Archive | January, 2012

Estate Sale Find: Pliny’s Doves

31 Jan

These doves, known as the Capitoline Doves or Doves of Pliny, appear frequently as the subject of micromosaics, such as the present example to be sold in our Estate Auction on February 7th.

The image comes from a Roman floor mosaic discovered in 1737 at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, which in turn is believed to be a copy of a lost ancient Greek mosaic at Pergamon created by Sosos.  The Greek mosaic was described by Pliny in his The Natural History, completed in 77 AD. 

“At Pergamos is a wonderful specimen of a dove drinking, and darkening the water with the shadow of her head; on the lip of the vessel are other doves pluming themselves.”

The term ‘micromosaic’ is used to describe mosaics made of the smallest glass pieces. Some micromosaics contain more than 5000 pieces per square inch. The earliest attempts at micromosaic revealed visible joins between the pieces (known as tesserae) and a lack of perspective. Later artists such as Antonio Aguatti made huge advances in micromosaic technique, resulting in renderings that were truer to life. Glass micromosaic technique developed in the 18th century, in the Vatican Mosaic Workshop in Rome, where they still undertake restoration work today.

The Doves of Pliny or Pliny’s Doves is a very popular subject and has been copied in mosaic and micromosaic form for centuries.  Micromosaics can be collected and framed for hanging on a wall, or often times inserted into jewelry frames to be worn as brooches or set in fancy boxes.  Now you can own your own copy of this most famous image.  Bid now at!

Circa 1850-1880
1-3/8 x 2-1/8 inches (3.4 x 5.4 cm)
The rectangular plaque depicting four pigeons perched on a bird bath on a black ground.
Estimate: $300 – $500.

UPDATE: Sold for $8,750!!


Did you know?

30 Jan

Did I know that Heritage was holding wine auctions?  Yes.  Did I know that Heritage was holding monthly online only wine auctions featuring great wines regularly seen in restaurants but at market prices?  No!  Had no idea!  Did you know? 

Frank Martell, previously of Bonhams & Butterfields and Acker, Merrall & Condit, has done a fantastic job leading Heritage’s Fine and Rare Wine department since joining the team in 2010.  Last year the wine department sold over $11.3 million dollars – stellar results for the first year.

Signature sales are held quarterly with simulcast to Hong Kong.  Great rarities and highly collectible wines are being sold by the bottle, magnum, and case.  These sales tout the best of the high-caliber, blue-chip market.  Monthly online auctions focus on smaller quantities of great drinking wines and assorted collectibles – and totally fit within budgets of all sizes.  Monthly sales take place on the second Thursday of the month.  Check out the prices realized in our Auction Archives

If you would like to be notified of specific wines, please visit MyWantlist, where you can save searches for wine by keyword (Dom Perignon), or by type (Red Bordeaux). Heritage will email you when anything that matches your searches becomes available at auction.

Frank also provides free auction estimates on wine that we regularly offer at auction.  Check out our What’s it Worth? guide HERE.  Like everything else, provenance and condition are the two major factors in determining value.

Calvin and Hobbes

27 Jan

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to own an original work of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. 

One of the most special pieces in the upcoming Comics and Comic Art auction on February 22-23 is the original published Bill Watterson cover art for the Calvin & Hobbes 1989-1990 18-month calendar.  It’s the only piece of published Calvin and Hobbes artwork to ever surface for public auction. While estimated at $50,000+, this piece has the potential to go much higher.

I still miss Calvin and Hobbes, as do many people.  The syndicated comic strip ran from  November 1985 to December 1995 and followed the antics of a rambunctious little boy and his stuffed tiger.  To Calvin, Hobbes is a live tiger – a partner in crime on all his adventures; all the other characters see Hobbes as an inanimate stuffed toy.  The comic strip was widely popular worldwide and produced 18 books.  Almost no legitimate Calvin and Hobbes merchandise exists outside of the book collections. Exceptions produced during the strip’s original run include two 16-month calendars (1988–1989 and 1989–1990), and the textbook Teaching with Calvin and Hobbes

When asked about this work, Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage and a specialist in Illustration and Comic Art, gets excited.

