Category Archive 'Auction Sales'
02 Jun 2018

Cheaper Than a Rolex

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Bukowskis, June 7, 2018, 1:00 PM CET, Stockholm, Sweden, Important Spring Sale 609 – Day 1,

Lot 194: HENRI DE BARY, POCKET WATCH, SILVER, PROBABLY LATE 17TH CENTURY
HENRI DE BARY, POCKET WATCH, SILVER, PROBABLY LATE 17TH CENTURY
Est: kr30,000 – kr40,000 [$3666 – 4888]
Starting bid: kr24,000 [$2932.80]

Description: Verge escapement, keywound, three sub dials for time, date and lunar date and three windows showing moon phases, months and the zodiac, engraved signature and 265, 50 mm, outer case 57,5 mm

Condition Report: One hand missing

And more complications than a Patek Philippe!

25 May 2018

Garryowen!

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George Armstrong Custer, Carte de Visite by Goldin. Taken in May 1865, just after the conclusion of the war. Custer was in Washington for the Grand Review celebration.

Tom Slater, in the latest Heritage email, introduces the upcoming June 9th GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER AND THE PLAINS INDIAN WARS Auction at Heritage Auctions:

For Garryowen And Glory!

Those were the prophetic closing words of the regimental song of George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry. As a boy growing up in the days of black-and-white TV my favorite “old movie” was They Died with their Boots On, starring the incomparable swashbuckler Errol Flynn as G. A. C. I watched it countless times. Who could forget the catchy tune played over and over during the film, or the image of Custer, the last man standing, blazing away, six-gun in each hand, as he was ridden down by a horde of Indians? Eventually I would have to unlearn most of the contrived “history” related in the movie, but my disillusionment did little to discourage my fascination with the saga of Little Bighorn and Custer’s Last Stand.

Barely 200 men perished with Custer, a seemingly insignificant number when compared to the tens of thousands of casualties in other American battles. Why does the Little Bighorn saga still hold such fascination nearly a century and a half later? Undoubtedly, part of the allure lies in the fact that Custer was a genuine American hero long before the events of 1876. The youngest man to be made general during the Civil War, he was famous for his exploits as a cavalry commander — as well as for his golden locks and flamboyant dress. After finishing dead last in his West Point class, Custer certainly made his mark. During the decade before Little Bighorn he led the 7th Cavalry as they fought Indians and explored new territory with the Yellowstone and Black Hills Expeditions. By the time of the disastrous battle in 1876 he was a celebrity and a household name.

Further adding to the drama was the possibility that personality traits and conflicts played a role. Was Custer brash and irresponsible in rushing to attack the large Indian encampment, or was he simply acting on what he thought was reliable military intelligence? Was the failure of Capt. Frederick Benteen to come to Custer’s aid a sound military decision, or was he influenced by his well-known personal distaste for his commander? Was Major Reno’s retreat after initially assaulting the village an example of cowardice, or an unavoidable response in the face of unanticipated, overwhelming resistance?

Lastly, there was the epic significance of a number of Plains tribes and bands coming together for one last, great celebration of their vanishing way of life, and to make a final valiant stand against the inevitable encroachment of “civilization.” It is now known that the Indian camp was aware of the soldiers’ approach, but failed to scatter as had been their tactic in the past. Rather they waited almost passively for the great confrontation, knowing full well that, even if they managed to win the battle, they had already lost the war.

It is our great honor to bring to you on June 9th an amazing auction focused on those historic events and the personalities associated with them, titled “George Armstrong Custer and the Plains Indian Wars.” We are especially gratified to present the important artifacts and relics amassed by Glenwood J. Swanson, the highly respected Custer collector and scholar whose items make up a large portion of the auction. Glen is particularly appreciated for his ongoing support of archeological endeavors at the Custer Battlefield and for his landmark book, G. A. Custer His Life and Times, published in 2004. Lavishly illustrated, largely with items from his own collection, this book gives wonderful insights into Little Bighorn and the men who fought there.

