KPM Berlin Porcelain Boasts Royal Lineage

Just as the secret formula for making porcelain eluded Western ceramics manufacturers for centuries, understanding its many facets can be confounding for today’s novice collectors. Take, for example, KPM porcelain. KPM factory marks yield few clues as to the actual origin or age of a piece because “KPM” was not an actual company name.

KPM Berlin is known for its useful wares, especially dinner services. KPM Berlin coffee set, Kurland pattern, 20th century, porcelain, polychrome painting with flowers and butterflies: coffee pot, six cups with saucers, cups, sugar bowl, creamer, six dessert plates, cake plate. Henry’s Auktionshaus AG image

The KPM mark was applied to porcelain made over a period of 250+ years by various owners, including European royalty. Collectors now use the term KPM to refer to porcelain produced in Berlin in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Porcelain, the translucent white material made from kaolin (a fine white granite clay) fired at a high temperature, was developed in China nearly 2,000 years ago. Porcelain is also commonly referred to as “china” because its first appearance in the Western world was in the form of wares imported from China.

Chinese porcelain was once so highly regarded in Europe that monarchs competed to acquire the finest pieces. They also attempted to unravel the secrets of its manufacture in hopes of producing elegant wares in their own royal pottery works.

Porcelain plaques were often decorated by independent artists. KPM hand-painted portrait plaque, signed on the back with impressed KPM and scepter mark, plaque measures 12.5in high x 10 in. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Prussian King Frederick II (Frederick the Great) had a passion for the commodity known as “white gold,” and in 1751 gave permission for Berlin merchant Wilhelm Caspar Wegely to establish a porcelain factory. Most surviving examples of his wares are white figures, which are marked with a “W” and a combination of numerals. Plagued by the economic hardships brought on by war, the factory closed in 1757.

Purchasing Wegely’s tools and raw materials, and enlisting his top modeler and decorator, Berlin entrepreneur Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky resumed porcelain production in Berlin in 1761.

With the Seven Years’ War at an end, Frederick II bought the struggling company in 1763 and named in Königliche Porellan-Manufaktur Berlin (Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Berlin). The king allowed the Royal Berlin factory to use his emblem, a cobalt-blue scepter mark, in combination with KPM, an acronym for Königliche Porellan-Manufaktur.

Porcelain plaques from Berlin tend to fetch higher prices than comparable examples from other manufacturers. Fine Berlin KPM plaque of the five senses, impressed monogram and scepter marks, measures 16in x 10in. Fine Arts Auctions image

Until the abdication of Emperor William II in 1918, the company was owned by a succession of seven kings and emperors. It is still in operation today.

Through the years, competitors also used the KPM mark, muddying the waters for collectors.

The original KPM Berlin factory is famous for its dinner services, three of which were introduced in 1767.

Because Frederick II was the owner of the company, he often gave KPM porcelain as diplomatic presents. He personally strived to maintain and promote the porcelain’s quality, and to ensure factory employees worked in a satisfactory environment.

Hand-painted porcelain plaques are a popular collecting category. Monumental Berlin KPM porcelain plaque, 19in x11.25in, signed J. Wagner Wien, ‘Triumph of Ariadne,’ circa 1890, 11.25in x 19in. Royal Antiques image

The company flourished under Frederick the Great’s successor, his nephew Frederick William II, who came to power in 1786. The factory utilized the latest technology, installing efficient kilns.

Napoleon’s troops occupied Berlin in 1807-1808. They seized KPM’s cash and auctioned off the factory’s inventory for the benefit of French authorities. During this period KPM ran up huge losses.

The chemist Hermann Seger joined the company in 1878 and began to develop new glazes. Among his inventions were oxblood (sang-de-boeuf), celadon, crystal and running glazes. They were inspired by ancient Chinese ceramics.

KPM Portrait floor vase, signed Wagner, circa 1900, 50in high x 15in diameter, white glazed porcelain, polychrome overglaze painting. Auctionata image

Theodor Schmuz-Baudiss was appointed artistic director in 1908 and began to make greater use of the glazes developed by Seger. KPM porcelain of the Jugendstil era such as the Ceres dinner service made in 1912 is generally considered to be a paragon of perfection.

