Warner Dailey’s exquisitely eccentric collection graces Sworders Feb. 22

Pair of silver-mounted 16-bore flintlock holster pistols engraved with the mermaid crest of Lord Byron’s father, estimated at £16,000-£20,000 ($20,255-$25,320) at Sworders.

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET, U.K. — Items from the remarkable collection of Warner Dailey will be auctioned this month. Some 300 lots from the home of the Anglo-American art and antiques dealer will be sold in a single-owner sale at Sworders on Thursday, February 22. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

For Warner Dailey, the collecting habit began young. An only child born in New Jersey in 1945, he was trading badges in preschool before graduating to stamps and shells. After moving to London with $1,000 and a promise of a job on the front counter at Christie’s in 1968, he spent the 1970s and 1980s working as a ‘runner,’ driving a Mercedes-Benz station wagon around the South of England, filling it with objects that ranged from the best in Russian objects d’art to the weird and wonderful. His clients included the American publishing magnate and Fabergé fanatic Malcolm Forbes, who paid him a retainer to find items for him.

Having bought and sold an estimated 100,000 objects in his career, Dailey’s home in southeast London groans under the weight of pictures, natural history specimens, tribal art, exotic textiles, and objects that just demand to be picked up and studied.

“Collecting has been almost everything in my life. It is a constant stimulation that you can’t get from anything else. What I value most is the gathering, the learning, and the experience of what these objects give you.” The three words he uses to describe the collection are “historic, eclectic, and unusual.”

Estimates at Sworders’ sale range from £300-£400 ($380-$505) for an early 19th-century iron anti-slavery tobacco box retaining its original white-on-green paintwork to £16,000-£20,000 ($20,255-$25,320) for a fine pair of silver-mounted 16-bore flintlock holster pistols engraved with the mermaid crest of Lord Byron’s father.

Dailey has a deep emotional connection to objects that come with a narrative — a story about ownership, an individual, or a culture. Throughout his career he kept careful notes regarding his purchases to ensure the details were not lost. A straw work box in the form of a book (estimate £800-£1,200, or $1,010-$1,520) tells the story of the early 19th-century French prisoner-of-war who made it, but also its more recent ownership history in the collection of John Paul Getty Jr. The box, given by Getty to the heiress and fashion model Nicky Samuel during London’s Swinging Sixties, entered Dailey’s collection on October 20, 2014.

Among his personal favorites is a small leather bag that holds several objects including rings, bracelets, a tooth filling, and a label recording the items were found in the stomach of a man-eating crocodile shot in the Ganges in 1915. Formerly in the collection of Jan and Craig Finch, it has an estimate of £700-£900 ($885-$1,140).

Dailey’s love of objects suited to the kuntskammer or the Indian souk was inspired by a childhood visit to the home of a retired sea captain on Long Island. “There were all these wonderful things, from the jaw of a sperm whale to a Maori tattooed head, and I thought, one day, I want to have a house and collection like this,” he said, recalling.

One of several maritime lots in the sale are the seaman’s papers of Charles Green (1888-1974) documenting his life at sea, including two years with Shackleton in Antarctica as part of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914-16. Green was the ship’s cook and was among the men who remained on Elephant Island when Shackleton and five crew members sailed to a whaling station in South Georgia, returning to save everyone three months later. Acquired from dealer Laurence Langford, it is estimated at £400-£600 ($505-$760).

Bearing an estimate of £1,000-£1,500 ($1,265-$1,900) is a Victorian oak and gunmetal walking stick engraved to the knob with a view of ships at sea and to the collar with the inscription Mary Rose Sunk 1545 Raised 1840. It was probably made from materials salvaged from the wreck of Henry VIII’s flagship by Charles and John Deane. Contracted to remove wrecks from the Solent by the Admiralty, they developed the first practical diving suit in 1837 with the assistance of Augustus Siebe.

Johnny Cash cane leads interesting walking stick collection at Nye & Co. Jan. 24

Johnny Cash's personal hand-carved cane, estimated at $7,000-$10,000 at Nye & Co.

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. — The annual deluge of Americana each January means a feast for collectors, offering up items which, in many cases, are coming to market for the first time. Nye & Co.’s Collectors’ Passions brings together a major and minor collection of Americana to present a 396-lot sale Wednesday, January 24. Its catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The sale’s main focus is on items from Marjorie and Robert L. Hirschhorn, who were major collectors of American folk art marquetry, a technique in which objects are adorned with intricate cut wooden elements. Their collection was the focus of a 1998-1999 exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum on Lincoln Square in New York. That exhibition was turned into the book American Folk Marquetry: Masterpieces in Wood by Richard Mühlberger, released in 1998 in association with the exhibition.

