A sunny day in Indianapolis did not keep fine art and antique enthusiasts and
collectors from stepping inside the air conditioned comfort of Dan Ripley’s Antique
Helper for the June 5th Fine Art and Antiques Auction.
Offered in this sale were a variety of excellent findings, including antique
advertising, circus memorabilia, a collection of militaria dating from the Civil
War and World War II, as well as a selection of Orientalia, fine art, African
artifacts and more than 150 lots of fine and vintage costume jewelry. With nearly
600 cataloged items as well as innumerable uncataloged merchandise offered in
this sale, the crowd ebbed and flowed, as one group of collectors made way for
the next and areas of interest changed according to the schedule.
First on the docket were several lots of antique advertising. Collectors had
a heyday, snatching up wonderful finds, many of which closed just below low
estimate. A large vintage enamel Firestone sign (est. $150-250) closed low at
$120, plus a 10% floor bidder’s buyer’s premium, while a pair of soda advertising
signs, copyright 1955 (est. 100-200) closed low at $60, plus buyer’s premium.
But, the exception to this trend was the sale of a reproduction wood advertising
sign for Old Hickory Furniture Company. Sold as-is, this sign, estimated between
$100 and $200, closed above estimate at $300, plus 15% buyer’s premium to a
Meanwhile, an American Genealogical Sampler, ca. 1830, came in just below the
low estimate. This family study of Dana and Pamelia Munroe, born 1793 and 1790
respectively, a beautifully executed example of silk needlework on line, with
a wide floor border stitched with green leaf and vine with pink flowers and
red berries, estimated between $1,500 and $2,000, closed just below low estimate
at $1,300, plus buyer’s premium to a floor bidder.
If anything could make even the surliest of collectors smile, it was the midsize
Regina Double Comb music box, dated 1896 (est. $3,000-$4,000). Offered with
15 music discs, this delightful artifact came housed in its all-original oak
cabinet, complete with patent and operation instruction tags and all 108 teeth
on the Double Combs intact. Unusual because most Reginas of this size feature
just a single comb, this box produced a bright and pure sound, generating plenty
of animated interest before and during the auction, and closed just above low
estimate at $3,500.
There was plenty of art glass to be had at this auction as well, including
a fine selection of pieces by Lalique. A Lalique Coquilles opalescent bowl and
plate with a clam shell motif in excellent condition (est. $400-$600) closed
within estimate at $500, while a lovely Lalique Chrysis French Art Deco glass
car mascot in the shape of a nude woman (est. $150-$250) closed just above estimate
at $300. Other art glass shared mixed results, with two examples of Galle’ holding
their own. A Galle’ fire polished French Cameo Vase, ca. 1900 (est. $1,000-$2,000)
closed below low estimate at $625, while a Galle’ wheel carved cameo vase, ca.
1895 (est. $5,000-$6,000) closed below estimate at $3,700. Meanwhile, a lot
of 2 Murano art glass elephants, ca. 1960, probably created by Gaspari for Salviati
(est. $200-$400) fell within estimate to close at $325.
Offerings in silver were varied, from 19th Century Russian and English pieces
to Royal Danish and period Sheffield silver-plate. Overall, prices came in below
estimate, providing excellent opportunities for collectors and dealers.
There was an outstanding selection of fine art offered at this auction, including
a painting from important African American painter from Indianapolis, John Wesley
Hardrick (Am. 1891-1968). This 24" x 30" oil on board landscape, estimated
at $2,500-$3,500, closed at $1,900, plus 10% buyer’s premium, to a floor bidder.
Fairing better was a signed and dated lithograph by American artist Red Grooms
(1937- ) depicting artist Henri Matisse in the studio. Estimated between $300-$500,
this piece closed just above high estimate at $575. In the modern realm, a split
field lithograph by Israeli Op artist Yaacov Agam (1928- ) was offered. Estimated
between $500 and $700, this signed 14.5" x 13.5" piece closed near
high estimate at $675.