After the demise of the monarchy in 1918, KPM became the Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur. However, the KPM and scepter marks were retained.

On the night of November 22, 1943, an Allied air raid destroyed the KPM Tiergarten buildings in Berlin. The factory moved into temporary quarters in Selb.

After World War II, the company became the property of the state of Berlin. In 1957, manufacturing returned to the rebuilt KPM buildings in Berlin-Tiergarten.

In 1988 KPM became a limited company known as KPM Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin GmbH. No longer a state-owned enterprise, KPM was placed in the hands of Gewerbesiedlugnsgesellschaft, a subsidiary of state-owned Investitionsbank Berlin.

Berlin banker Jörg Woltmann took over the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin in 2006 and became the sole shareholder. KPM celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2013 and continues to be a leading manufacturer of fine porcelain that is sold worldwide.

A Showcase of American Sterling Silver

Guests are coming for dinner? It’s time to break out the sterling. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing this weekend in our auction of great American silver. Set the impressive scene with these silver pieces and sets from the past two centuries. This diverse collection features world-renowned American silversmiths.

Heading the collection is a mid-19th century coin silver serving tray by William Gale of New York City. This large tray features impressive rococo and foliate handles and masterfully engraved vignettes of Mount Vernon, Monticello, West Point, a castle palm trees surrounded by more wildlife. The unique iconography and quality suggest a special production – not a special commission, where one would expect a more cohesive iconography and certainly some sign of ownership in the center. The thought is that this was therefore either a shop sample, kept to show the skill and repertoire of the engravers at Gale’s command, or a piece produced for exhibition, whether in his own shop window or in a formal event, perhaps the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853. In excellent condition, this unique piece is expected to serve up bids in excess of $10,000.

Large engraved coin silver serving tray by William Gale, New York, N.Y., circa 1851, 232 troy ounces. Estimate: $10,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image


Hosting dinner for 12 people? No problem with this expansive sterling silver flatware set of Towle’s desirable Debussy pattern. The 131-piece set made in the late 1950s weights 185.5 troy ounces and has an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.

Towle sterling silver set of flatware, Debussy pattern, service for 12 plus service pieces, 1959, 185.5 troy ounces. 1959 Debussy. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image


For a more intimate gathering, we offer this 44-piece set of sterling silver flatware in the Richelieu pattern from Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. sterling silver Richelieu flatware, 44 pieces including, partial service for six. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000. Jasper52 image


Also from Tiffany & Co. is a highly engraved sterling silver brandy flask. Numbers stamped on the bottom date the flask to 1879. The detailed engraving of grapes hanging from a vine is in excellent condition, as is the gold flashing on the inside.

Engraved sterling silver brandy flask stamped Tiffany & Co., monogram ‘AR’ on one side, 374 grams, 7 5/8in x 3 7/8in x 1 3/4in. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Jasper52 image


From America’s jazz age comes a trio of sterling silver tazzas in the Modernist style by Reed & Barton in Taunton, MA. Pieces in the same motif are in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Set of three Art Deco tazzas by Reed & Barton in the ‘Modernist’ style, circa 1928. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000. Jasper52 image


An extraordinary decorative arts piece is this Tiffany & Co. fully hallmarked sterling silver and 24K gold gilt “topiary.” The exquisite handmade potted plant dates to the 1950s.

Tiffany and Co. sterling silver and 24K gold gilt ‘topiary’ with exquisite handmade details, circa: 1950s, 11in high. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000. Jasper52 image


The 102-lot auction also features more than a dozen items made by Gorham including a punch ladle and ice scoops. Take a look at the full catalog here.

6 Rare Coins You Won’t Find In the Sofa Cushions

“We’re in the money!… We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!” 

The lyrics of The Gold Diggers’ Song from the Warner Bros. film Gold Diggers of 1933 are appropriate in describing this week’s auction of 250 vintage rare coins. Collector-quality gold and silver – U.S. and foreign – will be rolling out to the highest bidders. Take a look at 6 highlights from this catalog.

