February 1, 2011 (Indianapolis, Indiana) Two successful auctions at Antique Helper on January 22 marked the beginning of a promising auction year. In one memorable day, the Indianapolis auction house presented a morning Art and Antiques Auction, followed that afternoon by a much anticipated Superhero Museum Collection Auction.
The pace was set early in the day, with the sale of a pair of Chinese Qian Long blue and white porcelain bowls (est. $200-$400). In keeping with the current trend of strong sales in the Chinese art market, the pair brought an impressive $6,000 from a telephone bidder. The momentum continued with the sale of a carved antique Ch’ein-lung egg bowl form jade water coupe with stand (est. $800-$1,200), which also brought a winning bid of $6,000.
A large 19th Century Chinese silk kesi tapestry (est. $400-$800) also surpassed high estimate, with a winning bid of $3,100. A Japanese archaic form bronze temple bell (est. $1,500-$2,000) reached $3,000.
Among other antiques from Asia and the Middle East was an Assyrian/Middle Eastern copper table top tray. It surpassed high estimate of $400 with a winning bid of $500.
There was a nice selection of pottery and porcelain offered in this sale. Notable was a Meissen porcelain figural group featuring Urania, muse of astronomy. Proving that Meissen remains a desirable collectible, this group easily surpassed the high estimate of $400, bringing a winning bid of $675. Another figural piece, a Russian Ulan silvered pewter Cossack mounting his horse on a cherry wood pedestal, more than doubled its high estimate of $400, with a hammer price of $1,100.
This auction featured several items from the personal collection of the late Harrison Eiteljorg. One of the highpoints from this consignment was a pastel on paper by Impressionist artist (Jean Baptiste) Armand Gillaumin (French, 1841-1927). After much presale attention, this beautiful haystack landscape. sold for $7,500 to a telephone bidder.
Another painting from Mr. Eiteljorg’s personal collection, “Dismounted for Action,” an oil on canvas depicting 19th Century Cavalrymen by Francis Henry Beaugureau, ($3,000-$5,000) sold just below estimate with a hammer price of $2,500.
A word record was set with the sale of “Mane of Wind-Neck of Thunder,” a powerful bronze horse casting by sculptor George Arthur Carlson (b. 1940), his monumental deer sculpture graces the lawn of the Eiteljorg Museum of Native American and Western Art in Indianapolis. Eiteljorg always had the first casting from Carlson’s work. When the bidding ended at an impressive $17,500, the room erupted in joyful applause for the successful floor bidder.
Directly following Saturday’s Art and Antiques auction, Antique Helper took a heroic leap from fine art to pop art, presenting the much anticipated Superhero Museum Collection Auction. Due to much presale publicity and media coverage, there was a standing room only crowd. Many auction goers were eager to have the chance to bid on items from this well-known collection, while others were in attendance as spectators.
This single-owner superhero collection was once part of the now-defunct American Superheroes Museum, located in downtown Indianapolis. After unsuccessful attempts by other auction, the collection finally found its way to Antique Helper.
All items in the Superhero Museum Collection Auction were offered without reserve.
The first lot in this sale, a George Reeves as Superman photo and autograph, set the pace when it sold above its high estimate of $400, bringing $600. The momentum continued, as the majority of lots sold within or slightly above estimate throughout the afternoon.
A group of three Superman drawings by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, estimated at $100 to $200, skyrocketed to $1,000.
Among the many movie props and costumes from the various incarnations of Superman on television and film was a Smallville High School class ring. Expected to bring between $200 and $300, the ring brought a winning bid of $450. Most of the Superman props fared well, including a lot of Seven 1980s Superman movie newspaper props that sold for $850. Three sticks of prop dynamite from the 1950s blasted their high estimate of $300. When the smoke cleared, the final bid was $425. A group of Superman drawings and sketches by Steve Rude, Jon Bogdanove and Rick Stasi more than tripled high estimate of $200, bringing $750.
Much of the of pre-auction press attention paid to the Superman costumes from this collection. The first of the costumes to hit the block, a black and white wool screen costume said to have been worn by Kirk Alyn, settled in at $2,600. Another wool costume, in the style of a costume worn by George Reeves, also faired well with a winning big of $1,700. Even a tussled Superman’s wig, reportedly worn by Christopher Reeve covered the estimate, bringing $900.
Other costumes garnered even stronger bids. A Superman costume in the style worn by Christopher Reeve in Superman III saw a winning bid of $3,000. A Lois and Clark-era superman costume, said to have been worn by 1990s heartthrob Dean Cain, brought $3,250. The Jorel Tunic and Cape worn by Marlon Brando in the 1978 Superman movie created quite a stir, more than doubling high the $2,000 high estimate with a gavel price of $5,000. A blue wool pull-over George Reeves Superman costume, purchased from the Supermuseum in Metropollis, IL topped the costume sales with a winning big of $5,250.
Superman memorabilia may have dominated much of the auction catalog, but it was the Batman-related items that ultimately stole the show.
Among the groups of Batman production photos were two large groupings featuring various heroes and villains, including Batman, Batgirl, the Riddler, the Penguin and the Catwoman in her three incarnations, from Julie Newmar to Ertha Kitt. Both lots, estimated at $100-$200, easily exceeded high estimate, bringing $375 and $400. A pair of Bob Kane original color pencil and ink sketches depicting Batman and Robin also exceeded expectations when they more than doubled their high estimate of $200, bringing $550.
A Robin costume, reportedly worn by actor Burt Ward in the Batman TV series (est. $1,000-$10,000), saw very heavy bidding, bringing a hammer price of $2,200. But, the two items that brought the most attention to this event were the replicas of the Batmobile and Batboat.
When bidding opened on the Batmobile, it was evident that this was the moment the crowd was waiting for. Though in need of extensive work and repair, this custom made replica attracted its share of attention. With several bidders online, on the phone and on the floor, the bidding swiftly climbed above the high estimate of $10,000. When the after burners reached the final bid of $12,000, the room once again erupted in applause.
The Batboat also received its share of attention. There were several bidders who were eager to own this floating piece of pop-culture history. Estimated to bring between $2,000 and $4,000, the bidding closed just above high water level to bring $5,000.
Directly following the cataloged sale, Antique Helper staff launched into the discovery session of the collection. Plenty of auction goers who came to watch the high-ticket items sell now had the opportunity to bid on hundreds of toys and collectibles that shared the same provenance. The results were very satisfying in line with the rest of the day.