Lustrous loose gemstones gathered for online auction Dec. 26

Jasper52 will conduct a diverse loose gemstones auction on Wednesday, Dec. 26, showcasing a variety of cuts, stones and colors. From intense sapphire to lustrous emeralds, certified diamonds and more, bidders are sure to find a unique treasure among this kaleidoscope of colors to fit into a setting of equal beauty.

Ethiopian opal, 34.58 carats. Estimate: $1,500-$1,600. Jasper52 image

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Reading the Alphabet soup of US Mint marks

NEW YORK –The United States Mint is where our coins are made. But how do you know which branch made it? That’s where mint marks come in.

Before the United States Mint

During the years between the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the adoption of the Constitution on September 17, 1789, the Articles of Confederation was the prevailing system of government. States were mostly independent and there was little federal control and certainly no unified national coin or currency system. Great Britain held back its silver coinage insisting the Colonies send silver to them. To fill the void, barter was common while states created their own sets of coinage and fiat currency that were hard to understand for everyday exchange. The Spanish silver dollar known as the ‘piece of eight’ was the most common coin used throughout the Colonies, but with different exchange rates.

Once the Constitution was passed in 1789, the Coinage Act of 1792 changed all that by “…establishing a mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States.” It also created the United States dollar that would have “…the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current.” The Coinage Act also established decimal accounting where units are related to the power of 10, the first national coinage to do so. It also established the first official Mint in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at that time.

1792 One Cent Pattern coin with silver center, one of the first struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Courtesy: By Robert Birch (coin), National Numismatic Collection – National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History in the Public Domai

Philadelphia Mint (1792-present): Mint Mark, None until 1980 with exceptions

The first United States Mint was an agency of the Department of State with David Rittenhouse, surveyor, astronomer, clockmaker and member of the American Philosophical Society, appointed by President George Washington as its first director. The Philadelphia Mint was the first federal building constructed under the Constitution.

The day before, Rittenhouse hand-struck several pattern coins (test coins) called the Nova Constellatio to test the new equipment using silver melted down from flatware contributed by Martha Washington. Rittenhouse then gave these first pattern coins to President Washington. Other pattern coins, 1,500 half dimes and dimes (aka dismes), were struck which were eventually released into general circulation.

The Philadelphia Mint used no mint mark until 1980 when ‘P’ was added to all coins produced there. Exceptions were made by adding the mint mark ‘P’ to the Jefferson nickel minted in 1942-1945 to show that the nickel was exchanged for an alloy of copper, 35 percent silver and manganese and the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin minted from 1979-1981 and again in 1999.

1839-C $5 Gold Coin from the Charlotte Mint showing the ‘C’ mint mark. Courtesy: Newman Numismatic Portal and

Charlotte, North Carolina (1838-1861): Mint Mark ‘C’

Three branch offices of the United States Mint were opened in 1838 to include one in Charlotte, North Carolina. It primarily processed gold dust and gold nuggets mined at the Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County, 20 miles northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Before the Charlotte Mint opened, all gold had to be transported to the Philadelphia Mint for assay and smelting into gold bars and coins making the 540-mile trip overland (about 30 days) through dangerous Cherokee Indian Territory. It took months for the raw gold to be minted into coins.

The Charlotte Mint operated until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 when it was closed as an official United States Mint. After the War ended it was reopened as an assay office only in 1867, but finally closed in 1913.

The gold coins minted at the Charlotte Mint include the $1, $2, $3 gold coins and the Liberty Head Half Eagle gold coins, among others.

1843-D $5 gold half-eagle from the Dahlonega Mint in Georgia showing the ‘D’ mint mark. Image courtesy of Steve Morgan and

Dahlonega, Georgia (1838-1861): Mint Mark ‘D’

The second branch Mint opened in 1838 was the Dahlonega Mint, located about 75 miles north of Atlanta. Gold was found in the Cherokee Indian Territory nearby in the 1800s, about the same time that gold was found near Charlotte. Prospecting turned to commercial gold mining and travel to Philadelphia became more dangerous through the mountains.

The Dahlonega Mint processed gold deposits into official legal tender gold coinage for the Southern states. Coins struck were the gold dollar, $2½ quarter eagle, $3 gold coin in 1854 only, and $5 gold Liberty Eagle gold coins with a mint mark of ‘D’. Because of the relatively few gold coins minted, less than 1 percent of the gold coins minted at the Dahlonega Mint have survived.

