Napoleon’s hunting rifle and first Black American magician’s broadside outshone all else at Alexander

Austrian hunting rifle believed to have belonged to Napoleon, which sold for $120,000 ($156,000 with buyer’s premium) at Alexander Historical Auctions.

CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md. — A hunting rifle believed to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte when he ruled as emperor of France led the line at Alexander Historical Auctions’ Winter Autographs & Militaria Auction. On the second day of the January 18-19 sale, it hammered for $120,000 ($156,000 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $100,000-$150,000.

The deluxe firearm, with its richly chiseled silver fittings and walnut stock carved with a boar’s head, was made in Austria by the Viennese master gunsmith by Andreas Heueck in 1809 but received various modifications by Parisian gunsmiths. Early in its existence, circa 1814, it was converted to a carbine and engraved with the imperial emblem by Jean-Louis Deboubert, an apprentice under Napoleon’s gunsmith Nicolas-Noel Boutet. It was probably kept in the Schonbrunn Palace, where the emperor loved to hunt.

Later, around 1842, it was converted to a percussion mechanism by the Parisian armorer Bourdon, when it was engraved and inlaid in gold with the inscription Hujeck in Wien 1809, Carbine de Napoleon. Mise A Piston by Bourdon Rue Du Rolle 19 A Paris.

A less well-known public figure from the early 19th century is Richard Potter (1783-1835). He is considered the first successful African American stage magician and celebrity born in the United States.

Church records from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, list his father as George Simpson and his mother as Dinah, who was a slave on the Frankland estate. Potter went to England to learn his act around 1798 and returned to tour the East Coast of the United States around 1801.

The first day of the Chesapeake City sale included an undated 8 by 13in broadside advertising a Potter show. His act included 100 Curious But Mysterious Experiments with Eggs, Money, Fruit, Boxes etc. including The Enchanted Egg ‘that dances a hornpipe with all the appearance of life.’ Potter ended his show with a ventriloquist act, which has ‘…never failed of exciting the surprise of the learned and well informed.’ Estimated at $140-$200, the well-preserved broadside hammered for $4,500 ($5,850 with buyer’s premium).

Trio of French Empire gilt bronzes by Napoleon’s goldsmith roared to $51K at Stair

A trio of French Empire gilt bronzes from the Napoleonides series by Martin-Guillaume Biennais sold for $40,000 at Stair Galleries.

HUDSON, N.Y. – Spotted in a regular Thursday Morning at Stair sale, a trio of French Empire gilt bronzes by Martin-Guillaume Biennais, Napoleon’s goldsmith, sold far above expectations on January 15. After just six bids, they hammered for $40,000 ($51,200 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $800-$1,200.

Stair Galleries’ cataloging was brief but, as indicted by the engraved signatures to the bases reading Biennais Orfre de LL. MM. Imp. et Roi a Paris (Biennais, goldsmith to their Imperial and Royal Majesties in Paris), these were made in the workshop of the Imperial goldsmith and bronzier Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843). He took advantage of the abolition of the guild system during the Revolution to build a business ‘at the sign of the Singe Violet’ in Paris that at its Napoleonic peak employed some 200 craftsmen making luxury goods of all kinds.

Although offered as a garniture, the models are part of set of 28 different ormolu busts known as the Napoleonides. Made circa 1808-1810, each features a different member of the Napoleonic family raised on a crested square section or cylindrical plinth. They may have been made as diplomatic gifts and distributed in the territories where Napoleon – the ultimate nepotist – had given his family positions of great power.

The two persons depicted here are Napoleon himself (seen to the right) and his youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860), king of Westphalia from 1807 to 1813, whose head and shoulders top both the plinth to the left and the clock case.

Busts from the Biennais Napoleonides series make occasional saleroom appearances, most frequently in France, where they can sell for upwards of €10,000 (about $10,500) depending on subject matter. Some of the models are known in only small numbers. Only six depictions of Caroline Bonaparte, queen of Naples, are recorded, one of which sold at Ivoire in Paris in January 2022 for €40,000 (about $43,500).