01 May 2018

Coming in July

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Elmer Crowell, Black Duck.

Copley’s 2018 Sporting Sale, July 19-20.

05 Apr 2018

Augustus II Coronation Plate

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Soup plate from the Coronation Service of Augustus II “the Strong”, King of Poland 1697-1706, 1709-1733, bearing, quartered, the arms of Poland and Lithuania.

Hampel Fine Art Auctions, April 12, 2018, 10:00 AM CET, Munich, Germany, Lot 332: Estimated price: €3,000 – €5,000.

Augustus sheltered the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, after he escaped captivity at the hands of Frederick I of Prussia, but then imprisoned him himself in order to force him to produce gold.

Efforts at producing gold proving unsuccessful, Augustus put Böttger to work on discovering the secret of Chinese porcelain. The correct method of producing hard-paste porcelain was discovered in 1708, leading to the establishment of the famous factory in Meissen in 1710. Böttger died in 1719.

11 Feb 2018

Nietzsche’s “Untimely Meditations” with Author’s Autograph

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Heritage Auctions, 2018 March 7 Rare Books Signature Auction – New York #6186:

Friederich Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations, 1874, an early work by this major philosopher with author’s presentation inscription.

Opening bid: $15,000 (plus 25% buyer premium.)

Friedrich Nietzsche. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen. Zweites Stück: Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie für das Leben. [Untimely Meditations, Part II]. Leipzig: E. W. Fritzsch, 1874. First edition of the second work (of four completed) in Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations series, this being on the subject of history; association copy, inscribed by the author on the front wrapper to Wilhelm Vischer Bilfinger who appointed Nietzsche, sans dissertation, to the First Chair of Philology at the University of Basel: “Herr Rathsherr Prof. Dr. Vischer / in treuer Gesinnung und mit / der Bitte um Wohlwollen und / Nachsicht überreicht vom / Verf.” Octavo (8.75 x 5.5 inches; 223 x 140 mm.). 111, [1, printer’s note] pages. Twentieth century green cloth, spine lettered in gilt; edges sprinkled gray; patterned endpapers; publisher’s bluish green wrappers laid down and inserted. Spine gently leaning, spine ends and corners very lightly worn; boards very slightly splayed with a touch of soiling. Front endpaper with some light pencil erasure causing some minimal bruising; wrappers very lightly soiled; front wrapper with a couple horizontal closed tears, expertly mended when laid down, just a single letter of the inscription affected (the “N” in “Nachsicht”); rear wrapper with some paper filled in in the gutter margin; title-leaf faintly browned; text-block with some trace foxing. Near fine. Dr. Vischer died shortly after publication, in July of 1874, making this an early presentation. Carl Pletsch. Young Nietzsche. New York: 1991. pp. 99-100. From the Marilyn R. Duff Collection.

19 Jan 2018

Lost Rembrandt Found in New Jersey Estate Sold for Over $1 Million

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FoxBusiness.com:

Nobody expects to find a Rembrandt sitting under the ping-pong table in the basement. So the Landau brothers, natives of Teaneck, N.J., felt perfectly comfortable skipping their own estate auction. …

Their inheritance tale started typically: Back when Ned, Roger and Steven Landau’s grandparents died, their mother cleared out their house, keeping some items that might go well in her dining room – like his silver tea set and a couple of old paintings. Then mom died in 2010, and her three sons repeated the drill.

“We had a garage sale, but there were a few things like the china and silver that looked very nice and we thought, well, we don’t really want to just give them away,” Ned tells Colby in the program.

One item that again made the cut was a small painting that had always creeped out Ned.

“It was of a woman passed out in a chair, and two men trying to revive her. As a kid I thought, ‘why did we have a painting like that in our dining room?’” he says.