Several factors make the 1859 U.S. $3 Princess gold coin a rare find. The coins were not widely used in the Eastern U.S. and were largely unpopular. Collectors have since changed the status of this attractive design. The coin is sometimes referred to as a “Copper Spot” gold coin because it is composed of 90% gold and 10% copper and silver.

1859 $3 Princess ‘Copper Spot’ gold coin, original, mint AU. $4,125-$8,250. Jasper52 image


The auction opens with a rare 1955 Double Die Lincoln cent, a rare error that is estimated to sell for up to $7,000. Separately, this second 1955 double die Lincoln cent could sell for upward of $7,770.

1955 Lincoln cent, PCGS graded. Estimate: $3,885-$7,770. Jasper52 image


Two rare Morgan silver dollars from the San Francisco mint, named for designer and engraver George T. Morgan, stand out in the collection. This 1903-S Morgan has a PCGS AU50 rating and could top $10,000.

Rare 1903-S Morgan silver dollar, PCGS AU50. Estimate: $5,445-$10,890. Jasper52 image


This 1904-S Morgan silver dollar, PCGS AU53, is estimated at $3,135-$6,270. Both of these Morgan dollars are considered rare.

Rare 1904-S Morgan silver dollar, PCGS AU53. Estimate: $3,135-$6,270. Jasper52 image


Foreign coins in this collection are led by a rare 1906-S Australia sovereign, PCGS MS63, which could achieve $5,700.

1906-S Australia Sovereign PCGS MS63, extremely rare. Estimate: $2,850-$5,700 Jasper52 image


This diverse sale of coins spans centuries and origin. Peruse the full collection and get in the money.

6 Russian Icons Bursting With Color

As we conclude Easter Week, or Bright Week as it is called in Eastern Orthodox Church, imagery of Christ, the Apostles, the Virgin Mary and all the saints are brought to our mind. In celebrating and honoring these religious depictions, this week’s Russian Icons auction presents a vivid collection of icons.

A highlight of this collection is a 19th century Mother of the Burning Bush icon, which pictures the Mother of God holding Christ at the center of the composition, while the corners are occupied by events related to the biblical story of the Burning Bush. Vividly executed in gesso, gold and tempera, this icon is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Mother of the Burning Bushes icon, 19th century, Russia/Palekh, gesso, gold, tempera, 31 x 26 cm. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image


St. Mary is also represented in the collection by an 18th century Russian icon of the Annunciation, at which the archangel Gabriel announced that she would conceive a child to be born as the Son of God.

Annunciation icon, Russia, 18th century, tempera on wooden board, size 36 x 31 cm. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Jasper52 image


The baptism of Christ is depicted on two 17th century Russian icons in the auction, on of which is pictured here. Both have $5,000-$7,000 estimates.

Baptism of Christ icon, Russia, circa 1600, tempera on wooden board, 32 x 27 cm. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000. Jasper52 image


This 17th or 18th century Russian icon is devoted to the Old Testament Trinity. The detailed image is estimated at $8,000-$10,000.

Old Testament Trinity icon, Russian, 17th-18th century, 27 x 31 cm. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image


St. John the Apostle & Evangelist, an 18th century Russian icon, about 10.5 by 12.5 inches, expects to deliver $6,000-$8,000.

St. John the Apostle & Evangelist icon, Russian, 18th century, wood, 26 x 31 cm. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Jasper52 image


A central Russian icon commemorating St. Trifon (Tryphon), who was martyred for his faith, is included in the collection. St. Trifon (d. A.D. 250) acquired fame as a healer, especially of animals. He is particularly invoked on farms and is also the patron saint of gardeners and winegrowers.

Martyr Trifon icon, 19th century, central Russia. two splints in the back. 12 1/4in x 10 1/2in (31 x 27 cm). Estimate: $3,500-$5,000. Jasper52 image


The illustrious lives of the saint are celebrated throughout this collection, which can be viewed here.

The Enduring Value of Baccarat Crystal

Baccarat calls itself the world’s most renowned crystal manufacturer, and after two and a half centuries in operation, few would argue that claim.

The company’s chandeliers have illuminated the grandest palaces, halls and restaurants around the world. Its crystal stemware has graced the tables of monarchs, presidents and popes. Its bottles have held the most expensive fragrances.