The 12in (30cm) clock case, with movement by Henri Fort of Paris, is particularly scarce. No other examples have been offered in recent memory, although another with the bust of Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese, is in the collection of the Fondation Napoléon in Paris.

Dalshire Int’l to launch monthly memorabilia auction series, March 2

Harry Houdini wigned and worn stunt strait jacket

CARROLTON, Texas – Quickly establishing itself as top-rated auction house on LiveAuctioneers, Dalshire International is proud to introduce a next-level suite of listings with its Monthly Platinum Memorabilia Event Auction series starting March 2, 2022. 
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Gallery Report: Newly discovered Mucha study achieves record $965K

ATLANTA – At the beginning of every month, ACN columnist Ken Hall delivers top auction highlights from around the United States and the world at large. Here’s the January 2022 edition of his Gallery Report. All prices include the buyer’s premium, except where noted.

Alphonse Mucha study, $965,000, Toomey & Co. Auctioneers

A newly discovered 1920 oil on canvas painting by Alphonse Mucha (Czech, 1860-1939), titled Young Couple from Rusadla, sold for $965,000 at an auction held December 2 by Toomey & Co. Auctioneers in Oak Park, Illinois. The painting is a fully realized study, depicting an embracing young couple and was part of a larger, lost composition titled Rusadla, which illustrated a procession scene from a Slavic Midsummer Feast. The price is a new auction record for a study by Mucha.

Revolutionary War powder horn, $44,280, Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers

A Revolutionary War powder horn from 1775, owned and carved by Siege of Boston minute man Thomas Smith, sold for $44,280 at a Historic Arms & Militaria auction held Nov. 20 by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers in Cranston, Rhode Island. Another powder horn, a circa 1746 example identified to Moses Brewer of the Provincial militia, earned $22,140. Also, a circa-1812 silver Captain Isaac Hull presentation medal given to Lt. Alexander S. Wadsworth for naval gallantry brought $40,590.

Cartier Pasha men’s watch, CA$64,900, Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.

A Cartier Pasha minute repeater men’s wristwatch sold for CA$64,900 in an online-only Watches & Jewels sale held Nov. 20 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., based in New Hamburg, Canada. Also, a Cartier Diabolo Tourbillon men’s wristwatch went for CA$29,500; a 15.45-carat diamond cocktail ring realized CA$29,500; a Rolex Explorer II “Steve McQueen” watch achieved CA$23,600; and a Rolex Submariner Date watch rose to CA$12,980. Prices are in Canadian dollars.

George I chinoiserie cabinet, $27,500, Andrew Jones Auctions

A George I chinoiserie decorated japanned cabinet on later stand, the cabinet dating to the early 18th century, sold for $27,500 during Part 2 of the auction of the John Nelson collection held December 12 by Andrew Jones Auctions in Los Angeles. Also, a pair of 20th-century Louis XVI style gilt bronze, cut and molded clear glass 16-light chandeliers lit up the room for $23,750, and a pair of large 19th-century Italian Carrara marble busts of classical women went to a determined bidder for $22,500.

Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle, $24,250, American Bottle Auctions

A Dr. Renz’s Herb Bitters bottle, light lime green in color and one of maybe four examples known that have a uniquely styled applied tapered top, sold for $24,150 in online-only auction #72, Part 1 of the Mel Hammer collection, held Dec. 10-19 by American Bottle Auctions in Sacramento, California. The sum represents a record for the bottle. Also, a Dr. Wonser’s USA Indian Root Bitters bottle with an applied top and medium amber in color finished at $15,525.

Freedman’s mechanical bank, $174,000, Bertoia Auctions

An original Freedman’s mechanical bank, made circa 1880 by Jerome B. Secor of Bridgeport, Connecticut and one of fewer than 10 known, sold for $174,000 at an annual Fall Sale of toys, banks and holiday antiques held Nov. 18-19 by Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey. Also, a large hand-painted Marklin Central Station, produced for the English market circa 1902-1910, realized $40,800, and a circa-1870 German belsnickle with lamp fixture rang up $30,000.

