PASADENA, Calif. — John Moran Auctioneers’ concluded their 2009 auction schedule on a high note, with a resoundingly successful Antiques and Fine Jewelry Sale. The Dec. 8 auction’s Evening Session generated pre-recession levels of interest, drawing a large crowd of collectors and dealers to the Pasadena Convention Center, in addition to 130 telephone and Internet bidders, eager to compete for the 245 lots of exceptional estate property. With a sell-through rate of 86 percent, the sale signaled once again that the auction market remains very strong for carefully edited, high quality selections, and may even be gathering renewed momentum.
Superb, fresh-to-the-market Persian rugs, silver, bronzes and Continental paintings and furnishings comprised a large part of the sale, but jewelry was the biggest draw, making up about half the offerings. The majority of the several Art Deco bracelets, watches, earrings and necklaces performed well, selling at or well above the high estimates. Single-stone diamond rings also drew healthy competition; a 3.70-carat, J-K color and VS clarity heart-shaped diamond ring realizing $10,925 on an estimate of $5,500-$7,500 (all prices include actual buyer’s premium paid, 15 or 17 1/2 percent). An unusual diamond and emerald necklace with a pendant shaped as a pair of hands suspending a miniature necklace, signed Carrera Y Carrera, doubled its high estimate, realizing $2,587.
Two gold and diamond snuffboxes, one in Neoclassical style, probably dating from the late 18th century from Geneva and estimated at $1,000-$1,500, the other with a foliate-design tortoiseshell and black enamel lid, estimated at $900-$1,200, realized $2,875 and $2,070 respectively.
Another big draw for the John Moran sale was the trove of Persian rugs, which came from an important estate in Orange County, Calif., and included some very fine examples. A 24-foot by 13-foot Lavar Kirman woolen rug dating from circa 1930, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, sold for $9,200, while a circa-1900, 7-foot by 4-foot 5-inch Mohtasham Kashan, woven from Manchester wool and estimated to bring $4,000-$6,000, realized $9,775.
Continental furnishings remain a starring category in Moran’s market. A miniature Louis XV style vitrine cabinet measuring only 14 inches high was exquisitely detailed with bronze mounts and tortoiseshell veneer. It surprised the room by fetching $4,600 on an estimate of $700-$1,000. A Louis XV style commode masterfully crafted from rosewood, thuyawood and bois satine with ormolu mounts and a marble top sold within its estimate of $8,000-$12,000, as did a pair of early 18th century pewter and tortoiseshell marquetry torchieres in the manner of Boulle. Doubling its high estimate with a sales price of $2,587 was a Flemish Baroque style ivory and tortoiseshell-inlaid, parcel-ebonized vitrine.
A Chinese hardwood altar table, believed to have been made in the 19th century, was the sole piece of Asian furniture in the sale, but managed to find a very competitive market, surpassing its estimate of $1,000-$2,000 many times over by selling at $7,050.
Among the selection of bronzes, a very nicely cast depiction of Romeo and Juliet after Jean-Louis Gregoire (Jean-Louis Gregorie 1840-1890, French) dating from the late 19th century, was mounted on a marble pedestal. Competitive bidding brought the sales price of this lot to $10,925 — more than double the high estimate.
Silver is also a strong category at John Moran, and the top sellers in December included a silver-plated roast beef serving cart, such as those used in restaurants of an era when service was elevated to a grand ceremony. Made by Christofle, Paris, and outfitted with a warming tray, removable pails, burner and utensil well, the cart captured several bidders’ imaginations and sold well over the high estimate of $10,000, for $14,460. Buccellatti remains a popular name: a 61-piece sterling “Rigato” flatware service realized $4,887 on an estimate of $2,500-$3,500.
Continental paintings are showing renewed strength, with several lots exceeding their high estimates. A nicely lit Dutch interior with figures by Evert Pieters (1856-1932, Dutch) sold for $3,737, and a lushly painted oil sentimentally depicting girls rescuing a doll from a country stream by Carl von Bergen (1853-1933, German), also exceeded the estimate, bringing $6,325. A small but lovely portrait, “A Daughter of Venice,” by Leo Malempre (fl. 1887-1901, French/British), realized $1,840. A whimsical scene of boys and schoolmaster in a schoolroom by Vincenzo Loria (1849-1939, Italian) also did well at $2,300.
In addition to the Evening Session, John Moran conducted their afternoon Discovery Sale, an un-cataloged, no-reserve auction open to floor and absentee bidding only. With the same types of items as in the Evening Sale, the Discovery sale has proven very popular with the local audience. The Dec. 8 Discovery sale achieved a sold rate similar to the Evening Sale, and offered several pieces of gold and gemstone jewelry, watches, silver including Tiffany flatware and Mexican silver, Meissen and KPM porcelain, and several more Persian rugs.
John Moran Auctioneers’ first auction of 2010 will be their Feb. 16 California and American Art Sale. A marquee event held three times a year and attended by private collectors as well as top dealers, this auction features over 220 works of California Impressionists, pre-1950s American art, Regionalist watercolors and Western works. Already consigned to the sale are works by Alson Clark, Granville Redmond, John Gamble, Joseph Kleitsch, Edgar Payne, Jules Pages, Frank Tenney Johnson, Marjorie Reed, Edward Borein, August Gay, Emil Kosa Jr., and many more. Consignments for this important sale will be accepted until Jan. 18, 2010.
John Moran Auctioneers’ next two-session Antiques and Fine Decorative Arts Sale will be held on March 16, 2010. All John Moran auctions are held at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif.
For more information on sales or consignment details, call 626-793-1833 or visit www.johnmoran.com.
Photos courtesy John Moran Auctioneers.
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