Based on the ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller, it contained his living quarters, a lecture hall, library, and art gallery. He filled it with what you would expect from a man of such diverse interests, items from America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific.
Like many academics, Bucher preferred to conduct his classes at home rather than in a campus classroom, according to the biographical sketch in the auction catalog, even though it meant that graduate students who took his Gothic art and architecture class had to make the 40-mile round trip to Nautilus for their weekly seminars. "The reason he offered," according to a graduate student quoted in the sketch, "was that his library was far superior to FSU's, which in some ways it was. We joked that it was because he wasn't allowed to smoke in the classrooms.'
After Bucher's death at Lloyd in 1999, Nautilus was bequeathed to the Collins Center for Public Policy and became the Collins Nautilus Institute for Advanced Study, a title that suggested to some that Bucher had in mind as a prototype Princeton's institute of the same name.
But Bucher's was more louche (that's disreputable in an appealing way: “the louche world of the theater") than Ivy League. It was described by that same student as made up of extraordinary but incomplete buildings evocative of cycladic villages of the Mediterranean and of Southwestern adobe, with "cats everywhere and crumpled packs of cigarettes and half-full bottles of wine and coffee cups and the most untidy and most impressive private library I have even seen."
The 87 lots from the estate will open the first session of the auction, beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. For all the estate's exoticism, only the 16 paintings by the Swiss artist Jean Krille (1923-1991) are expected to bring four-figure prices in the $1,500 to $2,500 range, according to presale estimates in the catalog, also accessible at www.freemansauction.com.
The good news is that the other, more affordable lots are where the fun is. Among Bucher's favorites are a wood and copper Egyptian ibis figure ($300 to $500), a nice 19th-century Indian bronze of Shiva performing the dance of universal destruction ($800 to $1,200), a long Swiss alphorn ($100 to $150), and a pair of 19th-century carved American sofas, one of which reputedly belonged to Albert Einstein ($500 to $700). Also eye-catching are carved continental wood figures and masks and a contemporary bronze model of a cat ($400 to $600).
Tuesday's session continues with 120 lots of English furniture, silver, and decorative arts, including items from the estates of John M. Seabrook and Mr. and Mrs. William Wister. Most have three-figure presale estimates, although a painted porcelain dessert service should bring $1,000 to $1,500.
Following that will come an additional 170 lots of continental furniture, silver, and decorative arts, including an unusual piece that possibly belongs in the "jailhouse art" category: a French prisoner-of-war bone galleon model with three masts and 34 guns ($400 to $600).
The session also includes 90 lots of books, 60 lots of carpets, and 50 lots of 1860-1940 design pieces from the art nouveau, aesthetic, and arts and crafts movements. Top item: an early Galley cameo glass "bleeding hearts" table lamp ($3,000 to $5,000).
Asian arts and sterling. The 400-lot second session, beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, opens with 130 lots of Asian furniture and decorative arts, again with mostly three-figure presale estimates. Among the few expected to bring more are three Chinese pieces: a 17th-century pair of polychromed wooden horse models in the Tang period style (600 A.D. to 900 A.D.); a Warring States period black-and-red dry lacquer stem cup ($2,000 to $4,000); and a blue-and-white porcelain bowl from the Kangxi period (1654-1722 A.D.) expected to sell for $3,000 to $4,000.
The session continues with 250 lots of American furniture and arts, from estates including that of the late Virginia Knauer. Included are more than 100 lots of sterling, notably a contemporary 100-piece Tyack sterling table service ($1,200 to $1,600), a 48-piece Wallace service for eight ($1,200 to $1,500), and a sterling coffeepot from the Pew estate in Gladwyne ($400 to $450).
The top presale estimate in the session is $3,000 to $5,000 for a mahogany and gilt metal case clock. The session ends with a collection of 19 painted metal bottle openers shaped like parrots, pelicans, and lamppost drunkards, all in the two-figure price range.
Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Monday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. For further information, call 215-563-9275
More Asian art at Converse. Although dominated by 60 lots of clocks and watches, the sale run next week by Gordon S. Converse & Co. of Wayne will also include more than 100 lots of Asian art, mostly Chinese. A total of 470 lots will be offered beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the live online sale, being conducted by www.liveauctioneers.com.
They include jade jewelry, Chinese blue porcelains and seven lots of celadon pottery, bronzes, and paintings — three of them depicting women in working military and revolutionary garb — and nearly 30 lots of scrolls. The auction also offers toys, ceramics, and 50 lots of artwork, notably an oil on canvas signed by Walter Lewis that has a presale estimate of $2,500 to $4,000, according to the online catalog accessible at www.liveauctioneers.com.
Other top items: a bronze and gilt sphinx-shape mantel clock ($1,500 to $3,000), an unusual 17½-inch Chinese horn carved with figures and landscapes ($400 to 4,800), and a Chinese jade figure of the goddess of mercy, Quan Yin ($500 to $1,000).
Preview: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at 1128 Greenhill Rd., West Chester. For further information, call 610-722-9004.
Contact David Iams at email@example.com.