Published: March 13, 2012
Clars Auction Gallery’s February 18‱9 antiques and fine art sale surpassed all previous sales for the firm, realizing $1.8 million over two days. Fueled by important works in American design, investment quality fine art and significant special collections, in addition to being the highest grossing sale for the firm, record attendance was seen at preview and in bidder numbers. Clars President Redge Martin knew early that this sale could go over the top.
The key offering in this sale was a rare Tiffany “Aztec” dagger designed by G. Paulding Farnham in the early 1900s. This powerful piece was executed in sterling, ivory and faceted obsidian. Farnham’s use of obsidian was in direct homage to the Aztec culture where they used obsidian to create the sharpest daggers possible, even sharper than diamonds. Farnham is regarded as the most eminent jewelry designer Tiffany ever employed. His works are scarce and highly sought, according to Martin.
The dagger was offered without reserve, and the estimate was a conservative $10/20,000. Martin opened the bidding at $5,000, and it quickly escalated to a final price of $105,000, going to an institution to be part of its permanent collection.
Topping the fine art category was Andy Warhol’s screen print “Apple” from the “Ads Suite” (FS II-359). Coming to the block in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, this work was expected to perform well and it did, selling for $35,550.
Achieving the same price and surpassing its high estimate was a gelatin silver print “Aspens, Northern New Mexico,” 1958, by Ansel Adams (1902‱984). Also surpassing its high estimate was the framed oil on canvas, “Portrait of a Young Man,” by Theodule Ribot (French, 1823‱891), which sold for $23,700.
More than doubling its high estimate, an 1854 bronze sculpture, “Diana,” by Elkington Mason & Co. (British, Nineteenth Century) surprised many when it sold at $18,960; it was followed by a bronze sculpture, “The Dance,” 1908, by Bessie Potter Vonnoh (American, 1872‱955), which sold for the same price.
A collection of 200 lots of US and world gold and silver coins earned $500,000 overall. The top three lots in this special collection were two offerings of unopened master packs of 500 1-ounce American silver eagles dated 2009, which brought $16,590 and $17,775 respectively. A lot of approximately 1,000 silver half dollars, weighing 12,485 grams, sold for $11,850.
During the Saturday session, an extensive collection of domestic and international stamps was offered in 50 lots. The entire collection earned more than $13,000, with the top lot being a grouping of Chinese first day cover 8¢ stamps dated 1981, which sold for $2,015.
The historic journals and photographs of Albert Chandler Brown (1855‱920), including his Civil War diaries with accounts of and his conversations with President Lincoln and Edwin McMasters Stanton, the secretary of war, earned a solid $17,775.
A Native American basket collection saw a 99 percent sell-through, confirming the ongoing enthusiasm for these works. The top seller in this collection was a Pomo burden basket that realized $2,370.
The Asian category featured a wide assortment of items from the collection of the USC Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles to benefit its acquisitions fund. This collection earned more than $85,000 †the top lot being a Chinese carved pink tourmaline, which sold for $5,000.
The top lot overall in the Asian offerings was a Chinese blue and purple glazed pear-shaped vase with an apocryphal Yongzheng mark, which sold for more than 100 times its estimate at $13,000.
Jewelry was the final category that brought consistently strong results. A stunning solitaire diamond ring set with one emerald-cut diamond weighing 2.52 carats and accented by 62 diamonds weighing 0.64 carats earned $14,200. A diamond Buccellati ring and earring suite set in 18K yellow and white gold sold for $7,700, followed by a lady’s diamond Rolex Datejust wristwatch in 18K white gold that realized $11,250.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For more information 510-428-0100 or www.clars.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm