Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Wickliff Auctioneers
CARMEL, IND. – Wickliff Auctioneers offered up 364 lots across fine art, jewelry, vintage estate furnishings, antiques and more in its April 25 online-only sale.
This was the firm’s second auction since the pandemic hit, and Wickliff’s president and auctioneer Darin Wickliff was prepared.
“We have offered online bidding in addition to gallery bidding for 20 years,” Wickliff said. “It wasn’t a big jump for us to make, but it was a change not having a large in-person preview and not having 30-40 percent of the stuff paid for and walk out that same day.”
The auctioneer implemented private preview appointments where previewers had a scheduled 20 minute slot to view items in the gallery by themselves.
“We had somebody every 20 minutes,” Wickliff said. “We did that for four days and we were full.”
The auction found its leader in an oil on canvas by Le Pho (Vietnamese/American/French, 1907-2001) titled “La Femme en Rose,” that brought $33,600 after 41 bids. It depicts a woman arranging flowers. The work measures 29 by 21½ inches sight and had been purchased by the consignors at Wally Findlay Galleries. Three phone bidders vied for the lot before it sold to a New England buyer.
Two lots of double-sided illuminated manuscripts from India, each including two framed works, sold well above their $300 estimates. The first brought $14,400 and the other took $5,400. The works were pictorial and did not have any writing around them. The scenes included courtyard, ceremonial and mythological images. Interest came domestically from bidders on each side of the United States.
One of the best lots in the sale came not in the form of art, but rather a pair of leather L. Strauss & Co., ice fishing suits that sold for $5,100. The duo included fur-lined coveralls and jacket, two Abercrombie & Fitch fur-lined leather caps and one set of goggles. The outfits were worn by Mr & Mrs Eli Lilly for winter trips to Lake Wawasee, one of Indiana’s largest lakes. Eli Lilly is known for the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly & Co. The lot sold to a Northwest United States buyer.
“Lilly is iconic in Indiana,” Wickliff said. “But if you looked at the pieces alone, those were some great vintage bomber jackets there. In terms of vintage clothing, they were exceptional.”
Perhaps entertaining is back in fashion as bidders pursued a 97-piece set of Royal Copenhagen “Fluted Lace” china set to $3,900. It was a service for 12.
A Wooton rotary desk secretary in walnut with burl walnut veneers, circa the Nineteenth Century, was bid to $3,600. Wooton was an Indiana company and Wickliff said there is still interest in the state for pieces like this, though they prefer exceptional quality examples, and this was of ordinary quality.
A $1,440 result was found in a “Colonial Williamsburg” queen-size canopy bed from Kittinger with claw and ball feet.
In silver, a Hamilton and Inches sterling epergne with four arms, dated 1898, sold between estimate for $3,300. Robert Inches, who controlled the firm at this point, was a figurehead in Edinburgh, Scotland, eventually becoming its Lord Provost in 1912, when he was knighted. He served as a jeweler to Queen Victoria. The epergne did not come with any glass bowl inserts, but it was without damage or repair according to the auction house.
“In general, the number of online bidders we registered was the most ever, in addition to the number of those watching and participating along with the sale,” Wickliff said.
“Many items exceeded our expectations. We have the experience and market presence in online sales, so people can look at our photos and descriptions and trust that we are representing these things honestly and accurately.”
All prices reported include internet buyer’s premium. The next sale gallery auction will be May 30. For information, 317-844-7253 or www.bidwickliff.com.