Outdoor Americana: Garden and Architectural Antiques

With the month of May now upon us, it won’t be long until we’re spending summer days in the garden and evenings out on the patio. If do-it-yourself programs and Pinterest postings are any indication, there’s no shortage of ideas for incorporating personal style and decorating flair into your outdoor space.

Antique and vintage garden accessories and repurposed goods to use and enjoy in outdoor settings are not a new concept. Although the roots of this practice may run deep, the rules of application today seem to afford greater flexibility.

Simply put, if classic planters, urns, birdbaths and patio furniture are top of mind, there are plenty of options. Or, if the idea of transforming traditional with a personal touch is appealing, there are ideas and options for that, as well.

This also means the patriotic look is sometimes, often viewed only in association with Memorial Day and Independence Day festivities, need not be confined to a long weekend. It can be a central theme or a spectacular accent to an outdoor entertainment space, all summer long.

Stars with a decidedly folk-art flair, like the 19th-century iron star windmill weight offered by Urban Country, will give a star-filled sky competition for your attention. Whether star-shape items serve the purpose of holding items in place on a patio table, or simply adorn a shed, fence, or garage, the versatility adds an exciting extra dimension.

Halladay H37 cast iron windmill weight, U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Company, circa 1880-1916. Offered by Urban Country, $3,000

Figural accessories have appeared as garden ornaments for generations, with the earliest ones probably being those of a religious nature. Other popular themes for garden antiques have included cultural icons, military heroes, and other familiar figures of their day.

An example of a military design is this circa-1940 sailor whirligig. It is made of carved, painted wood and has a brimmed hat made of tin. Positioned on a metal stand, it measures 18 inches high by 9½ inches wide.

Sailor whirligig, circa 1940, Andrew Anderson, New Jersey. Available at Aileen Minor Garden Antiques & Decorative Arts, $450

If any outdoor piece is considered folk-art royalty, it’s the weathervane. Although in most cases this welcome backyard resident is no longer seen serving its original purpose, it remains highly sought after. Surface indications of what such coveted examples of once-practical folk art have “weathered” does not seem to lessen their appeal. If anything, it adds to their character and charm.

For example, a circa-1880 weathervane of a horse in running stride, made of cast zinc and molded copper by J.W. Fiske Ironworks, New York, was a highlight of Jasper52’s May 7 auction and quickly attracted bids. The weathervane displays original verdigris patina – which can only come from the natural aging process – with traces of attractive gilt.

J.W. Fiske Ironworks horse weathervane, circa 1880. Image courtesy Jasper52

Another utilitarian type of garden antique is a sundial, like this one decorated with the Latin phrase “Tempus Fugit,” or “Time Flies.”

American sundial. Photo taken at the New Hampshire Antiques Show by Catherine Saunders-Watson

Antique and vintage garden ornaments add special distinctive charm to any yard and patio scene, but it should be kept in mind that not every object can withstand the elements without some preventative measures being taken. In an article penned by Dennis Gaffney for Antiques Roadshow, the author of “Antique Garden Ornament, Two Centuries of American Taste,” Barbara Israel shares a few words of advice. Four points paraphrasing Israel’s advice include:

  1. Take steps to prevent damage from occurring. It’s easier and more affordable than fixing damage that has already occurred.
  2. Keep statues off the ground during winter months and wrap them in a breathable, weatherproof material.
  3. Avoid placing iron ornaments on marble to prevent rusty imprints.
  4. In the case of all garden ornaments, display and enjoy them in season but store them safely, away from the effects of winter weather during the off-season.


Function & Beauty in Luxury Vintage Watches

Wristwatches serve a dual purpose – they are both a utility that help you keep the time, while also a piece of jewelry worn to dazzle and delight. From military to luxury watches, this week’s collection of wristwatches feature pieces that dazzle both with their function and their design.

The 55-lot auction contains several military watches including a vintage Gallet Royal Canadian Air Force Monopusher chronograph watch. This watch was issued to the Royal Canadian Air Force in the early 1960s and is considered rare. Its white dial has evenly toned patina praised by collectors. The watch has been fully serviced; all functions work as designed.

Vintage Gallet Royal Canadian Air Force Monopusher chronograph watch, early 1960s. Estimate: $3,750-$5,000. Jasper52 image


Another fine watch consigned from the rank of the military is a vintage Unver (universal Geneve) chronograph Argentine Air Force watch. The case is engraved on the back: “N264 Univer Argentina Air Force Logo 92 48.” The chronograph watch incorporates the functions of a stopwatch for measuring time intervals.

Vintage Unver (universal Geneve) chronograph, Argentine Air Force watch. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper542 image


Another beautiful chronograph in the auction is the 1950s Lip that features a black and gilt telemeter dial. This watch is in pristine condition.

