Category Archive 'Antiques'
18 Sep 2020

Antique Women’s Embroidered Pins

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The moth and fly embroideries are as elaborate and astonishing as the naturalistic trout fly imitations devised by the late Bill Blades. Cf. William Blades, Fishing Flies and Fly-Tying, 1951.

29 Jun 2020

Nice Vase

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Lot 132: DAUM Important tubular vase with conical neck on pedestal.

Est: €18,000 – €20,000
€18,000 0 bids

July 2, 2020, 2:30 PM CET
Paris, France

Important tubular vase with conical neck on ringed pedestal. Made in purple and white marbled glass. Decorated with violets etched with acid and entirely enhanced with natural polychrome enamel. Lower part and pedestal decorated with engraved leaves and insects enhanced with gilding.
Signed in gold under the base.
High. : 70 cm

Similar to model presented by Daum Establishments at the Nancy International Exhibition in 1909.


I get lots of auction notices by email.

I’d buy this one for my wife like a shot, except not for €18,000, alas!

13 May 2020

“Thou Still Unravish’d Bride of Quietness, Thou Foster-Child of Silence and Slow Time”

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Lempertz KG
May 16, 2020, 11:00 AM CET
Berlin, Germany

Northern Italy, circa / after 1810, design tentatively attributed to Karl-Friedrich Schinkel.
Lot 238: An important translucent white Carrara marble vase

Est: €30,000 – €40,000
€15,000 0 bids

Vessel comprised of two parts: The upper section a broad cuppa with a beaded rim and two mascarons on either side, the lower section a flaring twist-fluted base. The shaft with a beaded border beneath the disc-shaped node above a laurel leaf frieze. Frank C. Möller discovered a very similar basin around 15 years ago, the production of which could be assigned to the studio of Christian Daniel Rauch. Rauch’s account book mentions a certain Francesco Menghi who was charged with carving the piece on 15th March 1824 after a design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The piece consists of two parts, namely the broad bowl with its beaded rim and the twisted grapevine handles as well as the fluted base. The basin was presented at the Academy exhibition in 1826, where Prince Wilhelm purchased it and had it carried to the crown prince in December 1826. It remained in the possession of his descendants until the auction of the Welf estate in 2005. Another very similar basin was identified by Frank Möller in the inventory of the New Pavilion. It was produced a year earlier for King Friedrich Wilhelm III. A third smaller basin was made for Rauch’s daughter, Agnes von Rauch. All these vases are mentioned in Rauch’s second account book and all are identified. It is assumed that there was also a first account book, which has been lost, so that we have no information about possible further royal orders based on Schinkel’s designs. Like the three abovementioned pieces, this basin also diverges from the well-known prototypes of the Warwick, Medici, and Borghese vases. Versions of these famous designs in various materials had decorated the gardens and interiors of the European aristocracy since the late 17th century. In contrast to these models, the present work is designed to evoke an air of antiquity without being a direct copy. Its form departs entirely from classical models, and its bold design with a broad rim is entirely unique. The marble is also carved exceedingly thinly, with some parts measuring only 3mm in thickness. The two masks in the lower section of the vase are the only direct historical quotations in the design. They are a reference to the calyx krater-form vessel known as the Borghese vase, which features similar heads. Frank C. Möller has suggested that the heads represent the two guard figures Gog and Magog from the London guildhall. He assigns the basin to Schinkel’s early period, dating it to around 1810, and does not rule out that it was sent as part of the Italian delivery containing the sarcophagus of Queen Luise. The history of the sarcophagus’ delivery was an adventurous one, as the ship in which Rauch personally transported the finished object was captured. An English boat was able to regain the cargo and it finally arrived, damaged by salt water, in Charlottenburg in the spring of 1815. Unfortunately, it cannot be proven indefinitely that the basin was included in this particular order. All that is known for certain is that it originates from English aristocratic ownership. A cousin of Queen Luise, Queen Charlotte – née Duchess Sophie Charlotte von Mecklenburg – became Queen of England in 1761 and who may have ordered or received this bowl as a gift. She lived temporarily in Kew Place, where there is an enchanting garden with the most beautiful flowerpots. The basin presented here shows signs of use, which could indicate that it was used there. Another possible former owner could be William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790 – 1858), who was also a great lover of gardening and had many such vases and tazze in his possession.

H 41.5 [15.34″], D 69 cm.[27″]

Artist or Maker
Northern Italy, circa / after 1810, design tentatively attributed to Karl-Friedrich Schinkel.

Thinly worked white Carrara marble.

Condition Report
Patinated and partially filled older crack (possibly caused during production) to the upper edge, circa 11 cm.

Cf. a design for a stembowl by Karl Friedrich Schinkel with a similarly broad cuppa (so-called Beuth-Dish) in cat.: Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Geschichte und Poesie, Berlin-Munich 2012, cat. 173, illus. 3.

Provenance English aristocratic ownership.


A lovely object, but terribly pricey for a Garden Urn.

