Published: December 18, 2001
Marble Auction Internet Bidder Wins $41,975 Lot
STAMFORD, CONN. – Robert Block, owner of Block’s Box and A Chip Off The Old Block Marble Auctions, and Mark Block, proprietor, Block-glass Ltd art glass gallery, conducted a Fall MarbleFest(tm) 2001 on November 3 and 4. The auction took place at the Stamford Holiday Inn Select and was attended by a number of marble collectors and dealers from across the United States and Canada.
The auction was simultaneously conducted in the Holiday Inn ballroom and live on the Internet in the Chip Off The Old Block CyberAuction chat room.
Saturday’s live marble auction consisted of 150 lots of rare and unusual and high quality marbles and related rdf_Descriptions. A color catalog was available and the catalog and all images were also available at the Web site, www.marblefest.com. The online catalog featured Block’s TwirlyPics, allowing the bidder to rotate the marble 360 degrees on the screen.
Active bidding on lot #150, “Population Portrait IX,” crafted in detail by studio glass artist Mark R. Matthews, highlighted the auction. Matthews produced six such jars in 1994. The “Population Portrait” consists of a 37-inch artist’s hand-blown glass jar, set on a polished double granite base pedestal. The jar contains 144 marbles, spheres and orbs, each handcrafted by Matthews, individually signed and numbered. The lot sold to cheers in the room for $41,975 to a CyberAuction room bidder, with an underbidder active in the ballroom.
The second highest price rdf_Description, lot #51, was a single pontil Indian (cloud type) completely covered with color. Produced in Germany in the late 1800s, sized at 15/16 inches, this example was graded as mint (-)(9.1). Many advanced collectors pro-nounced this marble as the best example they had ever seen of the type. Competition was intense and came down to a battle between a ballroom participant and an overseas bidder. When the final gavel came down at $4,082, the marble had found a new home overseas.
Of interest to many is that the marble had been purchased by the consignor on eBay for $1,750 several months ago and then consigned to the auction, demonstrating once again that specialized auctions still provide the best marketplace for niche antiques and collectibles.
A number of other pieces sold for more than $1,000, including the highest priced machine-made marble in the auction, lot #125, a “Green Galaxy” produced by the Peltier Glass Company of Ottawa, Ill., in the late 1920s. This example of the rare type was 7/8 inches and graded at 8.7. It sold for $1,064 to an absentee bidder.
The gross auction total of $82,386 was 91 percent of the catalog estimate. Three-quar-ters of those who bid in the auction were able to take home lots offered. Forty percent of the lots sold above their catalog estimate.
Following the auction, Geoffrey Beetem, glass craftsman, provided a detailed seminar complete with audiovisual presentation to a packed room. Beetem’s talk followed his career in art, from painting to stained glass, his work at the Pilchuck School, to marbles and glass sculpture. A highlight of the lecture was a discussion with slides of the setup process for both Beetem’s world marble and a classic ribbon swirl. The swirl setup discussion followed the slides as illustrated in Mark Block’s 2001 book release, Contemporary Marbles and Related Art Glass.
On Saturday night, as on Friday evening, collectors visited among themselves in their hotel rooms for trading, buying and selling. On Sunday, a marble show and exhibition open to the public found 31 dealers and collectors from around the country and Canada filling 35 exhibition tables. Almost 200 collectors and dealers attended.
One of the show’s highlights was the sale of a rare Akro Agate Company booklet titled The Story of a Marble produced in 1926. This 14-page color booklet discusses the history of marbles and how to play the game and features pictures of many of the company’s marbles and boxed sets. It was sold by one dealer to another for $500 and then resold again during the show for more than $600.
Drawing attention during the show was a display set up by Mark Block of Mark R. Matthews marbles highlighting pieces ranging in time from 1985 to 2001. Included in this display was a rare bowl group titled “Maple Syrup Time,” crafted in 1994 and from Block’s personal collection.
With contemporary glass artists in attendance, including Richard Clark, Ken Griswold, Nick Bartlett, Geoffrey Beetem, Shane Caswell, Nadine Macdonald, Eddie Seese, Francis Coupal, Bill Murray and John Talmage, the show had a mix of antique handmade, machine made and contemporary works.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium.
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