote a long message, which hammered for $50,000 ($65,000 with buyer’s premium) at Swann May 23.
First edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, inscribed by the author to architect Harold Caufield, offered along with a Christmas card in which Lee wrote a long message, which hammered for $50,000 ($65,000 with buyer’s premium) at Swann May 23.

Roman White Marble Copy of the Crouching Venus, $170,300

Roman white marble copy of the Crouching Venus, which sold for $130,000 ($170,300 with buyer’s premium) at Freeman’s Hindman on May 23.
Roman white marble copy of the Crouching Venus, which sold for $130,000 ($170,300 with buyer’s premium) at Freeman’s Hindman on May 23.

CHICAGO — On the market for the first time in more than half a century, a Roman marble copy of the Crouching Venus hammered for $130,000 and sold for $170,300 with buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman on May 23. Estimated at a more modest $8,000-$12,000, it was the highlight of the firm’s first dedicated auction of Antiquities and Ancient Art.

Dated to the 1st century AD, this striking 16in (40cm) marble sculpture is a Roman interpretation of the famed creation by Doidalsas of Bithynia, a third-century BC sculptor celebrated for his depictions of Venus, the goddess of love. Originally commissioned by King Nicomedes I, the second king of the Greek kingdom of Bithynia, the form of Venus bathing was widely admired in Roman period. This fragmentary version had been acquired by its Chicago owner in 1969 from the Paris dealership Galerie Simone de Monbrison.

John Paul Miller, Cephalopod Pendant-Brooch and Chain, $128,000

John Paul Miller Cephalopod Pendand Brooch and Chain, which sold for $100,000 ($128,000 with buyer’s premium) at Bonhams Skinner May 23.
John Paul Miller Cephalopod pendant-brooch and chain, which sold for $100,000 ($128,000 with buyer’s premium) at Bonhams Skinner May 23.

MARLBOROUGH, MA — On May 23, Bonhams Skinner featured a highly desirable 18K gold and enamel pendant-brooch and chain by the modern master of granulation, John Paul Miller (1918-2013). Estimated at $15,000-$25,000, furious competition brought the piece to a final hammer of $100,000 ($128,000 with buyer’s premium).

Cleveland-raised Miller studied enameling at the Cleveland Institute of Art and after serving in the US Army during World War II, returned to his art studies. It was in this early postwar period that he discovered a document unearthed by an archaeologist at the American Academy in Rome. The document discussed the ancient technique of granulation, the method for adhering fine gold beads to a gold surface without solder.

Miller began exhibiting his granulated jewelry pieces in 1953, drawing immense attention to his work. He became world famous and showed his creations internationally. A 2010 retrospective hosted by his alma mater and workplace, the Cleveland Institute of Art, called him a ‘master goldsmith’ and a ‘living legend.’ Miller would pass just three years later.

Velvet Underground Swatch wristwatch leads our five lots to watch

Velvet Underground Swatch wristwatch, estimated at $600-$1,200 at Dan Morphy Auctions July 18.

Velvet Underground Swatch Wristwatch

DENVER, PA — The so-called Velvet Underground Swatch wristwatch was made in an edition of just 500 for a special ‘underground’ party in New York in 1985. The watches arrived too late and were never issued at the event. Instead, they were given to Swatch employees in the US.

The watch features a distinctive rounded crown, which was used to prevent snags and tears in the lacy white ‘stocking’ that envelops it. Morphy Auctions will present an example, estimated at $600-$1,200, in its dedicated sale of Vintage Swatch Watches on Thursday, July 18.

World War II-era Dress Uniform Elements of Captain Carleton Cole Champion, Jr.

World War II-era dress uniform elements once owned by Captain Carleton Cole Champion, Jr., estimated at $800-$1,200 at Turner Auctions + Appraisals July 13.
World War II-era dress uniform elements once owned by Captain Carleton Cole Champion, Jr., estimated at $800-$1,200 at Turner Auctions + Appraisals July 13.

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA — United States Navy Captain Carleton Cole Champion, Jr. (1896-1971) may not be a household name such as Nimitz, MacArthur, Patton, or Eisenhower, but he made his mark in American military history on numerous occasions.

He served as a midshipman in World War I after graduating early from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, then trained as a naval aviator and set two world records for highest achieved altitude in both sea and land aircraft. He received a patent for high-tensile rods used in naval aircraft engines, and when World War II arrived, he was appointed captain of the USS Biscayne (AVP-11), a Barnegat-class seaplane tender in service to naval patrol aircraft in the Pacific. He retired from the Navy in 1947 after a distinguished career.

Champion’s descendants have consigned his final naval dress uniform elements to auction at Turner on Saturday, July 13 as a featured lot in its Carmel CA Estate Auction. The lot includes Captain Champion’s faux-fur bicorn hat with gold braid and brocade; formal gold braid and brocade epaulettes; captain’s rank insignia shoulder boards; and a brocade sword belt and gilt buckle, all housed in a fitted faux leather case. The lot is estimated at $800-$1,200 but certainly will sell outside those conservative numbers, given Champion’s place in American naval history.

