Jasper52 auction salutes Americana, folk art June 4

More than 500 lots of Americana and folk art will be offered in a Jasper52 online auction on Thursday, June 4. Handcrafted tramp art boxes, collectible vintage signage and detailed wooden frames are just a few of the whimsical treasures offered in this sale. This collection of 19th-20th century rural life will create a unique sense of welcome in any home.

Pig weathervane, copper, circa 1920-1940, 17in x 26in x 2in. Estimate: $1,300-$1,800. Jasper52 image

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June 2 fine art auction transports bidders to South Pacific

On Tuesday, June 2, Jasper52 will present an auction of more than 100 artworks sourced from a Honolulu estate, about half of which have South Pacific subjects and themes.

Jean Charlot (French/Mexican, 1898-1979), ‘Presenting the Tabua,’ serigraph/silkscreen print from the Fijian series, 1973. Image: 20in x 15¼in. Sheet: 25¾in x 20in. Estimate: $1,100-$1,500. Jasper52 image

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Cameo jewelry akin to small sculptures

NEW YORK – Cameo jewelry dates back to antiquity when portraits were relief-carved out of hardstone, often onyx or agate, and then set in gold or silver. Carnelian shell, sardonyx, lava and coral are also popular materials. Cameos are not created equally; French and Italian makers are often credited as producing the most beautiful examples. What makes one more valuable than another to a collector has a bit to do with the subjective taste of the buyer but more so the skill of the maker. Overall, the more intricate the cameo’s features and exacting the detail, the more desirable it becomes. The quality of the setting also is important.

An antique hard-stone cameo having an oval-shaped intaglio of a masculine profile adorned with laurel and flower wreath sold for €11,000 + the buyer’s premium in March 2018. Photo courtesy of Aste Bolaffi and LiveAuctioneers

A cameo is a form of the glyptic arts featuring bas-relief carving, which traditionally depicts landscapes, portraits (mostly women but men are seen too, especially rulers), and mythological creatures. Allegorical scenes are also sought after by those who collect authentic cameo jewelry. Among common motifs on cameos were the Three Graces, aka the Charities, who have been referenced in both Greek and Roman mythology. They are said to represent beauty, nature and fertility. “The faces bring a sense of feminine power and simple elegance that women find intriguing worldwide,” wrote Preston Reuther in an online article here.

Cameos have been made into all kinds of jewelry, from necklaces to brooches, but rings are common. In ancient Greece and Rome, cameos were predominantly used in large earrings and signet rings to seal documents.

A Hellenistic gold and agate cameo ring, first century, made $10,000 + the buyer’s premium in October 2018. Photo courtesy of Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Jewelry trends come and go and often what’s old often becomes new again. Cameo jewelry has long remained popular, however, as people seek out a vintage look that is both simple and timeless in design. While contemporary artisan jewelers continue to make modern cameos (the singer Rihanna released a cameo jewelry collection in fall 2019 celebrating the beauty of black women), many aficionados seek out antique and vintage examples. Modern day examples, particularly in costume jewelry, will use glass or plastic and lesser ones are made using molds.

Cameos are traditionally associated with the Victorian period, and indeed during the Grand Tour in this era, among prized souvenirs that women would bring back home were cameos. There have been many revivals of interest over the centuries, however. From the ancient Greeks, the techniques to create these miniature sculptures were passed down to Egyptians, Romans and so on.

An agate cameo yellow gold and enamel brooch fetched $8,728 + the buyer’s premium in November 2019. Photo courtesy of Il Ponte casa d’aste and LiveAuctioneers

“The Hellenistic Greeks were the first to excel at carving small hardstones with figures in relief, often in the images of deities or other talismanic signifiers,” according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The museum’s collection is particularly strong in Neoclassical works from the mid-19th century.

Cameos have been avidly collected by the well-to-do and royal families and today there are many fine examples in museum collections today. The Marlborough collection, which was assembled in the 18th century by George Spencer, the 4th Duke of Marlborough, was said to include a number of striking cameos, including a portrait of one of the wives of infamous Roman emperor Caligula, her profile carved into a sapphire ring. Other noted cameo collectors include Napoléon, who established a Parisian school in Paris to teach cameo carving techniques. He often gifted his wife Josephine with cameos and had gold crowns set with cameos made for both of them for his coronation as emperor. Pope John Paul II also was a collector and wore several cameo rings embodying religious themes.