Lip chronograph, black and gilt dial 1950s. Estimate: $3,700-$4,900. Jasper52 image


Also from the 1950s is an oversize Longines Calatrava watch, which is clean and keeping time. The dial, with the iconic Longines winged hourglass logo, shows minimal aging. This manual wind Swiss-made watch is estimated at $3,525-$4,700.

Oversize Longines Calatrava, 1950s. Estimate: $3,525-$4,700. Jasper52 image


A top-shelf timepiece in the sale is the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Jumbo 3747 watch from the 1980s. Its thin case and blue dial paired with the class dauphine hands make it an instant icon. It has a high-grade Patek Philippe quartz movement and date feature and retains the original crocodile band with the classic ellipse-shape buckle.

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Jumbo watch, Patek Philipe quartz movement, 1980s. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image


No luxury watch auction would be complete without a fine Rolex. One of the best in this collection is a classic men’s Datejust in 18K two-tone case.

Men’s Rolex Datejust watch, two-tone 18K, ss model 116233. Estimate: $8,500-$12,000. Jasper52 image


Peruse the full collection here where you will discover timeless luxury from a variety of periods and styles.


American Decorative Arts With a Touch of Spice

Variety is the spice of life. And this week’s American Decorative Arts and Paintings sale is the spice cabinet for your life. Filled with American objects that delight with their elegant simplicity, this auction features a variety of paintings, American art glass, Folk Art & Advertising wares to add whimsy and elegance to your home. Take a look at a few standouts from this curated collection.

The auction catalog features two paintings by the Indiana artist Homer G. Davisson (1866-1957). Davisson studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Art Students League, New York City; and the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. He exhibited his primarily pastoral landscapes at the Hoosier Salon, Swope Art Gallery, Fort Wayne Art Museum, and the Indiana Artists’ Club. Known for his impressionist landscapes, Davisson regularly summered in Nashville, Indiana, where he became a charter member of the Brown County Art Gallery Association in 1926. Featured in this auction are The Rockribbed Hills and The Pond.

Homer G. Davisson, ‘The Pond,’ oil on board, 16.5in x 14in, 1920, signed ‘H G Davisson’ on lower right. Estimate: $1,800-$3,000. Jasper52 image


Egyptian-born artist Maher Morcos is equally adept at portraying scenes from the Middle East as he is the Old West. His 1982 bronze sculpture titled The Fate of the Scout featured in the auction is numbered 7 out of 18.

Maher Morcos, ‘The Fate of the Scout,’ bronze with wood base, 20in x 22in x 14 in, 1982. Estimate: $700-$1,000. Jasper52 image


An Art Deco porcelain demitasse or espresso set in this sale was made in Germany by Rosenthal in 1930. This beautiful set is decorated in a stylized floral design and accented with gold trim.

Rosenthal porcelain demitasse or espresso set, Germany, 1930. Estimate: $700-$900. Jasper52 image


This auction also includes a pair of Thomas Morgan table lamps with pineapple bases. Perfect for adding a touch of flair and personality to your living room.

Pair of Thomas Morgan table lamps. Estimate: $900-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Vintage perfume bottles have a legion of collectors. From Paris is a 6-inch tall bottle of Arlequinade perfume, which dates to 1912-1924.

Arlequinade perfume bottle, 6in high, 1912-1924, Paris, France. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000. Jasper52 image


This auction includes even more American art glass, folk art, Asian antiques, a Seth Thomas mantel clock and a handmade Gothic chimney cupboard. Take a look and discover your next treasure.

Tracing the History of Chinese Porcelain

Porcelain is often recognized and celebrated for its translucence, but it is far from delicate. In fact, by its very nature, formed and forged by fire, porcelain is like a beautiful phoenix rising out of the flames.

Pinpointing the period when porcelain was first developed is a bit tricky. According to some resources, it was at least two millennia ago. There are reported discoveries of “near porcelain” in regions active with civilization during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), as well as examples dating to China’s Eastern Han Dynasty (221-206 BC). Other resources point to the Tang Dynasty era (618-970 AD) as the period in history when porcelain became widely known.

Copper-red dragon and phoenix vase, Qianlong seal mark and of the period, sold at auction for $259,708 (inclusive of buyer’s premium) in February 2017. Image courtesy Rob Michiels Auctions

One thing that seems to be apparent is that each dynasty in the history of porcelain helped to hone its production and presentation. Be it techniques used to make porcelain, methods of exporting, development of regions rich with firing kilns, or variation in design and decoration, it’s evident that porcelain’s history is one of multigenerational influence and evolution.

Not unlike most antiquities today, porcelain rose out of necessity. Creating utilitarian vessels to serve people’s day-to-day needs led to the creation of the remarkably durable, yet luminous medium that could be molded, dried, and fired. During the Tang Dynasty, when some of the earliest formal kilns for porcelain production were established in Chinese provinces, new specialities were produced: celadon in the Zheijiang province, and white porcelain in the Hebei province.