Hey Diddle Diddle Nursery Rhyme Set of Hollowcast Lead Toys by Phillip Segal

Hey Diddle Diddle Nursery Rhyme set by Phillip Segal, estimated at $4,000-$6,000 at Old Toy Soldier Auctions July 12.
Hey Diddle Diddle Nursery Rhyme set by Phillip Segal, estimated at $4,000-$6,000 at Old Toy Soldier Auctions July 12.

PITTSBURGH, PA — The range of nursery rhyme and sporting figures issued by Phillip Segal Toys are among the most desirable of all hollowcast lead toys colloquially known as ‘civilians’.

They were made by Segal in Hampshire, England in two brief periods before and after the Second World War, from 1938 to 1939 and from 1947 to 1951,  when he died. The charming nursery rhyme series covers the characters in many of the best-known children’s poems or songs, among them the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Humpty Dumpty, The Three Little Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood.

All are considered rare in good condition, but the Hey Diddle Diddle set has become something of a Holy Grail item in the collecting hobby. Featuring four large figures – the Cat and the Fiddle, the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon, the Little Dog Who Laughed to See Such Fun, and the Dish Who Ran Away with the Spoon – the only surviving full set is this example from the John Cullen Dimestore Collection.

It was pictured on the front cover of a past issue of Old Toy Soldier Magazine, a copy of which is included with the lot when it comes under the hammer on Friday, July 12. Officials at Old Toy Soldier Auctions estimate it will sell for $4,000-$6,000. 

1927-only American Flyer No. 4687 Wide Gauge Presidential Special Set

1927-only American Flyer no. 4687 wide gauge Presidential Special Set, estimated at $1,500-$2,000 at Milestone Auctions July 13.
1927-only American Flyer no. 4687 wide gauge Presidential Special Set, estimated at $1,500-$2,000 at Milestone Auctions July 13.

WILLOUGHBY, OH — An exceedingly scarce American Flyer Wide (Standard) gauge Presidential Special Set will appear at Milestone Auctions as an under-the-radar lot in its Summer Vintage Toy Auction on Saturday, July 13. Estimated at $1,500-$2,000, in years past this set, sans its original packaging, would regularly sell in the low five figures.

Wide Gauge was a pre-AC Gilbert Co. competitor to Lionel’s Standard gauge. Both used the same distance between the outer rails, and the middle rail carried the voltage to the locomotives and passenger cars via roller pickups.

The example in the Milestone sale includes the locomotive and tender (with noted minor flaking to its finish), a US Mail Railway Post Office Car, the West Point Passenger Car, and the Annapolis Observation Car. All are described as excellent, and with a one-year-only production run, the set represents one of the most limited ‘Chicago Flyer’ offerings ever made.

Beatles ‘Revolver’ LP, Signed by All Four Band Members

Beatles ‘Revolver’ LP signed by all four band members, estimated at $12,500-$25,000 at Piece of the Past July 14.
Beatles ‘Revolver’ LP signed by all four band members, estimated at $12,500-$25,000 at Piece of the Past July 14.

TEMPE, AZ — Beatles-signed LP records are exceedingly difficult to find, and many that do appear are fakes lacking any sort of professional authentication. Piece of the Past’s Sunday, July 14 sale has a copy of 1966’s Revolver as issued by the band’s American label, Capitol Records. That year marked the final American tour by The Beatles, with its end date of August 29, 1966 at San Francisco’s famed Candlestick Park, home to the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

This example was likely signed with a ballpoint pen by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr during the Beatles’ last visit to Capitol Records in Hollywood. The recipient was a Capitol executive, and the probable date of the signing would have been August 28, 1966, when the Beatles played Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, north of downtown and just a few miles from the Capitol Records tower.

The record is accompanied by numerous certificates of authenticity and is estimated at $12,500-$25,000.

1930s Pepsi Pete the Cop Double-sided Porcelain Sign leads our five auction highlights

1930s Pepsi Pete the Cop double-sided porcelain sign, which sold for $34,440 with buyer’s premium at Rich Penn Auctions May 18.

1930s Pepsi Pete the Cop Double-sided Porcelain Sign, $34,440

WATERLOO, IA — Found in a Pennsylvania warehouse, this 1930s-era Pepsi-Cola double-sided porcelain sign features Pepsi’s double-dot logo and ‘Pepsi Pete the Cop,’ a short-lived advertising character. Rich Penn Auctions brought the sign, which at some point was mounted to a later bottle-cap raised-letter base, to market May 18 as a featured lot in its Country Store and Advertising Sale.

Penn’s lot notes state that the sign had been used at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, also known as ‘The World of Tomorrow.’ It would have been used at Pepsi’s pavilion to beckon fair-goers to sip a cool, refreshing drink. The sign was in like-new condition, with a single BB-sized ding to one side and some age-related yellowing. Measuring an impressive 78in in height, the sign carried an estimate of $50-$10,000, but hammered for a whopping $28,000 ($34,440 with buyer’s premium).