An assortment of Baccarat Harcourt glassware. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and Main Auction Gallery

The company now known as Baccarat began modestly in 1764 in the town of Baccarat in the Lorraine region of France, which has a tradition of glassmaking. The glasshouse’s early output consisted mainly of utilitarian soda glass. A change in ownership in 1817 led to the production of lead-crystal glass.

Awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition of Industrial Products in 1823 for its crystal, Baccarat’s first royal commission was a table service for King Louis XVIII and the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

This Baccarat Louis XV-style dore bronze chandelier from the turn of the 20th century sold for more than $50,000 at Dallas Auction Gallery in 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Dallas Auction Gallery

On a visit by King Charles X in 1828, Baccarat honored the French monarch with a cut crystal pitcher bearing the arms of France and Navarre in gold.

In 1832 Baccarat opened its first shop in Paris at 30 rue de Paradis. Festooned with chandeliers, it is billed as a temple dedicated to crystal.

The company was awarded a second gold medal at the 1839 National Exhibition of Industrial Products, this time for its colored crystal. Eight years later, the company introduced its now-famous Baccarat Red, using 24K gold powder as the key ingredient in the formula.

Based on a commission by French sovereign Louis-Philippe, Baccarat introduced its iconic Harcourt crystal tableware line in 1841. Baccarat describes the design thusly: “The purity of its crystal exemplifies the Baccarat signature, with its generous base perched on a wide, hexagonal foot and its gently curved facets catching and enhancing the light.”

Antique Baccarat paperweight, 1848, complex cane and millefiori with a rare choufleur carpet ground. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and S.B. & Company.

Baccarat also produced fine paperweights decorated with colorful millefiori and glass cane elements from 1845 to the 1880s.

World’s fairs held in Paris in 1855, 1867 and 1878 helped to spread Baccarat’s appeal worldwide. The company was awarded the grand prize in 1867 for a 7-meter-tall chandelier and a monumental pair of cut-crystal vases. Baccarat won the grand prize again in 1870 with a rotunda-shaped crystal temple as large as a Victorian gazebo.

The international exposure prompted commissions from the Ottoman Empire and Nicholas II of Russia. In 1909, Japan’s imperial house ordered the Beauvais tableware service from Baccarat, a masterpiece of simplicity, embellished by the imperial emblem: a stylized chrysanthemum flower, wheel engraved with a matte finish.

A close-up shows the detail of the engraving on one of a pair of vases created for the International Exposition of 1867. Baccarat’s Jean Baptiste Simon worked for two years on the twin vases titled ‘The Allegory of Water’ and ‘The Allegory of Earth.’ Image by Nitot. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

The 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris ushered in Art Déco, or Art Moderne, and Baccarat’s young designer Georges Chevalier propelled the company’s product lines into modernity “thanks to luminous transparency of the crystal and the lightness of the decoration.”

Surviving the global Great Depression and World War II, Baccarat opened its first boutique in New York City in 1948. Celebrity customers included playwright Arthur Miller, who purchased a Baccarat Soleil clock for the Manhattan apartment he shared with his wife, Marilyn Monroe.

In 1971 Baccarat turned to Italian designer Roberto Sambonnet, who created blown crystal in perfectly controlled organic forms. The company also updated its palette with pop-art colors.

Large vase at the Baccarat exhibition at Petit Palais of Paris in 2014-2015. Image by Yann Caradec. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Louvre Museum marked the glassmaker’s 200th anniversary with a retrospective in 1964. Baccarat celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2014-2015 with a retrospective exhibition of more than 500 pieces at the Petit Palais Museum of Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Collectors and connoisseurs appreciate all things Baccarat, no matter the vintage: glasses, plates, centerpieces, animal sculptures, perfume bottles, lighting and even jewelry. Baccarat’s objects of desire are evocative of all forms of elegance.

Travel Old World Europe via Antique Maps

If you have a longing to visit Europe but dislike air travel, join us this week for our collection of antique maps of the Old World. Explore both land and sea from the comfort of your armchair with this array of maps of Europe and England.