“Beyond the Peanuts comic strips of legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz, there is no more popular comic strip and certainly no strip where the original art is more in demand,” says Todd.  “The difference being that original Schulz work can be had at a variety of price points. Original published Calvin and Hobbes artwork, simply, never comes up for public auction.  There’s really no telling how high collectors will be willing to go on this one, seeing as they will also be competing with non-traditional collectors who simply love the comic strip and will be very excited to see a piece of original art on the block.”

From the catalogue:
Bill Watterson Calvin and Hobbes 1989-90 Calendar Cover Watercolor Illustration Original Art (c. 1988). Calvin and Hobbes fans, feast your eyes on this —it’s the real deal! As all comic art fans know, few pieces of original art are as scarce and sought after as a Calvin and Hobbes original by the characters’ creator Bill Watterson. Since Watterson is one of the few cartoonists to shun the merchandising bonanza of a popular character and is a very private person, his artwork is in incredibly high-demand. Only a very small handful of originals have ever come onto the market, so don’t miss out on your chance to win this gem, only the second such piece we’ve offered — an incredible, published beauty featuring the two main characters from the most popular and fondly remembered newspaper strip since Peanuts. The image area of this ink and watercolor masterwork is 13″ x 10″, and the art is in Excellent condition. This piece has a special provenance as it was in the collection of one of the American comic strips’ most important historians and feature writers, Rick Marschall. Inscribed and signed at the lower right, “For Rick Marschall, ‘komic konnoisseur’ Bill Watterson.”

UPDATE:  Sold for $107,550 including buyer’s premium.


26 Jan

I like jewelry.  There are very few girls who don’t!  But I’m not a jewelry-a-holic, and I can often take it or leave it…..unless it’s JAR.

[big happy sigh]

JAR – the initials of Joel Arthur Rosenthal, jewelry designer extraordinaire.  He moved from New York to Paris decades ago and designs the most fabulous jewelry on Earth….in my opinion and alot of other people’s opinion too.  Diane von Furstenberg is often quoted as saying that JAR is the Fabergé of our time.

What’s so special about his works?  They are beautiful, one-of-a-kind, and very, very expensive.  He is known for his pavé work – a technique for setting small stones so close together that they form a veritable pavement of jewels.  His settings are so finely wrought as to be virtually invisible, and gradations of color progress from subtle to vivid. 

JAR produces relatively very few pieces – said to be 70 to 80 pieces a year, each with a specific buyer in mind.  In Paris’s Place Vendôme, the store has no display window and no regular hours.  He doesn’t advertise.  But then again, he doesn’t have to, with clients including the late Elizabeth Taylor, Elle Macpherson, Barbara Walters, Ann Getty, Mary Pinault, and Jo Carole Lauder (and reportedly Marie-Josée Kravis, Marella Agnelli and Princess Firyal of Jordan) per Forbes magazine.

“He also reserves the right to refuse to sell an item if he doesn’t think it would look good on the intended wearer.”  Say what?  Yup, if he doesn’t like you, then you can’t buy his jewelry….no matter who you are or how much money you have. 

A few, maybe 100 pieces at most, JAR pieces have ended up at auctions over the last 10 years, and the bidding tends to skyrocket.  Ordinary jewels that come onto the auction/secondary market bring maybe a fraction of their original price. JAR pieces routinely sell for much more than what the first buyer paid.  Why?  Because public auction is one of the only times that anyone can bid on items in the sale, as long as you have the money to keep bidding. 

I’m super excited to see these small earrings in Heritage’s upcoming Fine Jewelry sale to be held on April 30th in New York.  I’m sure to be caught trying them on.

Titanium, Gold Earrings, JAR
The earrings, designed as flowers, are crafted in tinted titanium, completed by 18k gold omega clips on the reverse, signed JAR. Gross weight 6.95 grams.
Dimensions: 1-1/4 inch x 1 inch 
Estimate likely to be in the couple thousand range, but bidding will certainly surpass my meager budget quickly.

UPDATE:  Sold for $6,250 including buyer’s premium.