This rare Carlo Giuliano Archeological Revival, lava, asper and 18K yellow gold bib necklace, 19th century, realized $13,000 + the buyer’s premium in August 2016. Photo courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

One of several notable pieces owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art is this cameo, circa 1530-40, depicting a portrait of then-Queen of Poland Bona Sforza, having the signature of renowned engraver/goldsmith Gian Giacomo Caraglio and inlaid with gold. In London’s V&A Museum is a cameo of Queen Elizabeth I, made about 1575-1580 by an unknown artist. Queen Victoria was also reported to be a fan of cameos.

Demand for engraved gems in Europe peaked in the Byantine era, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to the V&A’s website. “At each stage cameos and intaglios, these skillful carvings on a minute scale, were much prized and collected, sometimes as symbols of power mounted in jeweled settings, sometimes as small objects for private devotion or enjoyment.” Carved stones were often collected by the wealthy and those in power, and often given as diplomatic or royal gifts.

A gold and onyx cameo demi-parure, featuring a large cameo brooch and pair of cameo cuff bracelets, earned $9,750 + the buyer’s premium in May 2016. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Once a symbol of status and power, cameo jewelry today continues to be appreciated for its craftsmanship and timeless beauty. Worn singly or layered to dramatic effect as in a cameo pendant necklace, cameo jewelry is not a relic from Grandma’s jewelry armoire but a valuable addition to one’s collection.

World coins, commemoratives offered in online auction May 27

Collectible coins from around the globe – more than 300 lots – are offered in an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, May 27. Countries represented in the auction include Denmark, Korea, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Australia and China.

Cook Islands 2010 $20 three-ounce silver coin, depicting Viktor Vasnetzov’s ‘Three Bogatyrs,’ Masterpieces of Art Series. Estimate $550-$700. Jasper52 image

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Jasper52 antiquarian map auction charts the way May 26

Jasper52 will conduct an online auction of Premium Antiquarian Maps on Tuesday, May 26. This finely curated auction celebrates cartography at its finest. The 123 lots in the auction include antique illustrated maps and views by some of the most significant mapmakers of their times.

‘1862 Colton Map of the United States – Colton’s New Railroad & County Map of the United States the Canadas, cartographer J. Colton, New York, 33 x 39in. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image

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Antique kitchen tools: cooking with style

NEW YORK – Cookware and kitchen tools are a million-dollar business today. While new products are readily available, many people still prefer to use antique and vintage tools. Often contributing to this phenomenon is the desire for having tools just like Grandma’s, which brings up fond memories of being a child and watching her cook. The aesthetic appeal of old tools is also powerful from an Art Deco toaster with its elegant streamlined shape to an ornate soup ladle.

The great thing about old kitchen tools is most are affordable and can readily be found at flea markets and garage sales. Barring rust or broken parts, tools made 40, 50 or more years ago are still functionable. In many cases, they even work better than their modern counterparts. And sometimes they are no longer made anymore or not to the same level of quality.

Early metal tools often are highly collectible. This rare set of four Pennsylvania iron and brass kitchen tools, circa 1830, went for $12,000 + the buyer’s premium at Pook & Pook Inc. in April 2013. Shown are a ladle, a flesh fork, a strainer and a taster, all with inlaid floral vines. Photo courtesy of Pook & Pook Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

“Even if you can find food mills more easily now, I’ll stick with my old one that came from my next-door neighbors because I know it can stand the test of time,” wrote Kristin Appenbrink in a blog about the appeal of old tools on thekitchn.com.

They also make decorating a kitchen fun. Instead of artwork, wall decor could be copper molds in whimsical forms such as fish. A collection of wrought iron trivets or wooden spoons can make for attractive groupings.

A collection of 18th century copper kitchen tools realized $820 + the buyer’s premium in December 2019. Photo courtesy of Bolli & Romiti and LiveAuctioneers

Cooking used to be an hours-long process in Colonial times, from roasting meat in a Dutch oven over an open fire or turning fresh-picked fruit into preserved jam. Heading into the 19th century, time-saving kitchen utensils became readily available from salad spinners to molds and potato peelers. Well into the 20th century, nonstick coated metal pans replaced copper pots for most home cooks even though many professional chefs still favor copper cookware. Cast-iron cookware, especially vintage examples, has seen a resurgence in recent years.