31 Oct 2019

Mid-17th Century Ebony Cabinet

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From Hermann Historica GmbH, November 13, 2019, 10:00 AM CET,
Grasbrunn / Munich, Germany, Lot 2275: A museum-quality ebony cabinet, Antwerp, mid-17th century. Starting bid: €25,000.

The large cabinet veneered in ebony, with fittings of fire-gilt bronze. The pedestal with two lockable drawers. The cabinet with an arrangement of three pillars, the doors, sides and lid decorated with finely partitioned coffering. The hinged, lockable lid drawer with a concealed keyhole, the interior lined in blue silk. An old, octagonal mirror in the lid. The inside of the cabinet with an architectural structure, the side drawers and the doors adorned with fine silk embroidery, three-dimensional in places (slightly worn here and there). The central door opens to reveal a further nine small drawers. Several concealed drawers and various secret compartments. Original, gilt locks and fittings, some of the keys replaced. The left side stamped “R” with a crown, presumably a French tax stamp, used between 1754 and 1749 for objects containing copper. Dimensions 80 x 84 x 42.5 cm. Extremely sumptuous cabinet of courtly quality. The embroidered silk interior is of the utmost rarity as it is extremely perishable, unlike cabinets embellished with metal or ivory décor. Thus, only very few specimens have survived. Similar pieces may be found in the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels or the Snyders&Rockox House Museum in Antwerp, for example. A virtually identical cabinet can be seen in the painting entitled “Vanité” by Cornelis de Vos (1584 – 1651), which today forms part of the collection of the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig.

Check the photos.

28 Sep 2019

Presidents of France Shop Here

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If you were elected President of France (or staged a coup and became the next Emperor), there is a warehouse full of valuable antique furniture just waiting to decorate your personal digs.

Messy Nessy Chic

A sprawling Art Deco reinforced concrete building, casually tucked away in the quiet backstreets of Paris’ 13th arrondissement, has been guarding the furnishings of government buildings and royal residences since the dawn of the Second World War…

Behind its bunker-thick walls, you’ll find everything from the 82 foot-long 17th century carpet that was saved from the Notre Dame blaze, airing out in the main reserve, to a selection of 20th century presidential desks that reflect the changing tastes of each decade and leader.

When a new President comes into office, this is where they’ll come to decide what kind of furniture he (and hopefully one day, she) would like to decorate the Elysée with.

A large inventory of Napoleon’s foot stools sit under plastic sheeting beside a pre-revolutionary collection of royal vases crated away and carefully inventoried on industrial shelving. In the basement, you might find a stack a French flag poles and red carpets waiting to be pulled out of storage for Bastille Day or for the Queen of England’s next visit.

At the same time as carefully conserving over 130,000 decorative items; the reserve’s mission is also to restore and manufacture. The site is home to numerous artisanal workshops, where some of the nation’s finest craftsmen are busy at work, entrusted with fixing the minor wear and tear on an antique commode from a government waiting room to restoring priceless works of art rescued from beneath the collapsing roof of a national landmark.


14 May 2015

New Old Rug

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You can display old rugs like this as art.

Good old ones have lots of wear, or costs lots of thousands.

Close-up view of pattern.

Described by seller as an “antique Caucasian Gendje rug, 19th Century, size: 37” x 65”, natural, vegetable dyes, worn condition.”

JBOC’s notes on Gendje rugs.

I thought I’d post some photos, since Bird Dog over at Maggies’s Farm is an aficionado of old rugs. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you just how I came to appreciate shot-down old carpets exhibiting lots of wear.

20 Sep 2014

Roentgen Royal Desk

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From the workshop of Abraham & David Roentgen, made for King Frederick William II of Prussia.

The clueless ninny writing at Metapicture says:

Watch what it can do and then remember this was all done with hand tools.

Young people who have never been in personal contact with the production of physical objects and who have been brought up to believe in the Whig Theory of History and the notion of Coueist Technological Progress inevitably suppose that machines can do everything better. In reality, if you want real precision, you build it with hand tools.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Nov 2013

Not Fond of the Emperor

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Also in the December Maine Antiques Digest Letter from London, sold at the 18-19 September last Sale 1186, the Collection of architect and scholar Professor Sir Albert Richardson, P.R.A., a patriotic Georgian Pearlware chamberpot, painted on the exterior with a band of ochre leaves within brown trailing circular branches and bands, and featuring within a bust of Napoleon accompanied by the motto: PEREAT. Let Him Perish!

The item, Lot 271, estimated to bring £400 – £600 ($610 – $900), actually fetched a whopping price of £6,250 ($10,081), despite a (repaired) crack across, a chip, and more than one riveted repair.

12 Oct 2013

Barn Ornament

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Down in Somerset County, next Saturday, the John Henry Mellot auction company will be holding an estate auction at a local farm.

Since they posted a photo of this round object mounted decoratively at the gable of the barn, I expect it will probably be for sale.

I’m not actually looking to own one of these myself, but I am curious as to what is the identity of this large, obviously antique, article of agricultural technology?

09 Oct 2013

A Centre County Foot

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We’re planning to spend the winter at our Pennsylvania farm, something we’ve never previously done in the quarter century that we’ve owned the place.

