Published: January 12, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Nest Egg Auctions
BERLIN, CONN. – Not even Covid-19 could prevent Nest Egg Auctions from conducting its annual Gala New Year’s Auction, an event auctioneer Ryan Brechlin said the firm has been conducting every year for more than 20 years. The sale raked in $278,500 with nearly 400 lots crossing the block and, with online bidding available through Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers as well as Nest Egg Auction’s own platform, more than 97 percent of lots gaveled down successfully. When we reached Brechlin by phone a couple days after the sale, he was rightfully enthusiastic.
“It was an excellent sale with fantastic results; we’re very pleased,” he said. “The online market is the best we’ve ever seen it and Covid has tripled our registrations. We’re seeing new bidders and buyers in each sale.”
Wristwatches have been a hot commodity and several in the sale performed to or exceeded expectations, with a men’s Rolex Daytona Cosmograph bringing the sale’s top price of $15,470. The watch was being sold as part of a bankruptcy settlement and did not include a box, papers, manufacturer’s tags or additional links, the lack of which may have kept the price relatively modest but still within its estimate of $12/16,000. The watch sold to a private collector in the United States who was bidding on the phone. A women’s Rolex Cellini Cellissima wristwatch that was also part of the bankruptcy settlement sold for $3,444 to an online buyer bidding on LiveAuctioneers.
Other notable watch results include a men’s Rolex Datejust example in 18K yellow gold and stainless steel with champagne dial and was complete with original box, links and papers. It had been consigned from a Newington, Conn., collector and sold to a local buyer, bidding in the room, for $7,080. A collector in California proved tenacious enough to win a women’s Cartier Tank watch in 18K gold electroplated case with enamel Roman numeral dial and blue cabochon crown with original leather strap for $2,360, considerably past its estimate.
Nest Egg was selling the second – and higher valued – half of a Meriden, Conn., collection that featured 11 works by New York Pop artist Charles Fazzino (American, b 1955). His “The World Loves NYC” measured 42 inches high by 92½ inches wide and fetched $11,070 from a collector in the United States who was bidding on LiveAuctioneers. It was the second highest price realized in the sale and was followed by another of Fazzino’s works, titled “New York: The Big Apple” that was embellished with Swarovski crystals that sold to a collector in Germany, bidding on Invaluable, for $9,840. Brechlin noted that about half of the works by Fazzino were acquired by the same buyer with a few going to the trade and a couple going to the same buyer in Germany. His New York City scenes commanded the higher prices, with a view of Las Vegas bringing $1,770, the same price achieved for “That Weekend at the Jersey Shore.” A Fazzino New York 3D limited edition Monopoly game topped off at $560, while a world-version 3D limited edition Scrabble finished at $501.
A decade ago, Nest Egg sold the photographic archive of Roaring Twenties photographer, Alfred Cheney Johnston, for more than $1 million. That sale brought Nest Egg into the radar of vintage photograph collectors who have followed the sales of similar material since then. Brechlin sated them again by selling an archive of Jazz Age photography, Broadway and ballet photographs and ephemera from a Florida collection. The lot, which included hundreds of photos, snapshots, letters, programs and clippings featured, among others, Leon Barte Cooke, Dorothy Arden & Fred Renard, Maria “Gamby” Gambarelli, Georgie Carson, Fred Brock, Achille Volpe, Fred Townsend, Nikolas Murray, Maurice Seymour and others. After heated bidding, the lot waltzed off to a buyer in New York City for $5,605.
International bidders turned out in force, bidding – often successfully – for more of the sale’s top lots. A bidder in Lithuania was undeterred by the condition of two rare half-liter 9-inch-tall German porcelain character steins, a boy and a girl, that were each signed Musterschutz. The pair finished well beyond the estimate, closing at $4,425. A buyer in London bidding on LiveAuctioneers prevailed against Chinese buyers who were bidding on a pewter and brass or bronze incense burner clock from the early Twentieth Century Republic period. Despite a diminutive size, it fired up interest and finally sold for $4,305. Of similar vintage, a Chinese Republic period military medal of the Order of the Precious Brilliant Golden Grain in parcel gilding and silver came from an estate in Connecticut. Despite Chinese competition, it sold to a buyer in Massachusetts, for $3,186.
Furniture and decorative arts lots saw a few surprises, beginning with the first lot in the sale, an American Art Nouveau carved oak drop-front desk with oak leaf and acorn carvings that dated to the Nineteenth Century but had a Twentieth Century restoration. Estimated at $300/500, the piece brought $1,770 from a collector in Nevada who, for $2,242, also acquired a pair of oak and glass barrister bookcases made by Wernicke that were from a local estate. The bookcases were made before the company merged with Globe in 1899.
Some collectors acquire on a general level, others pursue items with a much more narrow focus. A collection of 78 folding fruit knives assembled over 20 years was the result of the latter. The collection featured examples in sterling, silverplate and mother-of-pearl, American and English, from the early Nineteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. The collector who had acquired them retained information and research on each knife in a journal that accompanied the collection. Noted as “a collection not often seen offered at auction together,” the lot sold to a buyer in New Jersey for $2,950.
Among fine art highlights, a later casting after Auguste Rodin’s bronze “Jean d’Aire” “from the Burghers of Calais” was made by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in Paris and hailed from a collection in Southington, Conn. A long-time client of Nest Egg from Massachusetts took it for $2,832. A seascape by American painter Paul Landry (b 1933) sold for $1,652, the best price realized for four works by the artist in the sale. All of the Landry works were from a Bridgeport, Conn., collection and generated interest on the phones and online, with one collector acquiring three of the four.
Approximately 50 lots of coin and currency closed out the sale, with five standout lots, notably a 1904 $20 Liberty Head gold coin that bidders took to $2,242, a 2016 $50 American Gold Eagle coin that finished at $2,124, two $50 American Gold buffalo coins, one from 2007, the other from 2006, each of which finished at $2,124, the same price realized for a 1900 $20 Liberty Head gold coin.
Nest Egg’s next sale will take place in May.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
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