Jasper52 lays out luxe array of designer accessories, June 15

Jasper52‘s Rare and Coveted Designer Accessories sale delivers on its promise. Scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, starting at 7 pm Eastern time and boasting more than 550 lots, it’s quicker and easier to list the brand names that don’t appear in the auction instead of those that do. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Four iterations on Van Cleef & Arpels’ popular Alhambra line of jewelry are on offer, led by a 20-motif necklace in diamond and turquoise. Other notable pieces of jewelry in the June 15 sale include works by Barry Kieselstein-Cord, among them a solid 18K gold bracelet with a Women of the World theme, and a pair of 18K green gold earrings in the form of hearts topped with crowns. Equally worthy of mention is a vintage Dolce & Gabbana belt festooned with emerald-cut ruby-like stones and Swarovski crystals.

Fendi 3Jours medium crocodile tote in electric blue, est. $38,000-$46,000

View the auction here.

Staffordshire spaniels: still fetching after all these years

A circa-1850 set of Grace and Majesty Staffordshire spaniels sold for £1,600 (about $2,000) plus the buyer’s premium in May 2022. Image courtesy of Kinghams Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

During the 18th century, when millions of Britons left the countryside to seek work in larger towns and cities, enterprising potters in the English county of Staffordshire started creating a range of animal figures that evoked the charm of country life. In addition to barnyard animals, the creatures replicated in pottery included King Charles spaniels, the affectionate, luxuriantly coated toy dogs long associated with British royalty, in particular King Charles II (1630–1685), who was known as “the Cavalier King.” 

A pair of Staffordshire spaniel jugs, each standing 10in high, earned $800 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2020. Image courtesy of STAIR and LiveAuctioneers

It is said that everywhere Charles II went, he took at least three of his pet spaniels with him. They had free reign of Whitehall Palace, including the monarch’s bedchamber. His preference for his dogs’ companionship over matters of state drew some criticism. Diarist Samuel Pepys observed that the king even frittered away time playing with his beloved dogs during important government meetings. 

In an entry dated September 1, 1666, Pepys described a council meeting thusly: “All I observed there was the silliness of the King, playing with his dog all the while and not minding the business.” The king’s fondness for his wee spaniels was also dramatized in the 1995 film Restoration, starring Robert Downey Jr., in which the palace physician is summoned to the king’s bedside to attend to an urgent medical matter, only to find that the patient is one of the monarch’s cosseted dogs.

A circa-1770 Staffordshire spaniel novelty bonbonniere attained £500 (roughly $630) plus the buyer’s premium in September 2019. Image courtesy of Bamfords Auctioneers & Valuers and LiveAuctioneers

Fueled by regal approval and the breed’s charming nature, pottery King Charles spaniels rose in popularity across Great Britain. Most came from potteries in England’s Midlands, an area blessed with abundant clay and water from several rivers. So prolific were those ateliers, and so winsome their depictions of the pets, that all of these pottery dogs became known as Staffordshire spaniels. 

A seated pair of black-and-white Staffordshire spaniels on ornate scrolled bases earned $4,750 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2010. Image courtesy of Wiederseim Associates, Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

The earliest examples were fashioned from glassy salt-glazed earthenware or stoneware and were usually rather plain in color, shape and style. By contrast, those produced by the Brampton potteries of Derbyshire were far more artistic. Brampton artisans tended to create highly detailed, wistful-looking spaniels seated upon decorative paw-foot plinths adorned with images of sheep and floral cornucopias. 

A Brampton salt-glaze Staffordshire spaniel seated on a plinth sprigged with sheep and flower cornucopias above six paw feet sold for £650 (about $820) plus the buyer’s premium in June 2015. Image courtesy of Cheffins and LiveAuctioneers

As pottery techniques evolved, salt-glazed spaniels were replaced by fine, thin, glassier creamware, bluish-white pearlware, and underglaze-painted Prattware spaniels with more colorful decoration. The pottery dogs became even more popular when Queen Victoria, whose dearest childhood companion had been a King Charles spaniel named “Dash,” ascended to the British throne. 

A Staffordshire pearlware spaniel, depicted lying on a plinth, realized $2,200 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2011. Image courtesy of Pook & Pook, Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

Pairs of these canine status symbols “guarded” Victorian working-class homes. Some sat. Others stood. Still others, such as a particularly convincing 19th-century pearlware model, lounged upon textured pottery bases. Although most Staffordshire spaniels feature legs molded to their bodies, the more collectible ones boast distinctly formed front legs. Less costly, mass-produced flatback spaniels, such as the sponge-decorated pair traditionally known as “Grace and Majesty,” were designed to sit flush against mantelpiece walls.

A pair of circa-1850 Grace and Majesty Staffordshire spaniels realized £1,000 (about $1,262) plus the buyer’s premium in October 2019. Image courtesy of Kinghams Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

Because each Staffordshire spaniel was individually hand-painted, none are exactly alike. Black spaniels might be as black as night or feature shimmering gold highlights and gilt-painted collars as well as gleaming red or yellow glass eyes. 

