Automaton clock sets record at $270,000

OAKLAND, Calif. – Clars Auction Gallery hosted what would result in the fourth largest

Bracket clock

Chinese triple Fusee and gilt bronze bracket clock with automaton, $270,000. (All photos courtesy Clars Auction Gallery)

sale in the firm’s history on Feb. 21-22, 2015. The February Fine Art, Decoratives, Jewelry and Asian Antiques sale realized $2.6 million, with the Decorative Arts and Furnishings category achieving $1 million on approximately 700 lots offered. The Richard Mellon Scaife Estate contributed significantly to these strong results, accounting for roughly one-half of this category’s success.

After the sale, Redge Martin, president of Clars commented, “This sale did seem to have that magic we see from time to time where we get record crowds and everything just does well.”

The top lot of the entire sale and setting a U.S. auction record was a Chinese triple Fusee and gilt bronze bracket clock with automaton. This clock was estimated to sell for $40,000 on the high side but, after spirited bidding, the clock soared to the record price of $270,000.

Offerings from the Richard Mellon Scaife Estate (from his Pittsburgh, Pebble Beach and Nantucket estates) continued to resonate with bidders. Deric Torres, vice president of Clars and director of Decorative Arts and Furnishings commented, “We continue to be extremely pleased with the results and the world wide interest seen for the pieces in this collection, particularly in the Staffordshire, which at this sale, accounted for over $100,000. Scaife bought and collected the finest throughout his life, as did his mother before him, so we are seeing these pieces come to the market that buyers have been thirsting for and they are responding in an astonishing and very robust manner.”

The excitement for the Scaife offerings began early during the Saturday session. A collection of jasperware, mostly Wedgwood, came to the sale with an estimate of $300 to $500. In this collection was a rare Wedgwood bough pot that was the only example of the form to ever make an appearance on the market. This resulted in furious bidding from collectors that drove the sale price on this lot to $8,300.

The Scaife collection set a record for a late 18th/early 19th century English console table with a variegated marble top. Intense bidding drove the table to $22,600. Also coming from Scaife’s Pittsburgh estate was a George III tilt-top breakfast table that soared to $11,900, far surpassing estimates.

Turning to porcelains, the Staffordshire figural groups brought astonishing prices, earning three to five times the high estimate across the board. Highlights in these offering include an early 18th century Staffordshire “Baptism of Mary” porcelain table base, attributed to Obadiah Sherratt, that sold for $6,500, a circa 1810 pearlware bocage group that brought $5,600 and a circa 1815 pearlware figural group, of Walton type, that achieved $5,300.

Diamond and platinum ring

This absolutely stunning diamond and platinum ring with a round brilliant diamond weighing over 3 cts sold for $26,100.

Perhaps the most whimsical lot in the Scaife offerings, which also soared past high estimate, was a massive Victorian shell encrusted and shell mosaic floral bouquet; high demand for the piece drove the final price to $8,900.

Contributing to the strong success of the Decorative Arts and Furnishings category were offerings from several other important estates. A pair of Renaissance Revival six-light chandeliers, original fixtures in an 1860 Newton (MA) home collectively achieved more than $17,000. In sterling, the top offering was an English Regency tea kettle by Paul Storr, London, 1828, that earned a solid $10,700. For the vintage traveler, a French E. Goyard steamer trunk sailed away for just over $5,000, and befitting to toss in that trunk, was a stunning 1901 Fortuny “Delphos” dress dripping in gold Italian silk that slinked away for $4,250.

For more information and a complete list of prices realized for the February 2015 sale, visit www.clars.com.

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