Published: June 25, 2019
Historical science and mathematical works turned out competitive and historic bidding this week. A first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection sold for $500,075 at Bonhams, a world auction record for a presentation copy of the title. The dedicated single-lot sale for Luca Pacioli’s Summa de Arithmetica (1447-1517) realized $1,215,000 after two minutes of competitive bidding among the telephones and the room at Christie’s sale of books and manuscripts. On the cool side, an elephant table was boosted to $6,600 by a circa 1900 photo of it in a parlor at Blackwell Auctions’ June 15 estates auction. And cooler still, Burt Reynolds’ last custom-owned 1979 Pontiac Trans Am sold for $317,500 at Julien’s Auctions. Fine art and Chinese furniture kept the gavels busy at other auctions across the United States.
NEW YORK CITY – A first edition, early presentation copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection sold for $500,075, a world auction record for a presentation copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, at Bonhams’ books and manuscripts sale on June 13. Estimated $200/300,000, it saw competitive bidding in the auction room. After a four-way bidding battle, the book sold to a client on the telephone. The 302-lot sale achieved a total of $1,270,890 and was sold 85 percent by lot and 94 percent by value. For information, 212-644-9001 or www.bonhams.com.
NEW YORK CITY – On June 12, Christie’s sale of books and manuscripts, including Americana, achieved a total of $4,693,750. The dedicated single-lot sale for Luca Pacioli’s Summa de Arithmetica (1447-1517) realized $1,215,000 (shown) after two minutes of competitive bidding among the telephones and the room. Other notable results included Edgar Allan Poe’s gold pocket watch bearing his engraved name within, which realized $250,000; signed galley proofs of Francis Crick and James Watson’s articles on DNA: “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids,” which achieved $350,000, and a first French edition of Karl Bodmer’s Voyage dans l’intérieur de l’Amérique du Nord, which sold for $187,500. For information, www.christies.com or 212-636-2000.
LOS ANGELES – Julien’s Auctions conducted its two-day auction of property from the estate of Burt Reynolds, June 15-16, at The Standard Oil in Beverly Hills in front of an excited crowd of memorabilia collectors and fans of the Hollywood actor bidding live on the floor, online and on the phone across the globe. The top moment of the auction was the sale of the 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am custom built by Bandit Movie Cars for Reynolds and his business partner Gene Kennedy. The iconic movie vehicle, synonymous with Reynolds’ iconic character Bandit from one of the top box office road movie franchises of all time, Smokey and the Bandit, sold for $317,500. Reynolds used this car on the 2017 Bandit Run, as well as on several cross-country rallies that celebrated the 40-year anniversary of the film. The car has 70,000 original miles. For information, 310-836-1818 or www.juliensauctions.com.
OAKLAND, CALIF. – Chinese huanghuali furniture took center stage on June 16 at Clars Auction Gallery when it hosted its semi-annual Asian art and antiques sale. Presented was a selection of property from California estates, museums, private institutions and collections. The top seller was a Chinese huanghuali altar table that was estimated to sell for $3/5,000 but sold for $49,200. The 62½-inch-wide huanghuali and mixed wood altar table featured a single top panel flanked by upturned flanges, the apron fronted by dragons in relief, on trestle supports with openwork side panels pierced with additional dragons. For information, 510-428-0100 or www.clars.com.
SANDWICH, MASS. – Duncan Gray of Sandwich Auction House conducted a diverse spring antiques and art auction on June 15. “We had a Chinese porcelain plaque that fetched $17,835, even though it had a chip,” said Gray. “It skyrocketed over estimate because the bidders were able to identify the artist as Pan Taoyu (1887-1926).” The artist is noted for his figure and bird-and-flower imagery, refined enamel colors and inscriptions in elegant calligraphy. For information, 508-888-1926 or www.sandwichauction.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Swann Galleries continued its spring season on June 13 with a specialized sale of American art, a 340-lot offering of paintings and works on paper ranging from the late Nineteenth Century to the late Twentieth Century. Ben Shahn led the sale with “Men on a Bench,” a gouache on paper, circa 1940, which sold for $50,000. Measuring 19½ by 24 inches, signed in gouache lower right recto, the work had been acquired directly from the artist and came from a private collection. It is related to the artist’s color screen print “Seward Park,” 1936. For information, www.swanngalleries.com or 212-254-4710.
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – At Eldred’s June 13-14 fine and decorative arts auction, a Rolex ladies Oyster perpetual date watch in stainless steel and 18K yellow gold sold for $7,200 to lead the sale. With a fluted bezel and black dial with gold-tone hands and sticks, the watch was running when it crossed the block. For information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.
CLEARWATER, FLA. – A cool elephant table was boosted by a circa 1900 photo of it in a parlor at Blackwell Auctions’ June 15 estates auction. Going out at $6,600, the Nineteenth Century Anglo-Raj-style side table with elephant form legs was of ebonized wood with carved wooden tusks in light wood. The lot included a photo of the table itself standing in the parlor of a large home, captioned “One corner of the parlor, 1900.” The table measured 36 inches tall, with an 18-inch diameter. For information, www.blackwellauctions.com or 727-546-0200.
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