Perhaps no better symbol of American folk art marquetry can be found than in the cane of country music legend Johnny Cash (1932-2003). Marked only as Burch 82, the 35in cane features both an owl at its top and a winding snake working its way up the staff towards the bird — a metaphor for Cash’s life. Used by Cash late in life as his health worsened, the masterpiece in marquetry is estimated at $7,000-$10,000.

Dating to 18th-century France, this carved cane is referred to as ‘satirical’ and features governmental and military caricatures, including one long-haired gent at the top with an elephant’s trunk for a nose, forming the cane’s handle. Well worn, the notes say it was purchased from the Woodhaven, Connecticut collection of Marion Harris. It carries an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

American cane-carving legend Mike Cribbins (1837-1917) was born in Ireland but is most associated with his later life in Michigan, where he created an untold number of intricate, hand-carved canes made from diamond willow. This wood takes on a snake-like diamond-back pattern when infected with fungus. Cribbins would rely on this pattern as a legend to carve faces, hands, fish, animals, names, Civil War references and much more. This example measures 34.5in in length and is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

Another diamond willow cane in the Hirschorn collection is this example with provenance to Deadwood, South Dakota. Marked This cane was made in Deadwood: June 11, 1894, Speceimen (sic) Gold Silver Ore, it features inlaid metal and measures 34in in length. It has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.

Walking stick attributed to African American carver hammers for $120K at Guyette and Deeter

Detail of the wooden walking stick by Henry Gudgell, showcasing a carving of a tortoise. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – An extraordinary American 19th-century wooden walking stick, only the second to be attributed to the same African American carver, hammered for $120,000 against an estimate of $50,000-$80,000 during Guyette & Deeter’s August 8-9 Summer Decoy and Sporting Auction. Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated through LiveAuctioneers.

The first wooden walking stick attributed to Henry Gudgell, an enslaved man who was freed after the Civil War and settled in Missouri, is in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. In a fall 2008 issue of Folk Art magazine, Allan Weiss described his discovery of the walking stick, his hunch that it was the work of Gudgell, and the 20-year quest to prove his hunch.

The light hardwood walking stick presented at Guyette & Deeter shared motifs and details with the one in the Yale collection. It boasts spiral fluting that is interrupted by two plain bands; further down, it is encircled by a diamond pattern; and it features carvings of a lizard, a tortoise, and a snake that winds its body around the shaft of the stick. Gudgell was not a carver by trade, but his work as a wheelwright, a blacksmith, and a smith of silver and copper provided him with the knowledge needed to produce the walking stick.

Offered alongside the object was a raft of documentation that included a photograph of Gudgell’s great-granddaughter holding the walking stick and the deed to the 22 acres of land Gudgell purchased in 1870.

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A wooden walking stick carved in the 19th century by African American artisan Henry Gudgell achieved a hammer price of $120,000 in early August. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.
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Detail of the wooden walking stick carved by Henry Gudgell, showing its spiral fluting, plain bands and diamond cuff decorations. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.
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Detail of the wooden walking stick by Henry Gudgell, focusing on a carving of a lizard. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.
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Detail of the wooden walking stick by Henry Gudgell, showcasing a carving of a tortoise. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.
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Detail of the wooden walking stick by Henry Gudgell, highlighting a carving of a snake that twines itself around the stick’s shaft. Image courtesy of Guyette & Deeter and LiveAuctioneers.
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Rafael Osona to auction antiques, fine art and furniture from Nantucket estates, July 1

Robert Stark Jr., ‘Red Sail on Calm Waters,’ oil on canvas. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

NANTUCKET, Mass. – On Saturday July 1 beginning at 9:30 am EST Rafael Osona Auctions will conduct a 670-lot auction of estate goods, including modern and antique furnishings, fine art, décor, and numerous objets d’art from the estate of Stephen Weinroth, Nantucket, plus contents of recently sold Nantucket ocean-front homes and estates. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

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Morphy’s June 7-8 Fine & Decorative Arts Auction includes 18 Tiffany lamps, rare Ulysse Nardin watch

One of the finest of all known examples of a 20in Tiffany Studios ‘Poppy’ leaded glass table lamp. Stunning colors including various shades of complex reds and numerous and varied examples of prized drapery glass. Exceptional transparency to the background glass. Both shade and patinated bronze base are signed. Estimate: $350,000-$500,000

DENVER, Pa. – Stunning jewelry and watches, early Amphora pottery, and a spectacular array of 18 Tiffany Studios lamps are among the highlights of a shining selection of fine and decorative art to be auctioned by Morphy’s on June 7-8, 2023. Those who wish to bid remotely either before or during the 837-lot gallery event may do so by phone, absentee or live online via LiveAuctioneers.

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