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Rhino Horn Libation Cup, Bronze Chinese Wine Container lead Asian Antiques Sale

by WorthPoint Staff (02/28/12).

An antique Chinese hand-carved rhinoceros horn libation cup, standing 4 inches tall, is expected to sell for $150,000 to $250,000 in a sale of Asian antiques slated for March 17-18 to be facilitated by Elite Decorative Arts

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – An antique Chinese carved rhinoceros horn libation cup and an extremely rare Chinese bronze wine container—both of which could with pre-sale estimates of one hundred thousand dollars or more—are just a few of the items sure to tempt bidders in an auction of Asian antiques slated for March 17-18.

The sale will be conducted by Elite Decorative Arts, at the firm’s gallery facility located in the Quantum Town Center at 1034 Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach. More than 800 lots—including ivory, jade, coral, stone carvings, porcelain, bronze, silver, art glass, artwork and furniture—will be sold. Action begins at 6 p.m. (EST) both days.

The rhino horn libation cup (circa 18th /19th century) has been masterfully relief carved throughout and depicts trees, people, pagodas, clouds and rock formations. The piece measures 4 inches in height, weighs 333 grams and includes a fitted reticulated teakwood base. It is difficult to overstate the desirability of such cups to collectors, who will pay fantastic sums to own one. Auction officials expected it to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.

The rare Chinese bronze wine container (Warring States period, 475-221 BC), is bird-shaped and inlaid with silver, gold and copper. The surface is covered with cupric oxides, due to its extended burial. The back and sides of the object depict coiled serpents and archaic birds, and the chest shows a mythical horned animal. The removable head is inlaid with gold and silver. This piece is expected to top out at $200,000-$300,000.

Another lot that could easily sail past the $100,000 mark is a pair of very large elephant ivory tusks on stands (est. $100,000-$150,000). The tusks are quite literally mammoth: one is 81 ¾ inches in length and 21 inches in girth, while the other is 75 inches in length and 20 ¾ inches in girth. These figures include the bases; by themselves, the tusks are 66 and 60 ½ inches long.

A pair of smaller (but still large) hand-carved Chinese ivory elephant tusks, each one depicting an emperor and an empress, carries a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$20,000. Both 19th-century tusks are signed to the base and measure about 24 ¾ inches tall (and weigh 14.2 pounds). The emperor and empress are both fully relief carved with fine detail. Each wears a layered robe.

This rare, bird-shaped bronze wine container inlaid with silver, copper and gold, could be the top lot in this sale, possibly bring in $200,000-$300,000.

A pair of very large elephant ivory tusks, both on 15-inch bases, could sell for $100,000 to $150,000.

A group of stunning Imperial-quality Chinese hand-carved red coral figures will also be sold. They are truly stunning in their attention to detail. Dating back to the late Ch’ing Dynasty, the beautifully carved figures vary from 7 to about 17 inches in height, and are perched on fitted wooden bases, some with handsome silver inlay. The best of the groupings are expected to sell for $30,000-$60,000 each.

An 18th-century, milky white jade Chinese covered urn (or vase), having a breathtaking translucence, perfectly carved and rounded by a master craftsman with Imperial quality, 10 inches tall and 6 inches in diameter and finely hollowed, should realize $40,000-$60,000. Also, a large, striking Japanese bronze figure depicting a standing archer, signed to a bronze plaque on the back of the archer’s left thigh, finely crafted, 28 inches tall, should bring $20,000-$30,000.

An early Western Han (206 BC-8 AD) to Eastern Han (25-220 AD) Dynasty lacquered wooden horse, carved entirely out of a single block of wood, is expected to change hands for a reasonably modest $40,000-$50,000 (considering a similar example sold at Christie’s in 2006 for $419,000). The horse was produced for burial purposes for a powerful, noble person or leader.

This is one of about a dozen Imperial-quality, hand-carved red coral figural groups. This one, Dating back to the late Ch’ing Dynasty, is expected to sell for $30,000 to $60,000.

A 14-karat yellow gold and emerald green gem jadeite ring should slip on a new and lucky finger for $30,000-$50,000. The ring features a stunning, glowing translucent apple green gem jadeite oval cabochon prong-set stone. The two-tone mount is set with 12 round-cut white diamonds, about .02 carats each. The size 9 ½ ring has a total diamond weight of 5 grams (or 7.8 grams).

Rounding out the short list of expected top lots is a large, 18th-century Chinese five-panel throne screen made from Zitan wood (est. $20,000-$30,000). The 133-inch-long by 108-inch-tall throne was possibly given as a wedding present for someone of high Imperial status. The use of Zitan for furniture was especially favored by both the Ming and Qing Imperial Chinese courts.

Previews for the auction will be held on Friday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Saturday, March 17, from 4-6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 18, also from 4-6 p.m. Internet bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers. Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted.

For more information about this auction, call 800.991.3340, e-mail to or visit the Elite Decorative Arts website.


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