I’ve been frequenting farm auctions recently trying to find a cheap, but useable tractor. Last Saturday, at one of these, I picked up a 1994 Ford F-250 pickup with a snowplow. We have more than a hundred yards of driveway, and I’ve been worrying about getting marooned.

At the same auction, I could not resist buying an ancient, paneled and red-painted stepback kitchen cupboard. It was in ruinous condition, missing a piece of crown molding and several drawers. It had been sitting in the farmer’s barn, demoted from the place of honor in the farmhouse kitchen generations ago, and consigned to the mercies of the mice.

Its two pieces were still massive and when it was about to be knocked down for $80, I bid $90 and bought it myself. Karen was shaking her head at me, but I told her for that price I’d be glad to put in my own barn and store tools in it.

Someday, if I find the right furniture restorer, I might have the missing bits replaced and rehabilitate it. It certainly merits it. The auctioneer, trying to drum up some more bidding, reproached the crowd for its lack of interest, describing it as the “real article” and mentioning that it has “a Centre County foot.”

If I can get Karen to take a picture, I’ll put one up sometime.

Why are we moved by antique country furniture? The best answer I know is given in the moving 1981 cartoon Crac! by the Québécois director Frédéric Back. Just picture Pennsylvania Germans instead of Québéc French and a huge kitchen cupboard instead of a rocking chair.

14 Mar 2013

Oldest Piece of Furniture Still In Use in Britain

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A furniture retail chain, as a promotion for British furniture, set out to find the oldest piece of furniture still in daily domestic use in Britain.

I don’t suppose their search was absolutely exhaustive, but they did find the Berkeley Bed, listed in a 1608 family inventory, used by 15th generations of the Berkeley family, and still being slept in by John Berkeley, 81, and his wife Georgina, 73, in the Great State Bedroom in Berkeley Castle, site of the presumed murder of Edward II in 1327, and the third oldest continuously-occupied castle in England after the royal fortresses of the Tower of London and Windsor Castle), and the oldest to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family.

Lady Georgina Berkeley testified to the Telegraph that: “Despite its great age, it is the most comfortable bed in the castle.”

26 Sep 2012

Collecting Addiction

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An opium pipe made of Canton enamel with a jade bowl.

Steven Martin, interviewed in Collectors Weekly, developed a connoisseur’s interest in collecting antique opium pipes and smoking paraphernalia, which ultimately led to his publishing two books: in 2007, The Art of Opium Antiques and in 2012: Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction.

You have to give him credit. All collecting is addictive, but Martin managed to achieve two addictions for the price of one.

I met an expat from Austria, who was able to get opium that had been prepared specifically for smoking. This is a reason why opium smoking will never come back. First, the paraphernalia is so bulky and easy to identify that there’s just no way you can hide an opium pipe and lamp under your jacket and take it around with you. Secondly, while tons and tons of opium is harvested every year in places like Afghanistan and Burma, it’s all going straight to heroin. There’s just no demand for chandu, which is what they call opium that’s been prepared specifically for smoking.

However, this Austrian was somehow able to get enough raw opium to prepare his own chandu for smoking. And I had this bright idea—bright at the time, I thought. I said to him, “Well, you’ve got this high-quality opium for smoking, the type that isn’t even being produced anymore. You’re the only one that’s got it, and I’ve got all this great, old paraphernalia, some of it in pristine condition.” So I asked him if he’d be interested in combining the two. Over the next few years, he and I collaborated. I’d go out and visit him every month or two in the rural area where he lived, and he set aside a room in his house specifically for smoking. We decorated the room with Chinese antiques like scrolls and a traditional opium bed. …

I was going through books and getting ideas, and we tried to make it as authentic as possible. As I was still collecting and still getting different pieces of paraphernalia and pipes, I would bring them to his place and we would try them out to see how they worked. In old books, we’d read about how some of the old smokers preferred a pipe whose stem was made of sugarcane to one made of bamboo, while others preferred bamboo to a pipe made of ivory. The old books said this, but why? That’s what I wanted to know.

I was smoking so infrequently that I felt it was research. That’s how I justified it. He and I smoked every month to two months. Everything seemed fine. I started to believe that the alarmist vocabulary you find in the old books about the evils of opium was just completely overblown. I had been smoking for years and still wasn’t hooked. …

[O]pium smoking is very involved, very time-consuming. At first, that’s what I was attracted to, the whole ritual aspect of it. But then I started bringing the stuff to my apartment. That’s when things went crazy. I went from smoking opium a couple of times a week to round-the-clock. I tried getting off the stuff, but couldn’t. It was just impossible, so painful. I ended up checking into a Buddhist monastery a couple of hours north of Bangkok that specializes in treating people with addictions. …

You go through this period where it’s just unbelievably good. You just think, “I’ve discovered this great, little secret that nobody knows about.” And then at some point, it just turns the tables on you. You go from looking forward to it to absolutely needing it. It’s insidious the way it plays with your brain. It just makes life without the pipe, without the intoxication, seem really brutal and pointless. You get to the point where you can only relate to your smoking friends.

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