|By Carole Deutsch
BLOOMFIELD, N.J. — After three consecutive highly successful July auctions, John Nye of Nye & Company is going on record to say, “the internet has taken the seasonality out of the auction house.” He went on to comment, “The sale was a fantastic July sale aberration, which is showing a market trend that the ’summer slump’ of the auction arena has come to an end.”
The July 31 Estate Treasures Auction was characterized by outstanding diversity, that was equaled only by its high quality, and bidders competed aggressively for the “juicy” items in 675 lots. “There were many surprises,” noted Nye. “Silver was popping like crazy and nobody saw the high mark that was achieved for a bureau plat that topped the sale.”
He was referring to an elaborately inlaid ormolu mounted bureau plat that commanded an impressive $43,750. The 19th century French piece had a top and sides depicting a detailed cityscape scene with figures and animals, which had been removed from a piece of 15th to 16th century Italian furniture and then incorporated in the later French bureau plat. It was over 7 feet long and nearly 4 feet wide.
A 19th to 20th century carved marble sculpture of Pauline Bonaparte, after Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757-1822), portrayed Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, the mythological Roman goddess of love. The work, which was mounted on a custom built painted wood stand and measured 42 inches high by 40 inches overall, sold well past the mark for $13,750.
A portrait of a Rabbi, by Alois Heinrich Priechenfried (1867-1953), who painted in Germany and Austria, sold for a strong $8,750, against a presale estimate of $800 to $1,200. The oil on canvas had a sight measurement of 9 ¾ inch by 7 ¾ inches and was cataloged as having had losses to the paint.
Fierce bidding erupted over a set of four volumes of Artistic Houses that showed interior views of a number of houses that were billed as, “The Most Beautiful and Celebrated Homes in the United States.” They were printed for subscribers by D. Appleton and Company, New York, and sold “as is” with no guarantees on the condition of books. One determined bidder, who traveled from New Jersey in a torrential rain storm with a steely resolve to win the lot, raised her paddle high and did not put it down. Toward the end of the bidding she started to flounder in her resolution, but went for one more bid and won the prize for a hefty $6,875, against an estimate of $300 to $500.
The sale featured an outstanding selection of silver and carpets from the collection of Myrna and Bernard Posner, who were dedicated to those genres for more than 65 years and amassed unusual and storied pieces that generated spirited bidding that resulted in a sales rate of almost 100 percent. A silver gilt and nellio vase, possibly Chinese, from the 18th to 19th century, measuring 4 ½ inches high and weighing approximately 6 T.O., sold for $5,000, which was five times the high estimate. The strong price of $3,750 was paid for a pair of asparagus tongs from the same collection, which were marked Tiffany & Co., circa 1880, 8 T.O. They were made of parcel-gilt silver and spot hammered with applied insect and crab decorations.
A rare and important Four Seasons quilt, also from the Posner collection, was described as having a profuse applique and broderie perse decoration of birds, trees, butterflies, flowers, and wild animal life. The catalog noted, “What is particularly unusual is the use of approximately 100 applied berries - each individually handmade and then sewn on the background separately.” The quilt was likely made by Jane Ann Bidwell (1799-1865), Jersey City, N.J., circa 1840, and achieved $4,063.
A Chinese necklace garnered some preview attention when a nine year old girl took a fancy to it and John Nye allowed her to wear it. It was part of a lot of three Chinese and Japanese silver and enamel pieces that included two necklaces and a bracelet from the late 19th to early 20th century. They were all similarly decorated with depictions of a lion, a fish, and flowers, and were estimated at $600 to $800 for the three. Apparently the little nine year old was a sharp fashion aficionado, or she added a great deal of charm to the necklace, because the lot ended up selling for a surprising $4,688.
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