First stop is England, which is represented by an unusual decorative map by famed cartographer John Speed that encompasses Cumberland and much of the English Lake District. The hand-colored map is from his 1611 atlas titled The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. This double-page map includes an inset plan of the town of Carlisle and a description of “The Puct’s Wall,” aka Hadrian’s Wall, an ancient Roman fortification. Speed introduced town plans, vignette scenes of topographical, historical or archaeological interest to mapmaking.

Hand-colored map of Cumberland, encompassing much of the English Lake District. From John Speed’s atlas ‘The Theatre of the Empire Of Great Britaine.’ Estimate: $500-$700. Jasper52 image


Another colorful British map is of the city of London and surround area by T. Bowles and published in Germany 1741. It measures about 19.5 by 22.2 inches.

‘Regionis, Qvae Est Circa Londonvm, Specialis Repraesentatio Geographica, Ausführliche Geographische Vorstellung Der Gegend Um London’ (London and surrounding areas) by T. Bowles bei Homann Erben, 1741, 49 x 56.5 cm. Estimate: $450-$600. Jasper52 image


Laurent’s 1793 map of Manchester and Salford represents a topographical plan showing allotments of land to be developed. An inlet shows a strip road map from London to Manchester. This 18th century map measures about 17 by 14.5 inches.

Late 18th century map of Manchester and Salford, England, engraved by J. Cary. C. Laurent, Dec 3, 1793, London, 42in x 36.25in. Estimate: $500-$700. Jasper52 image


Heading east, the grand tour travels to southern Italy, guided by the 1832 Marzolla Atlas of the Two Sicilies. The volume contains 21 double-page maps detailing the extent of the United Kingdom’s of Naples and Sicily (1808-1861) and its individual provinces. Rich detail is given in the left and right margins of the maps as to population and dioceses within each of the provinces as well as customs, historical summary and products/industries of each province. The atlas measures 17.8 by 12.8 inches.

Rare Italian language atlas of the ‘Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.’ The union of the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily (1808-1861). B. Marzolla, 1832, Napoli, 17.8 x 12.8 inches with 21 double-page maps. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500. Jasper52 image


Pianta della Regia Città di Venezia is an aquatint plan of Venice, surrounded by 21 views of the city’s main monuments and sights. Designed by Bertoja, engraved by Lazzari and published by Gallo in 1831, this map measures 22.2 by 19.5 inches.

‘Pianta della Regia Città di Venezia,’ aquatint plan of Venice, surrounded by 21 views of the city’s main monuments and sights. Designed by Bertoja, engraved by Lazzari, published by Gallo. Venice, 1831, 22 1/2in x 19 1/2in. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image


Farther east comes a map of the Aegean Islands, from Crete to Macedonia and Romania. Published by G. Rossi in Rome in 1685, this map is adorned with an elaborate central title cartouche featuring Neptune and Persephone flanking a shell and sea monsters.

‘Arcipelago Mar Egeo,’ a map of the Aegean Islands, from Crete to Macedonia and Romania. Cartographer: G. Rossi, Rome, 1685, 17 1/2in x 21 5/8in. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500. Jasper52 image


Not done with your European travel? This map collection also visits Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Russia. Not only will these maps serve as decorative pieces, they will also reveal a past vision of the world. Bon Voyage!

Japanese Antiques – Decorative Expressions of Nature

For many centuries Japanese artists have embraced the concept of “less is more.” The elegant simplicity of Japanese decorative art appeals to a market that extends well beyond the Far East.

The Japanese approach to artistry often draws on nature for inspiration, sometimes with a witty touch. Here’s a selection of Japanese decorative art that expresses that special methodology.

Hiramaki-e Lacquered Box

This Japanese Hiramaki-e box, beautifully lacquered with gold scrolling vines, delicate leaves and a repeating circular mon (family crest) against a black lacquer ground, was probably commissioned by a wealthy Japanese family during the Meiji period (1868–1912).


Japanese lacquer Hiramaki-e box with Mons, Meiji Period, 13 1/4in x 6 1/4in x 6in. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image


Utagawa Kuniyoshi Drawing of Shima

A nearly finished preparatory drawing by Utagawa Kuniyoshi for his “Views of Provinces of Greater Japan” series, circa 1845, is from a well-documented group of albums from the artist’s studio. It is an ink-on-paper work.