The Dahlonega Mint was seized by the Confederate States of America and produced a limited number of 1861 gold dollars and gold eagles, but without the ‘D’ mint mark until it was abandoned later that year.

1852-O $1 US Liberty Head Gold Coin from the New Orleans Mint showing the ‘O’ mint mark. Courtesy: The Coopers Collection and

New Orleans: (1838-1861, 1879-1909): Mint Mark ‘O’

Gold nuggets and gold dust mined in the Deep South and along the Western frontiers needed to be assayed and struck into legal tender coinage. For that, the United States Mint opened the third Mint branch in 1838 at the most strategic port in the Americas, New Orleans. Already handling all manner of domestic and foreign trade, the New Orleans Mint served as an official Mint from 1838 until 1861 when the State of Louisiana seceded from the United States.

During the first month of the takeover of the New Orleans Mint by the Confederate State of Louisiana, U.S. gold coins using the same dies continued to be produced for its treasury and later for the Confederate government. The gold ore ran out after the first month and the Mint remained under the Confederacy until it was recaptured by U.S. forces the following year.

The New Orleans Mint was back in operation from 1879 until it finally closed in 1909 producing $1 to $20 gold eagle coins and the silver Morgan dollar coins, among others.

2002-S Lincoln Penny featuring the ‘S’ mint mark of the San Francisco Mint. Public Domain image

San Francisco (1854-1954, 1968-present): Mint Mark ‘S’

Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, was the site of a gold discovery by James Marshall in 1854 marking the beginning of the California Gold Rush that lasted until 1855. But with the large influx of prospectors during the period and the amount of gold entering the monetary system, a new branch Mint was established in San Francisco in 1854 to handle the large influx of gold.

The operation quickly outgrew the original building and a new building of granite and sandstone became the second Mint building in 1874. This was one of the few buildings that survived the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake virtually intact with about a third of the United States gold reserves undamaged.

Only proof and commemorative coins have been struck at the San Francisco Mint when minting resumed in 1968 with the exception of some circulating coins, the Susan B. Anthony dollar (with the ‘S’ mint mark) and some pennies during the 1980s (with no mint mark). In 1962 the Mint was officially downgraded to an assay office, but regained its official Mint status in 1988.

1877-CC Seated Liberty Quarter showing the ‘CC’ mint mark of the Carson City Mint. Courtesy: Christian Gobrecht, Image by Lost Dutchman Rare Coins and

Carson City, Nevada (1870-1886, 1888-1893): Mint Mark ‘CC’

While there was a gold rush elsewhere, silver ore was discovered in large quantities in 1859 at Virginia City, Nevada, not far from Reno, in the Sierra Mountains. It was named the ‘Comstock Lode’ for Henry Comstock who neither discovered nor profited from the discovery.

There was a call for an official Mint to process the silver and gold ore into legal tender coins as early as 1858, because the closest Mint was a dangerous 250-mile trip over mountains to San Francisco. By 1863 a new mint was finally authorized, but didn’t become operational until 1870 when it was located at Carson City, Nevada, about 32 miles south of Reno. The Mint operated until 1886 striking mostly silver coins from the Comstock Lode along with some gold coins as well. The Mint reopened in 1888 and closed in 1893.

Altogether, the Carson City Mint struck 50 issues of silver coins, including the seated Liberty dime, quarter, half-dollar and dollar, the Trade and Morgan dollars and a 20-cent piece along with 57 issues of gold coins including the $5 half eagle, the $10 gold eagle and the $20 double eagle, according to a Wikipedia entry, with many of the coins considered rare.

Bicentennial Washington Quarter showing the ‘D’ mint mark for the Denver Mint. Courtesy: Denver Mint and

Denver (1906-present): Mint Mark ‘D’

This may be the only time a private commercial mint became an official U.S. Mint. Clark, Gruber and Co. established a commercial brokerage in Leavenworth, Kansasm, in 1859 with a branch office in Denver opening a year later, mostly to assay the gold being found in the Pike’s Peak area near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The company struck its own $2.5, $5, $10 eagle and $20 double eagle gold coins with their company name on the reverse until the operation was bought by the U.S. government in 1863.

