DENVER, Pa. – Bidders had a taste for luxury and rarity at Morphy’s lavish Dec. 8-10 pre-Christmas Fine & Decorative Arts Auction, paying above-estimate prices on many of the sale’s premier lots. The $4.3 million event boasted fabulous Tiffany lamps, art glass, high-quality silver, bronzes, coins, fine art, and a formidable array of art pottery, including exotic Amphora. More than 200 lots of magnificent jewelry and important watches attracted the attention of connoisseurs worldwide, with a superb timepiece – a platinum Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar wristwatch, Ref. D34714 – claiming top-lot honors.
Purchased new in Paris in 1994, the automatic “Quantieme Perpetuel Automatique” octagonal wristwatch, hallmarked and featuring moon phases in solid platinum, has a textured blue dial and white gold hands and stick markers. The handsome, substantial watch with a gross weight of 225 grams attracted 17 bids and more than doubled its high estimate, selling at Morphy’s, boxed and with papers, for $240,000.
Within the fine-watch collecting community, there are many who pursue examples that have been “flown” in outer space. The auction selection included an extremely rare Omega Speedmaster Mir 365 stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, #11 of only 28 such watches that spent 365 days aboard Mir Space Station from July 1993-July 1994. Following its space odyssey, it was offered for sale, in 1995. Accompanied by its original box, full complement of accessories and relevant documentation, it “changed hands” for $96,000.
Women’s jewelry was led by a platinum natural fancy intense yellow diamond ring with a brilliant-cut 6.11-carat central diamond of VS1 clarity, surrounded by 40 near-colorless round, brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 0.84 carats. Perhaps destined to become the ultimate stocking stuffer for some lucky gift recipient, the 9.3-gram ring sold for $48,000.
Jewelry might also have played a role in the exceptional price paid for an 1840 American portrait of a child. The 23- by 29-inch (sight) oil-on-board painting charmingly depicts an infant girl in a lacy dress, seated on a rug alongside her black cat, silver rattle and teething ring. With beautiful ginger hair and deep blue eyes, the child wears a nicely detailed double-strand coral necklace with round-bead separators and a gold clasp. Entered with expectations of making $800-$1,200, the portrait drew 51 bids before selling for $38,400 – 32 times the high estimate.
A signed 1900 oil-on-canvas painting of a mother hen with her 12 chicks by the beloved Reading, Pa., artist Ben Austrian (1870-1921), also found favor, rising to $14,400 against an estimate of $5,000-$8,000.
More than 175 stained- and leaded-glass lamps were offered, including 81 coveted Tiffany Studios productions. At the forefront was a circa-1910 Tiffany Studios “Peony” leaded-glass lamp with a shade displaying a medley of peonies in shades of red, pink and magenta. Its unusual six-socket “Chase Pod” base was designed with telescopic functionality allowing the lamp to be raised or lowered. The double-signed lamp was bid to $102,000. Among the many other noteworthy Tiffany Studios lamps was a signed example with a bamboo-form base supporting a shade with a lush bamboo motif. It sold above its high estimate for $87,000.
The auction opened with 121 lots of highly desirable Amphora pottery produced in Bohemia from 1892 through the first decade of the 20th century. A piece that had created considerable pre-auction buzz was a monumental (21½-inch) creation known as the “Spitting-Coin Dragon” vase. Its name refers to its quite-literal motif of an applied, extended-wing dragon that appears to spit “coins” into a body of water. Well credentialed with impressed numerals and both RSTK and Amphora oval marks, it also has the distinction of being illustrated in Byron Vreeland’s reference Monsters and Maidens: Collectors Edition. The vase came to auction with an $18,000-$24,000 estimate but had no trouble achieving a stellar $52,800.
Alongside the dragon, another creature historically popular in dark lore and fantasy is central to the theme of a 21-inch Amphora vase that more than tripled its high estimate at Morphy’s. With applied and well-detailed openwork bats and berries around the neck and botanical decoration on its body, this eye-catching vessel is similar to one that appears in both the aforementioned Monsters and Maidens and Richard Scott’s reference Ceramics From The House of Amphora 1890-1915. Against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000, it realized $45,600.
Following the auction, Morphy Auctions’ president, Dan Morphy, commented: “The December Fine and Decorative Arts sale is one of the highlights of our annual auction calendar. It attracts both high-end collectors and shoppers who are looking for luxury items and unusual gifts that can’t be found in stores. We always strive to present a first-class selection for our holiday event, and this time we were rewarded with an outstanding $4.3-million-dollar total. I couldn’t be more pleased, either with the total or the enthusiastic global turnout for this sale.”
To discuss consigning to a future Morphy Auctions Fine & Decorative Arts sale, call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All enquiries will be kept in strictest confidence. Visit Morphy Auctions online at www.morphyauctions.com.
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About Morphy Auctions
Morphy Auctions is a full-service auction company based in Denver, Pa.