On Dec. 7, Estate Roadshow Auctions will conduct the first in a series of sales to disperse the remarkable personal collection and early store stock of Connecticut antiques dealer Louise Mondani Graham, who died in August. The initial session will consist entirely of fine and costume jewelry, much of which was purchased in the 1950s and ’60s and stored away in boxes the owner never opened. According to Ann Valverde of Estate Roadshow’s Research & Appraisals department, going through the boxes was “like opening packages on Christmas morning and finding beautiful antique and vintage treasures. Mrs. Graham had exquisite taste and a cultured eye for Art Nouveau and Art Deco design.”
From the mid-1950s until 2005, Graham operated her old-school antiques business, Brass Bugle Antiques, from a well-patronized barn in Cornwall Bridge, Litchfield County, Conn. The building gained acclaim after it was chosen to be the subject of an artwork by Graham’s close friend, the noted New England painter Eric Sloane (1905-1985).
The Dec. 7 sale will include approximately 400-500 lots, with the headliner being a Victorian emerald-and-diamond ring often worn by Graham and considered one of her favorite pieces. Set in 18K yellow gold, the ring features a central emerald weighing in excess of 1 carat and accented by six old mine-cut diamonds, two flanking diamonds and fine black enamel around the stones. It has an appraised value of $5,700.
A Victorian pearl necklace featuring two large amethysts, one of them pear shaped and drop style, has appraised at $1,100; while an array of 15 to 20 Italian cameos includes desirable larger types that double as pendants.
“What is wonderful about this collection is that the older pieces are real, not later copies of a period style,” said Valverde. “You can tell that Mrs. Graham wasn’t just in the antiques business; she was also a serious collector who knew exactly what to buy.”
The collection includes many 14K gold Art Nouveau necklaces – some featuring desirable pale turquoise matrix stones – and Krementz 14K gold and enamel brooches from the same era. Other jewelry designs incorporate “huge Bohemian garnets and pale angel-skin coral,” Valverde said. “At first glance, some may think they are looking at beads, but they’re not – the stones are real.”
A selection of 12 to 15 Victorian stickpins with jewel accents includes a lion with ruby eyes and a diamond in its mouth, as well as two designs adorned with fire opals: a walking cane design and a crescent moon with star.
Among the Bakelite necklaces is a 4-strand cherry amber example with old-style knot-and-loop fabric closure. Other Art Deco entries include a small 14K white-gold garnet ring, a 14K gold and Persian turquoise bracelet that may fetch $1,200; and a properly stamped and hallmarked Tiffany & Co. 14K gold ladies’ compact with textured-grain pattern, woven-pattern border and bezel-set oval sapphire clasp. With a gold weight of 89.40 grams, it has an appraised value of $3,600.
Other important entries include a “Jesus Knabe” (Young Jesus) miniature painting on Dresden porcelain, studio of Ambrosius Lamb after Heinrich Hoffman (value: $3,000); and a collection of gold pocket watches. The grouping includes a Mathey 14K gold watch with cobalt blue background and a beautiful Victorian-looking lady with upswept hair and three rose-cut diamond accents. In good working order, the timepiece is estimated at $1,400.
Approximately 40 percent of the collection consists of top-quality costume jewelry by such designers as Miriam Haskell, Christian Dior, Jorgen Jensen and Alice Caviness, whose most important design offered is a signed 1950s hinged bracelet with Aurora Borealis crystals, wired crystals and faux pearls. Also to be auctioned are Venetian glass lampwork bead necklaces, Etruscan silver charm bracelets from Italy, masses of pearl necklaces, and Moderne “Palm Springs style” jewelry including a 14K gold cocktail ring with high-set peridot.
The auction will take place on Dec. 7 at the Estate Roadshow auction facility at 1090 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., in the Charleston suburb of Mt. Pleasant, S.C. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through eBay Live Auctions.
Enquiries: Tel. 843-817-6552 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.