Mom’s nice stuff went straight into Roger’s basement. Though the boxes made it hard to play ping-pong, Roger procrastinated another four years before calling the estate sale guy up the parkway, John Nye. Nye valued the silver pieces at a couple of thousand dollars, and each of three paintings at a few hundred. Like Ned, Nye wasn’t impressed by the picture of the men reviving the woman with smelling salts: “It had varnish that had cracked and paint loss. Not a beautiful painting and the people in the picture were not beautiful people. It was remarkably unremarkable.”

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Kovels:

A painting offered in an estate sale by John Nye in New Jersey was appraised for $500 to $800. It had been stored for five years before the family finally got around to selling items from their mother’s estate in 2015. It created an amazing sale when it sold for over $1 million. … The painting was left by a mother to her three sons in 2010. It had been left to her by her parents and she hung it in her dining room. The boys had always thought the picture of two men trying to revive a fainting woman was “creepy.” But it was actually a Rembrandt painting from the 1600s, part of a series of paintings of the Five Senses. This one was “The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell).” The other four are in museums. The boys didn’t even go to the sale since there were so few of their item being sold. The auction went as expected until bidding for the picture went from $250 up to $800. Then came a surprising $5,000 from a bidder in France, and then a higher bid from Germany. The bidding war went from $80,000 to $450,000, then finally ended at $1.1 million (including buyer’s premium). The boys didn’t get the news for a few days because it was a Jewish holiday and they didn’t answer the phone.

12 Jan 2018

Battle of Trafalgar–HMS Victory, ‘The Victory Jack’

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At Sotheby’s London, “Of Royal and Noble Descent” Auction, Lot 116:

AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE FRAGMENT OF THE UNION FLAG, BELIEVED TO HAVE FLOWN FROM HMS VICTORY AT THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR
comprising eight panels of red, white and blue hand-woven woollen bunting, hand-stitched together to form part of the bottom-right (or top-left) quadrant of the Union flag, hemmed at the bottom (or top), hem turned over enclosing c.460mm of twine, crudely torn at the edges, c.860 x 920 mm, mounted, framed, and glazed (frame size 1125 x 1125mm), c.1801-1805

AN EVOCATIVE AND IMPRESSIVE RELIC OF NELSON AND TRAFALGAR. Nelson’s ships sailed into battle at Trafalgar flying the national flag rather than just their squadron colours, as a result of an order issued by Nelson in the days before the battle: “When in the presence of an Enemy, all the Ships under my command are to bear white Colours [i.e. St George’s Ensign], and a Union Jack is to be suspended from the fore top-gallant stay” (10 October 1805). HMS Victory consequently flew two Union flags and a St George’s Ensign, which were returned to England with the ship and the body of Nelson.

These battle ensigns, unique patriotic mementoes of Nelson’s final and greatest victory, were later woven into the solemn and dignified series of ceremonials that marked his state funeral in January 1806. The body lay in state at the Painted Hall at Greenwich for four days before processing upriver in a funeral barge with a flotilla of naval escorts, disembarking at Whitehall Stairs and resting overnight in the Admiralty. The following day, 9 January, a vast procession followed Nelson’s remains to St Paul’s Cathedral, the site of the funeral. Incorporated into the funeral cortege was a group of 48 seamen and Marines from HMS Victory, who bore with them the ship’s three battle ensigns and were, according to one eyewitness, “repeatedly and almost continually cheered as they passed along”. At the conclusion of the funeral service, with the coffin placed at the heart of the cathedral beneath Wren’s great dome, the sailors were supposed to fold the flags and place them reverently on the coffin. The conclusion of the service, in fact, played out rather differently, as described by the Naval Chronicle (1806): “the Comptroller, Treasurer and Steward of his Lordship’s household then broke their staves, and gave the pieces to Garter, who threw then into the grave, in which all the flags of the Victory, furled up by the sailors were deposited – These brave fellows, however, desirous of retaining some memorials of their great and favourite commander, had torn off a considerable part of the largest flag, of which most of them obtained a portion.” According to one acute observer: “That was Nelson: the rest was so much the Herald’s office.” (See The Nelson Companion, ed. White (1995), pp8-14)

Most of the surviving fragments of the Victory’s flags are much smaller than the current piece. Small fragments of white and blue bunting, no more than 12cm in length, have appeared at auction (e.g. Bonhams, 28 September 2004, lot 117; Sotheby’s, 17 December 2009, lot 9) and other similar fragments are found at the National Maritime Museum and other institutional collections. Only two complete Union jacks that were used as battle ensigns at Trafalgar survive: one from HMS Minotaur (National Maritime Museum), the other from HMS Spartiate (sold at auction by Charles Miller Ltd., 21 October 2009, lot 53, £384,000).

