Published: October 23, 2001
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – Butterfields and Los Angeles Modern Auctions’ first offering of Twentieth Century decorative arts brought more than $1,000,000 on September 23 as a standing-room-only crowd vied against eager Internet bidders for examples of Modern design furniture and decorations, art glass and vintage posters.
George Nakashima designs attracted bidder interest as a Nakashima coffee table designed circa 1950 sold for $7,637.50 and his “Conoid” dining table of American black walnut designed circa 1966, offered with a Flocati carpet and his original signed design drawing, exceeded its estimate to bring $14,100.
An aggressive Internet bidder succeeded for a Nakashima circa 1955 burled walnut wall cabinet, paying $7,637.50, just over the estimate. Nakashima’s circa 1955 burled walnut coffee table sold for nearly three times its estimate, fetching $11,162.50.
Each of the more than 20 Charles and Ray Eames lots sold strong, most notably the prices paid for the “ESU 100N” and “ESU 200N” drawer cabinets, two of the four lots doubling their estimates. A “Chieftain” chair, designed by Finn Juhl in 1949, doubled its estimate to bring $16,450. A set of six Finn Juhl teak and leather “Egyptian” dining chairs from 1949 sold above estimate for $4,700.
A series of George Nelson designs sold including multiple examples of his 1958 “CSS” contract storage systems, each selling above or within estimate and featuring extruded aluminum supports and walnut veneered cabinets and shelves. Nelson clocks were offered with bidding for a circa 1948 “Spike” wall clock ticking to $940 and the Nelson “Ball” clock selling for $705.
A bidding battle pushed the price for Nelson’s “Paddle Wheel” clock to twice the estimate – bringing $2,232.50. A six-piece set of Nelson’s bent plywood “pretzel” chairs, Herman Miller, designed 1956, brought an above-estimate $8,225.
Innovative designs continue to attract collector and designer interest and a Gunter Ferdinand Ris and Herbert Selldorf “Sunball” chair designed circa 1969 and produced in Germany features rainbow-colored upholstery, a yellow plastic-coated fiberglass case and a radio with speakers inside the chair’s shell. It sold for $9,987.50, above estimate.
A red painted molded plastic Eero Aarnio “Tomato” chair brought $2,643.75 and a Pierre Cardin wood with aluminum veneer coffee table sold for $1,057, each above estimate.
An interesting auction “discovery” was a Poul Volther “Corona” chair by Erik Jorgensen, designed circa 1962, found by a Los Angeles woman in a local newspaper. The consignor paid $250 for the chair, was delighted to have it appraised at $2,500 to $3,000, and a bidder paid $4,700 for the lot. Another interesting lot was an Art Deco carved walnut sofa, 10 feet in length, commissioned for the Grand Bar in Los Angeles’s Pantages Theater circa 1930. The landmark theater’s interiors had been designed by Anthony B. Heinsbergen and this red velvet sofa with carved geometric motifs doubled its estimate to sell for $5,287.50.
Within the American and European art glass sections of the auction, bidders competed for Tiffany pieces with a pair of Tiffany patinated bronze and Favrile glass prism wall sconces selling for twice the estimate at $7,050 and a wonderful Tiffany patinated bronze “Aladdin” floor lamp bringing the same price. Each of the 14 Tiffany lots offered found buyers.
Bidder interest in the delicate examples of Daum Nancy cameo glass was strong, a buyer paying $16,450 for a circa 1900 cameo class boudoir lamp from that studio featuring a trailing vine and pendant grape design estimated at $8/12,000. A Lalique enameled and molded glass chandelier, “Boule de Gui,” featuring a mistletoe motif, the model introduced in 1922, sold for $9,400. Other lamps sold with several Handel interior-painted examples leading the lots.
Two Handel patinated metal lamps were offered featuring the “chipped and sanded” glass finish on their shades – a landscape depiction brought $7,050 and early Twentieth Century shade with roses sold for $9,987.50. A Handel interior-painted Treasure Island patinated metal lamp with images of boats and palm trees sold for $9,987.50, just above estimate.
The sale opened with 69 lots of Art Nouveau and Art Deco prints, many selling for strong prices. A series of 15 Louis Icart prints sold, including $3,231.25 paid for Icart’s 1923 etching and aquatint “Pals,” signed in pencil, annotated and dated. “Miss America,” published from Paris in 1927, is an oval-shaped etching and aquatint with touches of hand-coloring depicting a blond beauty draped in “Old Glory” alongside white doves. It sold for $2,173.75.
Erte prints and a sculpture were offered with a buyer paying $4,700 for “The Twenties Remembered Again,” 1978, a complete portfolio of eight Erte silkscreens, each signed, numbered and framed. An Erte (Roman de Tirtoff) 16-inch high crystal and bronze vase, “Firebirds,” 1989, inscribed with signature, stamped and numbered, sold for $1,997.50.
Alphonse Mucha’s “Paris, 1900,” created in 1899 to chronicle Austria’s presence at the 1900 World’s Fair held in “The City of Light,” brought $4,700.
Top lot of the print section was a groovy collection of 124 “Bill Graham Presents” rock concert posters for San Francisco’s famous Fillmore Auditorium from 1966-69. The color lithograph posters included promotions for Grateful Dead, Howling Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane gigs, among many others, one poster noting the ticket price of $2.50. The poster collection brought $9,400.