1920s Military Motorcycle Wind-up Toy from an Unknown German Manufacturer, $6,562

1920s military motorcycle wind-up toy from an unknown German manufacturer, which sold for $5,250 ($6,562 with buyer’s premium) May 12 at Hoch.
1920s military motorcycle wind-up toy from an unknown German manufacturer, which sold for $5,250 ($6,562 with buyer’s premium) May 12 at Hoch.

WEST CHESTER, PA — Hoch Ltd. sold a German tin-lithographed wind-up motorcycle and rider toy for $5,250 ($6,562 with buyer’s premium) at its May 12 Fine & Decorative Arts sale. The toy had a modest presale estimate of just $200-$400.

Dozens of bids between the floor and LiveAuctioneers buyers ensued, leading to the astounding final hammer. Little was known about the toy other than it had emerged from a Burlington, New Jersey collection.

Resembling a Lehmann or Distler toy from the same period, the clockwork mechanism did not work, and a previous owner had touched up the lithography with paint.

1848 Cass-Butler Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Ticket, $5,824

1848 Lewis Cass and William O. Butler presidential ticket, which sold for $4,550 ($5,824 with buyer’s premium) at Hunt and Peck May 9.
1848 Lewis Cass and William O. Butler presidential ticket, which sold for $4,550 ($5,824 with buyer’s premium) at Hunt and Peck May 9.

LURAY, VA A presidential campaign ticket from the hotly contested 1848 American presidential election brought a staggering $4,550 hammer price, selling for $5,824 to a LiveAuctioneers bidder who blew past the $400-$600 estimate.

Hunt and Peck Estate Services had the ticket as a featured lot in its May 9 Rare Books, Maps, And Artwork sale.

1848 was a bizarre year in American politics. Three men ran for president: Zachary Taylor as a Whig, Lewis Cass as a Democrat, and former president Martin Van Buren as a representative of the Free Soil Party. The Mexican-American War had just ended, and Taylor, being one of the prominent generals in the US Army, fighting the Mexicans, rose to ultimately win the contest, with Van Buren acting as a spoiler and splintering the Democratic vote.

The campaign ticket depicts former Army general Lewis Cass and his vice presidential running mate, William O. Butler, a retired Army major general from Kentucky. Bidding started at $200, but immediately jumped to $4,200 and rose to the final hammer with 100% of bidding coming from the LiveAuctioneers platform, once again demonstrating the power and reach auction houses enjoy when the bidding audience extends beyond the sale room floor.

Circa-1905 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Giraffe Carousel Figure, $37,500

Circa-1905 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. giraffe carousel figure, which sold for $30,000 ($37,500 with buyer’s premium) at Schmidt’s Antiques May 18.
Circa-1905 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. giraffe carousel figure, which sold for $30,000 ($37,500 with buyer’s premium) at Schmidt’s Antiques May 18.

YPSILANTI, MI — A circa-1905 Philadelphia Toboggan Company giraffe carousel figure hammered for $30,000 amid furious bidding between the floor and LiveAuctioneers buyers. With premium, the take-home price reached $37,500 against a $2,000-$4,000 estimate at Schmidt’s Antiques May 18. The carousel giraffe was a featured lot in the house’s May Gallery Auction.

Founded in 1904, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company would have just been shipping its first products when this giraffe was created. The company still exists as Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, an amusement park wooden roller coaster manufacturer and service provider.

The giraffe features hollow-body construction with carved details and an original polychrome-painted finish. It includes inset glass eyes, a carved mane and saddle, and scrolled trappings with tassel drops. Being 120 years of age, the giraffe exhibited some surface wear, chips, and minor touch-ups, and an older restoration to its right ear and eye socket. The figure stands an impressive 78.5in in height.

Buckminster Fuller Autographed Spaceship Earth Edition of the Dymaxion Sky-Ocean Map Die-cut 3-D Model, $525

Buckminster Fuller autographed Spaceship Earth Edition of the Dymaxion Sky-Ocean Map die cut 3-D model, which sold for $420 ($525 with buyer’s premium) at JG Autographs May 14.
Buckminster Fuller autographed Spaceship Earth Edition of the Dymaxion Sky-Ocean Map die cut 3-D model, which sold for $420 ($525 with buyer’s premium) at JG Autographs May 14.

DANVERS, MA — R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was one of the 20th century’s most prominent thinkers, inventors, and designers. His geodesic dome structures once dotted the American landscape, an innovative design he created as an alternative to traditional housing that could be assembled into a finished structure in hours.

Issued by the Buckminster Fuller Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylania, the Dymaxion Sky-Ocean Map was Fuller’s unique projection of the Earth, designed to be assembled into (what else?) a geodesic shape. Offered as a die-cut, ready-to-build model, this example survived in unconstructed form to emerge at JG Autographs as part of its May 14 History and Culture sale.

