Author Archive for Michaans Auctions



07
Dec
16

5 Unique Items That Only Could Have Been Sold at Auction

Auctions regularly sell items that are unique, mysterious, intriguing, or just plain weird. The selling platform is perfect for these kinds of objects, as usually they were once part of someone’s collection or an eccentric’s estate. There is no other place in the world where items of both enduring value and unique provenance are bought and sold. Some examples of one-of-a-kind items sold at auction illustrate exactly why art auctioneers are the perfect place to find a gem with a story behind it.

Thirty Nine Bushnell Foto Co. Glass Negative Plates From The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Thirty Nine Bushnell Foto Co. Glass Negative Plates From The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

One-of-a-Kind Items Sold by Art Auctioneers

Winston Churchill’s Set of False Teeth

He was the British prime minister during World War II, and Winston Churchill remains revered for his leadership during that time. He is perhaps the most famous prime minister ever to hold office in Britain, as he led his country to contribute to an Allied victory. Unsurprisingly, his dentures went for a steep price tag when they were sold at auction in 2010. According to the Daily Mail, the set of upper false teeth sold for 15,200 pounds.

The Violin That Serenaded the Sinking Titanic

A famous piece of the legend of the sinking Titanic involves a violinist leading his fellow band members in a rendition of “Nearer My God to Thee” in order to calm the panicked passengers. That man’s name was Wallace Hartley, who eventually died when the ship sank. His violin went up for auction in 2013. According to BBC News, it sold in just 10 minutes for a grand total of 900,000 pounds.

A Stuffed Ostrich from 1785

Representative of the opulence of the famous courts of the 18th century, a giant taxidermy ostrich from Italy’s “Little Versailles,” circa 1785, sold at a Christie’s “Out of the Ordinary” auction in London for $33,150. According to Christie’s, the bird measured 82.5 inches high — equivalent to almost seven feet tall – and was enclosed in an elegant walnut case.

This sale, in particular, is a prime example of some of the weird and wonderful items that can be found when one purchases from art auctioneers. Some of the other items included in the sale were a Victorian Gothic coffin stand, a bronze death mask of Napoleon, and a taxidermy peacock.

An Andy Warhol Line Graph

Pop artist Andy Warhol is famous for his Campbell’s Soup cans and his Marilyn Monroe screen prints, but one of his lesser-known works is a line graph drawing that depicts the U.S. unemployment rate from 1980 to 1984. Whether or not it was meant to be art is a mystery, but it sold at auction nevertheless for $32,500.

A Partially-Fossilized Elephant Bird Egg

Now extinct, the elephant bird of Madagascar was the largest bird of all time. The species could reach heights of 10 feet and weigh as much as 880 pounds, according to ZME Science. The elephant bird died out in the 17th century due to excessive hunting. One of these bird’s massive eggs, measuring roughly 9 inches in diameter and over a foot long, was sold at auction in 2013.

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30
Nov
16

Using Art Auction Houses as a Source for Interior Decorating

Auctions aren’t just for collectors. They aren’t even just for those with a lot of money. Surprisingly, more and more interior decorators are using art auction houses as a source for finding unique furniture and décor for their design clients. The right unique piece can add the perfect element of surprise and interest to any room, and savvy interior designers know this very well. Auction houses are treasure troves for art, antique pieces, items of historical value, and more — any of which can be used as décor.

Sevres Style New Haven Clock Co. Gilt Metal Porcelain Mounted Clock Garniture

Sevres Style New Haven Clock Co. Gilt Metal Porcelain Mounted Clock Garniture

Reasons to Use Art Auction Houses as Sources for Interior Decorating

Most People Love the Idea of Owning Something One-of-a-Kind

Owning something no one else has, or something that is very rare, makes most people feel important and special. It’s something they can boast about, and it signifies their cultured status. The idea of the piece is just as important as the piece itself.

A Big Design Trend Has People Looking Backward

A design trend that is not going away anytime soon is vintage decorating. Large swathes of people enjoy combing flea markets and antique malls in search of unique items for their homes, ones they won’t find in modern stores. However, often a trip to a thrift store or flea market amounts to little more than sifting through piles of junk. In contrast, auction houses provide the best of both worlds: uniqueness and value. If something is not very desirable, it will not sell for much money. Truly valuable pieces go for higher amounts. Time is not wasted on items that belong at the garbage dump. Most of the items have historical value if not monetary value.

Auction Pieces Add Character to an Otherwise Bland Interior

Modern homes often suffer from a certain amount of sterility. They usually lack the architectural detail of homes built earlier in the 20th century, and can all appear alike. Interior decorators who wisely insert unique pieces from auctions into their designs bring life and character to these otherwise bland spaces. The resulting look is warmer and more inviting than could be achieved with modern furniture and décor alone.