A pair of Staffordshire spaniels modeled with legs that are separate from their bodies and decorated with copper luster sold for $800 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2020. Image courtesy of Strawser Auction Group and LiveAuctioneers

On the other hand, white spaniels might be pale as snow, the purity of their coats interrupted only by their dark, expressive noses. Scores of Staffordshire spaniels displayed dark tails, ears and snouts; all-over scatters of delicate dotting; or random russet, black, green, or copper-colored patches. Some, possibly reflecting breeds popular in the day, boasted realistic-looking tan, brown or reddish legs and flanks. Others were depicted carrying cheery baskets of flowers in their mouths or sporting fashionable Disraeli-style kiss curls across their foreheads. 

A trio of Staffordshire spaniels, two shown holding flower baskets in their mouths, earned $1,900 plus the buyer’s premium in February 2021. Image courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

In addition to smaller spaniel figurines, Staffordshire potteries also produced a variety of large, sturdy, so-called “begging” spaniels topped by jaunty tricorn hats. Many of these creatures served as functional jugs, pitchers or storage jars. Others served as spill vases, holding slim wax tapers used to transfer fireside flame to lamps and candles.

A pair of Staffordshire spaniels, each with pipes in their mouths, sold for $1,400 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2011. Image courtesy of Pook & Pook, Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

While the majority of Staffordshire spaniels were produced during the Victorian era, accurately dating them is not always possible because identical molds were used, reused and shared among different potteries over many decades. Although it might not be possible to pinpoint their age or provenance, all Staffordshire spaniels stand for British tradition and recall a time when dogs were “king’s best friend.”

Jasper52 presents Fine Designer and Gold Jewelry, June 8

On Wednesday, June 8, starting at 2 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will present a sale of Fine Designer and Gold Jewelry.

The 465-lot sale’s selection of gold necklaces is impressively broad and deep, but the lineup contains much more than that. Pieces by Tiffany & Co. include an 18K white gold solid, heavy cable link necklace, measuring 20in long; a platinum and diamond engagement ring, set with a pear-shape 0.41-carat diamond and offered with its original GIA certification; and a large pair of vintage 18K gold starfish-form earrings. A few David Yurman pieces appear as well, such as a sterling silver and 18K gold twisted cable cuff bangle bracelet and a men’s sterling silver diamond curb chain bracelet, and there’s a rugged-looking Roberto Coin 18K gold Opera woven twist bracelet on offer, too.

18K yellow, white and rose gold fancy link necklace, est. $5,500-$7,000

View the auction here.

Jasper52 mounts Fine Art, Prints and Multiples auction, June 8

Two works by street artist Mr. Brainwash and a 1951 Bernard Buffet limited edition lithograph will fight for top lot status in Jasper52’s Fine Art, Prints and Multiples auction, which will be conducted on Wednesday, June 8, beginning at 3 pm Eastern time.

Mr. Brainwash, ‘Love Splash,’ est. $5,500-$7,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Presidential autographs: history created with a few strokes of a pen

A large February 1864 photograph of President Abraham Lincoln, with an affixed signature, achieved $12,000 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2020. Image courtesy of University Archives and LiveAuctioneers.

Until April 30, 1789, when George Washington said “I … solemnly swear to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States …,” virtually no other country in the world was governed by anything other than some form of a hereditary royal family. To be chosen by fellow citizens for their nation’s highest office by casting ballots was a bold experiment in government that has lasted 233 years through 46 administrations and counting.

A collection of presidential autographs from George Washington to George W. Bush earned $22,500 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2021. Image courtesy of Amero Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Washington pointedly shrugged off anything that resembled a royal title, opting instead for one suggested by the House of Representatives: The President of the United States. He insisted he be addressed simply as Mr. President. Having fought and defeated a king – George III – he had no desire to become one himself.

A 1960 presidential campaign pamphlet signed by John F. Kennedy realized $5,000 plus the buyer’s premium against an estimate of $650-$840 in December 2016. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Modern-day presidents still encourage that familiarity and the sense that they are no better than other Americans; they’re just running the country for a few years before handing over the reins to the next president. Such accessibility inspires us to approach the sitting commander in chief to request an autograph.

A White House card signed by President Jimmy Carter went for $1,411, including buyer’s premium, in December 2020. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Presidential autographs appear in many forms at auction, but they can be classified into six main varieties: on a letter, on a car, on a document, in a book, on a photograph, or as a  on a card; on a cut autograph, which is a signature that has been physically and deliberately removed from one of the other five.

An 100th birthday greeting penned and signed by President Barack Obama on White House letterhead earned $3,185, including buyer’s premium, in June 2021. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

If the autograph is part of a letter, it will either be handwritten or typewritten, a format that first appeared in 1874. If the letter is handwritten, it’s likely the autograph is authentic; if it is typewritten, it may have been signed by a secretary. Typist’s initials lettered in lowercase under the autograph can identify the true signer.