Although, it opened as the U.S Denver Mint in 1863, the facility was used only as an assay office to smelt gold into individual bars and returned to the miner. No coins were actually struck until a new facility was opened in February 1906. The $5 half eagle, $10 eagle and the $20 double eagle gold coins were the first coins with the ‘D’ mint mark. Some silver coins were also minted here for the first time.

The Denver Mint continues to produce coins in general circulation, mint sets and commemorative coin sets, all with the ‘D’ mint mark, and is considered the biggest producer of legal tender coins in the world, according to a

While the mint marks for the Dahlonega and Denver Mints are identical, neither was operating at the same period in time.

Manila, The Philippines (1920-1922, 1925-1941): Mint Mark ‘M’

Shortly after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898 ending the Spanish-American War, the United States took possession of several Spanish territories in the Pacific to include The Philippines. One of the properties was the Philippine Mint originally operated by the Spanish to produce local coinage. After U.S. possession, silver coins continued to be minted under U.S. supervision that were similar to the Spanish silver peso along with the one, ten, twenty and fifty centavo coins.

In 1903, the San Francisco Mint produced silver coins for the Philippines with a small ‘S’ mint mark, but by 1908 began minting all general circulation coins as well until 1920. In that year, the U.S. Mint created the Manila Mint, the only Mint outside the continental United States, to produce all coinage using the old Spanish Mint facilities until 1922 without a mint mark.

The Manila Mint produced no coinage from 1923 until it reopened in 1925, again producing its own currency, but this time adding an ‘M’ as its own mint mark. The Manila Mint was closed permanently after the Japanese occupation in 1941 during World War II.

West Point, NY (1988-present): Mint Mark ‘W’

Officially known as the West Point Mint Facility since 1988, the former West Point Bullion Depository began storing silver in 1937 near the West Point Military Academy with the nickname “The Fort Knox of Silver,” although some gold was stored in the facility as well. It is the only bullion depository to become an official U.S. Mint.

The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games $10 gold commemorative coin was the first coin minted featuring the ‘M’ mint mark and the first official legal tender gold coin issued in the United States since 1933. Several other commemorative coins featuring the ‘W’ mint mark include the 1996 Roosevelt dime, the 2015 Roosevelt dime and $1 coin for the March of Dimes commemorative set, and the 2014 proof silver and gold Kennedy Half Dollar commemorative set.

The facility still stores mostly gold bullion, second only to Fort Knox. All American Eagle proof and uncirculated commemoratives in bullion are produced by the West Point Mint Facility along with the American Buffalo gold coins.

1792 Copper Pattern Dime (Disme) one of the first struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Courtesy:  National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History


Mint marks were suspended in 1965 through 1967 for all U.S. Mint coinage to preserve coin circulation during the time silver was being removed from coins overall. Beginning in 1968, all mint marks were struck on the obverse (the face or ‘heads’ of the coin).

Altogether there were nine official United States Mints since the Coinage Act of 1792. Of the nine, only four remain as active United States Mints. Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco strike all manner of legal tender circulating coins consisting of the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar and $1 coin, nearly 15 billion coins minted in 2017 worth nearly $963 million, not counting commemoratives from the West Point Mint Facility, the fourth operating Mint.

All that production is a far cry from the first strike of 11,178 copper and silver coins in 1793, all hand pressed at the time, and struck from borrowed silver.


Bucki, James, “The Coinage of the United States”  November 24, 2018,

Jordan, Louis,  “The Comparative Value of Money Between Britain and the Colonies”, University of Notre Dame, Department of Special Collections,, undated

Littleton’s Illustrated Guide, “Mint Marks on Regular-Issue U.S. Coins”, undated

Taylor, Sol, “The First Coins of the USA”, May 19 2007,

United States Mint, “Collecting Basics: Mint Marks”,  undated, “US Mint History Since 1792”,  undated, “United States Mint”, undated

Jasper52 marks Christmastime with religious icon auction Dec. 26

Icons, conventional religious images hand-painted on small wooden panels and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians, are well represented in a Jasper52 online auction on the second day of Christmas, Wednesday, Dec. 26.

‘Christ the Almighty,’ silver, 19th century, 9 x 10.8 inches. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

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Bansky stars in Jasper52 street art auction Dec. 18

Street art in the form of Banksy spray paintings and prints will be offered in a Jasper52 online auction on Tuesday, Dec. 18. Three road signs from a UK collection having spray-painted images attributed to the anonymous British street artist are offered in the auction.