Yongzheng-marked bowl, $160,000, Stefek’s Auctioneers & Appraisers

A Chinese porcelain bowl with a lid bearing the marks of the Yongzheng period (1678-1735) sold for $160,000 at an auction held October 28 by Stefek’s Auctioneers & Appraisers in Roseville, Michigan. The bowl was decorated with a blue, red and green motif with insects, and the lid had a pale jade-colored animal finial. However, the inside of the bowl and the inside of the lid both had Yongzheng markings. The winning bid was placed online.

Napoleon’s 1797 garniture, $2.875 million, Rock Island Auction Company

A gold-encrusted six-piece garniture of five relief carved firearms and a gilt dress sword presented to Napoleon Bonaparte by the Director of the French Republic in 1797 sold for $2.875 million at a Premier Firearms Auction held December 3 by Rock Island Auction Company in Rock Island, Illinois. Also, a solid silver Winchester 1866 rifle, L.D. Nimschke’s tour-de-force, hit the mark for $977,500, and a gold-plated John Ulrich signed “1 of 1000” Model 1873 lever-action rifle realized $431,250.

James P. Regimbal bronze, $5,625, John Moran Auctioneers

A patinated 1980 bronze sculpture by James P. Regimbal (American, Washington state, b. 1949-), titled Rocky Trails, sold for $5,625 at an Art of the American West auction held November 30 by John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, California. Also, a 1950 painting by Ted DeGrazia (American, Arizona, 1909-1982), titled Navajo with 7 Horses, achieved $7,500; and an early 20th-century Navajo/Dine Germantown double saddle blanket hit $5,625.

Nobel Prize from 1990, $312,500, Nate D. Sanders Auctions

The 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to E. Donnall Thomas for his use of bone marrow transplants to treat leukemia and other blood cancers, sold for $312,500 at an auction held December 9 by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles. Thomas first proposed his theory in 1957 and worked methodically throughout the 1960s and 1970s to turn the theory into a clinical treatment. It was dismissed at the time as implausible and experimental but gradually gained acceptance.

Folk art portrait of a cat, $152,100, Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates

A late 19th- or early 20th-century American folk art portrait of a black and white cat sold for $152,100 at a Premier Americana Auction held Nov. 17-20 by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mt. Crawford, Virginia. Also, a hand-sewn 34-star 1864 Lincoln-and-Johnson presidential campaign flag achieved $128,700; a Native American Party political flag banner went for $99,450; and a Johannes Spitler paint-decorated yellow pine blanket chest realized $76,050.

Majolica wine cooler, $81,900, Doyle

A circa-1865 Minton majolica cobalt-blue ground Victorian wine cooler and cover sold for $81,900 at Part 1 of the Joan Stacke Graham Majolica Collection held December 14 by Doyle in New York City. Also, a Delphin Massier majolica butterfly jardiniere went for $25,200; a Mintons majolica large fish dish and cover finished at $25,200; a Delphin Massier majolica vase modeled as a grasshopper brought $20,160; and a Mintons majolica model of a fawn flower holder rose to $15,120.

Harry Houdini’s Bible, $102,000, Potter & Potter Auctions

Harry Houdini’s Bible, a 1901 Red Letter edition inscribed, “To Dunninger, best wishes, Houdini, Nov. 30, 1925”, sold for $102,000 at a Winter Magic Auction held December 11 by Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago. Also, a 1990s-era Pyramids of Egypt wine and water trick by John Gaughan & Associates went for $14,400, and a Blaney Ladder Levitation prop, made by Walter Blaney in the 1990s, rose to $15,600.

Rembrandt etching from 1634, $20,000, Dallas Auction Gallery

A 1634 etching by Rembrandt, titled Self-Portrait with Sabre, sold for $20,000 at a Fine and Decorative Art Auction held November 17 by Dallas Auction Gallery in Dallas. Also, a portfolio of 20 Sol LeWitt serigraphs from 1981, dubbed Lines in Two Directions and in Five Colors with All Their Combinations, realized $18,750, and a 1983 mixed media on board by Dan Rizzie, titled The Blood of the Poet, earned $10,625.