Porcelain Point: The city of Jingdezhen in China’s Jiangxi Province is one of the most prolific and longest tenured porcelain-producing regions, dating back more than 1,700 years. Today many traditional porcelain-making techniques are being passed on to artisans attending classes at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen.

Celadon green vase with floral motif, Qing Period/19th century, Qianlong mark, 14” h. x 9-1/2” w. Estimate: $600-$800. Image courtesy Jasper52

In the beginning, export of porcelain for monetary gain wasn’t a consideration. However, that changed as visitors became more prevalent in China. With porcelain finding favor among the elite of Chinese society, it was not uncommon for leaders to bestow gifts of porcelain to visitors from abroad. After a trip to China around 850 AD, Muslim explorer Suleiman wrote that he had viewed porcelain for the first time, a revelation that attracted widespread interest. Paraphrased, and based on various reports of the translation of his writings, Suleiman reported that Chinese artisans used a fine clay to make vases that were both transparent and strong. Curiosity in the Western world led to a demand that turned porcelain into a product for export.

Porcelain Point: For centuries porcelain ranked #2 among China’s leading exports, just behind silk. This included years when Chinese emperors banned the export of all goods, including porcelain.

Porcelain Chinese punch bowl, 18th century, offered by Cohen & Cohen, during the 63rd Annual Winter Antiques Show in New York. Image courtesy Christie’s

Even with its deep and diverse history, the popularity of porcelain is far from a thing of the past. Today it takes pride of place in museum exhibitions, is a popular attraction at antique shows around the world, is the subject of study by academics, and is the focus of bidding battles at auction. Reporting on the 63rd Annual Winter Antiques Show held in New York earlier this year, former New York Times columnist Wendy Moonan selected not one, but two items from the porcelain family to include in her compilation of 10 stand-out items from the show. The highlights included an 18th-century punch bowl featuring a scene taken from a theatrical presentation, and a circa-1990 celadon platter made by Kawase Shinob – yet another example of porcelain’s appeal, whether it is of ancient past or contemporary times.

A History and Description of Chinese Porcelain by William Cosmo Monkhouse
Encyclopedia Brittanica
China Museums


5 European Gravures Reveal Unique Views of The Past

Focusing on European gravures of the mid 1920s, we’ve curated a concentrated yet diverse auction featuring the Bauhaus photograms of Moholy-Nagy, the mesmerizing works of Renger-Patsch, and the artful photos of Man Ray. From within this collection of 70 black and white images by some of the most notable photographers, we’ve highlighted five gravures in this collection that are sure to transfix you with their unique views of decades past.

While Man Ray (1890-1976) considered himself above all a painter, he is as famous for his photography. A renowned fashion and portrait photographer, he was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements. Featured here is his portrait Kiki with African mask.

Man Ray, ‘Kiki with African mask,’ printed in 1934 by Neogravure Company, France. approximately 8in x 6in. Estimate: $1,000-$1,600. Jasper52 image


Another two images in the collection feature his take on the photographic technique of solarization in which a photographic print is wholly or partially reversed in tone – dark areas appear light or light areas appear dark.

Related to this effect is the photogram, a photographic images made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light. Two mid-1920s photograms by Hungarian-born Laszlo Moholy-Nagy are featured in the auction, one of which is pictured below. Moholy-Nagy later immigrated to the United States, where in 1939 he opened the School of Design in Chicago, which became the Institute of Design.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, ‘Photogramm I,’ printed in mid-1920s in Berlin, 6in x 9in. Estimate: $700-1,000. Jasper52 image


French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) pioneered the genre of street photography and was an early user of 35 mm film. Three of his classic candid photographic images are featured in the auction including this street scene titled Valencia, Spain 1933.

Cartier-Bresson, ‘Valencia, Spain 1933,’ printed in 1952 by Draeger, France, approximately 10in x 6in. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image


Hungarian-born photojournalist André Kertész (1894-1985) is represented in the auction with a still life composition titled Mondrian’s Glasses and Pipe. Made during what is known as his “French period,” the image shows the eyeglasses and pipe of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. With the threat of Nazi Germany looming, Kertész immigrated to the United States in 1936, where he rebuilt his career through commissioned work.

Andre Kertesz, ‘Mondrian’s Glasses and Pipe, 1926, Paris, printed in 1972 by Braun – Mulhaus, France, approximately 7in x 6 in. Estimate: $400-$700. Jasper52 image


Printed in the mid-1920s is Germany photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch’s Forest in Winter. The sharply focused and matter-of-fact style of his work exemplifies the aesthetic of The New Objectivity that flourished in the arts in Germany during the last years of the Weimar Republic.

Albert Renger-Patzsch, ‘Forest in Winter,’ printed in mid-1920s, Berlin. 7in x 9in. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image


These and dozens of other great images by famous photographers are featured in the gravures auction. View the full catalog here.