Category Archive 'Christie’s'
18 Feb 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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That Skull and Bones balloting box was not actually sold. Apparently, Christie’s withdrew it from the sale late last month, IvyGate reports, after receiving a mysterious “title claim.” The Russell Trust has plenty of lawyers.


Hot Air (one of the most important conservative blogs) has been sold to Salem Communications. Congratulations and good luck.


As part of the Carnival celebration, preceding the beginning of Lent, in the Spanish village of Laza, “Peliqueiros” or ancient tax collectors, are portrayed wearing warning cowbells and prepared to beat the villagers with sticks. 39 Carnival photos.


Stratfor: Tradecraft in Dubai Assassination
3:14 video

08 Jan 2010

Bones Ballot Box To Be Sold By Christie’s

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Christies will be selling at its New York sale 2287, titled Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver & Chinese Export, on January 22nd, lot 157, a Skull and Bones balloting box, along with a membership book dated 1872, the graduation year of the former owner, Edward T. Owen (1850 – 1931).

Owen, after Yale, studied at Gottingen and the University of Paris, and became in 1878 professor of French language and literature at the University of Wisconsin. He taught for one year (1886) at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Owen was also a successful real estate investor and played a prominent role in creating the park system of Wisconsin’s capital, personally donating significant portions of the city’s parks and drives.

Professor Owen apparently, as a hobby, amassed a very important collection of “lithodoctra,” which he he left to the University of Wisconsin. I am particularly impressed myself, finding the word completely unknown to both Google and the Oxford English Dictionary. Litho is obviously “stone” and doctra “teaching, instruction.” But what on earth are lithodoctra?

Professor Owen’s Bones material includes 50 photographs of members of the Yale Senior Society, including future President William Howard Taft; Morrison Remick White, who later became Chief Justice, and William Maxwell Evarts, who went on to become US Secretary of State.

Yale Daily News

London Times

HuffPo recently linked a 4:49 video allegedly showing a courtyard behind the Society’s High Street tomb and investigating a crawlspace beneath the building.

23 Aug 2008

A Rather Expensive Utamaro

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Kitagawa Utamaro (1753?-1806), Mono omou koi (Reflective Love),
from the series of five prints entitled Kasen koi no bu (Anthology of Poems: The Love Section), c. 1793-94

Estimated to sell for $1,000,000 – $1,500,000 at the Christie’s auction sale of Japanese & Korean art scheduled for September 18, 2008 at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Jeffrey Olson
‘s excellent description reads (in part):

Her underrobe lies loose about her neck, as in a casual moment at the end of a day, and her eyes are unusually compressed to give the sense of the heavy-lidded stare of the daydreamer. Features or dress that might define personality or status or period are absent. Utamaro is using “delicious approximations” to decant the sensation from the scene.2
The visual glory of Reflective Love begins with the contrasts between the planes of color. The violet inner robe and matching silk hair tie are breathtaking. Purple, one of the most fugitive hues, tends to fade to grayish brown. The muted colors of the Reflective Love in the Musée Guimet prompted Richard Lane to remark on Utamaro’s subdued palette.3 Its cool tone conveys a somber mood, a brooding over something lost or never to be. The impression here—the vermilion lips and cuff lining, the velvet swirl of hair—is stirring (fig. 1). The underrobe is in a traditional tie-dyed dappled pattern (kanoko shibori moyo) that appears often in Japanese prints, usually on undergarments. Utamaro uses it to stage intimate settings, as here. The middle robe has the trellis design of plain-weave robes from crossing warp and weft threads. The fabric of the outerrobe represents crepe treated with wax resist so that the clusters of plovers and dots, symbolizing clouds or waves, appear white against the dyed grey.
The pink mica ground is exceedingly rare. …

Shibui Kiyoshi (1899-1992), a collector and scholar of Japanese woodcuts, offered that the pink mica of Reflective Love represents the light of a lantern. Extending his implication that the background is not simply a costly gloss, but is intended to establish mood by suggesting the time of day, one might equally see the pink as crepuscular. To take another step, consider the poem by Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241) using the same pivot, “vacant reverie” (omoi), to which Emperor Komyo linked his poem in the sequence mentioned above:

kino kyo Yesterday, today–
kumo no hatate nino matter how I gaze in vacant reverie
nagamu tote toward the cloud tips
mi mo senu hito no tinted in the evening, how can I know
omoi ya wa shiru the feelings of one I cannot see?
(Fuga waka shu X: 954)

2:19 recording.

22 Oct 2006

T.E. Lawrence’s Compass

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Lieutenant-Colonel T.E. Lawrence, CB, DSO (1888 —1935)

Christie’s, at a London sale titled Exploration and Travel with the Polar Sale Including The Amundsen Collection on September 28th last, sold T.E. Lawrence‘s compass, watch and cigarette case for £254,400 ($477,305), more than 15 times the auction estimate.


The Guardian observed:

The Swiss-made brass compass was included, with the watch and cigarette case, in an exhibition last year at the Imperial War Museum in London. The inscription in the case, which carries his own portrait, explains that they were given to his driver, Corporal Albert Richard Evans, after the Paris peace conference in 1919.

The watch was a cheap one bought in Paris, but the copper case, polished so that it shone like gold, attracted a thief in Syria who tried to rob Lawrence.

Nick Lambourn, Christie’s expert, said: “With Lawrence, as with Stanley or Captain Scott, these are often very idiosyncratic, eccentric figures – but they push the boundaries beyond what us mere mortals could ever achieve.”

Indeed. Lawrence was apparently so “very idiosyncratic” that he was giving away personal cigarette cases, despite being a confirmed non-smoker, and so “very eccentric” that these kinds of personal gifts had been, according to Christie’s, presented to his driver, despite Lawrence never having any driver.

The Daily Mail reports that a knowledgeable biographer blew the whistle on the fraud. Christie’s still seems to be in denial.

Someone’s brass Swiss compass

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