Original Banksy ‘Vandalism’ poster sold exclusively at the ‘Beyond the Streets’ art exhibition in Los Angeles, 78 cm x 56 cm/31.2 inches x 22.4 inches. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

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Festive colors, top designers set off fine jewelry auction Dec. 18

All the dazzling colors of the holiday season can be found in an outstanding jewelry auction presented through Jasper52 on Tuesday, Dec. 18. Choices range from an elegant Van Cleef & Arpels pearl and diamond brooch to a colorful Cartier chrysoprase, coral and diamond ring.

Cartier 18K yellow gold, chrysophrase, coral and diamond ring, circa 1990s, 7¼. Estimate: $7,000-$8,000. Jasper52 image

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Satsuma: how the West was won over

NEW YORK – Satsuma earthenware dates to the 1590s, when master Korean potters established kilns in Kyushu, in southern Japan. Initially, they crafted small, simple water jars, incense boxes, and tea ceremony components from dark clay. After the discovery of local cream-colored clay, however, these pieces featured floral or geometric designs with soft yellow glazing.

Globular, gilded, enameled Satsuma jar featuring a continuous scene of carriage in a garden against a foliate base, Meiji Period, signed, early 20th century. Sold for $13,000 in 2005. Image courtesy of Doyle New York and LiveAuctioneers

From the late 1700s, these potters, influenced by the rising popularity of Imari porcelain, produced overglaze vessels featuring delicate, hand-painted, multicolor enamel brocade and floral patterns embellished with liquid gold. Final firings, resulting in differing cooling rates between their bodies and glazes, created their characteristic mellow yellow, minutely crackled glaze. The most decorative teasets, vases, trays, brush pots, and incense burners were likely reserved for daimyōs and other high-ranking dignitaries.

Squat vase with elongated neck decorated in polychrome enamels and gilt on a clear crackle glaze depicting daimyo procession, signed with gilt seal, Yabu Meizan, 5.25 inches tall, realized $7,000 in 2014. Image courtesy of A.B. Levy’s Palm Beach and Liveauctioneers

After centuries of self-imposed isolation, the “Enlightened” Meiji emperor not only embraced modernization, but also promoted exports by showcasing Japanese arts at European international exhibitions. After introducing exquisitely detailed Satsuma bowls and massive vases at the Paris International Exhibition of 1867, their wares were displayed worldwide, from Vienna and Hamburg to St. Petersburg and Chicago. Their exotic charm and beauty created a sensation.

As the Satsuma craze spread, Japanese artists worked feverishly to create pieces expressly for export. To encourage sales further, they followed their perception of Western tastes. So instead of realistic scenes, their gilded tea caddies, plates, bowls and incense burners bear stylized pagodas, courtesans, demons and dragons against dense bird-and-flower grounds.

Pairs of towering vases were especially popular. Scores depict continuous, go-round images like daimyō processions or crowds entering kabuki theaters. Others, divided into decorative panels, feature contrasting scenarios. Samurai archers oppose bucolic scenes of nature, for instance, and children at play face plump, perching partridges. However, because these earthenware vases were fired at lower temperatures than porcelain, they—and indeed all Satsuma, are purely decorative.

A Satsuma plate featuring festively clad courtesans and children, Kinkozan, realized $3,000 in 2011. Image courtesy of Artingstall Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

Satsuma-style workshops, employing numerous potters and painters under the auspices of kiln masters, soon spread from Kyushu to Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama and Tokyo. Their varied clays, pigments, glazes and methods resulted in a wide range of colors and crackles. Moreover, many craftsmen hastily painted designs on blank, glazed stoneware. Yet to Westerners, all “Satsuma,” whatever their origins, evoked the romance and splendor of the East.

Unfortunately, as production increased, previously consistent standards of quality gave way to shoddy workmanship, overly ornate designs, and lack of artistic creativity. By the mid-1880s, sales of such mass-produced Satsuma had diminished.

All the while, select kiln masters continued creating traditional Satsuma – hand-painted masterpieces featuring restrained, well balanced designs and time-honored themes edged by rich, repetitive borders.