Utagawa Kuniyoshi, unfinished drawing representing the province of Shima, circa 1845, 13 x 10 inches, sumi (black ink) on thin paper. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500. Jasper52 image


Japanese Carved Three Monkeys Tonkotsu Sagemono, or Tobacco Box

Three Monkeys – See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil – comprise the theme of a meticulously carved tonkotsu, a Japanese tobacco box, which would have been suspended from a man’s belt or sash. This fine example dates to the mid-19th century.


Japanese tonkotsu sagemono, tobacco box, mid-19th century, largest monkey is 3 1/2 inches high. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000. Jasper52 image


Mingei is a word meaning “arts of the people.” It was coined by Soetsu Yanagi, combining the Japanese words for “all people” (min) and “art” (gei). His keen eye discerned that many useful, pre-industrial articles made by unknown craftsmen had a beauty seldom equaled by artists of modern societies. This type of art shares a direct simplicity and reflects a joy in making, by hand, useful objects that are satisfying to the human spirit.

Meiji Period Carved Wood Daikoku Figure

A large Japanese carved wood Daikoku figure from the Meiji Period is a fine example of mingei. One of the seven Japanese gods of good fortune, Daikoku is the deity of prosperity. Here he is seen in his traditional pose, standing on two bales of rice with his wish-granting mallet in his right hand, and a bag of riches slung over his left shoulder. Daikoku is also venerated as the deity of the kitchen, where such carvings were traditionally displayed for good luck.


Large Japanese carved wood Daikoku mingei figure, Meiji Period, 24in high. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Bronze Vessel Depicting Ox and Boy

Also from the 19th century is a 6½-inch bronze ox, ridden by a boy. The body of the ox doubles as a container.


Japanese bronze ox and boy figure, 19th century, 6 1/2in x 6 1/2in x 3in. Estimate: $800-$1,200. Jasper52 image


19th-Century Kiseruzutsu, or Pipe Case Carved from Stag Horn

A 19th-century Asakusa school kiseruzutsu, a Japanese tobacco pipe holder or case, is stag horn carved in the shape of a stem of Immortality Fungus with five heads. This exotic and elegantly carved piece is 7½ inches long.


Japanese Asakusa school pipe case, carved in a shape of a stem of Immortality Fungus with five heads, 19th century, 7 1/2in long. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image


View the full catalog containing many other pieces that express the Japanese approach to decorative art.

A Brief History of Coin Collecting

It is said that during the Great Depression, following the devastating Wall Street crash of 1929, the only investments of interest to skittish speculators were fine art, rare cars, and old coins. That rule of thumb seemed to have prevailed during every subsequent period of financial market instability since the 1930s, since the three categories have tended to prove their merits over and over again.

Scarce gold and silver coins are unique in the collectibles realm because they have both intrinsic worth based on their precious metal content and value as historical items. Gold and silver bullion has a melt value dictated by global financial markets, but bars of precious metal are not acquired primarily for their beauty or rarity. They are commodities.

An example of a collector favorite, this 1799 US $10 ‘Capped Bust’ Gold Eagle with Lady Liberty on obverse and American Eagle with US Shield on reverse was purchased for $7,500 plus buyer’s premium on April 20, 2013. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Early American History Auctions

People have hoarded coins for their bullion value for as long as coins have been minted. However, the collection of coins for their artistic value was a later development. Evidence from the archaeological and historical records of Ancient Rome and medieval Mesopotamia indicates that coins were collected and catalogued by scholars and state treasuries.

It also seems probable that individual citizens collected old, exotic or commemorative coins as an affordable, portable form of art. According to Suetonius in his De vita Caesarum (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars), written in the 1st century CE, the emperor Augustus sometimes presented old and exotic coins to friends and courtiers during festivals and other special occasions.