What added to this example was Fuller’s dated signature in the lower left of the sheet: Buckminster Fuller, February 23, 1983, just months before his demise in July of that year. Estimated at $200-$400, it hammered for $420 and sold for $525 to a LiveAuctioneers bidder.

Tom Wesselman’s Poster for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games leads our five lots to watch

Tom Wesselman’s poster for the 1972 Olympic summer games in Munich, estimated at £180-£360 ($230-$450) at Antikbar on July 6.

Tom Wesselman’s Poster for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games

LONDON — For the 1972 Munich Olympics, various popular artists of the period were commissioned to design a series of posters for an advertising campaign which aimed to ‘represent the intertwining of sports and art worldwide’. Pictured is the entry from the American Pop artist Thomas Wesselmann (1931-2004), who supplied a bright illustration of a foot set over a green background. It is one of several posters from the 1972 summer Olympics series that carry estimates of £180-£360 ($230-$450) each at London vintage poster specialists Antikbar on Saturday, July 6.

Elizabethan Silver-gilt Tankard

Elizabethan silver-gilt tankard, estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,350-$38,000) at Bonhams July 5.
Elizabethan silver-gilt tankard, estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,350-$38,000) at Bonhams July 5.

LONDON — BonhamsFine Decorative Arts sale on Friday, July 5 features this Elizabethan silver-gilt tankard (London 1592), with the maker’s mark IB possibly for John Brodie. It is being sold by a church in the county of Exeter, England and has never appeared on the open market before.

The covered flagon was given to St. Michael’s Church, West Hill, Exeter, on its consecration in 1846. A history of the church reads: ‘Lady Coleridge, wife of Sir John, gave the small tankard flagon marked IB, with rose in base, London 1592. The handle is scroll shaped with angel’s head as thumbpiece. Round the base of the lid and on top of the barrel is arabesque ornamentation; round the foot is a cable moulding; below this, egg and dart ornamentation with egg and tongue work at the base.’

A near identical silver-gilt tankard, with the same maker’s mark, the same date, and the same monogram, was offered at Sotheby’s in 1973, as ‘The property of Trinity Church, Upper Dicker’ in East Sussex. It is highly likely they were once a pair. 

Bonhams’ example has an estimate of £20,000-£30,000 ($25,350-$38,000).

Marco Rota Original Artwork for Disney Italia’s ‘Uncle Scrooge’ Comic

Marco Rota Original Artwork for Disney Italia’s ‘Uncle Scrooge’ Comic , estimated at €1,800-€3,600 ($1,900-$3,900) at Little Nemo.
Marco Rota Original Artwork for Disney Italia’s ‘Uncle Scrooge’ Comic , estimated at €1,800-€3,600 ($1,900-$3,900) at Little Nemo.

TURIN, Italy — Marco Rota (b. 1942-) is a longtime employee of Walt Disney Company Italia SRL, one of the parent company’s localizations for serving foreign language markets worldwide. From 1974 to 1988, Rota served as editor in chief of Disney Italia, where he oversaw a wide variety of titles. His illustration style is heavily influenced by Carl Barks (1901-2000), the primary illustrator of Donald Duck and the creator of Scrooge McDuck.

For Disney Italia’s Uncle Scrooge comic, around the year 2000, Rota created this pen-and-ink illustration of Scrooge McDuck and the Abominable Snowman as sheets of mathematical problems float around them. The original art and a colored variant come to market at Little Nemo Auction House SRL on Friday, July 5 as a lead item in its 485-lot 81st Auction: 90 Years With Donald Duck sale. The framed two-piece lot is estimated at €1,800-€3,600 ($1,900-$3,900).

19th-century Griffin-handled Brass Flat Iron

19th-century griffin-handled brass flat iron, estimated at $500-$1,000 at Harzell’s Auction Gallery July 10.
19th-century griffin-handled brass flat iron, estimated at $500-$1,000 at Hartzell’s Auction Gallery July 10.

BANGOR, PA — In the nineteenth century, ironing was a weekly chore. Mondays were typically wash days, with Tuesdays devoted to pressing and ironing the clean clothing. Most American homes owned a cast-iron or brass flat iron, which was heated by placing it on the stovetop until it was sufficiently hot. The iron-heat-iron cycle would repeat until all the ironing was done.

Hartzell’s Action Gallery is featuring a 705-lot sale of vintage flat irons on Wednesday, July 10 and Thursday, July 11, in association with the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors of America (PITCA). Among the highlights is a brass flat iron featuring a griffin as its handle. With an engraved top and intricate detail, it is one of the sale’s most desirable examples of this once-everyday American household item. It has an estimate of $500-$1,000.

Stephen Huneck, Labrador Dog-decorated Folk Art Tiger Maple Chest of Drawers

Labrador dog-decorated folk art tiger maple chest of drawers by Stephen Huneck, estimated at $2,500-$3,000 at Rafael Osona July 6.
Labrador dog-decorated folk art tiger maple chest of drawers by Stephen Huneck, estimated at $2,500-$3,000 at Rafael Osona July 6.

