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Auction Report: November 4, 2008

by Sandra Lee Stuart (11/05/08).

For those of you who have been following the WorthPoint articles on the Salvation Army gold kettle coins, the sales results are in. These coin collectibles were sold at auction on October 24. Through the generosity of anonymous contributors tossing antique $20 gold coins into the Salvation Army pots, a realized total of $4,700 will go to aid the Salvation Army. Most of the coins, with average estimates of between $750 and $950, realized their estimates, none exceeded them.

The results from the Freeman’s currency sale are:

Lot 88—1883 S $20 gold coin, estimate $750-$850. Sold $700.
Lot 89—1898 S $20 gold coin, estimate $775-$875. Sold $800.
Lot 90—1800 S $20 gold coin, estimate $750-$850. Sold $800.
Lot 91—1902 S $20 gold coin, estimate $750-$850. Sold $800.
Lot 96—1904 S $20 gold coin, estimate $800-$900. Sold $800.
Lot 97—1906 S $20 gold coin, estimate $775-$875. Sold 800.

Hindman marketplace auction

On November 9 and 10, Leslie Hindman Auctions, of Chicago will be presenting its annual Marketplace Auction. For more than a decade, Marketplace Auctions have been a staple of the Leslie Hindman auctioneers experience, which offers something for the novice and the seasoned collector. This auction, the ethnographic session, presents more than a thousand lots for your consideration in the areas of decorative arts and antiques, ethnic art and fine art. I also suggest that you take a look at its December 3 vintage couture and accessories sale and the December 4 fine jewelry and timepieces sale.

Lot 25 in the upcoming marketplace sale is an excellent buy. A French Art Deco center table made of fruitwood and fruitwood veneers with a rectangular top over a plain frieze concealing draw leaves and raised on twin shaped supports over ebonized feet. A telephone call to a Hindman representative confirmed that the piece had no maker’s mark, but the overall condition is good to excellent. With an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500, it is probable that the bidding will exceed the estimate because of its “honest” design.

Low estimate for Macintosh-style chairs

Setting the tone for design that preceded Art Deco is Lot 47, a set of four high-back chairs in the design style of Charles Rennie Macintosh (1868-1928), the Scottish architect and definer in Britain of a new, more austere approach to Art Nouveau. Each chair is designed with concave backs and ebonized finish and has a strong architectural austerity. The estimate of $1,000 to $2,000 is low for pieces of such integrity of design.

The decorative arts are well represented, but Lot 767, a bronze statue by French artist Emmanuel Hannaux (1855-1934), stands out. Hannaux was a runner-up in the 1880 Prix de Rome and statues like his “Bust of a Warrior” are included in permanent collections in the Paris Museum of Modern Art and the Wallace Collection. The statue of Judith standing victorious over the severed head of Holophernes is signed and has a low estimate of $1,000 to $2,000.

Many paintings have been done of Judith with the slain Holophernes. The most famous is Caravaggio’s 1599 depiction, but the most infamous is Artimesia Gentileschi’s portrayal. I include this in this report because the story of Gentileschi and her Judith is a fascinating one.
An interesting piece of ethnography is Lot 94, a Kurdish cast-metal wedding cap. It appears to be 19th century and is hung with symbolic coins that would represent a dowry. The estimate is good at $150 to $250.

African mask could be sleeper

One of the more interesting pieces that also falls into the ethnographic category is Lot 518, an African decorative metal mask with geometric decoration topped with a stylized animal head. The catalog does not state origin, but it appears, by its specialized design, that it is either Ife or Benin in origin and most likely bronze. If it were from Ife, a Yoruba city in the western region of Nigeria, this bronze mask would have followed the original mask-making tradition that would have been made from terra cotta.

The Ife design embraces the terms “naturalism and realism,” and these terms were applied by Westerners when first seen in the 17th century. Carbon dating has shown that Ife masks like Lot 518, previously thought to have been made in the 16th century, could have been made as early as the 9th century A.D. The estimate of $200 to $400 makes this potential huge sleeper a potential Great Buy. If it is an early casting, the estimated value would easily be in the five figures.

– By Christopher Kent, a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine-arts broker and president of CTK Design.

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