Published: January 19, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Lark Mason Associates
NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS & ONLINE – For those who think Lark Mason Associates only sells Chinese and Asian works of art and antiquities, think again. To be sure, that category is the undisputed bread and butter for the eponymous firm started by Chinese and Asian works of art expert, Lark E. Mason, but the company has, for some time, been expanding its purview and is making greater strides to incorporate a wider variety of collecting categories. To that end, the “Objects for an Elegant Lifestyle” sale totaled about $160,000 with nearly 80 percent of lots selling. The auction, which was online from December 15 to January 7, was conducted exclusively on www.igavelauctions.com.
It was, in the words of Mason’s son, Lark E. Mason III, “a litmus test for the year to come. It was an interesting sale, with very good results. We did not put anything of very high value in; it was a big mix of things. We had a nice collection of Spanish retablos that sold well, and some militaria that was an experiment.”
Mason noted that they have seen a tremendous number of new registrants but also several longtime buyers have become more active since the pandemic began. He said he has been doing a lot of writing and blogging about the auction world to better educate the public.
A large collection of Lalique glass that Lark Mason Associates offered in 2019 attracted the attention of collectors of Lalique and a couple pieces in the sale benefitted from that interest, with the sale’s top price of $10,626 going for an electric blue and white stained “Sauterelles” vase that was signed R. Lalique. The piece was not in perfect condition and had previously sold but was being reoffered after the buyer defaulted on payment. It was bought by the same buyer of a signed Rene Lalique amber and white stained “Archers” vase, which was from the same collection as the “Sauterelles” vase. It sold for $5,625 despite some condition flaws.
The second highest price paid in the sale was $7,581 for a gold coin charm bracelet. The local consignor of the bracelet had received the coins from her grandfather, who had given them to her when he traveled for work; she had them made into this bracelet and a necklace, which was also offered for sale. The bracelet featured nine American, British, Italian and Venezuelan gold coins. The necklace was made of 11 coins from South Africa, Venezuela, Austria, Switzerland, Costa Rica and the United States and achieved $5,125. Other notable jewelry results included a midcentury design 18K yellow gold bracelet that made $3,944; an 18K yellow gold link necklace that achieved $3,312 and, for $1,875, a 14K white gold one-carat pear shaped diamond ring with jacket.
A little more than a year ago, Lark Mason Associates offered the personal collection of celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain. The sale was topped by $231,250 paid for Bourdain’s steel and meteorite chef’s knife that had been custom-made by Bob Kramer, who is considered one of America’s best bladesmiths. According to Mason, Kramer’s custom-made knives are not available for purchase directly, so when custom-made Kramer knives come on the market, people pay attention. The sale featured two of Kramer’s knives, both in the Damascus pattern from the same collection and both selling to the same buyer. Bringing $6,250 was a knife with 10-inch blade and Kramer cutting board, the other was an 8-inch knife that finished at $5,375.
A small but interesting group of things related to one of Texas’ favorite sons, Lyndon B. Johnson, was offered by the son of Lawrence J. Klein who had been the maintenance foreman for Johnson. Most notable of these was a lot of 24 commemorative soda bottles that had been made for a barbecue Johnson planned to host during JFK’s fateful visit to Texas in 1963. Special bottles of soda were created for the event, which never took place because of Kennedy’s assassination. Mason could not find any other examples of the bottles, deeming them “a cool piece of history.” Offered with an estimate of $400/600, the bottles, which were empty, sold for $3,251. A lot comprised of four monogrammed LBJ dress shirts, a Resistol hat and a signed photograph of LBJ brought $2,375, while a group of LBJ memorabilia finished at $937. Three pairs of 14K gold cufflinks and three 14K pins with the presidential seal flew to $787 with the last group of articles, featuring six 14K and bronze LBJ pendants and commemorative plaques bringing a price of $156. Mason said interest in the LBJ collection was not limited to Texas bidders.
Mason had a few antique firearms and accessories in the sale to test the waters for the category, which was topped by a Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century Augsburg-made wheel-lock sporting rifle that shot to $4,500. It was followed by a Nineteenth Century European Renaissance-style carved bone and leather powder flask that achieved $2,500. Other results in this budding category included a Colt model 1860 .44 caliber army revolver that finished at $1,035, two flintlock pistols that were sold together that achieved $1,000 and a United States model 1842 .69-caliber percussion musket stamped “Harpers Ferry 1843″ that sold within estimate for $563.
The collection of retablos that Mason referenced did well, with 53 works offered in 30 lots and led by two oil and canvas examples that depicted San Gabriel and San Sebastian and brought $906. Prices ranged from there down to $125 for a Nineteenth Century Bolivian retablo, done in oil on tin, that depicted “Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”
“The carpets were also from a Texas collector. They’re great pieces, beautiful and nicely made,” Mason said of several rugs and carpets that were on offer. Leading the group was a large Persian silk carpet signed Maroof Mousavi that measured 6 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 10 inches and brought $4,875, exceeding its $2/4,000 estimate. Another carpet with the same estimate that also surpassed expectations was a large salmon-colored Nain carpet with brown border that measured 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet that bidders chased to $4,125. Both were purchased by the same buyer.
Strong prices were achieved for traditional furniture and decorative arts, which were largely Continental in style. An Italian Renaissance-style vargueno inlaid with hardstone and ebony sold within estimate for $3,875. Bringing $3,125 was an Italian Rococo carved and giltwood marble top console table, while a Louis XVI metal mounted satinwood and marble top chest of drawers closed out at $2,625.
The majority of the silver in the sale was from one collection, which Mason discovered in “an attic the size of people’s homes. There were 300 boxes filled with all kinds of things. In one corner we started to find silver. It was just tucked away.” An assorted group of sterling silver that included a 135-piece Wallace flatware set was sold with six shakers and four salts and brought $3,500.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
The next sale with Lark Mason Associates will close January 26 and will feature French furniture and decorative arts from a New York collector.
For information, 212-289-5524 or www.larkmasonassociates.com.
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