NANTUCKET, MA — Rafael Osona’s Early Summer Auction, slated for Saturday, July 6 features a Labrador dog-decorated tiger maple chest of drawers as a star lot. Created by famed folk art furniture maker Stephen Huneck around 2000, it is one of three lots from the late creator.

Huneck (1948-2010) built his quirky empire while recovering from a coma-inducing illness in 1994. During his recovery, his beloved pets, led by his black Labrador, Lucy, provided him solace, driving him to immortalize them through his furniture art.

This piece features alternating black and white Labrador dogs surrounding the oval mirror. It measures 70 by 42 by 18in deep and carries an estimate of $2,500-$3,000.

Portrait of a Child by Mary Beale leads our five auction highlights

Mary Beale portrait of an eight-year-old boy, which hammered for £15,000 ($19,100) and sold for £19,650 ($25,000) with buyer’s premium at Lyon & Turnbull May 15.

Portrait of a Child by Mary Beale, $25,000

EDINBURGH, UK – Mary Beale (1633-1699) was one of only a small number of female artists working professionally in London in the 17th century. Born in Barrow, England, the daughter of a clergyman, she studied under the portraitist Sir Peter Lely and, as her reputation grew, by the 1670s her work was in considerable demand.

Lost to art history for several centuries – her paintings were often reattributed to male artists of the Restoration period – she is now one of a number of female painters whose work commands a premium. Two studies of her son Bartholomew hold the current auction record for Beale: one sold for £75,000 (about $95,500) at Sotheby’s in July 2019, another for £100,000 (roughly $127,350) at Reeman Dansie in Colchester, England in January 2021.

The half-portrait of a young boy by Beale offered at Lyon & Turnbull as part of its Five Centuries sale on May 15 was signed, titled William Foster Aged 8, and dated 1683. The construction of the stretchers, with their half-lapped joins secured by three nails, is similar to that shared by a number of Beale canvases. The picture was estimated at an appealing £4,000-£6,000 ($5,100-$7,640), hammered for £15,000 ($19,100), and sold for £19,650 ($25,000) with buyer’s premium. 

In 2019, Lyon & Turnbull held an exhibition in London titled Bright Souls: The Forgotten Story of Britain’s First Female Artists, showing how Mary Beale and her contemporaries Joan Carlile and Anne Killigrew managed to achieve success in an age when women had few rights or career options.

Centennial Turquoise-glazed Saucer Made for the Society of the Cincinnati, $9,375

Glasgow Pottery Co. Centennial saucer for the Society of the Cincinnati, which sold for $9,375 with buyer’s premium at Hilliard & Co. on May 11.
Glasgow Pottery Co. Centennial saucer for the Society of the Cincinnati, which sold for $9,375 with buyer’s premium at Hilliard & Co. on May 11.

MADISON, VA – The stock-in-trade of the Glasgow Pottery Co., founded in 1863 by John Moses in Trenton, New Jersey, was functional hotel and steamboat china. However, the firm is best known today for a single line it produced for the Centennial celebrations in 1876. The so-called John Hancock teacups and saucers, printed with patriotic images and slogans, were used at official Centennial tea parties. Made for different states, institutions, and cities – some in only very small numbers – they are widely collected today.

Most make relatively modest three-figure sums, but a turquoise glazed saucer for the Society of the Cincinnati took a remarkable sum at Hilliard & Co. on May 11. Estimated at $20-$40, an extraordinary online bidding battle took it to $7,500 ($9,375 with buyer’s premium).

‘Head Shop’ Poster Reproduction of Atlantic Records’ ‘Houses of the Holy’ Billboard Magazine Advertisement, $2,160

‘Head shop’ poster for Atlantic Records’ Billboard magazine ad promoting Led Zeppelin’s 1973 release ‘Houses of the Holy’, which sold for $2,160 with buyer’s premium at Psychedelic Art Exchange May 5.
‘Head shop’ poster for Atlantic Records’ Billboard magazine ad promoting Led Zeppelin’s 1973 release ‘Houses of the Holy’, which sold for $2,160 with buyer’s premium at Psychedelic Art Exchange May 5.

BALTIMORE – In the 1970s, intellectual property theft was commonplace in the underground economy, particularly at ‘head shops’, aka marijuana paraphernalia merchants. Everyone from famed comix artist Robert Crumb to Jimi Hendrix saw millions of potential profits literally go up in smoke as small-time printers would reproduce their imagery without licenses.

Atlantic Records took a significant hit when its 1973 Billboard magazine advertisement for the D’Yer Mak’er single on Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy LP was pirated and turned into a poster. Sold in head shops – because of course it was – a surviving example with minor handling and creasing appeared on May 5 at Psychedelic Art Exchange’s Spring 2024 Vintage Concert Posters sale. Estimated at only $50-$75, it soared thanks to high demand online and hammered for $1,800 ($2,160 with buyer’s premium) to a LiveAuctioneers bidder.