Among old kitchenware, vintage canisters are popular. From brightly colored enamel or metal canisters, often decorated with flowers, to ceramic examples, either round or squared off, canisters blend function and form.

This black metal canister designed to hold and sift flour, for example, has five extra drawers labeled to hold other spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg. It sold for $600 + the buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Among popular kitchen tools that collectors seek out are hand mixers, waffle irons, graters and potato mashers. Collectors are often drawn to items that have a striking design and the handles/ material can increase a tool’s value. Lobster forks with Bakelite handles or tools having wooden handles in certain paint colors are sought after. Cookie cutters are also desirable, and older examples made of copper usually bring higher prices than aluminum ones.

Mason jars have wide cross collecting appeal. While they were, and continue to be made, for canning fruits and vegetables, they are versatile storage containers. As far as actual kitchen and food storage goes, vintage Corningware, Pyrex and Tupperware remain perennially popular.

This huge lot of wrought iron kitchen tools, including a scrolled toasting fork, ladles and a pierced skimmer with a rattail twist handle made $550 + the buyer’s premium in June 2017. Photo courtesy Forsythes’ Auctions LLC and LiveAuctioneers

Famous chefs and the tools they use often inspire budding chefs. Even their kitchens can be of interest. Julia Child’s home kitchen is where she began cooking and filmed her television cooking show in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a decade. In 2001, she donated her kitchen and its tools and equipment dating to the late 1940s to the Smithsonian Institution, where it is on display.

A Pennsylvania horse and rider tin cookie cutter, 9½ inches long, sold for $1,100 + the buyer’s premium in July 2016. Photo courtesy of Conestoga Auction Co. and LiveAuctioneers

Toasters have long been collectibles and their design has changed much over the years. Before early electric toasters, people would use long forks to hold the slices over an open fire to toast the bread. In 1893, Alan MacMasters invented the first electric bread toaster in Scotland, which he called the Eclipse toaster. Dozens of design changes have been made since. By 1926, Waters-Genter of Minneapolis offered a redesign called Toastmaster. “It was the first automatic pop-up, household toaster that could brown bread on both sides simultaneously, set the heating element on a timer, and eject the toast when finished,” notes Linda Gross, a reference librarian at the Hagley Museum and Library in a blog on the museum website.

Enterprise cast-iron coffee grinders are a staple of flea markets and common ones are not hard to find. This fine example, retaining the original 1876 decals, sold for $650 + the buyer’s premium in April 2017. Photo courtesy of Leonard Auction Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

One sometimes finds at auction examples of an Coca-Cola electric sandwich toaster/sandwich press, made in St. Louis, Missouri, around 1930. Having decorative scrollwork and an elegant black Bakelite handle, this device embossed a Coca-Cola script logo onto the bread. Several have sold between $1,500 and $3,500 in recent years.

Antique and vintage kitchen tools are not merely utilitarian items, they are also pieces of history and often a family heirloom with many stories to tell.

Jasper52 to host important tribal art auction May 22

Jasper52 will present an online auction of Exclusive Tribal Art on Friday, May 22. The 129-lot auction includes rare hand-crafted masks and figures from tribes around the world.

Ibo ochichi bowl, southeast Nigeria. Estimate: $600-$700. Jasper52 image

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Rare world coins to be tendered in online auction May 20

Nearly 350 lots of collectible coins are offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will take place Wednesday, May 20. The diversity of this auction is revealed with coins from the United States, Denmark, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Australia and beyond.

Kingdom of Persis, Vadfrad; ad I 3-early 2 cent, AR. Estimate: $2,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image

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White House china: dining with history

People have been collecting White House china pieces for nearly as long as there have been US Presidents. While it’s beyond the reach of many people to gather all the pieces for a full setting, most collectors gravitate toward dinner plates, as they’re large, display beautifully, and are surefire conversation starters. They’re also perceived as the most important, even though platters, gravy boats, teapots and other serving pieces are often rarer and can command higher prices.