Arms and Armor
Butterfields’ September 24 offering of antique arms and armor in San Francisco included historically significant artifacts of wartime as well as lots of celebrity-related material bringing nearly $1.1 million for 748 lots.
A world record price was set when a bidder paid $57,875 for the original Paladin Colt single action revolver used on the CBS-TV series Have Gun, Will Travel. Offered was actor Richard Boone’s revolver and buscadero rig, featuring a steel-lined holster with signature Paladin silver knight emblem mounted to the black leather. With the lot were letters of provenance, including a document from the Colt factory stating the gun was shipped to a NY dealer in 1876, as well as an original Have Gun, Will Travel comic book. The television series aired from 1957 until 1963 and the buscadero rig was marked as designed by Arvo Ojala, considered the originator of the buscadero rig.
A custom shop boxed pair of Colt single action revolvers stamped “The Lone Ranger” came direct from the collection of actor Clayton Moore. Moore’s long career is highlighted by his role as the masked hero on the television series The Lone Ranger, which began airing in 1949. Moore played the character until the series was cancelled in 1957 and passed away in 1999 at the age of 85. A buyer paid $37,750 for his Colts, estimated at $15/$20,000.
The sale’s pistols, revolvers, rifles and other arms comprised Civil War artifacts as well as rdf_Descriptions from the World Wars. One interesting lot was the English riding saddle owned by Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. Unmarked brown leather fitted with brass stirrups decorated with a Chinese cloisonne floral motif, the saddle had been given to an Army Lieutenant after WWII. The lot included a portfolio of newspaper articles relating to the gift, a section of Hirohito’s horse’s mane and notarized letter from a US Colonel attesting to the provenance. A bidder paid $10,575 for the lot.
A fine Sharps Model 1874 sporting rifle customized by Freund & Brother of Cheyenne, Wyoming doubled its estimate to bring $52,125 while a scarce Model 1860 iron frame Henry level action rifle sold for $34,875. Another rare long arm, a Winchester Model 1866 level action musket with military sights and 30-inch barrel, sold for $17,625.
A pair of edged weapons within the sales top-selling lots were both Confederate, one a short sword alleged to have been discovered at the Gettysburg battlefield, its blade cut down to 15-inches. The other, a scarce Confederate officer’s saber by Nashville Plow Works, featured a 30-inch curved blade and the raised lettering “CSA.” The curved blade saber brought $12,925 while the relic short sword sold for ten times its estimate bringing $11,750.
A rare circa 1850 Howard & Davis gold balance scale housed in an oak cabinet, together with weights, ephemera and accessories was sold for $57,875. The scales were used at a brokerage house until 1877 or 1878 and later at several banks in Oregon until the 1920s, in its heyday, weighing precious metals during the height of the gold rush.
Property from the Estate of George and Merian Stoll
A standing-room-only crowd of collectors, dealers and bargain-hunters amassed at the firm’s Los Angeles gallery on Monday, September 10 to bid for property from the estate of George and Merian Stoll. She had been an actress while Mr Stoll had served for 35 years as MGM’s musical director. An unidentified buyer paid $156,875 for “Georgie” Stoll’s Academy Award for 1945’s Anchors Aweigh and strong prices were seen for many of the rare and fine lots of furniture, decorative arts and entertainment memorabilia from the couple’s LA and Pebble Beach homes. Property from the Stoll Estate garnered more than $1.2 million dollars.
George Martin Stoll passed away in 1984 at the age of 82. His wife, the late Merian “Dallas” Stoll, died early this year. Stoll, according to the LA Times, was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and contributed to more than 80 motion pictures including The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St Louis, Babes in Arms and Strike up the Band. His Oscar was expected to sell for $10/20,000 before highly competitive bidding sent the price toward the stars.
Other examples of “industry” memorabilia saw strong bidding. A collection of Wizard of Oz musical manuscripts and orchestral arrangements, including the opening score to “Over the Rainbow,” sold over the estimate – bringing $5,875. A lot of 20 pen and pencil original musical arrangements for 1930s Bing Crosby performances brought $2,643.75.
Twenty hand-written musical arrangements by Stoll for Judy Garland sold for $2,115 and a collection of 32 letters, notes, postcards and telegrams to the Stolls from the likes of Harpo Marx, Louis B. Mayer, Elvis Presley and Fernando Lamas, among others, sold for $940. Mr. Stoll’s German-made viola brought $22,225, more than four times the estimate.
The Stoll diamond, a 30-carat emerald-cut fancy yellow stunner offered during Butterfields’ Fine Jewelry & Timepieces auction on September 25, brought an over-estimate $288,875 while Mr Stoll’s circa 1948 gold Patek Phillipe, Geneve Moonphase, perpetual calendar, chronograph wristwatch sold for $90,875 (est $30/60,000).
The Stolls’ 24-volume collection of the Works of Leo Tolstoy, estimated $800 to $1,200 brought $7,050. Furniture aficionados competed for the Stolls’ rare American mahogany globe on stand. The globe was made circa 1850 and is quite rare given its New York origins. It brought more than four times its estimate selling for $26,250 while a heavily decorated Italian “Magic Lantern,” a circa 1862 predecessor to the modern slide projector, offered with 29 pictorial slides, sold for $33,725. In all, 650 lots from the estate were offered to bidders in Los Angeles as well as via the Internet through eBay’s Live Auctions capability.
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