Medieval Devotional Statue Made in Limoges, France, $49,125

Circa-1200 Limoges gilt copper and enamel devotional group of the Madonna and Child as the Queen and Prince of Heaven, which sold for $49,125 with buyer’s premium at Clars on May 17.
Circa-1200 Limoges gilt copper and enamel devotional group of the Madonna and Child as the Queen and Prince of Heaven, which sold for $49,125 with buyer’s premium at Clars on May 17.

OAKLAND, CA – A lot cataloged simply as a ’French gilt bronze figure of Madonna and Child’ proved the highlight of the Furniture, Art & Asian auction at Clars on May 17. It hammered for $37,500 ($49,125 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $1,000-$2,000 after several bidders recognized it as a textbook devotional statue produced in medieval times in Limoges, France.

Many of these portable gilded copper sculptures with enamel accents were made by goldsmiths in Limoges throughout the 13th century. Most show the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus wearing a crown as the queen and prince of heaven. This example, measuring just shy of 9in, was mounted in the late 19th century on a red velvet plaque with an easel support.

Pair of Meissen Revivalist Earth and Air Ewers, $30,000

Meissen Revivalist Earth and Air ewers, which sold for $30,000 with buyer’s premium at Vogt Auction Texas May 11.
Meissen Revivalist Earth and Air ewers, which sold for $30,000 with buyer’s premium at Vogt Auction Texas May 11.

SAN ANTONIO – Among the most recognizable products of the Meissen factory are the ‘Elements’ ewers, the set of four ewers emblematic of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire that were designed by Johann Joachim Kaendler in 1741. Most of the examples that are consigned to auction are revivalist wares made by the factory in the late 19th century. They include the pair representing Earth and Air that were offered for sale at Vogt Auction Texas on May 11 as part of the collection of the Grammy-winning vocalist Vikki Carr (b.1941-).

The model of Earth includes the figures of Diana and Pan, and Air features the figures of Juno and Zephyr. Both ewers had signs of old repair and some losses but, modestly estimated at $3,000-$5,000, the pair sold to an online bidder via LiveAuctioneers at $24,000, or $30,000 with buyer’s premium. 

Campana Brothers No. 1/3 Settimo Cabinet leads our five lots to watch

Campana Brothers, No. 1/3 Settimo Cabinet, estimated at €50,000-€70,000 ($54,000-$76,000) at Piasa June 27.

Campana Brothers, No. 1/3 Settimo Cabinet

PARIS – Fernando (1961-2022) and Humberto Campana (b. 1953-) were the first South American designers to make a mark in the high-end European furniture space. Their Sao Paulo, Brazil-based design firm Estudio Campana was known for ‘disruptive design’ – pushing the boundaries of what things should look like – while embracing traditional Brazilian craft styles.

On Thursday, June 27, Piasa presents Fernando e Humberto Campana, Selected Design, a highly curated 49-lot event featuring some of the brothers’ most revered designs. Leading the sale as the top-estimated lot is the No. 1/3 Settimo Cabinet. The piece was created for the Les frères Campana, Barroco Rococó exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in 2012. It stands 74in in height and is made of the unique combination of gilded bronze and bamboo. Piasa has assigned a presale estimate of €50,000-€70,000 ($54,000-$76,000).

Douglas MacArthur’s Pre-World War I Dog Tag

Douglas MacArthur’s pre-World War I dog tag, estimated at $5,000-$10,000 at Milestone Auctions June 29.
Douglas MacArthur’s pre-World War I dog tag, estimated at $5,000-$10,000 at Milestone Auctions June 29.

WILLOUGHBY, OH – Douglas MacArthur’s United States Army-issued dog tag is a featured lot at Milestone Auctions Spring Premier Military Sale, a 687-lot sale being held Saturday, June 29. 

The round-format dog tag predates the more commonly seen rounded-corner rectangular version issued from World War II onward. The tag reads ‘Douglas MacArthur 1st. LT. Corps Of Engin. U.S.A.’, and measures about three-quarters of the size of World War I dog tags. MacArthur would have worn it while serving under his father in the Philippines in the prewar period. MacArthur (1880-1964) and his father, Arthur MacArthur, Jr., are the only father and son to both receive the Medal of Honor in American military history. 

George Rodrigue, ‘Miss Arceneaux's Girls School’

George Rodrigue, ‘Miss Arceneaux's Girls School,’ estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Neal Auction Company June 28.
George Rodrigue, ‘Miss Arceneaux's Girls School,’ estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Neal Auction Company June 28.

NEW ORLEANS – George Rodrigue (1944-2013) is best remembered for his striking and iconic Blue Dog series of paintings featuring a wide-eyed canine in a dizzying range of settings and set-ups. But Rodrigue also had a fascination with school class portraits, beginning with his first work based on his mother’s 1924 graduating class portrait from New Iberia, Louisiana, The Class of Marie Courregé.

