Published: September 25, 2012
Rago Arts and Auction Center’s 2,000-lot auction September 14‱6 would have been a great success even without lot 2606. With it, Rago has made news.
The jewel-encrusted Mughal dagger, Northern India, in a rare Kanhjar form, Eighteenth⁎ineteenth Century Quillon, was the top lot of the weekend when it sold on the phone to a private collector for $314,500. The grip and pommel in gold are set with cabochon rubies, emeralds and diamonds stretched over iron, sheath with similar mountings, and the blade is finely worked Damascus steel.
The collector, who wishes to remain private, said this of his purchase, “Beautifully crafted and decorated daggers such as this only come to auction once in a collector’s lifetime. When I laid eyes on it, I immediately recognized not only the sheer beauty of its form, but also its undeniable historic and cultural significance. To think that centuries ago a fabulously wealthy and powerful Mughal emperor or Indian maharajah may well have owned this glorious example of human endeavor instills in me a deep sense of privilege and honor. Indeed, it is an incredible feeling to be the latest custodian of this elegant and rare weapon.”
“We knew that it would sell far over estimate when we set the price,” said Tom Martin, who heads Rago’s estates department. “Needless to say, we had no idea what the final selling price would be. One of the specialists here did guess $250,000 as the hammer. Maybe it was the 20 phone bidders that clued him in.”
A full report on the sale will be published in a future issue.
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