Abraham Lincoln White House Limoges porcelain dinner plate with scallop-mold rim, decorated with the so-called “Alhambra” pattern in gold to the inner border and with the Solferino purple band to the shoulder, bracketed by slender gold lines, center painted by Edward Lycett in New York, 9½ inches in diameter, est. $300-$500, sold for $9,600 at an auction held June 21, 2014 by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

“All presidential relics are keenly sought after by collectors,” said Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Maryland, which has handled many pieces of White House china and other White House memorabilia over the years – from autographs to locks of presidential hair.

White House dinner plates are especially desirable, but not every past president ordered a new state service. However, it has become a more popular practice in the last 50 years or so, perhaps because presidents perceive it as a way to leave a legacy for the future. Also, it reflects the period in history and interests of the First Family at the time. Up until the Truman presidency, the government paid for the china. After that, private sources picked up the tab.

The first president credited with having porcelain decorated specifically for the White House was James Monroe, who ordered a dinner service of 30 place-settings and a matching dessert service from Dagoty-Honore in Paris, at a cost of $1,167.23. Monroe was criticized for buying from a foreign maker, and while Congress passed a law mandating all furniture for the White House be made in America, it excluded dinner china. When the Polks entered the White House, in 1845, a new china service was ordered and Dagoty-Honore was once again commissioned for the job.

The Lincoln china was the first service chosen entirely by a first lady. Mary Todd Lincoln selected china with a purple-red border called “Solferino” (later known as the “Royal Purple” set, in 1861. It was ordered from the E.V. Haughwout & Company in New York City and had been produced by Haviland and Company in Limoges, France. It showed the American bald eagle above a shield with the national motto displayed amidst clouds. The Coat of Arms of the United States appeared in the center. Understandably, dinner plates from the service are highly collectible.

Limited edition circa 1880 plate reproducing the ‘Blue-Fish’ design used for President Rutherford B. Hayes’s White House dinner service, designed by Theodore R. Davis and made by Haviland & Co. of Limoges, France. Back of the plate bears a Haviland mark, stamped artist signature, with patent number “11935”, est. $1,000-$1,500, sold for $1,875 in an online auction held Feb. 13, 2020 by RR Auction, based in Boston.

The dinner service of the Rutherford B. Hayes’ administration was unique in that the first lady, Lucy Hayes, suggested the china include the flora and fauna of North America as its decoration. Artist Theodore R. Davis complied and produced 130 designs at a total cost of $3,120. These designs featured not just flora and fauna but also birds and animals found in the United States. The public liked what was produced, but critics weren’t so pleased. The design wasn’t officially unveiled until a dinner for the incoming president, James A. Garfield.

Benjamin Harrison’s wife, Caroline, was an artist and helped design a service that included the country’s coat of arms in the center of the plates, a goldenrod and corn motif (representing her home state of Indiana) and 44 stars (one for each state at the time). Sadly, she was never able to use the china she ordered, as she died before its delivery in December 1892. Teddy Roosevelt’s wife, Edith, ordered 1,320 pieces of Wedgwood china, white in color and featuring the Great Seal of the United States. It was a large order, which was needed because of a new, 100-guest State Dining Room.

Limoges porcelain dinner plate from the White House service of President Benjamin Harrison, circa 1892, by Tressemanes & Vogt, marked, showing the Presidential Eagle with a sprig of olive and cluster of arrows in its talons, over a ribbon bearing the motto “E. Pluribus Unum,” 9½ inches in diameter, est. $800-$1,200, sold for $2,450 at an auction held Dec. 2, 2006 by Neal Auction Company in New Orleans.

Woodrow Wilson’s first lady Edith specifically wanted a service that would be designed by an American artist, made at an American porcelain works, and decorated by American workmen. She got her wish after viewing a Lenox sample in a Washington, DC store. The resulting design featured the Presidential Seal in raised gold and deep blue borders on all 1,700 pieces. The service was used for the next several administrations until FDR, and only then because the Wilson service had become largely depleted. In 1934, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt ordered 1,722 pieces of Lenox china through a New York store. The pattern showed the Presidential Seal and 48 gold stars, one for each state.

The Trumans ordered 1,572 pieces of Lenox china in 1951 that showed a standardized Presidential Seal, with the head of the eagle turned toward the olive branch (representing peace) and away from the arrows (representing war), per Harry Truman’s executive order issued in 1945. The seal was surrounded by 48 gold stars. Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower kept the Truman service in service, although Mrs Eisenhower did order 120 service plates from Castleton China Inc., in New Castle, Pa., at a cost of $3,606.40. The plates were white with rims covered with pure-gold medallions.

