A clear fall day in Indianapolis, Indiana didn’t stop fans of Modern Design from stepping inside the doors of Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper to take part in an afternoon of bidding and collecting camaraderie on Sunday, October 10. With auctioneer Jack Christy calling to a packed house, there was plenty of activity on the auction floor, while even more bidders, succumbing to the lure of a beautiful day, placed their bids by absentee or telephone. Adding to the list of enthusiasts was an international host of collectors, watching the sale and placing their bids via live auction on eBay. As always, there was a 10% buyer’s premium for floor bidders, while internet, absentee and telephone bidders paid a 15% buyer’s premium.
Presented in this sale was a stellar selection of fine art, decorative arts and antiques representing the best examples of mid-20th century design, including Italian glass by Venini, Barovier, Toso, Dino Martens, Avem and Seguso. Furniture offered included important Mid-Century design by the like of Charles Eames, Nelson, Dunbar, Knoll and Risom, and pottery included selections from Schaeffenacker to Gamboni. With many items gleaned from the boundless collection of important East Coast collector, Ken Dukoff, this sale promised to offer strong interest and lively bidding.
The first 50 lots were dedicated to furniture, encompassing many aspects of modern design, from Art Deco to Modern. Starting off with a 1940s shell chair rocker by Charles Eames for Herman Miller selling at $500, well within its estimated $400-$600, strong emphasis at this sale was placed on the likes of Charles Eames, Dunbar and Kazuhide Takahama. Sales were varied, with most pieces sold within or near estimate, including a Raymore Pottery Bitossi Italian pedestal table, circa 1960s. Estimated to sell between $250 and $500, the closing price for this item fell nicely in the middle, closing at a cozy $375. A Royal Chrome settee and arm chair suite, estimated at $200-$400 shared the same fortune, ending at $325.
There were also a few bargains and fantastic steals for some happy bidders. Among the bargains that day was a modern German 1950s tri-level stand. Estimated to sell between $250 and $350, this piece walked away at a mere $70, while a white double pedestal exhibition dining table by Philippe Starke for Kartell sold at half its estimated low of $1,000, closing at $500.
Not to be undersold, there were plenty of items going well above estimate, too, including a wonderful mix metal small Art Deco table with onyx glass top. Given a high estimate of $1,200, this piece ended well above estimate at $2,100, plus buyer’s premium. And a floating walnut desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller more than doubled its high estimated of $600 when the bidding skyrocketed to $1,650. Not to be deterred, bidding a Dunbar rosewood executive desk continued until the price exceeded the estimated $200-$400, to close at a cool $1,050.
Other notable prices for furniture included a lot of 4 Mengel teak Danish modern arm chairs. Sold as-is, this lot closed within its estimated $100-$300, going home for $200. A Dunbar rosewood veneer 4-drawer filing cabinet, estimated between $200 and $400 closed at $600, while another, similar cabinet, missing gold "D" plaque in drawer sold for half that amount. A Warren MacArthur Drop Leaf aluminum work table, its original casters replaced with hockey pucks, breezed past its estimated $200-$400, ending at $525, while a pair of Knoll Brno flat steel chairs, circa 1960s, but designed by Mies Van der Rohe in 1928 for the Tugendhat House in Brno, Czechoslovakia, also exceeded their high estimate of $300, garnering $425. A stereo cabinet or credenza by George Nelson more than doubled its expected high estimate of $300, closing at $625, and a white steel frame arm chair, also by George Nelson, estimated at $200-$400 closed at $625. A 1970s Preway brand orange enamel Mod freestanding fireplace with a high estimate of $300, doubled expectations to close at $600.
TONS OF TEXTILES
Textile offerings included everything from mod hooked rugs and wall hangings to Art Deco tapestries to an inspiring selection of 1950s Bark Cloth panels. Prices held their own, with most ending near or within estimate. One low-ending piece, a vintage mod fag rug, estimated at $50-$100 found a new home at $20, and a lovely Art Deco geometric floral runner sold for less than half its estimated low of $200, at $80; but most pieces fared better. A wool rug by Art Line of Denmark by Ege Axminster, ca. 1960s, sold just above high estimate of $100, closing at $130, while a Charles Chamot wool tapestry weaving in brown and cream saw similar results, closing at $140.
Bark cloth prices, for the most part, fell within estimate, with prices ranging from $25-$130. Of special note was a pair of Eames era bark cloth curtains with a layered design in the style of Calder, Miro and the surrealists. Offered in very good condition, this fun pair sold within the estimated $80-$150, ending at a sound $130.
MEDLEY OF METALS
Among the offerings in brass, chrome, aluminum and sliver were a pair of Machine Age Art Deco chrome vases in the style of Nesson Studios, estimated at $600-$900, and selling for an impressive $1,350, against a floor bidder. A tiny bronze cat by Karl Hagenauer, estimated between $50 and $100 closed at $170, and a pair pf Art Deco copper and brass boxes, marked "OTAR" and estimated to bring $800-$1,200 closed just shy of high estimate at $1,050.
Good collectors’ prices in this area included a French Modernist architectural stone sculpture in the style of Gustave Miklos. Expected to bring between $1,500 and $2,500, this piece waltzed at the door at $525.
