Published: January 7, 2020
Notable subjects detailed in our January 17, 2020 issue are hardly enigmatic — they’re all clearly special. But what is literally an enigma is our first lot of mention: a rare encryption machine used by Nazi German forces to communicate without interception and translation which sold for $106,250 at Heritage Auctions. Other bidders had time on their side as a long case clock by Adolf Loos more than doubled its high estimate at Christie’s to settle at $447,000. On the portable timepiece front, a brand new Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R-001 40mm 18K rose gold watch sold for $96,800 at Kodner. And breaking nearly ten times its high estimate, a 10-inch-tall Daum Nancy Art Nouveau cameo glass vase achieved $13,200 at World Auction Gallery. These and more await below.
DALLAS – A rare encryption machine used by Nazi German forces to communicate without interception and translation by opposing nations sold for more than four times its opening bid to end at $106,250. The cipher device was offered at Heritage Auctions on December 14 in the World War II artifacts section of its Historic Flags of World War II auction. The Enigma encrypting machine was used by the German military from 1934 until the end of the war, but fewer than 250 are believed to remain in existence. Many were destroyed by the Germans to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. This machine is a model M3 with the serial numbers of the rotors matching the machine itself, For information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
NEW YORK CITY – The December 13 design auction at Christie’s totaled $6,704,375 with the top lot being a rare long case clock, circa 1900, by Adolf Loos, which sold for $447,000 against a high estimate of $200,000, setting an auction record for the artist. The live sale included works of iconic design from the Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century with outstanding results in a group of early Twentieth Century Austrian Art Deco works. An additional outstanding result was achieved for Koloman Moser’s rare mantel clock, model no. S 771, 1907-08, which realized $411,000 and achieved a design auction record for the artist. For additional information, 212-636-2000 or www.christies.com.
DANIA BEACH, FLA. – Patek Philippe watches have been newsmakers lately, and Kodner’s holiday estate jewelry, art and collectibles sale on December 18 kept the trend going. A brand new Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1R-001 40mm 18K rose gold watch sold for $96,800. The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5711 is the world’s most desirable luxury sports watch, according to the online The Watch Lounge, which says that the wait time from authorized retailers in the United Kingdom is around eight years on average. Why so popular? The site said it can be summed up in six factors: quality, scarcity, prestige, versatility, significance, and investment value. For information, www.kodner.com or 954-925-2550.
NEW YORK CITY – With the Eiffel Tower leaning in the background, an illustration by Ludwig Bemelmans, “Sketch for Madeline,” more than tripled its $6/9,000 estimate when it sold at $22,500 at Swann Galleries’ December 10 illustration art auction. The 22½-by-15-inch illustration of Madeline and Miss Clavel in a garden of flowers at the Eiffel Tower is a gouache and ink on paper. Signed in lower right image and captioned simply “Sketch for Madeline” by Bemelmans in lower left image, the published image is not identified. For information, www.swanngalleries.com or 212-254-4710.
DENVER, PENN. – Tiffany Studios lamps may have triumphed at Morphy Auctions’ 767-lot fine and decorative arts auction on December 12, but a lot that captured the attention of many others was a charming Emile Galle faience cat, which sold for $20,910 against an estimate of $600/900. This cat was 13½ by 7½ by 5 inches and glazed yellow, as were most of the French artist’s cats, and dotted with blue and white spots, signed on the underside “E Galle Nancy.” Every cat has glass eyes and a grin. Galle was a leader of the Art Nouveau movement in France in the mid-1800s, starting his art while working at his father’s furniture and pottery factory. For information, 877-968-8880 or www.morphyauctions.com.
CHICAGO – Potter & Potter’s December 14 auction, the company’s final event of 2019, capped off the decade in a most positive way, realizing nearly $272,000. Broadsides and posters featuring early Twentieth Century magic acts took many of the top slots in this sale. A circa 1905 color lithograph of coin trick artist T. Nelson Downs (1867-1938) was estimated at $8/10,000 and delivered $15,600. This eye-popping poster featured a central bust portrait of Downs, surrounded by vignettes of his coin manipulation act, ribbons of coins and red flowers. For information, www.potterauctions.com or 773-472-1442.
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – In a sale December 15 at World Auction Gallery that saw nearly 100 pieces of art glass cross the block, pushing up the highest was a 10-inch-tall Daum Nancy Art Nouveau cameo glass vase with mushroom decoration that achieved $13,200 from a private collector bidding on the phone. A representative for the auction house said that all of the art glass sold, with many bringing three to six times the estimate; this mushroom vase made nearly ten times its $1,5/2,000 estimate. For information, 516-307-8180 or www.worldauctiongallery.com.
HATFIELD, PENN. – A winter townscape by Jean Halter (1916-1891) that set a record for the artist when Alderfer sold it for $20,700 in 2006 topped its own record on December 12, bringing $27,000 from a Chicago private collector bidding on the phone. Depicting New Hope along the Delaware River, the painting included many key elements of life on the river, such as ice skating on the canal, horse-drawn sleighs and steam locomotives. Signed and dated 1957, it is one of Halter’s earlier works. A representative for Alderfer said that more Halter paintings will be offered in March. For information, 215-393-3000 or www.alderferauction.com.
MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. – An antique African triple-blade sickle-form throwing knife or tool, possibly made of iron, hit its mark at the Benefit Shop Foundations’ Red Carpet auction on December 18, selling for $3,840. The knife is mounted and set behind Plexiglas in wood box frame. Verso has label for Gallery of Graphic Arts Ltd in New York. The knife measures approximately 29 inches in length. For information, www.thebenefitshop.org or 914-864-0707.
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