Fine art from Asia and a Wall St. relic

Posted: September 11, 2009

Catalog sales scheduled tomorrow and Monday will offer the opportunity to bid on fine Asian art and relics of bygone days - such as a Western Union stock ticker. In both cases, the catalogs are most easily accessed online.

The fine Asian art - more than 1,200 lots, most of it Chinese and generally costly, with a dozen or more pieces expected to bring five-figure prices - will be offered by Freeman's beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. The catalog can be viewed at www.freemansauction.com, where it also can be downloaded as a PDF.

A news release announcing the sale says that period porcelain "remains a top category at auction" in the Asian art market, and it cites a rare Chinese faux bois and famille rose porcelain brush pot in the sale. The sale is dominated by porcelains, but it also offers fine examples in other media, including ivory, bronzes, jade, and furniture, in such abundance that it is hard to summarize. Here is an example or two from the top categories.

Porcelains: The brush pot, probably dating to the turn of the 18th century, is porcelain disguised as wood, perhaps at the instigation of the Yongzheng emperor, who at the time encouraged such innovations. Similar to one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, it has a presale estimate of $8,000 to $10,000.

The top presale estimate for porcelains is $25,000 to $30,000 for a Chinese copper blue-and-white porcelain "dragon and phoenix" vase from the Kangxi period.

Furniture: The auction house also is promoting a 19th-century Chinese carved zitan and mixed-wood pedestal desk, with a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, that comes from a private Princeton consigner.

Ivory: A 20th-century Chinese elephant-ivory Quan Yin (the Buddhist goddess of mercy) with carved, jeweled figure in flowing, beaded robes ($10,000 to $15,000).

Bronzes: A Sino-Tibetan model of Vajrasattva seated in lotus position, Qing Dynasty ($10,000 to $15,000).

Cloisonne: A pair of Chinese enamel-and-bronze mounted vases, Qing Dynasty ($15,000 to $20,000).

Jade: A large Chinese recumbent water buffalo, Qing Dynasty; an exceptional Chinese celadon jade covered censer, Qing Dynasty (both $40,000 to $60,000).

Miscellaneous: A Chinese rhinoceros-horn libation cup made in the 1600s to 1700s and one of four rhinoceros-horn items in the sale ($40,000 to $50,000); A Chinese Cultural Revolution porcelain charger, dated 1968, with black enameled Mao and other figures ($400 to $600).

Affordable: Chinese Qing Dynasty archaic form censer with carved masks; 20th-century Chinese tea tray; 19th-century Chinese rock-crystal skull (all $200 to $300 or $400).

Previews are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today, noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. For more information, call 215-563-9275.

Wiederseim antiques The bygones to be bid on, including the stock ticker, will be offered by Wiederseim Associates Inc. at tomorrow's sale, which begins at 9 a.m. in the Ludwig's Corner firehouse, Route 100 in Glenmoore, Chester County. The auction, with a catalog accessible online at www.wiederseim.com, also will feature items from the estate of Jane B. Aylward of Gladwyne.

Aylward, who with her husband, Theodore, a World War II naval officer, was socially prominent, is leaving her estate to the local chapter of the Colonial Dames of America, according to Ted Wiederseim, who is known for handling such estates.

The sale has some nice items, including several decent paintings. Among them are a signed oil-on-canvas painting of cows in a stream by the American Hermann G. Simon ($3,000 to $4,000); a still-life genre scene by Andrew John Henry of a collation of beer and oysters ($4,000 to $6,000); and an oil-on-canvas mountain landscape by Mary Cable Butler ($700 to $900). Also from Aylward's estate is a sterling art nouveau Gorham centerpiece dish with matching three-light candelabra ($2,000 to $3,000).

The tape ticker, the kind that spread the news about the stock-market crash of 1929, comes from the Gladwyne estate of a man who worked at the New York Stock Exchange. Designed by Thomas Edison, it has a presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000.

The sale has several items of unusual, perhaps disputed, origin. For those who want period furniture, there is a Philadelphia Chippendale-style carved walnut lowboy signed "Made by August L. Lennhoff, West Chester, PA December 23 1959" expected to sell for $1,500 to $2,500, a fraction of what a lowboy made 200 years earlier would bring. Also being offered are two pieces of furniture attributed to Duncan Phyfe and claimed to have been made for James Audubon; a massive bookcase 105 inches high, 105 inches wide, and 21 inches deep ($3,000 to $4,000); and a breakfront cabinet meant for taxidermy and ornithological specimens ($3,000 to $5,000).

The auction's top presale estimate is for a rare, numbered Minton majolica teapot depicting a monkey and cockerel on a snail finial. It should go for $5,000 to $7,000.

The auction also has at least one other nostalgic accessory, an inscribed silverplate trophy cocktail shaker honoring the winner of "Philadelphia Gun Club Invitation Shoot, April 25, 1930, 25 birds won by L. R. Page"; it should sell for $100 to $150.

Previews are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 7 a.m. until sale time tomorrow at the sale site on Route 100, about a mile north of its intersection with Route 401. For information, call 610-827-1910.

Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.

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