Brown Furniture Coming Back? – Slowly

25 Jan

The Antiques Trade Gazette has an interesting article on the antique furniture market.  The Antique Collectors’ Club (ACC) publishes an annual furniture index (AFI), which is based in the UK.  After big falls for the last two years, 2011 only fell 2%.

The Antique Trade Gazette reports:
Established in 1968, the AFI is based on a blend of retail and auction prices for 1400 typical (rather than exceptional) pieces of furniture from seven different periods or categories pictured in John Andrews’ book British Antique Furniture. It does not reflect the volume of items traded, nor does it include spectacular sales at the top end of the market where prices largely held up well.

The index stood at 100 when Mr. Andrews began the project and it reached an historic high of 3575 points in 2002. But the past decade has seen a steady decline, including record falls of seven per cent in 2009 and eight per cent in 2010. Last year, the index moved downwards again from 2505 to 2463. It was last at this level in 1995.

English furniture is apparently still way down, and so is Regency, Oak, and Country furniture.  Victorian pieces were the biggest loser at -11%.  Walnut and Early Mahogany furniture did show gains – but possibly attributed the gains to the limited supply of good quality pieces offered for sale.  It’s the recurrent theme lately that good quality items sell well – so auctions are being very, very choosy to offer only the items of good quality.  Yes, I do think that antique furniture is coming back or at the very least stabilizing, the modest fall over 2011 is definitely encouraging as compared to the last two years.  OR it could be that we’re just grasping to see any positives in the antique furniture market.

Poor Victorian furniture.  It’s old-fashioned and completely out-of-style.  Nothing to be done but wait and see.

Pictured above:
17th century in part
34 x 52-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches (86.4 x 133.4 x 34.3 cm)
Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000
Opening bid: $1,000 
To be sold in the Estate Auction, February 7.

UPDATE: Sold for $6,875!

Coming Soon!

20 Jan

Every once in awhile I get a moment of down time to look through the preview pages of our upcoming sales.  I always check the Photographs sale to see what Rachel is putting together, and I always check the Texas Art sale to see what Atlee has in store for us next.

I LOVE this Clementine Hunter to be sold in the Texas Art sale on May 5th (Happy Cinco de Mayo!).  I don’t know anything about it yet (estimates, provenance, dimensions, condition), but the sunny pinks, yellows, and greens already make me happy. 

Although depicting a funeral (note the pink casket on the lower left side), everyone is wearing pink and carrying colorful bouquets of flowers.  I LOVE it.  It’s Clementine Hunter meets Lily Pulitzer.  Sort of….  I certainly think there’s joy depicted here, even at a sad event.

I can’t wait to bug Atlee for more details about this one.  I think it will be a huge hit with collectors.  The colors are phenomenal, and the early signature is an exciting find.

UPDATE: Sold for $2,062.50, including buyer’s premium.

Spotlight on: Miguel Berrocal

12 Jan

I just got an advanced copy of Heritage’s Estate Auction catalogue.  The sale is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7th in Dallas and features a number of paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs,  furniture, and decorative arts.  There’s some interesting finds, and the group of puzzle sculptures by Spanish artist Miguel Berrocal really caught my eye.

Berrocal is best known in the puzzle community for his sculpture “multiples,” signed and numbered limited editions typically consisting of many ingeniously interlocking metal elements.  Indeed, the numerous mechanisms employed throughout Berrocal’s work are works of art in themselves.  Each such sculpture is accompanied by a book detailing disassembly and reassembly of the sculpture. 

My favorite piece in the sale is the Mini Cariatide (pictured above):
Marks: berrocal, 8517
5-3/8 inches high (13.5 cm)
The twenty-four piece puzzle on base, hardcover book included with step-by-step guide to assembling.
Estimate: $500 – $800.

If the artist is Spanish, why then does the catalogue entry state that’s it’s an Italian work?  Good question.  Although the artist was born in Spain, he settled in Italy and ran a foundry near Verona, Italy.  As such, the works he produced are “Italian” in origin.

Starting bids for his works in the sale range from $250 to $1000.  These fun and affordable artworks are sure to be a hit among collectors.

UPDATE:  The Mini Cariatide sold for $1,375.