Published: May 28, 2002
Record for Greene & Greene Set in Missouri
CLAYTON, MO. – A record-breaking bid of $311,000 for a chiffonier designed by Charles and Henry Greene and executed in the workshop of Peter Hall in Pasadena, Calif., circa 1908, was awarded to a Venice, Calif., dealer at the auction held on April 19.
The high bidder appeared relieved as he stated that he had been chasing both the chiffonier and the companion dresser since 1988 for an important client. His final successful bid for the dresser reached $277,500. The Twentieth Century Design auction took place at Ivey-Selkirk’s gallery at 7447 Forsyth Boulevard.
The two pieces were designed for the Robert and Nellie Blacker house built on a 61/2-acre Oak Knoll tract in Pasadena. Mark Howald, the auctioneer and executive vice-president at Ivey-Selkirk, was not surprised at the outcome of the sale.
Inquiries about the two Greene & Greene pieces were flowing in from the West Coast to the East Coast, as well as strong local interest. The catalog quoted the pre-sale estimate on each of the pieces at $250/300,000.
Malcolm Ivey, president, and Mark Howald felt both excited and fortunate to be contacted by descendents of the L. Morgan Yost family, who acquired the pieces in the late 1940s. Yost, a noted architect, after meeting the Greene brothers, became a pioneering historian on them. Architects and furniture designers, Charles Sumner Green (1868-1957) and his brother Henry Mather Greene (1870-1954) were born in Brighton, Ohio, to an old New England family.
They moved to St Louis in 1874 and enrolled at the Manual Training School of Washington University. They completed their formal education in 1891 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in architecture and then began apprenticeships in Boston. After completing their apprenticeships, they began their distinguished careers in California.
Other highlights include an extraordinary sterling silver, ivory and ebony compote by Erik Magnussen, dated 1927, which sold for $32,200 to a telephone bidder representing an East Coast university. Erik Magnussen was a designer at Gorham between 1925 and 1929; his work included both hollowware and jewelry and often incorporated ivory and semiprecious stones.
A Samuel A. Marx leather-covered serpentine chest, circa 1940s, and manufactured by Quigley & Co., Chicago, and bearing paper tag on back, sold at $16,675 to an East Coast telephone bidder. Samuel Abraham Marx, an architect and distinguished designer of interiors, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1907; he then studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and opened his own practice in Chicago. His earliest recognized progressive and modern designs included hotel and department store interiors, most notably May Department Company in Los Angeles.
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