An 1899 Chinese Kwangtung Empire specimen pattern dollar coin sold for $150,000 in Heritage Auctions’ June 22-24, 2016 auction held in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Contemporary coin collecting and appreciation began during the Renaissance, around the 14th century. Because only the very wealthy could afford the pursuit, coin collecting became known as the “hobby of kings.” The Italian scholar and poet Petrarch is credited with being the pursuit’s first and most famous aficionado. Following his lead, many European kings, princes and other nobility kept collections of ancient coins. Some of the notable collectors were Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV of France, Ferdinand I, Henry IV of France and Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, who started the Berlin Coin Cabinet (Münzkabinett Berlin).

The first US gold coin ever minted, the ‘Brasher Doubloon,’ was struck in 1787 by a neighbor of George Washington. Heritage Auctions sold the coin for $4,584,500 in 2014. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

During the 17th and 18th centuries coin collecting remained a patrician pursuit. But during the so-called Age of Enlightenment that swept Europe during the 18th century, a more systematic approach to the accumulation and study of old coins was adopted. At the same time, coin collecting was becoming a leisure pursuit of the growing middle class, eager to prove their wealth and sophistication.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the market for coins expanded to include not only antique coins, but also foreign and exotic currency. Coin shows, trade associations, and regulatory bodies emerged during these decades and in 1962, the first international convention for coin collectors was jointly hosted in Detroit, Michigan, by the American Numismatic Association and the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association. An estimated 40,000 people attended – a testament to the popularity of a pastime once reserved for only the wealthiest and most aristocratic individuals.

The US Mint’s State Quarters Program provided an inexpensive way for youngsters to enter the coin-collecting hobby. This example is the proof for the 2001 North Carolina quarter, which depicts the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.

While it is difficult to know how many people collect coins, it is clear that nowadays coins attract enthusiasts of every age and standing. Want proof? The United States Mint has estimated that some 120 million Americans pursued the 50 States Quarters issued from 1999 through 2008. This statistic alone shows that in contrast to its upper-crust origins, coin collecting has become perhaps the most egalitarian of all hobbies, with entry-level price points that even youngsters can afford.

All That Glitters: Signed Designer and Modern Jewelry  

A classic line from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice observes, “All that glitters is not gold.” Those words appropriately describe this diverse selection of signed designer and modern jewelry that you might enjoy trying on for size. In addition to imaginative creations in fine, glittering gold, there are several gleaming examples in platinum or sterling silver, set with an array of gemstones ranging from aquamarines, citrines and amethysts to every girl’s best friend: diamonds.

Let’s lift the lid on a special jewelry box brimming with beautiful pieces by some of your favorite names, including Tiffany, Yves Saint Laurent, Buccellati and Prada.

Frascarolo 18K Enameled Gold, Diamond & Emerald Lion Brooch

For sheer eye appeal, this 1960s Pierino Frascarolo 18K enameled gold lion brooch is hard to beat. Fully three-dimensional, it is set with oval-shape emerald eyes and a pave diamond muzzle and ears. On a coat, dress or suit jacket, his handsome cat will attract the lion’s share of compliments, wherever you go.


Frascarolo 18K enameled gold lion brooch with emerald eyes and pave diamond muzzle and ears. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000


Rare Vintage Chanel Coin Charm Bracelet

The jewelry designs of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (French, 1883-1971) have captivated collectors for nearly nine decades. Chanel viewed each piece of jewelry as an important component of the overall look of an ensemble. Nothing she designed was meant to be a standalone item; to Chanel, each jewelry creation was potentially part of a greater visual presentation of head-to-toe fashion. There’s always a demand for vintage Chanel, like this rare gold-plated coin charm bracelet. And how nice to have the original Chanel box in which to keep it safe.


Rare vintage Chanel gold coin charm bracelet, made in France. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000


Buccellatti 18K Gold, Ruby & Sapphire Cufflinks

The ultimate in Italian sophistication, these Buccellati 18K yellow and white gold cufflinks are set with sugarloaf-faceted rubies encircling a blue sapphire cabochon. What a rich look!


Buccellati 18K yellow and white gold cufflinks set with rubies around central sapphires. Estimate $6,000-$8,000


Louis Vuitton Gold-Metal Bangle Bracelet

Want high style without a high price? This good-looking Louis Vuitton gold-metal bangle bracelet features a scalloped design and 11 salmon-color cabochons. It also comes with its original box and dustbag.