Two White House cards, one signed by President Woodrow Wilson and the other by First Lady Edith Wilson, together realized $300 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2008. Image courtesy of Signature House and LiveAuctioneers

Presidential autographs were in heavy demand from the mid-19th century onward. The White House began issuing them on heavy stock in the size of a business card, with the heading President’s House or Executive Mansion, Washington, until Theodore Roosevelt officially changed it to The White House, Washington in 1901. These card-stock autographs are usually considered authentic and make for handsome framed presentations, especially when displayed below a relevant photograph.

An autograph deliberately removed from a letter, document or book is called a cut signature. An example of the form is this President John F. Kennedy autograph, apparently removed from an official presidential appointment. It earned $1,300 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2020. Image courtesy of University Archives and LiveAuctioneers

Autographs cut from letters or documents routinely show up at auction, usually framed with a photograph of the president who rendered the signature. Cut autographs are more readily available, but their surrounding context is, of course, removed. Any cut autograph should be compared to similar authentic autographs to determine whether it is real or staff-signed.

One of the standard duties of early American presidents was signing land grants and appointments. Appointments for cabinet-level officials are still signed by the sitting president, but staffers handle the rest. Land grant signatures were delegated beginning with Andrew Jackson’s Administration in 1833. Officials who signed the documents took it upon themselves to try to replicate the president’s signature and didn’t always succeed.

A presidential appointment to the Treasurer of the United States, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, sold for $12,000 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2021. Image courtesy of Rafael Osona Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Writing books is a well-established sideline for presidents. Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama were published authors before they took the presidential oath of office, but most presidents tackle the task after their administration ends, penning memoirs that shed light on their time as chief executive. While books autographed by a president are usually authentic, signed books don’t command the same auction prices as other signed presidential items because they are harder to frame or otherwise display.

This set of three White House photos of Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush, the first two personally inscribed and the Bush photo displaying an autopen signature, realized $225 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2014. Image courtesy of Fairfield Auction, LLC and LiveAuctioneers

Photographs of presidents taken during the 19th century that bear the sitter’s signature tend to be authentic, but this is not always the case for those that post-date the mid-20th century. By that time, the White House was receiving so many requests for official photos that it was forced to replace the authentic autograph with a staff-signed, stamped or autopen signature. Any photo inscribed with a sentiment in fancy calligraphy is, sorry to say, more likely to be rendered by a machine. Perhaps surprisingly, automatic signature tools date back to the time of Thomas Jefferson.

A photograph of Theodore Roosevelt, which he signed while he was president, made $3,033, including the buyer’s premium, in March 2022. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Jefferson, our third president, routinely copied his correspondence with a device invented by Englishman John Isaac Hawkins, who dubbed it the “polygraph.” As Jefferson wrote, a second pen attached by a wooden handle to the first copied the letter, creating a duplicate for his files. The polygraph was the ancestor of the autopen, which arrived on the market in 1937. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower first used an autopen as commander of Allied Forces in World War II and continued to rely on one after he took office as the 34th president (President Harry Truman might have been the first adopter, but the evidence is not conclusive). An autopen autograph is easy to recognize as it has no peaks and valleys; the autograph remains flat because the machine doesn’t lift the pen off the page at all, as a human hand would it is one continuous dark signature, with no fades between letters. The autopen is used for letters, cards and photos to fulfill public requests and autopenned presidential signatures have little value at auction.

William Henry Harrison served only 31 days before dying in office, making his presidential signature exceptionally scarce. An example of his signature sold for $27,500, including buyer’s premium, in October 2021. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Building a complete collection of authentic presidential autographs, from George Washington to Joe Biden, takes time and effort, but can be accomplished for far less than $100,000 if you are careful and conscientious. The most valuable presidential autograph, as well as the hardest to find, is that of President William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, who served for one month before dying of pneumonia in 1841. Harrison’s presidential signature is so rare that collectors will usually settle for examples from his personal or military correspondence instead.

A card signed by President Ronald Reagan bearing the White House seal sold for $859, including buyer’s premium, in February 2021. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Outside of Harrison, presidential signatures that perform best at auction are those of George Washington and other Founding Fathers who went on to become presidents, as well as Abraham Lincoln. Of those presidents from the mid-20th century onward, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama command better-than-average auction values.

A 1997 letter Bill Clinton wrote and signed to Frank Sinatra on White House letterhead realized $20,625, including buyer’s premium, in November 2021. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

While it is always wise to have a presidential signature evaluated by an expert before committing to buy, it is extra important to scrutinize those purporting to be from Kennedy. He personally signed little more than official correspondence throughout his political career, even as president. Most of Kennedy’s presidential letters, photos, cards and similar ephemera were signed by staffers or an autopen. 

Unlike kings and queens, American presidents have always been regarded as one of us, answerable to “We the People.” Owning a piece of paper personally touched and lettered by them seems natural and right, as their autographs reinforce the notion that our presidents are both avatars of democracy and human beings who grappled with the most difficult job on the planet. With just a few strokes of a pen, a U.S. president can create a link to a particular moment in history for future generations to reflect upon.