Neal Auction Company sold The Class of Marie Courregé in 2019 for $125,000 ($160,000 with buyer’s premium), and will bring Miss Arceneaux’s Girls School to market Friday, June 28 as a featured lot in its Premier Estates Collection sale. The 30 by 40in oil on canvas was created in 1973 and is set in a classic Cajun outdoor setting, though the inspiration came from a vintage photograph of a school class in New England. Rodrigue documented the creation of this work, and photographs exist of the in-process painting with the Louisiana bayou foliage already complete and the girls and the matron still in sketched form.

Neal estimates Miss Arceneaux’s Girls School at $30,000-$50,000, a likely conservative prediction given the 2019 performance of The Class of Marie Courregé and rising marketplace demand for the work of Rodrigue.

Lunkenheimer Three-chime Steam Whistle

Pennsylvania Railroad Lunkenheimer three-chime steam whistle, estimated at $4,000-$6,000 at Rail & Road Auctions June 27-28.
Pennsylvania Railroad Lunkenheimer three-chime steam whistle, estimated at $4,000-$6,000 at Rail & Road Auctions June 27-28.

LAFAYETTE, IN – The sale at Rail & Road Auctions on Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28 includes this original Lunkenheimer three-chime steam whistle with a full Pennsylvania Railroad provenance. 

Fashioned in brass or bronze with a diameter of 8in, it was used for almost 60 years to announce shift changes, lunch times, and emergencies at the East Altoona Roundhouse in East Altoona, Pennsylvania. The building was once the world’s largest roundhouse, with a full circle of about 50 stalls with two through tracks. It was demolished in 1961. 

The consignor has provided a full history for the whistle, including its purchase in Dayton, Ohio, by a Philadelphia collector in 1971, its sale via eBay in 2001, and its use in August 2012 on the Nickel Plate Berkshire no. 765 during an excursion for Norfolk Southern Railroad employees at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Circa-1946 Wurlitzer Model 1015 ‘Bubbler’ 78rpm Jukebox

Circa-1946 Wurlitzer Model 1015 ‘bubbler’ 78rpm jukebox, estimated at $6,000-$8,000 at John Moran Auctioneers June 25.
Circa-1946 Wurlitzer Model 1015 ‘bubbler’ 78rpm jukebox, estimated at $6,000-$8,000 at John Moran Auctioneers June 25.

MONROVIA, CA – Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831-1914) was born into music, with his German family hand-crafting instruments in a family business. At the age of just 24, Wurlitzer emigrated to the United States and soon had a burgeoning business creating instruments for a wide range of clients, including the United States Army, which used his products to make music during both the American Civil War and Spanish-American War. His North Tonawana, New York factory was a leader in both piano and organ manufacture, so much so that the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ organ became synonymous with soundtrack creation in silent movie houses.

Wurlitzer designer Paul Fuller had specialized in jukebox design for the company prior to World War II, when it favored streamline moderne designs. Wartime material restrictions relegated Wurlitzer to bland products such as 1942’s Victory jukebox. But with the war’s end in 1945, Fuller geared up for a sensational new release – the Model 1015.

With its 24-disc 78rpm selection of singles and its groundbreaking use of thermoplastics that encased the hypnotic bubbling tubes surrounding the unit’s face, which gave rise to its ‘Bubbler’ nickname, the 1015 was an immediate hit, with Wurlitzer selling a staggering 56,000 units between 1946 and 1947.

John Moran Auctioneers brings a circa-1946 Wurlizter Model 1015 jukebox to market as a featured lot in its ReDesigned sale scheduled for Tuesday, June 25. Despite the huge number of surviving post-WWII vintage 1015s and their reissuance by Wurlitzer in later years – even today, with the reconstituted Wurlitzer helmed by three descendants of Rudolph – 1015s continue to command strong prices on the open market. Moran estimates this 1015, in original and aged condition, at $6,000-$8,000.

Mid-century Modern Borghesani Robot Bar leads our five auction highlights

Borghesani robot bar, which hammered for €32,000 ($34,610) and sold for €41,600 ($45,170) with buyer’s premium at Piasa April 25.

Mid-century Modern Borghesani Robot Bar, $45,170

PARIS – A highly coveted Borghesani robot bar sold at Piasa for a hefty sum April 25 as a star lot in its Art and Design Sale. The late-1960s oddity hammered for €32,000 ($34,610), or €41,600 ($45,170) with buyer’s premium.

Despite there being little known about Borghesani, the bar is said to have been released in 1969 around the time of the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, though its design more closely resembles a postwar Japanese battery-operated robot.

Estimated at €15,000-€20,000 ($16,000-$21,000), competing bids blew past the high to land at €32,000 ($34,610).

