World-class offerings for varied budgets at Rago Arts Dec. 6-7 auction

On the weekend of Dec. 6-7, Rago’s will hold a sale of largely unreserved estate property from a broad scope of private collections and in centuries of styles — Rococo to Aesthetic movement to Modern.

"Buyers in this economy are determined to spend wisely," says Tom Martin. "The pieces we have selected are very desirable and the estimates are extremely attractive, whether for pieces worth hundreds or ten of thousands of dollars. Sarah Churgin concurs. "The property that Tom and I have placed in this auction will appeal both to the serious collector of world-class work and those seeking beautiful holiday gifts, priced right."

Saturday, Dec. 6: American and European Furnishings and Decorative Art, Americana, Asian, Fine Art.

Those whose tastes run to the American will approve of much in this sale. A number of the best American pieces come from a fine home in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Offered for sale is an Aesthetic Movement three-piece bedroom set by Herter Bros, including bed, dresser with mirror and chair (presale estimate $40,000-$60,000) along with a score of pieces in the Aesthetic style. This home has also yielded a fine Sag Harbor sampler bearing the 1836 needlework of Nancy Maria Havens in a period gilt frame (presale estimate $8,000-$10,000) and a two-piece, grain-painted corner cabinet from Maine, circa 1840, with arched double door top and decorated half-columns (presale estimate $6,000-$8,000).

Other examples of folk-art and Americana also merit mention. These include a "tramp art" grandfather clock with fretwork decoration and applied mythological images, circa 1900 (presale estimate $2,000-$3,000); a Victorian shell art basket of flowers with gilded highlights under a glass dome (presale estimate $1,000-$1,500); a folk portrait of Abraham Lincoln in oil paint on wooden plank, signed in pencil on back ‘July 27th 1876, Built by R.G. Miller’ (presale estimate $800-$1,200) and decorated American stoneware. Also noteworthy is a Gustav Dentzel attributed carousel cat. The piece is fully carved with old surface and original brass pole (presale estimate $10,000-$20,000).

Formal furniture includes gentleman’s and lady’s ornately carved salon chairs from Hunzinger in walnut with yellow silk brocade upholstery (presale estimate $8,000-$12,000), as well as a sideboard and upholstered pieces attributed variously to Quervelle, Meeks, and Pottier Stymus. Those wanting good pieces of country will find a New Jersey stepback cupboard in cherry with red wash, raised panel doors and decorated with fluted half columns and rosettes, circa 1820-1830 (presale estimate $6,000-$8,000) and a New Jersey linen press in maple with two gothic arched doors over four drawers, ogee feet, and fluted columns, circa 1830-1840 (presale estimate $4,000-$6,000). 

There are some 40 lots of fine art in the sale. Two of the best come from the Sag Harbor home referenced earlier: Edward Moran’s Shipping off Calais, a large oil on canvas in an ornate gilded frame, signed and dated (estimate $45,000-$65,000) and In the Workshop, an oil on canvas by Stuart G. Davis, signed and dated 1897 — a perfect complement to the Aesthetic Movement furnishings in the sale, offered with a presale estimate of  $15,000-$20,000. Also of note: Robert John Dunkarton’s Night Blooming Cereus, a hand-colored engraving from 1900 (presale estimate $3,000-$5,000). Also maritime paintings, portraits, including a Gilbert Stuart attribution, botanical prints, etchings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Louis Icart. In addition to the tramp-art clock offered, the sale contains two mahogany tall case clocks, one English and the other English or Scottish; groupings of ships’ clocks by Chelsea and other makers; Le Coultre Atmos clocks; a French table clock in the Japanese taste; and an E. Howard Co. banjo clock.

Ceramics, glass and porcelain include a collection of Royal Worcester highlighted by a pair of covered urns/vases decorated with Highland cattle, hand-painted by John Stinton, circa 1914 (presale estimate $2,000-$3,000). Vienna porcelain is here, too: a fine KPM porcelain plaque in a gilt Florentine frame, signed Brodel and ‘L’Esclave nach Chatillon’ is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

Asian property is notable for a Japanese bronze elephant struggling with three tigers, the elephant with ivory tusks, late 19th century (presale estimate $3,500-$4,500) and a 71-inch wooden statue of Buddha in gilt, possibly Thai, 19th/20th century (estimate $3,000-$5,000). Also among the 50 or so lots in this portion of the sale is a good selection of Chinese porcelain and mixed metal ware.

Also here: Oriental rugs, including Kashan, Sarouk and a 153-inch by 118-inch Heriz with central medallion, early 20th century, estimated at $2,000-$3,000, as well as ephemera; portrait miniatures; perfume bottles and a selection of jewelry caskets in bronze.

Sunday, Dec. 7: Fine Jewelry, Silver, Objets de Vertu

Sunday is devoted to jewelry, silver and objets de vertu in 500 lots. Fanciers of diamonds will want to pay particular attention to a natural yellow diamond ring of approximately 2.4 carats, circa 1920. The GIA certified diamond is set in a hexagonal bezel of white gold and flanked by two near colorless OEC diamonds (presale estimate $25,000-$35,000). A starburst pin/pendant from with 14k findings dated 1882 centers on a fine OEC diamond (approx. 85 carats) and six OEC diamonds (1.5 carats TW), surrounded by floriform clusters of dementoid garnets and diamond set leaves; the presale estimate is $3,500-$4,500.