White House plate, dated 1955, marked Castleton Studios, part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s original dinner service, 11½ inches in diameter, est. $2,000-$3,000, sold for $2,125 at an auction held June 3, 2018 by Kaminski Auctions in Beverly, Mass.

In 1967, a new china order was announced, enough to serve 140 guests, at a cost of $80,028. It was the first service not purchased with government funds. An anonymous donor through the White House Historical Association funded the project, with Lyndon Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, working closely with the designer, Tiffany & Company of New York. The maker was Castleton China, the same firm that manufactured the Trumans’ china. The design incorporated Mrs Johnson’s main cause as first lady – beautification – and featured the eagle designed for the Monroe china. The Ronald Reagan state china service was modeled after Woodrow Wilson’s china and was made in the United States by Lenox.

The Reagan service was ambitious: 4,370 pieces, enough place settings of 19 pieces each for 220 people – nearly twice as many place settings as other recent prior services. Many found the $209,508 price tag extravagant, but the entire amount was paid for by the JP Knapp Foundation, not American taxpayers. The Bill Clinton and George W. Bush china services were paid for by the White House Historical Association. The Clintons’ 300 12-piece Lenox gold and white place settings (honoring the White House bicentennial) cost $239,425, while the Bushes chose 320 14-piece place settings with green and white motifs from White House history. The cost: $492,798.

Ronald Reagan White House dinner plate, by china makers Robert C. Floyd, an informal pattern also used aboard Air Force One and at Camp David, bearing a gilt Presidential seal on one side, and navy blue, burgundy and gilt trim to rim. 10¼ inches in diameter, est. $750-$1,000, sold for $896 at an auction held Aug. 1, 2018 by Alexander Historical Auctions, LLC in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

There was actually a price rollback under the Obama administration, with the 320 11-piece place settings made by Pickard China of Antioch, Illinois, costing $367,258. All 3,520 pieces were paid for by the White House Historical Association’s White House Endowment Trust. “Kailua Blue” appeared on a number of the pieces, inspired by the blue-green waters off Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii. A White House curator said the overall design gave a modern aesthetic to the china “while continuing to draw on historic and traditional elements.” Pickard China had previously made custom china for Blair House, Air Force One and Camp David.

What factors go into determining the value and desirability of a White House dinner plate? “Two things,” Bill Panagopulos said. “First and foremost, the name attached to it. A Lincoln, Washington, JFK or FDR plate will fetch top dollar, whereas a plate from Hoover, Fillmore or Harding probably wouldn’t command a huge price.” Rarity is the second consideration, he said. “I’m not certain if Garfield even had a set of presidential china, but if he did, any piece from it would be especially rare – and expensive.”

Theodore Roosevelt: White House China. 10¼-inch dinner plate, illustration #75 in Klapthor’s “Official White House China.” Multicolored Presidential Seal at top with gold designs around the border. Wedgwood mark on verso. Estimated at $1,600-$2,400, it sold for $6,250 at an auction held Dec. 2, 2017 auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

Regarding the current market demand for White House dinner plates, Panagopulos observed that it’s rather soft, “in line with the decreased emphasis on the teaching of history, and therefore the [diminished] appreciation for these things.” But, he added, like any collectible, the finest pieces always retain their value, and generally increase in line with inflation. “If suddenly a president becomes the object of intense public interest, the right pieces increase in value geometrically. Look what the play ‘Hamilton’ did for Alexander Hamilton material. The important thing, though, is collect what you love.”

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Handmade antique quilts star in online auction May 14

Whether used as a comfy bed covering or hung from a rack to decorate a wall, quilts have been present in American homes since Colonial days. In the 17th and 18th centuries, quilts were considered a necessary part of a bride’s hope chest. The best examples of the quilters’ art often remained there and survived in excellent condition. A large collection of antique quilts in vivid colors, intricate hand-stitched patterns and eye-dazzling designs will be sold at a Jasper52 online auction on Thursday, May 14.

Cotton Star of Bethlehem quilt, hand-pieced and hand-quilted in the 1830s or possibly earlier, 106in x 110in. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

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