Kermit Oliver for Hermès, 'La Vie Sauvage du Texas (The Wildlife of Texas)' Silk Scarf, $4,062

Kermit Oliver for Hermès, 'La Vie Sauvage du Texas (The Wildlife of Texas)' silk scarf, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,062 with buyer’s premium April 26 at Ahlers & Ogletree.
Kermit Oliver for Hermès, 'La Vie Sauvage du Texas (The Wildlife of Texas)' silk scarf, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,062 with buyer’s premium April 26 at Ahlers & Ogletree.

ATLANTA – Kermit Oliver (b. 1943-) is a native Texan artist who specializes in depicting the wildlife of the Lone Star State. He also worked as a mail sorter until 2013 – when he reached the age of 70 – for the United States Postal Service, telling others he felt it was his responsibility to provide for his family first.

Hermès used one of Oliver’s designs to create ‘La Vie Sauvage du Texas’ (The Wildlife of Texas)’, a silk scarf measuring 35in square. An example of the scarf, complete with its original orange Hermès box with tissue paper, found itself at Ahlers & Ogletree on April 26 as part of the house’s Fine & Costume Jewelry, Luxury Accessories sale. Estimated at just $600-$800, it hammered for $3,250, or $4,062 with buyer’s premium.

C. H. Meylan for Spaulding & Co. Chronograph Pocket Watch, $48,640

C. H. Meylan for Spaulding & Co. chronograph pocket watch, which sold for $38,000 ($48,640 with buyer’s premium) at Schmitt Horan April 28.
C. H. Meylan for Spaulding & Co. chronograph pocket watch, which sold for $38,000 ($48,640 with buyer’s premium) at Schmitt Horan April 28.

CANDIA, NH – An extremely rare and complex circa-1910 pocket watch by the man dubbed the ‘king of complications’, C. H. Meylan, hammered for $38,000 and sold for $48,640 with buyer’s premium at Schmitt Horan & Co. on April 28.

Originally from Switzerland, Meylan (1842-1910) grew up in the Vallée de Joux, a remote area bounded by mountains that were impassable during the winter months. As a result, a cottage industry of watchmaking sprung up, allowing farmers to earn extra income creating watch movements that they would sell in Geneva when spring arrived.

Meylan came to America in 1871 and soon was working with Waltham, then America’s leading watch and clock manufacturer. At some point, Meylan created the pocket watch featured in the April 28 sale: a minute-repeating, split-second chronograph with perpetual calendar, for Spaulding & Co. of Chicago. Meylan’s designs resulted in three US patents that helped propel the complex pocket watch industry to new heights.

Two Katsushika Hokusai Woodblock Prints, $20,480

Katsushika Hokusai, ‘Snow at Mukojima on the Sumida River’ and ‘Hodoyaga on the Tokaido’ woodblock prints, which together hammered for $16,000 and sold for $20,840 with buyer’s premium at Winter Associates May 6.
Katsushika Hokusai, ‘Snow at Mukojima on the Sumida River', which hammered together with a second Hokusai woodblock print for $16,000 and sold for $20,840 with buyer’s premium at Winter Associates May 6.

PLAINVILLE, CT – A lot comprising two well-known woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) raced away from a lowly estimate at Winter Associates on May 6.

Snow at Mukojima on the Sumida River is from Hokusai’s 1833 Snow, Moon and Flowers series, while Hodoyaga on the Tokaido, showing a group of travelers on their way to a nearby village, is one of the famed Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, produced between 1830 and 1832.

Lifetime impressions of both prints can bring more than $20,000 each in good condition, so even with some minor tears and discoloration, these were a hugely appealing prospect at $200-$400. The duo hammered together for $16,000 and sold for $20,480 with buyer’s premium.

Katsushika Hokusai, ‘Snow at Mukojima on the Sumida River’ and ‘Hodoyaga on the Tokaido’ woodblock prints, which together hammered for $16,000 and sold for $20,840 with buyer’s premium at Winter Associates May 6.
Katsushika Hokusai, ‘Hodoyaga on the Tokaido’, which hammered together with a second Hokusai woodblock print for $16,000 and sold for $20,840 with buyer’s premium at Winter Associates May 6.

Exacta Time Babe Ruth Watch with Baseball-shape Case, $985

Exacta Time Babe Ruth watch in its original baseball-shape case, which hammered for CA$1,100 ($800) and sold for CA$1,353 ($985) at Miller & Miller May 10.
Exacta Time Babe Ruth watch in its original baseball-shape case, which hammered for CA$1,100 ($800) and sold for CA$1,353 ($985) at Miller & Miller May 10.

NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Issued sometime between 1948 and 1953, the Exacta Time character wristwatch made to mark the passing of Babe Ruth survives in substantial numbers. However, what distinguished the example offered by Miller & Miller on May 10 was its original case, which is in the shape of a baseball. Another lot from the legacy collection of toy and pop culture collector Howie Mayer, it hammered for CA$1,100 ($800) and sold for CA$1,353 ($985) against an estimate of CA$200-$300 ($145-$220).