PAINTINGS AND FINE ART
There was a great selection of modern and abstract art, including examples of Surrealist, Photo Realism, Abstract, Industrialist, Expressionist and Impressionist painting. Some buyers walked away with fresh additions to their collections selling for less than low estimate. But, bidding was strong on a number of other pieces, including a Farnsworth Photo Realist graphic, which closed just below high estimate of $400, at $375, and an Expressionist night club scene, signed Shirl closed just above low estimate of $400 at $425.
Among the most anticipated pieces in this sale was a framed Salvador Dali poster, "Theatre Figureas," advertising a 1974 Spanish art show. Estimated between $200 and $400, this large and colorful piece exceeded expectations, closing at $575. A signed lithograph, attributed to Alexander Calder also exceeded its expected $50-$100, closing at $225. But, the most exciting sale in this area was that of an oil on Masonite by Leonard M. Nierman (Mexican/American, b. 1932). Expected to bring between $1,200 and $1,500, this piece nearly doubled high estimate, closing at $2,900.
LAMPS AND LIGHTING
Lamps proved to be among the most popular items in Sunday’s auction. Prices remained within or above estimate almost without exception as collectors, anxious to complete their interiors, battled it out for items like a pair of Murano art glass lamps, probably by Barbini, estimated to sell between $200 and $400, and finally closing at $750. Even more electrifying was the sale of a pair of Art Deco table lambs, possibly by Kem Weber. Sold as is, with rewiring and an uneven finish, the pair was estimated to bring $400-$600, but soared to close at $1,050.
Pottery offerings ran the gamut, from Gambone, Raymor, and Fantoni Italian Art Pottery to Danish Modern to Schaeffenaker and Roth German pottery. Prices held their own, including a Hoganaas Keramik Swedish modern art pottery vase, estimated at $50-$100, and selling for $80, and a Raymor Italian art pottery Llama sculpture, closing at $60. A Schaeffenacker German Art Pottery vase with a lava glaze sold just above low estimate of $300, bringing in $350. Bargains included lot of three rare Gouda Holland Futura art pottery vases, expected to bring $200-$300, but closing at $130.
Stronger prices included a two piece Gambone art pottery sculptural display, selling just shy its estimated high of $1,200, closing at $1,050. A Fantoni Italian art pottery Cubist sculptural plaque, estimated between $900 and $1,800 fared well also, closing at a sound $1,200, and a large Roth Keramik German pottery vase with a high estimate of $150 realized $225.
An Italian Futurist ceramic bird sculpture, in the manner of Furtunato Depero closed just shy of its low estimate of $1,500, at $1,200, while a lot of 6 pieces of Bitossi Palma & Vannicola Memphis vases, new old stock, exceeded its high estimate of $150, closing at $190.
With more than 200 lots of art glass offered, sales were steady, with most prices falling within estimate. One exception was a "Formossa" Murano art glass chandelier by Ettore Sottass for Venini. Although bringing in an impressive $2,500, this piece sold just shy of its $3,000 low estimate, and a giant Barbini Murano art glass bird figurine, expected to bring $1,500-$2,500, closed at $1,250.
A Barovier and Toso Murano Graffito art glass vase fared much better, closing just above high estimate at $750, and a blue Murano Pulegoso art glass vase exceeded its $200 high estimate, closing at $225. Meanwhile, a Cendese Corroso art glass statuette, estimated between $100-$200 also exceeded expectations, closing at $350.
There were a number of sought-after pieces offered in this sale, including an important Alfredo Barbinin black Murano art glass vase, estimated to bring $800-$1,200 and closing at $975. Also of note was a Venini Binaconi Fasce art glass vase, estimated at $1,500-$2,500, and selling comfortably in the middle, at a solid $2,000. A Suguso Vetri d’Arte Laguna type Murano art glass vase, designed by Flavio Poli sold just below its expected high of $300, at $275, and a Murano Barovier 1950s art glass lamp exceeded its estimated high of $300, selling for $475.
Also exceeding expectations was an AVEM Murano Art Glass vase which doubled its expected high of $400, closing at $800. An Ansolo Fuga Murano art glass vase of AVEM closed well within its estimated $1,000-$2,000, closing at $1,650, and a pair of rare pinched and contorted electric blue Dino Martens Art Glass vases, estimated between $1,500 and $2,500 closed just above low estimate at $1,550.
Selling to a single floor bidder were four lots of Modern Geometric leaded glass panels in primary colors and patterned glass, in the manner of Piet Mondrian. Of varying sizes, from 31" x 27" to 47" x 27", an estimated at $300-$600 for each piece, bidding gained momentum with each panel, with ending prices at $250, $625, $700 and $875.
A bullicanted Murano art glass vase by Dino Martens ended just above low estimate of $1,000 at $1,050, while a Venini Fasce Orizzontali Murano art glass chandelier, designed by Massimo Vignelli, ca. 1950s, estimated between $3,000 and $5,000, sold well within its estimate at $4,250, and a Venini Murano Zanfirico art glass vase, designed by Paolo Venini exceeded its high estimate of $1,200, closing at $2,000.
The event ended after dark, with few bidders going home empty handed. Future specialty auctions include a Fishing Collectibles auction on October 23, a Costume, B
akelite and Estate Jewelry sale on December 9, as well as the regularly scheduled monthly Art and Antiques and uncataloged sales. For more information, visit our website at www.antiquehelper.com, or call (317) 251-5635.