The Market Responds to the Finest in American Design, Fine Art and Special Collections at Clars Record Setting February Sale

This gelatin silver print "Aspens, Northern New Mexico," 1958, by Ansel Adams (Californian, 1902-1984) solidly surpassed its high estimate selling for $35,550.
This gelatin silver print "Aspens, Northern New Mexico," 1958, by Ansel Adams (Californian, 1902-1984) solidly surpassed its high estimate selling for $35,550.


Clars Auction Gallery’s February 18th and 19th, 2012 Antiques and Fine Art Sale surpassed all previous sales for the firm realizing $1.8 million over two days fueled by important works in American design, investment quality fine art and significant special collections. In addition to being the highest grossing sale for the firm, record attendance was seen at preview and in bidder numbers. The staff at Clars, and President, Redge Martin, knew that this sale could go over the top. In a post-sale interview with Specialist Deric Torres, he commented that,“Even in this economy, we were glad to see the market reacted to the investment level offerings the way they did.”

Torres, assigned with handling what would be the key single offering in this sale, spent several months researching and marketing the rare Tiffany “Aztec” dagger designed by G. Paulding Farnham in the early 1900s. This powerful piece was executed in sterling, ivory and faceted obsidian. Farnham’s use of obsidian was in direct homage to the Aztec culture where they used obsidian to create the sharpest daggers possible, even sharper than diamonds. Farnham is regarded as the most eminent jewelry designer Tiffany ever employed. His works are scarce and highly sought after worldwide.

The dagger was offered without reserve and the estimate was conservative at $10,000 to $20,000. President Redge Martin opened the bidding at $5,000 and it quickly escalated to a final selling price of $105,000 going to an institution to be part of their permanent collection.

Also from Tiffany & Company, was a sterling flatware service for twelve in the “Provence” pattern which sold nicely for $9,350.

Fine art was the next category to perform with strength. Topping this category was Andy Warhol’s screenprint, “Apple” from “Ads” Suite (FS II-359) (Estimate- $20,000-$40,000). Coming to the block in the wake of the company’s CEO, Steve Jobs’ untimely passing, this work was expected to perform well and it did selling for $35,550.

Selling for the same price and surpassing its high estimate was the gelatin silver print "Aspens, Northern New Mexico," 1958, by Ansel Adams (Californian, 1902-1984). Also surpassing its high estimate was the framed oil on canvas, Portrait of a Young Man, by Theodule Ribot (French, 1823-1891) which sold for $23,700.

More than doubling its high estimate, the bronze sculpture, “ Diana, “1854, by Elkington Mason & Co. (British, 19th century) sold for an astonishing $18,960 followed by the bronze sculpture “The Dance,” 1908, by Bessie Potter Vonnoh (American, 1872-1955) which sold for the same price.


Billed as the sale of “special collections” the results of these significant group offerings did not disappoint.


A collection of 200 lots of US and world gold and silver coins earned a very impressive $500,000 overall. The top three lots in this special collection were two offerings of unopened master packs of 500 1 oz. American Silver Eagles dated 2009 which brought $16,590 and $17,775 respectively. A lot of approximately 1,000 silver half dollars, weighing 12,485 grams, sold for $11,850.


During the Saturday session, an extensive collection of domestic and international stamps was offered in 50 lots. The entire collection earned over $13,000 with the top lot being a grouping of Chinese first day cover 8¢ stamps dated 1981 which sold for $2,015.


The historic journals and photographs of Albert Chandler Brown (1855-1920) including his Civil War diaries with accounts of and his conversations with President Lincoln and Edwin McMasters Stanton the Secretary of War earned a solid $17,775. From California history, a California Gold Quartz presentation walking stick which was presented by the Engrossing Clerks of the California State Assembly to Hugh B. Newell, a member of the assembly from 1867-1870 from El Dorado county sold for close to high estimate at $8,887.


A Native American basket collection saw a 99% sell through confirming the ongoing enthusiasm for these works. The top seller in this collection was a Pomo Burden basket which earned a very respectable $2,370.


The Asian category featured a wide assortment of Asian items from the collection of the USC Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles to benefit their acquisition fund. This collection earned $85,000+ with the top offering being a Chinese carved pink tourmaline, now fitted as a lamp finial which sold for $5,000.


The top lot overall in the Asian offerings on February 19th, was a Chinese blue and purple glazed pear-shaped vase with an apocryphal Yongzheng mark, which sold for over 100 times its estimate at $13,000.


Jewelry was the final category that brought consistent strong results. A stunning solitaire diamond ring set with 1(one) emerald cut diamond weighing 2.52 cts and accented by 62 diamonds weighing 0.64cts earned $14,200. A lovely diamond Buccellati ring and earring suite set in 18k yellow and white gold sold for $7,700 followed by a Lady’s diamond Rolex Datejust wristwatch in 18k white gold which earned $11,250.

Clars next Antiques and Fine Art sale will be held March 17th and 18th, 2012. The Saturday session will begin @ 9:30am and the Sunday session start promptly at @ 10am. Previews for this sale will be Friday, March 16th   from 1pm to 6pm and 9am Saturday and Sunday or by special appointment. A full catalog will be available online at prior to the sale.

Clars offers valuation session for up to five items each Thursday from 9am to 12 noon. Clars specialists are on hand to offer verbal valuations on fine art, decoratives, antiques and much more.

For more information on the exciting February sale, please call (510) 428-0100, email: or visit their website at Clars Auction Gallery is located at 5644 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.


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