Estimate: 80,000 — 100,000 GBP — 105,376 – 131,720 USD

17 Nov 2017

Questionable Leonardo With Serious Condition Issues Sold for $450.3 Million at Christie’s

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New York Times:

After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed.

There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by tens of millions up to $225 million, by fives up to $260 million, and then by twos. As the bidding slowed, and a buyer pondered the next multi-million-dollar increment, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, said, “It’s an historic moment; we’ll wait.”

Toward the end, Alex Rotter, Christie’s co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art, who represented a buyer on the phone, made two big jumps to shake off one last rival bid from Francis de Poortere, Christie’s head of old master paintings.

The price is all the more remarkable at a time when the old masters market is contracting, because of limited supply and collectors’ penchant for contemporary art.

And to critics, the astronomical sale attests to something else — the degree to which salesmanship has come to drive and dominate the conversation about art and its value. Some art experts pointed to the painting’s damaged condition and its questionable authenticity.

“This was a thumping epic triumph of branding and desire over connoisseurship and reality,” said Todd Levin, a New York art adviser.

Christie’s marketing campaign was perhaps unprecedented in the art world; it was the first time the auction house went so far as to enlist an outside agency to advertise the work. Christie’s also released a video that included top executives pitching the painting to Hong Kong clients as “the holy grail of our business” and likening it to “the discovery of a new planet.” Christie’s called the work “the Last da Vinci,” the only known painting by the Renaissance master still in a private collection (some 15 others are in museums).

“It’s been a brilliant marketing campaign,” said Alan Hobart, director of the Pyms Gallery in London, who has acquired museum-quality artworks across a range of historical periods for the British businessman and collector Graham Kirkham. “This is going to be the future.”

RTWT

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Times Critic Jason Farago (speaking on behalf of the Establishment) does not like the painting or its buyer.

You can’t put a price on beauty; you can put a price on a name. When the National Gallery in London exhibited a painting of Christ in 2011 as a heretofore lost work by Leonardo da Vinci, the surprise in art historical circles was exceeded only by the salivating of dealers and auctioneers.

The painting, “Salvator Mundi,” is the only Leonardo in private hands, and was brought to market by the family trust of Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire entangled in an epic multinational lawsuit with his former dealer, Yves Bouvier. On Wednesday night, at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale (in which it was incongruously included to reach bidders beyond Renaissance connoisseurs), the Leonardo sold for a shocking $450.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. Worth it? Well, what are you buying: the painting or the brand?

The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted, as an image in the sale catalog shows. Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation.

Authentication is a serious but subjective business. I’m not the man to affirm or reject its attribution; it is accepted as a Leonardo by many serious scholars, though not all. I can say, however, what I felt I was looking at when I took my place among the crowds who’d queued an hour or more to behold and endlessly photograph “Salvator Mundi”: a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.

RTWT

05 Nov 2017

At Yesterday’s Auction

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Webley Mark VI 1917 Revolver with Rare Pritchard Greener Bayonet.

