|By Carole Deutsch
ALAMEDA, Calif. - The first segment of an exceptional Silicon Valley Furniture & Garden Architecture collection sold at Michaan’s on Dec. 8 with impressive results.
“We were expecting a successful sale due to the quality of the material and the many inquiries we received as soon as the catalog was released,” said Jeffrey Smith, Michaan’s European and American Furniture specialist who curated the auction. “However, pre-auction activity does not necessarily guarantee success, but in this case it was only a minor indicator of how well the sale would actually do. We were astounded and there is no real indication of why it went so amazingly well, given that the demand for period antiques has diminished significantly over the past several years. We sold to young collectors, seasoned collectors who have not been actively buying for years, and dealers. There were buyers from England, where the market for period pieces is the weakest, and we even sold to London dealers. Buyers from France, Germany, Asia, South America, and throughout America competed aggressively.”
While Smith was hard pressed for an answer as to why there was such strong demand he did reference an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal which indicated that New York City designers are using formal period furniture as accent pieces and focal points, mixed with modern furnishings. “I think this is possibly the beginning of a resurgence in interest in traditional antiques,” Smith said. “A sale like this hasn’t happened in a long time. I believe it is a sign of good things to come.”
The 416 lot auction was characterized by fine high quality traditional antiques, as well as a fascinating selection of unusual items of interest.
An outstanding pair of English George III giltwood oval wall mirrors, circa 1775, were each crested with carved urns topped by an anthemion element. Cascades of bellflowers and floral scrolled swags decorated both the top and the bottom. The opulent pieces were almost 7 feet high and 3 feet wide, but still had a highly delicate appearance, and achieved the strong price of $45,000.
An outstanding gilt bronze mounted marble clock garniture, by Ferdinand Gervais, done in the style of Louis XVI featured a clock with a lyre shaped case with acanthus, lily-of-the-valley, and female mask gilt bronze elements. Two matching seven-light urn form candelabra were decorated with female masks and foliate candle arms. The three-piece set was made in the later part of the 19th century and realized $14,000.
Oriental rugs have always been one of the more difficult items to sell at auction, given the fact that they were made to be walked on and collectors prefer to invest in a commodity that is less perishable. But this auction broke that old adage as well. A Bakshaish rug from the early 20th century was a large 18¾ feet by 12½ feet, the large size being typical of a Bakshaish that was made by highly talented weavers from Persia. The rug had an ivory ground with a large indigo pendant medallion and a red blossom border. It far surpassed the estimate of $5,000 to $7,000 to achieve $24,000.
Fine furniture brought handsome prices. Chief among them was a Louis XV style gilt bronze-mounted satine bureau en rognon, made of kingwood by Maison Millet, Paris. The firm was in production from 1853 to 1918. The elaborate piece was surmounted by a curving superstructure which was centered by a chiming clock that was topped with a gilt bronze putto resting on a lyre among clouds. It was from the fourth quarter of the 19th century and yielded $13,200. A classic William and Mary japanned chest on stand from the late 17th to the early 18th century had parcel gilt and polychrome chinoiserie decorations on a black ground and realized $9,000.
Garden accessories had many unusual items. A rare Continental faux bois cast-stone chinoiserie doghouse, which was likely French, had a curved roof above faux bois and faux bamboo walls that measured 40 ½ inches tall. The piece, which was clearly made for the dog who has everything, sold for $1,200.
A hard to resist 19th century French papier-mache bulldog pull toy, commanded an aggressive $1,560. The animated dog had a nodding head and was fitted with a movable lower jaw, a dog hair collar, brown iris glass eyes, and a link chain with a loop end. All four paws were mounted on caster feet.
The sum of $4,500 was paid for a set of six Leeds Lefco Ware pottery figures depicting Alice in Wonderland, circa 1930. Each was made in a cream glaze and impressed, “Lefco Ware Reproduced By Permission Of Macmillian and Company LTD From the Illustrations to “Alice in Wonderland” by Sir John Tenneil.” The Alice figure stood 21½ inches tall and was modeled holding a flamingo. Other characters of the same size proportion were the Mad Hatter, The Queen of Hearts, The White Rabbit, the Duchess, and the King of Hearts.
The second part of the Silicon Valley collection will be offered in the first half of 2018.
For more information visit www.michaans.com or call (510) 740-0220