Custer’s Civil War gun holster rig, $37,500, Holabird Western Americana Collections

U.S. Army Captain George Armstrong Custer’s gun holster, dispatch case, belt and brass buckle from the Civil War sold for $37,500 at a November Wonders: Western Americana Auction held Nov. 18-22 by Holabird Western Americana Collections in Reno, Nevada. Also, a 14K gold necklace with diamond bands and emerald eyes, accompanied by a matching ring and earrings, achieved $11,560, and a circa-1910 10-cent brass octagonal token for the H. Champagne Bar in Genoa, Nevada hit $3,750.

Beatles-signed album, $31,251, RR Auction

A copy of the Beatles album Please Please Me, signed by all four members of the band, sold for $31,251 in an online Marvels of Modern Music auction that began October 14 and ended November 18 by RR Auction in Boston. The consignor indicated the signatures were obtained at the Adelphi Cinema in Slough, England in 1963. Also, a Beatles-signed 1963 Winter Gardens program earned $24,750, and a Nirvana-signed Smells Like Teen Spirit picture disc achieved $15,000.

Daniel Garber’s ‘Sycamores,’ $390,600, Freeman’s

A large-scale canvas painting by the Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber, titled Sycamores, sold for $390,600 at an American Art auction held December 5 by Freeman’s in Philadelphia. Also, Kenneth Nunamaker’s canvas River Road at Centre Bridge climbed to $201,600; Fern Coppedge’s December Afternoon (Carversville) achieved $226,800; Edward Redfield’s Abandoned Road hit $352,800; and Mary Elizabeth Price’s Mallow and Lily made $107,100.

1907 Saint-Gaudens gold coin, $4.75 million, Heritage Auctions

A 1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief U.S. gold coin, graded proof-68 CAC, sold for $4.75 million in a private transaction between GreatCollections Coin Auctions of Irvine, California, and Heritage Auctions of Dallas. The coin last appeared in a 2007 Heritage auction where it sold for $1.84 million. The buyer then was Bob R. Simpson, founder of XTO Energy and an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Fewer than 20 of the Ultra High Relief coins were minted and just 13 to 15 exist today.

1837 cutlass pistol, $27,025, Skinner Auctioneers

A Cyrus B. Allen Elgin patent cutlass pistol from 1837 with the original holster/scabbard sold for $27,025 at a Historic Arms & Militaria auction held October 29 by Skinner Auctioneers in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Also, a New Hampshire 2nd Battalion marked French model infantry musket hit the mark for $44,062; a 34th Regiment of Foot Dublin Castle pattern 1769 short land service musket rose to $34,075; and a New Hampshire-attributed Dog Pommel saber changed hands for $11,750.

Hank Aaron 1976 uniform, $224,000, Julien’s Auctions

Hank Aaron’s 1976 storied final season game-worn Milwaukee Brewers full uniform sold for $224,000 in an Icons & Idols: Sports auction held December 5 by Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. Also, Aaron’s game-used baseball glove from 1976 was a hit for $76,800; Babe Ruth’s circa 1922-1924 game-used Louisville Slugger bat (Mears A7) realized $32,000; and a Kobe Bryant original 2000 Los Angeles Lakers limited edition Jeff Hamilton signed sportsmen’s jacket achieved $28,800.

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PBA Galleries offers strong books & manuscripts lineup Dec. 2

Complete set of William Pickering’s ‘Book of Common Prayer,’ est. $3,000-$5,000
Complete set of William Pickering’s ‘Book of Common Prayer,’ est. $3,000-$5,000
Complete set of William Pickering’s ‘Book of Common Prayer,’ est. $3,000-$5,000

BERKELEY, Calif. – PBA Galleries announced it will hold an auction of Antiquarian Books on December 2. The sale comprises nearly 250 lots featuring children’s books, works from the golden age of illustration, posters, decorative and graphic arts, and antiquarian books. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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