Satsuma gold and polychrome decorated incense burner (koro), Kinkozan, 7 inches x 6.5 inches, realized $1,000 in 2017. Image courtesy of The Popular Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Many examples, reflecting the national love of nature, depict harmonious landscapes embellished with beloved crane, butterfly, cherry blossom, peony, or chrysanthemum motifs. Others, depicting festivals and processions, feature geishas with parasols, scholars studying scrolls, children flying kites, or musicians performing. Though these were portrayed with minute brushstrokes— perhaps even slender rats’ hairs, their facial expressions, amazingly, reflect the full range of human emotions. In fact, say historians, some resemble notables of the time.

A number of master painters, likely courting fame or fortune, signed their creations. Others cleverly worked their names, or the names of their studios, into elements of their artwork. In this way, Hozan, Seikozan, Kikozan and Ryozan, for example, became known for their characteristic techniques, subject manner, styles, and harmony between form and design.

Finely decorated Satsuma bowl, interior with butterflies, exterior with wisteria vines above chrysanthemums and other flowers, base with gilt two-character mark within a brown cartouche on a chrysanthemum ground, 4 inches x 4.5 inches, realized $3,200 in 2009. Image courtesy of Brunk Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Serious Satsuma collectors often seek work by Yabu Meizan, whose masterpieces earned extensive recognition at international ceramic exhibitions and world fairs. Many feature exquisitely detailed images of everyday activities like potters, swordsmiths, fan makers and paper makers at work. Scores depict natural motifs, like maple branches or dragonflies darting among morning glories, against simple, creamy grounds.

Other enthusiasts pursue small, rare works by Nakamura Baikei. These embody not only a skillful use of color, but also expressive brushwork and motifs ranging from amusing to martial. They also feature expansive inscriptions extolling his own incomparable artistic skills.

Rare Satsuma, reflecting superior artwork and detail, pleasing proportions, and unusual subject matter as executed by master craftsmen, are the most desirable of all. In addition to their characteristic fine-crackled glaze, these splendors often incorporate delicate dots and strands of liquid gold applied with the tiniest tips of tiniest brushes. Amid the tasteful elegance, they shimmer.

David Webb’s Bejeweled Menagerie

NEW YORK – In the glittering world of designer jewelry, David Webb has been a dominant name for decades – seven, to be exact. The company celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018. While Webb may have been best known for the enameled animal bangles he introduced in the 1960s, the animal kingdom’s influence on the designer can be traced to a much earlier period of his career.

Born in 1923 Asheville, N.C., Webb opened his first shop in New York City in 1948 at age 23. He previously spent a few years as an apprentice to his uncle, learning silversmithing and metalworking. The first item he ever designed was a copper ashtray signed with a spider in its web. From then on, animal motifs became a major part in his business. In fact, his company logo incorporates a golden W with a zebra.

This David Webb 18K yellow gold and platinum bangle bracelet modeled after the Capricorn ram realized $34,000 in February 2015 at Elite Decorative Arts. Photo courtesy of Elite Decorative Arts and LiveAuctioneers

While Webb made jewelry of all kinds, from traditional gold and diamond rings to other forms that blended diamonds with semi-precious stones, his animal pieces brought him the biggest acclaim. He himself quipped, “Women are tired of jewelry-looking jewelry, and they want one-of-a-kind pieces … Animals are here to stay,” according to

Webb worked animal figures into pins, necklaces and rings, but it is his bangle bracelets, usually enameled in bright colors, are iconic and highly collectible.

In 1957, he designed his first animal bangle with a dragon that contained cabochon emeralds, diamonds, platinum and gold. Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor bought the piece, which would later become known as the Elizabeth Taylor Makara Bracelet. This design opened up a world of possibilities, and a veritable zoo of animals followed – creatures both real and mythical that could fly, swim, slither or run, including frogs, panthers, zebras, horses, monkeys, snakes, leopards, alligators, seahorses and elephants. Taylor continued to be a fan and even wore her diamond-encrusted lion-and-pearl Webb designs when filming several movies.

Set with diamonds whose total carat weight approaches 28 carats, this David Webb diamond panther pin hav achieved $25,000 at Fortuna Auction in November 2017. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Vogue editor and columnist Diana Vreeland was an early champion of his work, and Vogue was among the first magazines to feature his creations. Two years after opening his own business, the magazine used a pair of Webb’s earrings on a model on the cover of a fall issue. Vreeland, herself a fashion icon, was rarely seen without her David Webb enameled zebra bangle bracelet or earrings.

Besides Taylor and Vreeland, other celebrities and public figures have been Webb devotees. In 1962, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected Webb to make the official Gifts of State for the White House. Webb responded with a series of paperweights, some including animal themes, for visiting dignitaries.

