Bonhams & Butterfields’ December 7th Furniture Sale Shows Strength in Private Collections

  • SAN FRANCISCO, California
  • /
  • December 16, 2009

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An important Louis XV style gilt bronze and coramandel lacquer mounted ebonized commode Paul Sormani fourth quarter 19th century. Sold for $122,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium
Bonhams & Butterfields

Auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields capped off a strong year of fine European and American furniture and decorative arts sales in San Francisco on Dec. 7, 2009 with its $1.6-million auction comprising property from San Francisco private collectors, trusts, foundations and estates.


The December fine European and American furniture & decorative arts auction featured several impressive collections, including property of Dr. Don Van Derby and the late Don B. Liles whose historic 1887 San Francisco Victorian house was meticulously restored, lavishly furnished and published in several books.  Top lot of the collection sold for $11,590 – a late 19th century Louis XVI style gilt bronze three-piece clock garniture by F. Barbedienne of Paris.  Paintings, furniture, lighting fixtures and decorative arts from this historic house attracted competitive bids, an oil on canvas by John Wood, Ophelia, doubled its estimate to sell for $7,320.  A delightful set of six German 19th century carved ivory musicians brought $6,100. 


Property from the private collection of Corinthian Studios’ owners Bob Kongsli and Vern Halcomb was a highlight of the December sale.  The gentlemen had met in 1954 and established an antiques business in Saratoga, CA, building a following with clients from Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and throughout the U.S.  They’d retired in 1984 to a 36,000 square foot Mediterranean villa before returning to the United States several years ago.  Described by the auctioneers as “astute collectors,” their business became a reliable resource for works by the great ebenistes Linke, Beurdeley and Paul Sormani, among others. 

A set of twelve Renaissance Revival carved oak dining chairs. Commissioned for the Dining Room of the Milton Slocum Latham Residence, Thurlow Lodge, executed by Guéret Frères, Paris circa 1872. Sold for $14,640 inclusive of Buyer's Premium
Bonhams & Butterfields

International interest was strong at Bonhams for an important Sormani commode from their collection.  The Louis XV style gilt bronze and coramandel lacquer-mounted commode sold for $122,000.  A French gilt bronze and enameled fish bowl and stand, late 19th century, sold for $85,400, more than five times its pre-sale estimate.  The five-foot high bowl and elaborate stand includes depictions of turtles, elephant heads and dragons in bronze.  A pair of French 950 standard silver four light candelabra in the Louis XVI taste sold $25,620 while a rare Austrian Neoclassical regulator clock signed Joseph Mayr, Pesth, brought $17,080.


Americana included several examples of Herter furniture from the Warner Bros. Studios collection, including pieces from the Mark Hopkins residence on Nob Hill and several lots originally in place at Thurlow Lodge, the Milton Slocum Latham residence in Menlo Park, CA.  A set of 12 circa 1872 Renaissance Revival carved oak dining chairs had previously sold in the Bonhams salesrooms (then Butterfield & Butterfield) in 1942 stemming from the Estate of Mary K Hopkins.  The set sold for $14,640 at the December 7th auction.  A fine Renaissance Revival carved oak console from the collection, originally in place in the Latham family dining room, sold for $13,420, carved with hounds, the en suite fireplace mantel from the Lodge, also executed by Gueret Freres, Paris, is now within the collection of the H.M. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. 


The next San Francisco offering of fine European furniture and decorative arts comes to auction at Bonhams & Butterfields on February 28 featuring the third and final selections from the Antonio and Liliane Mariane Collection of European Furniture and Decorative Arts (see related post-sale releases at


Prices realized in the December sale will remain online with the illustrated auction catalog.  Visit  The catalog for the January 2010 sale will be posted to the website in the coming weeks. 



Press Contact:   Levi Morgan,, 415-503-3348

About Bonhams

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to (01-08) For other press releases, go to

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