Here is an Art Deco Ascher cut diamond ring of 3.15 carats with diamond accents, circa 1925 (presale estimate $20,000-$30,000). Art Deco fans should also look for a Cartier lapel pin watch in diamond, onyx and enamel (presale estimate $40,000-$50,000). Van Cleef and Arpels is represented by a wonderful mid-century modern diamond and gold bracelet in 14k yellow gold, its 16 graduated ball-links each surmounted by a prong set brilliant cut diamond (presale estimate $4,000-$6,000).

Specialist Sarah Churgin is offering art jewelry designed by Giacomo Manzu for the first time. This pre-eminent 20th Century Italian sculptor cast a series of 18k yellow gold brooches, each brooch depicting one of the animals that adorn his doors for Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Only six sets of five animals were cast, circa 1966. Rago’s is selling the brooch of a bird (presale estimate $5,000-$8,000). Almost as unusual is a fine 19th Century conch cameo conversion brooch, its classical beauties adorned with minute micromosaic flowers in 15k gold, the mount with diamond bow and shell ornaments and diamond and pearl accents (presale estimate $2,000-$3,000).

There are many other wonderful pieces of jewelry and accessories in the $750-$3,000 range. From Tiffany Co., circa 1878, comes a pair of 18k Japanesque earrings, their open gold panels applied with three-color gold foliage (pre-sale estimate $1,200-$1,500). (The necklace that is the companion to these earrings was exhibited by Tiffany Co. at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. See Tiffany Jewels by John Loring, page 87. The suite is attributed to Lucien Falize for Tiffany Co. Paris.)

Buyers can also find a large collection of Art Nouveau enameled gold flowers, including this grouping of four 14k yellow gold and enamel flower brooches: a translucent purple enamel pansy with diamond; an orchid with pearl; a bleeding heart with seed pearls; and a translucent pink and green enameled daisy, all circa 1910-1930, together estimated at $1,200-$1,800.

Movie buffs will love the gem-set gold cigarette case that belonged to silent screen legend Fatty Arbuckle (presale estimate $2,000-$3,000) and sailors an historically important coin silver mug presented in 1821 to a heroic seaman (presale estimate $800-$1,200). Among 40 lots of gemstones and diamonds in the sale, opal fanciers will note three unmounted, oval gray/black opals, one from Mintubi and two from Lightening Ridge, all turn-of-the-20th century. The blue/green Mintubi weighs in at 19.40 carats. The Lightning Ridge opals, flashing blue/green/yellow/red, weigh 6.4 carats and 8.68 carats. The presale estimate for all three is $2,500-$3,500.

You couldn’t find two more different personalities than author Mark Twain and France’s last monarch, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte — and the objets de vertu Rago’s is selling reflect this exactly. A portrait miniature of Twain is as direct as Samuel Clemens himself, affectionately and skillfully rendered by G.C. Richter after a 1904 portrait by Eduoardo Gelli. (Rago’s does not know who commissioned the work, great admirer or family member.) It is set in a simple 14k pendant frame, which Sarah Churgin believes is by Carter Gough. The presale estimate is $1,000-$2,000. As wonderful in its own way is a jeweled and enameled gold Napoleon III presentation snuff box from 1852. The glazed portrait of the future emperor is wreathed by diamond ribbons, with diamond monograms at corners on a royal blue guilloche ground. The rim is engraved "G. Lemonnier, Joaillier de Mgneur le Prince President," interior engraved "Donne par l’empereur le 5 Decembre 1852." The estimate is $18,000-$24,000.

Silver follows jewelry in just under 100 lots. Rago’s is showcasing three opulent display pieces. The first of these stand-outs is a George III silver epergne by Emic Romer, London. Made in 1772, the epergne rests on four rococo legs, its pierced stand with rocquille and floral gadroons and its scroll branches supporting four circular swing-handled baskets and four oval baskets around the central basket with its everted scroll handles (presale estimate $15,000-$20,000). For the buyer of Russian silver is a 14-piece tea and coffee service by Gustav Klingert, made in Moscow at the turn of the 20th century in 84 silver (assay Master Ivana Sergevicha Lebedkina). The set is surfaced with champlevé enamel in the traditional floral and scroll on stippled ground. The interiors are gilt; the finials, mother-of-pearl; the presale estimate, $25,000-$35,000. Last among the riches here: a three-piece Tiffany Co. Grecian revival silver garniture set, circa 1870, its shallow bowl compotes above urn and scroll columns with bacchante masks and griffin feet (presale estimate $5,000-$7,000).

Also remarkable is a mixed metal presentation ewer from Tiffany Co. in the Saracenic manner with orientalist floral and scroll decoration on a flared body with shaped handles. Designed in 1879, it was presented in 1909 to Isaac N. Spiegelberg, president of the Chamber of Commerce, NYC, by members of the New York Stock Exchange and the list of presenters represents a "Who’s Who" of New York finance at the dawn of the 20th century (presale estimate $20,000-$30,000).

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