One of Mrs. Kennedy’s favorite Webb pieces was said to be a coral paperweight given to her husband, President Kennedy, as a gift. “Webb was entrusted by Jacqueline Kennedy to rework her late husband’s coral in 1966, using it to form the fish tail of typically imaginative mythical sea lion, cast in gold, which he rested upon a larger piece of coral amongst a bed of golden crystals to form the paperweight,” says a narrative on Sotheby’s website, which auctioned the item in 1996.

A David Webb ruby and emerald lion bracelet in 18K yellow gold sold for $30,000 in November 2017 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Among Hollywood’s elite, two of the stars who favored David Webb jewelry were Barbra Streisand and Princess Grace of Monaco. Even after Webb’s death [from pancreatic cancer] in 1975, the company continued to produce striking designs that were in keeping with the founder’s artistic vision. David Webb jewelry has been embraced by contemporary stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce, Amy Adams and Debra Messing, who don them to high-profile events such as the Met Gala, the Grammys and the Golden Globes.

David Webb pieces are so beloved that their owners don’t often part with them, so they only appear at auction from time to time. In April 2018, it was noteworthy when not one but two single-owner collections of David Webb jewelry crossed the block in New York. A sale at Bonhams New York was led by an amethyst, coral, emerald, rock crystal quartz, diamond and enamel pendant necklace featuring a pair of mythical creatures that realized $62,500; while Doyle New York’s sale of the Noel and Harriette Levine (who are major museum donors) collection starred a gold, platinum, enamel, diamond and cabochon ruby zebra bangle bracelet that sold for $40,625.

Distinctively David Webb, this diamond and ruby horse bracelet made $27,500 in April 2018 at Fortuna Auction. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers

On LiveAuctioneers, Webb’s animal bangle bracelets consistently bring top dollar, from a Capricorn ram gemstone and gold bangle that brought $34,000 at Elite Decorative Arts in February 2015 to an enameled gold, diamond and ruby frog bracelet that was purchased for $30,000 at Rago Arts in June 2017.

Long before “statement” jewelry was a thing, David Webb was making big, bold jewelry pieces that were distinctive and fun to wear. Fans today continue to appreciate his designs for their imaginative artistry, high-quality craftsmanship and enduring value as collectibles.

A David Webb articulated and hinged gold, diamond and ruby frog bangle made $30,000 at Rago Arts & Auction Center in June 2017. Photo courtesy of Rago Arts & Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers

Medieval jewelry auction Dec. 12 contains Viking artifacts

Medieval jewelry, including Viking items, comprise a Jasper52 online auction to be conducted Wednesday, Dec. 12. These striking pieces date back to the 8th-15th centuries when the Vikings roamed both sea and land. Warriors’ rings, sorcerers’ amulets and pendants hold symbolic meaning in their shapes, often embodying the great strength of Vikings who bore them.

Viking warrior’s ring, circa 866-1067, size 10, gilt bronze professionally refurbished with the gold surface restored. Estimate: $200-$250. Jasper52 image

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Fine French antiques the toast of Jasper52 auction Dec. 12

Function and timeless beauty converge in a Jasper52 online auction of fine French antiques on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Gilt mirrors, pairs of table lamps, figural clocks and more are sure to add a classic European touch to any home.

French 19th-century clock set signed A.D. Mougin. Estimate: $5,500-$7,000. Jasper52 image

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Why Andy Warhol was made for social media

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Before there even was a popular definition of social media, Andy Warhol was the human embodiment of it. The man practically created the concept of bringing together people through pop culture and art – all he lacked was a modern delivery system.

Today, seeing as everyone from Barbie to your poodle has an Instagram account, what might the artist born in Pittsburgh as Andrew Warhola have done with his?

Photo of Andy Warhol taken sometime between 1966 and 1977 by Jack Mitchell (1925-2013), licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

There’s no doubt that had he lived, Warhol – who died in 1987 in New York City and whose 90th birthday would have been on August 9th of this year – would have become an even bigger worldwide pop icon. Everything about his life – the films, the silkscreens, the paintings, books and even his early work in advertising – was so fantastic that he and his legion of followers might well have documented it through posts, tweets and livestream events.

Snapchat, however, would not have been his thing, given its nature of impermanence. “The idea is not to live forever,” Warhol once said, “but to create something that will.”

