ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s Gallery Report (prices include the buyer’s premium):Coors Dairy neon sign, $43,520, Morphy Auctions
A complete Coors Dairy porcelain and neon sign with figural cow image, 88 inches by 79 inches, in 7.9+ condition, sold for $43,520 at an Automobilia & Petroliana Auction held Oct. 5-7 by Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa. Also, a rare Buffalo Brand Gasoline, Oils & Greases embossed tin sign, 60 inches by 36 inches, in 7.5+ condition, climbed to $43,050; and a Bengal Gasoline (“Pep and Power”) leaping tiger porcelain sign, 66 inches by 36 inches, 8.9+, fetched $40,590.
Two Alaska gold rush nuggets, $172,725, Holabird Western Americana
Two large gold nuggets mined in Alaska during the days of the Gold Rush – one a 38.39-ounce nugget roughly in the shape of Australia (shown), the other a 33.83-ounce nugget in the shape of a skull – sold for a combined $172,725 at an auction held Oct. 4-7 by Holabird Western Americana Collections in Reno, Nev. Also, a Mexican rawhide saddle bag from about the 1940s or earlier similar to the ones Pony Express riders used, with leather tassels, gaveled for $7,187.
John Nieto painting, $28,750, John Moran
An acrylic on canvas painting by John Nieto (New Mexico, b. 1936), titled Cosmic Aspirations (1993), sold for $28,750, a new auction record for the artist, at an Art of the American West Auction held Sept. 8 by John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, Calif. Also, a hand-colored aquatint engraving on paper under glass from 1841 by Karl Bodmer (Swiss/French, 1809-1893) hit $25,000; a large Navajo Germantown weaving made $12,500; and an Apache pictorial basket tray rose to $3,750.
Mao Tse-Tung signed photo, $187,500, Nate D. Sanders
A scarce signed portrait photograph of Mao Tse-Tung sold for $187,500 at an auction held Sept. 26 by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles. Mao presented the photograph along with 21 other images to Soviet military and agriculture leader Marshal Semyon Budyonny, considered part of Josef Stalin’s inner circle. A caption on the back of the photo identified Mao as chairman of the People’s Republic of China. His bold handwriting was in Chinese characters.
Sapphire and diamond ring, $377,000, Litchfield Auctions
A 6-carat Kashmir sapphire ring set with 1.20 carats of baguette diamonds sold for $377,000 at an Important & Fine Jewelry Sale held Sept. 15 by Litchfield Auctions in Litchfield, Conn. Also, a 4-carat diamond and platinum engagement ring slipped onto a new finger for $78,000; a 7-carat Burmese sapphire and diamond ring realized $59,800; a pair of Cartier diamond brooch clips went for $29,900; and a Cartier ruby and diamond cocktail ring made $16,900.
Pressler’s map of Texas, $137,000, Simpson Galleries
Pressler’s 1862 version of his map of the State of Texas sold for $137,000 at a Fine Art & Antiques Auction held Sept. 21-22 by Simpson Galleries in Houston, Texas. Also, an 1867 map of Houston knocked down for $119,000; a diminutive mission drawing by Frank Reaugh, 3½ inches square, finished at $15,000; an abstract painting by Dorothy Hood (Texas, 1918-2000), titled The Mauve and Copper, brought $25,095; and a painting by Porfirio Salinas (Texas, 1910-1973) hit $26,290.
Goo Goo Gum vendor, $24,000, Potter & Potter
A circa 1910 working Goo Goo Gum 1-cent vending machine, one of only a few known, sold for $24,000 at an auction held September 28th by Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago, Ill. Also, a Field Manufacturing 1-cent Sunny Boy countertop gumball and slot machine hammered for $21,600; a Pace Manufacturing “Pace’s Races” 5-cent console slot machine fetched $10,200; and a J.P. Seeburg coin-operated Nickelodeon KT Eagle Orchestrion knocked down for $9,000. Prices are inclusive of a 20 percent buyer’s premium.
Martin Bros. bird tobacco jar, $62,500, Rago Auctions
A Martin Brothers tall bird tobacco jar made in 1899 sold for $62,500 at Design Sales held Sept. 20-21 by Rago Auctions in Lambertville, New Jersey. Also, a color woodblock print by Gustave Baumann, titled Grand Canon (Canyon), from the first printing in 1934, climbed to $27,500; a Divided Aegean Pillow Pitcher made in 1985 by Betty Woodman brought $56,250; a set of 10 Conoid chairs by George Nakashima went for $50,000; and a Dan Dailey figural floor lamp hit $40,000.
Catlett mahogany carving, $389,000, Swann Auction
A carved mahogany sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett titled Seated Woman (1962) sold for $389,000 at an African-American Fine Art Auction held Oct. 8 by Swann Auction Galleries in New York City. Also, an oil on panel by Henry Ossawa Tanner titled At the Gates (Flight into Egypt) (circa 1926-1927) achieved $341,000; an acrylic on canvas abstract composition by Kenneth Victor Young from 1972 rose to $233,000; and Romare Bearden’s Girl in a Garden (1972) made $197,000.