Lot #998
Low Estimate: 2,000 High Estimate: 3,000

Sold for: $1,300.00 (plus 25% buyer premium)

This revolver has all matching serial numbers and features six shot, double action, octagon barrel. Lanyard ring removed. Chip in lower left grip. Cylinder never trimmed. All British inspector stamps. Indexes and locks up perfectly. Very good rifled bore. Crisp factory stamps. Metal is basically soft plum gun metal grey. Very good example of a 1917 dated Webley used in the trenches during World War I. It is accompanied by a scarce Pritchard Greener bayonet that attaches to the revolver. Has a brass hilt, 8-1/4″ blade. Patterned after a shortened French Gras bayonet. Right side of the guard is stamped “W.W.G.” in oval with elephant facing blade. Also stamped “Patent No. 171143/16”. Description of this invention can be found on pages 115-116 and seen on plate 52 in “The Webley Story” by Dowell. This exact style bayonet with identical markings was sold alone at a major auction house September, 2014. Maker for a wicked looking weapon. Accessories: bayonet with sheath. Barrel Length: 6″. Caliber/Bore: .455 Webley.

Expensive, but apparently quite a bargain. The rare bayonet has sold for over $2000 alone at auction. You can actually buy a replica at Amazon for $149.95 (or $124.95 in a lesser quality version).

Impressive looking, but one does wonder: did any British officer ever actually use one of these during WWI?

30 Oct 2017

Rather Pricey

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Artnet:

Observers knew that Paul Newman’s Rolex watch, estimated to sell for around $1 million, would be the highlight of Phillips’s first ever New York watch auction yesterday. But no one expected the hand-crafted Daytona watch—which the late actor wore in movies, magazine shoots, and at parties—to sell for $17.8 million, going to an unidentified buyer after 12 minutes of heated bidding.

The sale smashed the previous record for a watch, $11.1 million for a stainless steel Patek Philippe, which sold at Phillips last November.

The “Paul Newman” has won legendary status in the watch community, both because it is considered to be one of the most coveted timepieces in the world—the New York Times compared it to the Mona Lisa for the watch collecting world—and because, until the sale’s announcement in August, few people outside of the Newman family knew where it was. It was first given to Newman by his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, who inscribed it with the message “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.”

RTWT

13 Sep 2017

For Sale: Possible Tourist Attraction in 6400 Acres

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Stonehenge sold in 1915 for £6,600, with a pretty decent house thrown in. Today, they get almost 1.4 million visitors a year, many of whom pay the full £16.50 admission price.

From the archives of Country Life.

Obviously you and I were unable to bid, not yet having been born. My father was one-year-old, so he, too, was out of luck. But what were my useless grandparents doing?

23 Jul 2017

Seven Most Expensive Guns

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Private Sam Wilson’s Walker Colt and flask

Breitbart lists seven of the most expensive guns in the world.

11 Jun 2017

Custom Target Colt New Service

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Purchased at auction sale yesterday:

Manufactured 1927. This revolver started out as a standard New Service six shot double action revolver with blued finish. A custom low profile clock adjustable target rear sight has been perfectly fitted to the frame. A front sight ramp and large serrated blade have been fitted to the front. Has a custom wide spur checkered target hammer, much like Smith & Wesson target hammer. Trigger has been stippled. Sports a near mint pair of King style checkered walnut right palm swell with left thumbrest grips. Gun has a hint of muzzle wear and light drag line, retaining 98% original finish. This gun has been altered or customized to work in the single action mode only. The action has been finely tuned with the lightest of trigger pull, smooth as silk. Near mint bore. Beautiful large frame pre-war custom target Colt. Manufacturer: Colt, Model: New Service, Caliber: .45 Colt, Barrel Length: 7 – 1/2″.

Colt stopped making these large-frame revolvers in 1944, before I was born. This one was customized by Dean W. King in San Francisco, once a nation-wide renowned center of firearms culture. He died and his company closed its doors in the early 1950s.

Colt switched over to government contract work during WWII, and has hardly looked back. A couple of new Colt revolvers appeared very recently, but Colt had essentially abandoned the field of revolvers for so many decades that nearly all the gunsmiths who understood how to work on their fussy and delicate mechanisms died off long ago. Try getting a Colt revolver customized or repaired today and you’ll find infinitesimally few providers and long waiting times for service.

The past was a different country.

I have not seem it in the flesh yet, but I think this gun has Roper grips.

23 May 2017

$110,500,000.00

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