Sarah DeIuliis is a Pittsburgh native, Warhol scholar and visiting assistant professor at Duquesne University. On a recent morning, she strolled through the galleries of the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore to discuss this modern-day facet of Warhol’s artistic legacy.

Adapting to social media, she said, would have been a piece of cake for the ever-changing artist.

“I think that if you look at what he did while he was alive, he was a different artist at different times,” she said. “But he was still the pop art artist, and I think that’s something regardless of where life took him.

“If he had been alive today, I think he would have maintained, for lack of a better word, that ethos.”

Warhol famously informed his art through an early career in advertising. He knew how to compose a scene on canvases large and small, which leads one to guess that Instagram would have been his platform of choice.

“It’s like that plate of food people share now on Instagram, or that blue sky. So, he’s finding the things, the symbols that would resonate with people on a different scale,” DeIuliis said.

Andy Warhol and playwright Tennessee Williams in conversation aboard the S.S. France, 1967. Film director Paul Morrissey shown in background. Photo by James Avalines, NY World-Telegram and Sun staff photographer. Source: Library of congress Prints and Photographs Division

The artist, who socialized with other celebrities of the day, would say he considered himself a mirror of modern culture. This made his art a reflection, but perhaps not a true representation of his inner monologue. For that reason, you probably could scrap the notion that he would have tweeted his 1968 stay in the hospital after being shot by Valerie Solanas.

These kinds of pics were OK for a shirtless Justin Bieber in 2013, but perhaps a bit too “out there” for Warhol, who closely guarded his personal privacy.

“I can’t say he would have been very forthright in his sharing. He wasn’t a massive sharer of his own personal life, although he worked very hard in that cultivation of Andy Warhol, as opposed to Andy Warhola, which is very important.”

Yet the artist was eager to perform. A video at the Warhol Museum shows Warhol and associate Gerard Malanga creating one of the “Marlon Brando” silkscreens.

“You can see he’s not uncomfortable (being filmed). He’s just so intent on his work,”DeIuliis said. “You can see the passion he’s putting into the silkscreen.”

Warhol’s silkscreens represent a very “Instagrammable” opportunity. They are strikingly visual, and the images leave space for interpretation.

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), Marilyn Monroe, silkscreen, Edition Sunday B Morning. Image source: Jasper52

“As he began to experiment with the technique, it was about the repetition and the bold colors, the artistic sensibilities that translate into cultural values,” DeIuliis said. “I’m watching that image being repeated over and over and over again, and for me, that just kind of spoke to the beginning of his reflecting on the American culture.”

Some of his art was just beautiful fun. From his early days of drawing commercial images from a shoe company came works of whimsy. One series of shoe lithographs is titled “A la recherche du shoe per du.”

It’s a riff on the title of Marcel Proust’s classic novel “A la recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time.”)

Ponder the hashtags: (hash)theshoemustgoon, or perhaps (hash)baringmysole.

Not all forms of social media might have been a good fit, however. Would Warhol have embraced Facebook? Please. At the time of his death in 1987, Warhol was only 58. Although he would have fallen into the demographic that shares old high school photos and pictures of their grandkids, he had a much younger vibe. It’s likely he would have shunned a form of social media that was no longer fresh.

Perhaps Facebook Live or any number of social media video components would have been more attractive, DeIuliis said.

“Livestreaming may have been something early on he would have been quite taken with,” she said. “If you look at some of his earliest documentaries, for example, when he does ‘Sleep,’ or the Empire State Building.

“He edits; ‘Sleep,’ in particular; he speeds up. But it’s still meant to resemble the uninterrupted shots of the object, and so I think that maybe when we talk about livestreaming … Experiencing that ‘in this moment’ mentality he might have found appealing.”

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), New England Clam Chowder, silkscreen, Edition Sunday B Morning. Image source: Jasper52

His “Screen Tests” – three-minute films of hundreds of people, famous and not, just sitting in front of a silent camera – are eminently suited to social media. Even the seemingly mundane images of Brillo boxes and Campbell’s soup cans are compositions carefully arranged to comment on our consumer culture.

And yes, Andy Warhol also did selfies. His first, based on a strip of photos taken in a booth at a New York City dime store in 1963, went for $7.7 million at Sotheby’s auction house last year.

Take that, Biebs.

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By Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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