Countdown to the August 21 Art and Antiques Auction
August 20, 2010 | view archive
There are just two days left till Antique Helper’s August 21 Art and Antiques Auction and I feel a bit like a kid waiting for Christmas. After a two year sabbatical, I was thrilled to be able to step through Antique Helper’s door on Wednesday, and view the items that will be offered in Saturday’s sale.
Walking through the auction gallery, I found something wonderful around every corner. I was struck by the number of quality prints, including a brilliant collection of Nineteenth Century satirical prints. I was also really excited to see a large selection of Icart aquatints. I’ve been waiting to lay my eyes on some Icarts since last summer, when I obtained a small white dog that looks like she jumped out of one of those titillating images. I’m told that these prints represent the second selection from a major Indianapolis Icart collection; that has me thinking there’s even more to come.
There’s one painting in particular that caught my eye. It’s certainly not the most significant piece in the offing, but it’s exactly to my liking. I tend to gravitate toward portraits of early to mid 20th Century women. The subject might be someone who looks like she just stepped out of America’s Dust Bowl during the Great Depression or straight from a cocktail party amidst the Bright Young Things across the Atlantic Ocean. This time the painting falls into the latter category. The portrait in question is a stylish 1930s female by Indiana painter Catherine Parks Johnson. I am certainly going to keep my eyes on this gem during the sale.
Speaking of gems, I was rendered nearly speechless when Helper Andrea showed me the delightful collection of one-of-a-kind rings that will be offered in the sale. We were oohing and ahing over this spectacular collection of whopper huge, witty and creative jewels. The best and perhaps most ironic part is that, though they are of costume jewelry proportions, every single ring is crafted from solid gold, or in some cases, even platinum. The chunky gems are the real deal, too. I spent a good 15 minute, gleefully examining each ring. There were space-age designs encrusted with sapphires, a huge aquamarine pointed cabochon, and an endearing wrap ring in the image of a bull that we are convinced must be Ferdinand, flower tucked behind his ear and a bow trimming his tail and all. There’s even a ring that sings BAUHAUS, looking as much like a tiny Corbusier construction as a jewel-encrusted ring can. I was especially impressed with a breathtaking opal mosaic medallion pendant. Andrea has spent considerably more time than 15 minutes evaluating this collection, and it has given her no end of joy. She muses over the retro-vintage feel of the pieces and rejoices in the creativity. “Gold wasn’t as valuable when they were making these as it is today,” she explains. “They were just having fun—expressing themselves.” Crazy fun, I think.
There’s also enough fine English furniture to keep the serious-minded antiquer in good spirits for days. I spied a Hepplewhite mahogany bowed front chest and an while a two-piece mahogany Irish linen press left me wishing we could add a wing on our house.
I also noticed some really amazing 19th Century militaria, including a 19th Century French Cavalry Cuirassier Helmet. It is completely intact, with loads of ornamentation, including an image of an early bomb that leaves me scratching my head at the unintentional whimsy of late-Victorian decoration. This is a great example of that in-between period, when modern warfare clashed so horribly with the pageantry of earlier conquests. The French Cavaliers might have lost the battle wearing stuff like that on their heads, but darn it, they certainly cut a fine and heroic figure while in the process of losing.
Another chunk of history that is not to be missed in this auction is a grouping of 1912 Harvard Memorabilia. This collection packs a triple punch for sports and collegiate collectors, as well as Kennedy scholars and Harvard fans alike. Lot 236 includes a 1912 Harvard straw boater, class of ’37 silk ribbons and a large 1937 photo of the class of 1912, featuring Kennedy offspring in the foreground. I’m thinking the lucky winning bidder could have an instant Ivy League ancestor—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In short, this is going to be a really, really good auction.
After looking through so much good stuff, I also became aware that the uncataloged portion of Saturday’s sale holds a lot of promise as well. I am really looking forward to being part of the action.