‘Nearly discarded’ silver bowl earns $39K in California auction

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PASADENA, Calif. — Signaling a resurgent market, John Moran Auctioneers’ Sept. 28, 2010, Antiques and Decorative Arts Auction achieved a sell-through rate of 87 percent and earned excellent prices for silver, American art pottery, European glass, and Continental furniture and clocks. More than 380 highly energized bidders competed from the floor and online for the 550 lots of property in the two-session sale, driving results for many items to double the presale estimates or higher.

Vice President and Auctioneer Jeffrey Moran, well pleased with the results, noted that buyers are demonstrating “a renewed eagerness to acquire good pieces from private estates and collections and a willingness to pay prices commensurate with quality. Though larger pieces of Continental furniture are selling well, small-scale items are also very sought-after right now.”

A Gorham Martele 950 silver center bowl was the sale’s top earner. Beautifully crafted by Lars Darlin Monsen in 1905, it arrived at auction from an estate in central California where it had nearly been discarded. Luckily it was identified in the nick of time, and went on to achieve a sale price of $39,000, well in excess of the estimate of $5,000 to $7,000 (all prices include buyer’s premium).

Among the many other silver pieces that performed well were an ornate 19th century Vienna enameled silver cornucopia and scent bottle that brought $3,600 (estimate $700-$900) and a Continental (probably German) center bowl with a pierced body and masks that sold for $5,700 (estimate $2,500-$4,000).

Realizing $3,300 was a historically important trompe l’oeil palette and easel-form pen stand engraved with depictions of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite made by the mid-19th century San Francisco silversmiths Schulz and Fischer, who also engraved the two gold spikes used in the ceremony marking the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

A French regulator tall case clock also soared well upwards of its estimate of $5,000 to $8,000, reaching $36,000. The kingwood parquetry case bears the stamp of Balthazar Lieutaud, French 1720-1780), an important Parisian ‘ebeniste’ who made cases for celebrated clockmakers and collaborated with bronziers such as Caffieri and Roy, and whose work is held in major museums worldwide. Another late 18th century clock, an ormolu-mounted white and black marble mantel clock with lions and an eagle atop a temple façade frame, signed ‘Henri Thal / St. Petersbourg’, proved as popular with buyers today as it was when originally made, when several clockmakers produced versions of this design. Moran’s sold this version for $10,800.

Several pieces of Continental furniture were offered, including an elaborately carved late 18th century Italian center table with swags of laurel garlands and a Breche Violette top. With an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000, it attracted heavy phone bidding and realized $9,000.

Art pottery and glass were a major component of the auction, with many top American and European makers featured. Three lots of circa 1880 J & L Lobmeier enameled glass were offered and each lot exceeded the high estimate, including an armorial pitcher that realized $1,440 (estimate $300-$500). Also bringing very strong prices were an early 20th century Bohemian glass conical centerpiece that sold for $3,600 (estimate $1,500-$2,500), and a vivid red, orange and pearl Loetz (Austria) gourd-form iridescent glass vase that found a buyer at $4,500 (estimate $300-$500). Three lots of sterling-overlay glass by Alvin also topped presale estimates by a wide margin.

Art pottery offerings included an Arequipa aqua glazed daffodil vase that brought $2,040 (estimate $800-$1,200) and a Grueby matte green cabinet vase that sold for $2,400 (estimate $500-$700). All 13 lots of Rookwood offered met with enthusiastic bidding, with all but one selling well above the high estimates ranging from $500 to $1,500. They included several sterling overlay pieces, which brought prices ranging from $900 to $1,680.

Additional sale highlights include:

• Two Indian silver-veneered throne chairs decorated with exotic birds and animals (estimate $1,500-$3,000) sold for $12,000

• A 19th century English colonial brass-mounted, mother-of-pearl inlaid elm shoe-form box (estimate $800-$1,200) sold for $2400

• An exquisitely decorated late 18th century Italian bone-inlaid, ebonized guitar (estimate $1,000-$2,000) sold to an international bidder for $10,200

• A collection of sterling silver Giants baseball memorabilia, including cufflinks and season passes (estimate $1,000-$1,500) sold to a collector for $3,600

• A twin-hemisphere map of the world by John Speed, dated 1651, (estimate $2,000-$3,000) sold for $6,600

• A group of three small Native American-themed oils by Marjorie Reed (1915-1966) (estimate $600-$900) sold for $1,440

John Moran’s next antiques auction is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2010. All sales are held at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif., and full catalogs are posted at www.johnmoran.com two to three weeks prior to each sale. Bidding is available from the floor and via absentee, telephone or online through Artfact.com. For more information call 626-793-1833 or email info@johnmoran.com.


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