The song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” could easily have described the Chicago weather at Leslie Hindman Auction, Jan. 20 and 21. Wind chill of -20 and an actual temperature of about zero, however, didn’t deter eager bidders from coming to Hindman’s new 30,000-square-foot Gallery on Chicago’s trendy West Side.
The newly remodeled building has all the auction amenities: Separate large rooms were fashioned for each area of specialty, such as paintings, jewelry, furniture, books, manuscripts, etc. It also has a drive-in unloading area, where consignors can unload, or pick up, their items. The building has three floors, with the top floor now used for storage but allowing room for growth. Another benefit is a parking lot, which in the downtown area of Chicago is a real plus.
The January auction was the first furniture and decorative arts auction to be held in the new building. The first actual auction was in December presenting fine art, especially paintings. Hindman caters to the global economy with an expansive Web site, major marketing and eBay. As a result, 40 percent of paintings sold in December went to European buyers. The weak dollar also helped that exodus. She also mentioned that, in general, 80 percent of all items sold go out of the state of Illinois.
Hindman feels that the market is strong, especially with the help of the Internet, and the weak dollar encouraging out-of-country bidders. This includes furniture, especially Georgian English furniture, being shipped back to England. Silver seems to be selling especially well, as is high-end furniture.
The auction had more than 800 lots, which sold briskly. Gracing the cover of the catalog, and standing near the entrance of the viewing area, was an Italian white marble figural sculpture of a hunter. Inscribed ‘eq. scipio tabolini romae 1876,’ raised on a circular pedestal, it stood 81 inches tall. It sold slightly above its estimate for $50,400.
Another standing figure, a bit shorter at 63 inches, and carved of wood, was a cigar store Indian princess, circa 1900. In its original paint and in good condition, it sold for $12,000, considerably above its estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
This cigar store Indian princess brought $12,000 at the Hindman’s sale.
An unusual lot was a pair of white, seated Meissen monkeys. They were clearly signed, and their height was 17? inches. A Meissen lover took them home for $5,520, slightly above the auction estimate.
The auction included 117 steins and tankards, all consigned by the Robert H. Gore family. The items had previously all been displayed in a special building at Notre Dame University. When the university chose to demolish the building, the family was angered and decided to auction them all, with the proceeds going back into the Gore Family Medical Foundation. Hindman reported the grouping had drawn major interest, with the combined items bringing more than $300,000.
The gem of the tankards, and probably of the auction, was a silver-gild and carved ivory tankard, made by Tiffany & Co. c.1902. The carved ivory depicts a jungle scene with hunters and natives being attacked by a tiger. Tiffany records indicate this was the only tankard made so it is one of a kind. About six liters in size, it stood 26? inches tall. Its estimate was $80,000-$120,000, and it went to a new owner for $216,000.
This Tiffany tankard stole the show, gaveling for $216,000.
Silver sold well, as represented by a George III flatware set, Kings Honeysuckle pattern, William Chawner, London 1818. The 212 pieces, including many unusual serving pieces, were housed in its original wooden chest. The basic service for 24 included all pieces. The weight of the silver alone was about 415 ounces. It sold for $31,200, within estimate.
Russian items seem to be in demand, especially silver, as a grouping of four Russian and silver enameled salts demonstrated. Estimate to bring $300-$500, the phones lit up, eBay sprang into action, the audience joined in and – after spirited bidding – they sold for $40,800. It was later determined that they were made by an associate of Faberge, which, obviously, several Russian silver experts had discovered.
Tiffany items were plentiful and popular with bidders. A Tiffany Studios leaded glass, geometric shade, with bronze base, sold for $15,600. The base had four scrolling arms and round petal vase. It sold above its estimate of $6,000-$8,000.
Bronzes were well represented and one in particular drew attention. A pair of Japanese guardian figures, standing on a single base, were each depicted standing atop a beast. Standing 54 inches tall, they presented an imposing image. A Hindman staff member pointed out the interesting facial detail of the two figures. They were consigned by the Chicago Athletic Association, where the pair had guarded the doors for decades. Estimated to sell for $2,500-$3,500, they went to guard a new home for $48,000.
Leslie Hindman Gallery has about 24 major auctions a year and also a large number of “marketplace” auctions. When asked her impression after the Auction, Hindman said, “Our gross sales were $1,150,578, and I was very pleased with this auction. The new facility is excellent. I couldn’t be happier; I have a good team to support me and our business!”
All prices include a 20 percent in-house buyer’s premium and 22 percent eBay premium.
For more information, call 312-280-1212 or visit www.lesliehindman.com.