Louis Vuitton gold-metal bangle bracelet with 11 cabochons. Estimate $450-$600


Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Platinum Open Heart Necklace with Diamonds

Elsa Peretti’s designs for Tiffany & Co. have a consistent look of high quality and chic simplicity. This open heart platinum necklace features five round, brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of .04 carats. It goes with everything and could easily become some lucky girl’s everyday favorite.


Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti platinum open heart necklace with diamonds. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000


Cartier 18K Gold & Diamond Trinity Ring

A timeless celestial design from Cartier, this 1989 trinity ring combines pink gold for love, yellow gold for fidelity and white gold for friendship. Adorned with five diamonds in each band, the ring is signed Cartier, numbered and stamped with French hallmarks. So elegant!


Cartier 18K pink, yellow and white gold trinity ring with five diamonds on each band. Made in 1989. Estimate: $3,500-$4,000


Want more? View the full catalog containing many other signed designer and modern jewelry pieces.

Ukiyo-e Prints Highlighting Celebrities of the Past

More than 100 Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo (1603-1868) and Meji (1868-1912) periods are offered in this week’s curated prints sale. Ukiyo-e is a genre of prints that depict common scenes of kabuki actors, samurai warriors and female bathers. Featured artists include some of the most prominent artists such as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige.

A woodblock print by artist Hokushu depicts two kabuki actors of their day, Arashi Kichisaburo II and Nakamura Utaemon III. This dramatic print is dated ‘9/1820.’

Japanese woodblock print by Hokushu depicts actors Arashi Kichisaburo II as Koretaka Shinno in ‘Toki Wa Ima Ariwara Keizu’ and Nakamura Utaemon III as Kato Masakiyo in ‘Hachijin Shugo no Honjo,’ 1820, 9.5 x 14 inches. Estimate: $1,100-$1,300. Jasper52 image


Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s woodblock print pictures a Goshaku Somegoro, a popular 19th century Japanese musician.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ‘Goshaku Somegoro,’ 1845, 15in x 10.25in, conservation matted to 20in x 16in. Estimate: $5,000-$5,600. Jasper52 image


The legend of Kintaro, the “Golden-boy,” is a popular subject for uikyo-e artists. Even as a child, Kintaro possessed incredible strength and lived in the wild mountains. He is often portrayed alongside animal friends or with the mountain woman, Yamamba. This version is by Utamaro I Kitagawa and is expected to sell for $4,500-$4,800.

Utamaro I Kitagawa, ‘Kintaro and the Mountain Woman Yamamba,’ Oban format, 24.1cm x 37.3cm, Edo period (1615-1868). Estimate: $4,500-$4,800. Jasper52 image


Another Edo period print by Utamaro I Kitagawa of a mother and child is one of a series titled Twelve Physiognomies of Beauties. The print carries a $5,800-$6,000 estimate.

Utamaro I Kitagawa, ‘Twelve Physiognomies of Beauties,’ series: Meisho fukubijin ni so, Oban format, 25.7cm x 38.5cm, Edo period. Estimate: $5,800-$6,000. Jasper52 image


Dating to the 1830s is Yanagawa Shigenobu’s Hana awase no. 2 (Flower Competition), Kotoba no hana (Flower of the Language). It is awarded a $2,500-$3,000 estimate.

Yanagawa Shigenobu, ‘Hana awase (A flower competition) no. 2: Kotoba no hana’ (Flower of the language), signed, Yanagawa seal, early 1830s, 8 1/4in x 7 3/8in). Estimate: $2,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image


From Yoshitoshi Taiso’s series Thirty-two Aspects of Women is a print depicting a concubine washing her hands. The second edition print was published in 1888 by Tsunashima Kamekichi of Tokyo.

Yoshitoshi Taiso, ‘Chilly – A Concubine, Bunka Era’ series: ‘Thirty-two Aspects of Women’ (Fuzoku Sanjuniso), 1888, image size: 9 3/8in x 14 1/8in. Estimate: $1,300-$1,600. Jasper52 image


View the fully illustrated catalog and find your next treasure.