Halloween may have come and gone but Millea Bros. is cracking open its coffers and has scared up over 400 lots for a most unique set of offerings at its annual fall auction. Titled “Fringe,” the sale on Monday, November 13, at 10 am, brings together a collection of objects that will shock, delight or disturb. The free-ranging sale, defying easy categorization, spans multiple genres, including horror, science and medical, Victoriana, erotica, ethnographic, surrealism, psychedelia, fine and folk art, militaria and more. “Fringe” offers both seasoned and novice collectors choice items with a high “wow” factor at all price levels where nothing is taboo and the weirder, the better.
“We’ve been putting this sale together over the last year. I wanted to create a sale not with traditional art and antiques but the kind of sale my friends and younger audiences would like and not just young people. The idea was to do all different price points for the person just starting to collect or getting into auctions,” said Michael Millea, who runs the business with his brother, Mark.
Many of the objects have crossover appeal or can be seen in a new light in this sale. “I hope people look at some of the objects in a different context as something new. It’s all about putting these objects together and seeing what happens,” Millea said.
Perhaps nothing embodies the fringe element more than some of the memento mori that figure prominently in the auction, led by a carved marble memento mori skull “mask" (est $4/6,000), Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century, Italian, finely carved and oversized, probably from a tomb or crypt, 15 by 10 by 7 ½ inches (skull). Other standouts in this category include a Continental, Seventeenth/Eighteenth Century carved wood statue of a cloth-draped child standing on a man’s skull next to a tree stump with snake (est $1/1,500), probably German, unsigned, 8 ¾ by 2 ½ by 3 inches, and a large Japanese memento mori skull okimono (est $1/1,500), Meiji period, Japan, carved and polychromed wood, possibly Keyaki (elm), signature in Japanese script and seal to underside that translates as “clear vision in clout, inner buddha lives within...", with cedar presentation box, 5 by 8 by 5 inches (skull). Millea cited the okimono as one of the sale’s many crossover objects, saying, “It’s a scary thing but it’s a piece of art too.”
Other items buyers may want to bone up on are the massive Capuchin style French bone assemblage (est. $3/5,000), TwentyFirst Century, France, with various animal bones over wire armature in the form of a huge human skull, 31 by 37 by 23 inches; a life-size anatomical model of human body on stand (est $1,5/2,500), Nineteenth/Twentieth Century, painted plaster construction, removable chest plate, divided face, and arms, unmarked, possibly the work of Dr. Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux, 58 by 20 by 15 inches (excluding stand).
Another unusual item crossing the block is a Nineteenth Century, black painted cast iron model (est $700-1,000) of the Clifton house in Roslyn, N.Y. (reminiscent of the home in TV’s The Munsters), with intricate architectural detail, made by "Miller Iron Co. Providence, RI, Pat'd Apr. 14,1868,” 12 by 15 by 10 inches.
Not surprisingly, artwork in this sale leans toward the surreal with an oil on canvas painting by Pierre Ino (French, 1909-1989), “Jour et Nuit," of an interior scene with a spectre playing violin, a jester playing lute, a fur-shrouded animal figure and a lady in a red cloak, 21 by 18 inches (image) and a large Surrealist bust sculpture, Twentieth Century, manner of Kenny Scharf, unsigned, colorfully painted oversized head and shoulders carved in the round, with swirling cosmic forms, 47 ½ by 27 by 5 inches.
Highlighting the fine art category also are several pin-up paintings from renowned Americana collector Charles Sigety, including Al Brule’s (American, 1917-2001) "Christmas Eve,” a signed oil on artist board, and a painting by Earl Moran (American/Californian, 1893-1984), depicting a reclining female nude, oil on Masonite. “I love the Christmas pin-up and it’s tasteful for that kind of thing. It could have been included in an illustration art auction,” Millea said, citing it as an example of objects he hoped would be seen in a new context here.
Among several fine reliquary lots is an Eighteenth Century, Continental, possibly Italian or German, finely carved wood and bone crucifix (est $1/1,500) with relics encased behind sliding panels, interior marked "M. AHCRD a:1792,” 12 ¾ by 4 ¼ by 1 ½ inches.
Animals are well represented in the auction from a gold and enamel snake stretch bracelet (est $1,5/2,500), Twentieth Century, having a green enameled head and tail, with rose cut diamond accents, to an African tribal bronze antelope mask, probably Bobo tribe, Twentieth Century.
Millea, who as a boy would draw monsters and watch classic movies like The Wolfman and The Mummy, is especially excited for this sale. “It’s a labor of love for me and something I really wanted to do.
Rounding out the auction are an enameled and sterling devil match safe (est $1/1,500), Nineteenth Century, Birmingham, Horton & Allday, retailed by Tiffany & Co., NY, enameled lid inscribed "I am (F.J.W) Who the (devil) are you?, lid edge stamped "Tiffany & Co., New York,” an antique, medieval style suit of armor, fully hammered and joined metal, 79 by 24 by 18 inches, and a drawing of Jack Skellington by Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), ink on paper on card (est $400-600), signed lower left, 7 ½ by 3 inches.
Millea Bros is at 607 Myrtle Avenue. Preview is by appointment. For more information, www.milleabros.com or 973-377-1500.
607 Myrtle Avenue
About Millea Bros.
Millea Bros. Ltd. is the culmination of Michael and Mark Millea's fifteen years of experience in the auction business. While conducting countless appraisals and managing the sale of thousands of objects, the brothers gained comprehensive knowledge of the antiques and collectibles market. The company is grounded in their mutual love of art and their desire to provide their clients with high-quality property and unmatched personal attention.