Collectors of Ethnographic art had the opportunity to gather artifacts by the
Dan and Massai peoples, including a pair of old African Dan Tribe masks (est.
$80-$160), closing just above low estimate at $90.
The items bringing the most attention at this auction were undoubtedly the
vast selection of antique Japanese and Chinese cloisonné. With many pieces
falling well within estimated prices, even more sold well above their high estimates.
Among the biggest surprises of the day were the prices realized by Japanese
cloisonné. A green Japanese bird vase, 8.5" tall, estimated between
$150 and $300 far exceeded estimate when it closed at $950. A blue Japanese
Cloisonné vase with a dragon motif (est., $150-300) faired similarly,
closing at $625. But, perhaps the most exciting sale of the day was that of
a 7.5" Japanese cloisonné vase depicting goldfish. Estimated between
$100 and $200, all eyes were on the auction block as the price for this piece
quickly soared to an impressive $1,050, plus buyer’s premium, to a (floor/internet)
bidder. Meanwhile, a lovely cloisonné box, possibly Japanese, measuring
a diminutive 2.5" x 5.5" (est. $60-$120) also coasted well above high
estimate, garnering a solid $575 and a 3" signed Japanese enamel cloisonné
coi fish vase (est. $30-$60) closed at $325. Not to be deterred, a carved ivory
Chinese female figure attached to base, estimated $80-$120 brought an unexpected
Befittingly offered on the eve of the 60th anniversary of D-Day were several
lots of militaria, dating from World War II. Among these lots, which included
artifacts from both American and German soldiers, was a Type T-5 parachute,
made by Reliance Mfg. Company in June, 1943. Still packed, in excellent condition,
this piece of memorabilia was expected to bring between $500 and $1,000, closed
above estimate at $1,350. An original WWII German steel helmet with chin strap
intact, estimated between $100 and $200 closed at a surprising $750.
Offerings dating from the American Civil War included a leather belt with brass
buckle from the 1850s (est. $400-$600), closing just below estimate at $300.
A Confederate Officer’s Sword and leather scabbard, likely produced by James
Conning of Mobile Alabama, estimated at $1,000-$2,000) also closed just below
estimate at $975. A lot of four CDVs by important Civil War photographer M.
B. Brady, estimated between $200-$300, doubled high estimate to close at $600.
This sale also featured a very large offering of vintage costume jewelry, including
several lots of Austrian Crystal and pieces by Miriam Haskell, Eisenberg, Coro
Craft and Ricarde of Hollywood as well as an impressive selection of bakelite.
With prices for rhinestone and crystal jewelry frequently falling below low
estimate, Bakelite came out the overall winner in this category, consistently
falling within or above estimate. A lot of three pieces of Vintage bakelite,
including two cherries in wood basket pins and a painted top carrot clip (est.
$80-$150) closed at $275, while a Martha Sleeper carved Bakelite piggy "bank"
pin with painted roses, leather ears and a bendable plastic tail (est. $300-$500)
closed within estimate at $400. Eisenberg enamels also exceeded expectations,
with two lots including enameled owls, fish, bird, turtles and mushrooms (est.
$100-$200) closed at $250 and $275. A seven piece lot of costume jewelry that
included Laguna Crystal and Eisenberg pieces also exceeded expectations, closing
just above high estimate at $225.
The day ended with a selection of fine jewelry taking center stage. With offerings
ranging from Victorian to Modern, there were several estate pieces, including
a fine selection of works from Tiffany & Co, most notably a pair of 1.0TW
aquamarine and diamond platinum earrings (est. $1,000-$1,800), closing with
estimate at $1,650. A lovely Victorian antique amethyst and diamond pin sold
just below estimate of $150-$250, at $130, while a large antique estate amethyst
necklace in 10K gold also sold below estimate at $375. On the other hand, a
stunning Art Nouveau enamel 14K yellow gold estate necklace with two amethysts,
freshwater pearls and a single diamond (est. $150-$250) doubled its high estimate,
closing at $500.