Published: December 31, 2018
A collector redefined the saying “shake, rattle, and roll” in a successful bid to own a Native American Tlingit rattle — shaking other bidders and rolling out of the auction house door for $500,000. An exceptional item for Star Wars collectors in the form of John Mollo’s costume sketch book brought more than $150,000 joining a unique Kellogg cobalt jug, a Qing dynasty planter, and various jewelry and art to round out this week’s “Across The Block.”
LOS ANGELES – The December 11 sale of Native American art at Bonhams was led by a Tlingit rattle, circa 1770-90, which realized $504,500. Attributed to Kadjisdu.axch, the greatest carver of wood among the Tlingit people, this rattle is expertly carved in the form of an oystercatcher with several figures, including an eagle, a bear and a wolf. This work was originally collected by Dr Hugh S. Wyman (1858-1913), an assistant surgeon aboard the USS Pinta, stationed in Sitka, along with fellow officer and noted ethnographer George T. Emmons in 1884. For information, 323-850-7500 or www.bonhams.com.
NORTHFIELD, MASS. – A singular and possibly unique 3-gallon jug, signed SD Kellogg and with a large and bold blue cobalt decoration, sold for $5,300 at Northfield Auctions on December 10. The decoration of an iconic tree springing from the earthen base has a Kellogg mark that was used only from 1851-53. It is speculated that Maria (Kellogg) Crafts, daughter of Whately potter Caleb Crafts, who died in 1854, may have made this piece as a memorial to her father. Some authorities reference Maria as the female decorator for the Kellogg Pottery, and no similar decoration has ever been found on Kellogg wares, making this piece particularly enigmatic, according to Northfield’s Paul Gorzocoski III. For information, 413-498-0221 or www.northfieldauctions.com.
GUILFORD, CONN. – Lotus International Auctions finished the year with its December 16 fine art online-only auction that had winning bidders throughout the United States and overseas. A top highlight was a work by Tadashi Sato, who was a member of the “Honolulu Seven.” His oil painting, a semi-abstract titled “Water,” was competitively bid up to the winning price of $17,500. For information, 203-689-5062.
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle conducted an auction of photographs on December 13, showcasing images spanning the early period of the medium up to the present day. Among the offerings were examples by Robert Adams, Eugene Atget, Lewis Baltz, Manuel Ãlvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston, Peter Henry Emerson, Lalla Essaydi, Robert Mapplethorpe and others. Featured in the sale was property from the collection of Anne Horton, a pioneering expert in photography during its formative years as an auction house category. Robert Mapplethorpe’s (1946-1989) large-format photogravure, “Irises,” 1987, edition of 27, sold at the top of its estimate for $31,250. The auction totaled $437,094. For information, 212-427-4141 or www.doyle.com.
GLEN COVE, N.Y. – The top lot at Roland Auctions’ estate sale on December 15 was a 1.31-carat Art Deco ring that sold for $6,250, within estimate. With a four-prong platinum setting, the European-cut diamond was 7-G, VS-1 in color and described as having no fluorescence. For information, www.rolandauctions.com or 212-260-2000.
NEW YORK CITY – At Swann Galleries’ auction of maps and atlases, natural history and color plate books on December 12, a large-folio Currier & Ives hand-colored lithograph heightened with gum arabic, 20½ by 29 inches, came to the block with a $7/10,000 estimate. “Across the Continent / Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way,” formerly in the collection of Thomas Winthrop Streeter, New York, 1868, marched to $62,500. The work was described as “a very attractive, unrestored example of one of the best-known collaborations between Fanny Palmer and Currier & Ives.” In a sale that totaled $723,009, this was the top lot. For information, 212-254- 4710 or www.swanngalleries.com.
SARASOTA, FLA. – An exquisitely composed blue and white Qing dynasty porcelain bowl on carved wood stand was featured at Amero Auctions on December 9. The lyrically decorated bowl is believed to date to the very early Qing dynasty; bidders seemed to agree, aggressively bidding by phone and internet to push the final price to $94,400 above an estimate of $1/1,500. With an interior of white, the planter stands 10 inches high and measures 24 inches in diameter at the top. The carved wood base is 23¾ inches high by 21 inches wide. For information, 941-330-1577 or www.ameroauctions.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Showplace conducted an auction on December 16 with many unusual pieces on offer. A Graff London platinum, six prong-set diamonds and two large cultured South Sea pearls necklace, comprising three round-cut brilliant diamonds and three marquis-cut diamonds, a round pink pearl and a tear drop white pearl, a platinum chain and lobster clasp, marked “Graff /4500,” was the top lot when it sold at $10,000. The necklace came with its certificate and sold at its high estimate. For information, www.nyshowplace.com or 212-633-6063.
LONDON – A sketchbook showing the original hand-drawn costume designs for key characters in Star Wars – including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and the Stormtroopers – sold for $157,750 at Bonhams on December 11. The sketchbook was part of the 73-lot sale titled “Designing an Empire: The John Mollo Archive,” and it was in the collection belonging to the family of John Mollo. Mollo was the double Oscar-winning costume designer for Star Wars, Gandhi, Alien and Chaplin. Katherine Schofield, head of Bonhams entertainment memorabilia department, said, “John Mollo’s personal sketchbook provides a unique insight into the creation of the Star Wars universe.” Mollo was commissioned in 1975 by George Lucas to work on the Star Wars series. Lucas urged Mollo to avoid the stereotypical space-age look of earlier science fiction productions and instead to focus his designs on the pivotal concept of light versus darkness. For more information, www.bonhams.com or +44 20 7447 7447.
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