Chinese porcelain plaque, $574,000, Freeman’s
A Chinese blue and white rectangular porcelain plaque attributed to Wang Bu (1898-1968) depicting two fishermen at a river by an old tree sold for $574,000 at an auction held Oct. 2 by Freeman’s in Philadelphia. Also, a 16th century Tuscan School Study of a Shouting Man, showing a running figure and drawn in black and white chalk on paper, realized $418,000; and a Chinese carved spinach green jade Luduan censer on a gilt metal base finished at $250,000.
Patek Philippe watch, $20,000, Hindman LLC
A Patek Philippe stainless steel ref. 96 Calatrava wristwatch sold for $20,000 at a Fine Timepieces Auction held Oct. 10 by Hindman, LLC in Chicago. Also, a Rolex stainless steel ref. 16570T Polar Explorer II wristwatch, circa 2005-2006, sold for $8,125; and a World War II-era Hamilton Model 22 U.S. Navy Deck Chronometer watch, made circa 1943, changed hands for $1,375. The sale achieved a sell-through rate of 98 percent and a gross of $407,000.
Sterling ice bowl, $125,000, Doyle
A Tiffany & Co. parcel-gilt sterling silver ice bowl, circa 1877, by designer Edward C. Moore, sold for $125,000 at a Fine American Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction held Oct. 8 by Doyle in New York City. Also, a Gorham Banko iron and sterling silver vase applied with a writhing dragon, crabs and trails of sand fetched $13,750; a view of the Catskills by Thomas Cole (1801-1848) brought $112,500; and a portrait painting by Gilbert Stuart, done circa 1806, made $28,125.
1936 Oscar statuette, $50,000, Grant Zahajko
The 1936 Oscar statuette awarded to art director Richard Day for his work on the 1935 film The Dark Angel sold for $50,000 at an auction held Oct. 10 by Grant Zahajko Auctions in Davenport, Wash. Also, an authenticated autographed photo of Babe Ruth from the 1942 film The Pride of the Yankees was a hit for $11,250; a photo of Hollywood’s first Chinese-American film star, Anna May Wong, brought $1,000; and a copy of the book 50 Golden Years of Oscar rose to $12,500.
Computer prototype, $279,858, RR Auction
A rare Block II prototype Apollo Guidance Computer originating from MIT and Apollo hero Don Eyles sold for $279,858 in an online auction Oct. 17 by RR Auction, based in Boston. The computer was a technical marvel for its time and used microchips rather than large vacuum tubes to create an electric brain small but powerful enough to guide humans to the lunar surface of the moon and safely back to Earth for Apollo 14.
Oliveira bronze sculpture, $52,275, Clars Auction Gallery
A bronze sculpture by Nathan Oliveira (American, 1928-2010), titled Figure Five (1983), sold for $52,275 at an auction held Oct. 12-13 by Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, Calif. Also, Oliveira’s figurative portrait painting, Untitled (Face), realized $46,125; a Japanese silk panel screen changed hands for $14,640; a pair of Russian bisque figurals rose to $13,420; and a painting by Henrietta Berk (American, 1919-1993), titled Spring Landscape, went for $12,300.
C.M. Russell watercolor, $93,750, Cowan’s Auctions
A watercolor over pen and ink on paper by C.M. Russell (American, 1864-1926), titled Inspection of a Permit, sold for $93,750 at an auction held Oct. 10-11 by Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati. Also, a Great Lakes quilled hide knife sheath with cartouche knife hit $53,125; an Apsaalooke (Crow) child’s beaded wool shirt brought $53,125; a Sioux quilled and beaded buffalo hide bow case and quiver made $41,250; and a Plains pony beaded buffalo hide possible bag realized $41,250.
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, $1.67 million, Heritage Auctions
The last home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Norman Lykes House in Phoenix, Arizona, sold for $1.678 million at an auction held Oct. 16t by Heritage Auctions. Also known as “The Circular Sun House,” the 3,095-square-foot estate is located on more than 1.3 acres on the edge of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. The home was sold fully furnished, with furniture and fixtures Wright designed specifically for the house.
Kurt Cobain’s guitar, $340,000, Julien’s
Grunge rock legend Kurt Cobain’s left-handed Fender Mustang guitar, which he used during his band Nirvana’s In Utero tour, sold for $340,000 at an Icons & Idols: Rock ’n’ Roll Auction held in New York City by Julien’s Auctions on Oct. 25. Also, Cobain’s sweater worn during his Unplugged performance on MTV in 1989 brought $334,000. The tattered, olive-green, button-up cardigan was a Manhattan-brand sweater.
Jane Austen letter, $200,075, Bonhams
A handwritten letter by novelist Jane Austen (British, 1775-1817) sold for $200,075 at a Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction held Oct. 23 by Bonhams in New York City. Also, a series of Indian bird drawings dated 1828 by Christopher Webb Smith gaveled for $275,075; a documented letter of outlaw Jesse James changed hands for $212,575; and an early plan of the City of Houston dated 1867 by Theodore Kosse and T. Scott went for $75,075.
Written by Ken Hall