PASADENA, Calif. – The success of John Moran’s July 28 Fine Antiques and Estate Sale proved that even in a difficult economy buyers are seeking exceptional items with undiminished enthusiasm. The two-session sale featured an intriguing mix of estate property, encompassing silver, porcelain, Western and Native American, Continental paintings, modern art, jewelry and Russian icons. Uniting this diversity of riches was the consistently high level of quality, which drew a large number of national and international bidders and brought strong results.
Moran’s afternoon Discovery Session, an un-cataloged sale designed for the local market and open to floor bidding only, always yields excellent finds for those who attend. Among the treasures in store for attendees this time was a magnificent pair of 19th century Meissen porcelain table lamps modeled after two of the Four Seasons. The pair realized $1,840. Doubling the high end of its presale estimate, a hand-painted porcelain plaque depicting the Mother and Child realized $1,840, while an 8-piece lot of glass scent bottles, which included some Lalique and was estimated at $500-$700, sold for $1,150.
Discovery Sale silver offerings were plentiful, including English and Continental sterling, and Dutch, German and Mexican silver. A group of twenty Buccellati sterling silver serving utensils, the first of several Buccellati offerings, brought $1,725. In all, over 150 lots were offered in the Discovery Auction, and 85 percent of them sold.
The cataloged Evening Sale performed similarly well, with a continuation of the strong porcelain and silver sales seen in the earlier session. Silver in animal forms was a minor theme of the evening, and a popular one. A pair of sterling Buccellati candlesticks in a sinuous Baroque-style dolphin form, with a presale estimate of $1,500-$2,500, realized $3,738. A pair of German silver pheasants, probably from Augsberg, attracted a great deal of attention. Estimated at $800-$1,200, the stunningly realistic game birds, displaying detailed modeling and a brilliant sense of movement, became the object of fierce competitive bidding that brought their final price to $2,875. Realizing $2,185 was an eerily realistic pair of jointed, Buccellati style sterling lobsters.
Among the porcelain offerings was a Berlin KPM plaque depicting a beauty, Clementine, after a work by C. Kiesel. This sublime work, in an ornately carved gilt frame, carried an estimate of $10,000-$15,000 and inspired a frenzy of telephone and Internet bidding, achieving a final price of $19,550.
An impressive price of $17,250 was paid for a pair of monumental Sevres style porcelain vases decorated with scenes from Napoleon’s campaigns that were mounted as lamps and had been assigned a presale estimate of $6,000-$8,000.
Russian items continue to pull a large audience. Generating a great deal of presale interest were seven Russian icons ranging in estimates from $500-$1,500. Two thought to date from the 17th or 18th centuries performed particularly well. Lots 1045, a calendar icon depicting the Resurrection, and 1046, depicting St. George and the dragon, each realized $4,600.
Meanwhile, a watercolor portrait of a woman in a Russian folk costume by Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky (1839-1915, Russian) more than tripled its high estimate, selling for $9,775.
The eclectic character of this auction is made abundantly clear by some of the other highlights. An acrylic on canvas measuring 76 inches by 86 inches by noted American artist Robert Natkin, titled “Abstract Strips,” sold for $11,500. A “Cod Fish” map of North America by Herman Moll dating from circa 1720 brought $1,725, while a morion helmet with comb, believed to have originated in Germany in the late 16th or early 17th century, sold for $3,450, triple its estimate.
Ninety pieces of Saint Louis “Thistle” gilt glass stemware were divided into three lots that brought an aggregate price of $11,213. The exquisite fine jewelry offerings included an Art Deco platinum ring set with a 1.85 carat diamond that sold well at $6,900. Finally, two works by Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952, Washington), a bluetone and an orotone, sold for $2,070 and $1,955 respectively.
John Moran Auctioneers’ next two-session Fine Antiques and Estates Auction will be held on Sep. 29. Their no-reserve Discovery Session (only sold to the room) will begin at 3 p.m. and the fully cataloged evening session at 6:30 p.m. Bidding for the evening session is available from the floor, by phone, on the Internet via Artfact.com, and by absentee.
For more information about sales or for information about consigning to John Moran, please call their offices at 626-793-1833 or visit their Web site at www.johnmoran.com. Catalogs are available online at www.johnmoran.com prior to each sale.
Photos courtesy John Moran Auctions.