French Walnut Standing Cheval Mirror

French Walnut Standing Cheval Mirror

Mixing Style is an Effortless Design Trick

Designers who boldly mix styles of art, décor, and furniture create an effortlessly stylish look for their clients. For example, mixing 19th century antique chairs with a modern table, or using a vintage trunk as a coffee table or end table with a modern couch. This juxtaposition creates interest, not to mention serves as a conversation starter. This design technique therefore proves to be anything but boring.

The art of using unique pieces to accent interior design is an old designer’s trick. However, sourcing these pieces can often prove difficult. In these cases, auctions can be an indispensable source for purchasing the perfect one-of-a-kind find, artwork, antique, or collectible item that sets off a room’s style and acts as the finishing touch.

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30
Jun
14

Bidders on “Plaque Attack” at Asian Fine Auction

Michaan’s Fine Asian Works of Art auction on June 23, 2014 was a resounding success, raking in over $2,400,000. A variety of Chinese ceramic plaques wowed at auction, but, the undisputed star of the day was an offering of two famille rose porcelain plaques listed as lot 7435 ($20,000-30,000). The Republic period pieces by Wang Qi were a rare find from the artist, but who saw this sale price coming – ? After a rapid succession of phone bids, things wrapped up at $463,000; a total that exceeds the high estimate well over 15 times!

Two Famille Rose Porcelain Plaques, Republic Period

Two Famille Rose Porcelain Plaques, Republic Period, By Wang Qi (1884-1937), Sold for $463,000

I spoke firsthand with the consignor and her story of the plaques is just as cool as their result. Earlier this year she purchased the plaques at an estate sale for $2,000. She eventually brought them to a dealer who offered to pay her $5,000 for the set. Deciding to do a little more detective work, she brought them to Michaan’s free Wednesday appraisal event. Asian Art Specialist Mr. Harry Huang knew he had pieces of quality in his midst and the deal was done. The story ending with an overall return of 231 times the original investment? The consignor, who attended the auction live, expressed that she thoroughly enjoyed the moment and is very happy with the result.

27
May
14

Mr. Huang’s Asian Fine Highlight-A-Polooza

Michaan’s will close the 2014 June sale schedule with a Fine Asian Works of Art auction on Monday the 23rd.  The auction will hold the largest volume and diversity of property of any fine sale conducted under the direction of Asian Art Specialist Mr. Harry Huang.  Exceptional works abound, with a list of highlights that will undoubtedly whet your appetite for the over 400 lot sale.  So, get ready, put on your reading glasses and click here.

27
May
14

Stone Cold in Love with June Fine Highlights

Michaan’s 2014 fine sale season begins with a June 6th auction encompassing fine art, jewelry, furnishings and decorations.  A highlight has been selected from each department represented in the sale, giving you a glimpse into the caliber of the offered property.  Fine Italian marble, Warhol cherubs plus a large fancy yellow diamond: hoping the combination leaves you stone cold in love with what you see at auction.

Andy Warhol lithograph

Fine Art – Andy Warhol lithograph “Two Cherubs and a Flower (from In the Bottom of the Garden)” ($10,000-15,000)

 

Carved Italian marble cistern

Furniture & Decorative Arts – Carved Italian marble cistern ($6,000-8,000)

Fancy yellow diamond ring

Jewelry – Approximate 5.19 carat fancy yellow diamond ring ($50,000-80,000)

The auction will be held on June 6, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.  The online catalog is available at www.michaans.com.  Previews begin on May the 30th and continue until June the1st, as well as on the day of sale.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail info@michaans.com.  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

18
Apr
14

The Cabella Collection – Que Bella!

Steve Cabella, owner of Modern i, remains a recognized founder of the Bay Area modernist movement.  His groundbreaking shop is known as one of the earliest dedicated to modern design, as it opened its Marin doors in 1976.  Items from his collection have been internationally exhibited, including at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the Eames Office Gallery and the San Francisco Airport Museum.  An Eames expert in his own right, Cabella runs eamescollector.com, a not-for-profit website documenting obscure Eames design moments.  In addition, he recently produced a film titled “Ray and Charles Eames: The Hollywood Connection” that delves into their contribution to Hollywood movie making.  The “Modern Maven” will debut choice selections from his coveted collection in Michaan’s 2oth Century Design Auction slated for May 8, 2014.  Approximately 80% of the sale lots will stem from the Cabella Collection, providing a wide range of mid-century modern pieces to the bidding public.  Some highlights from the sale that will have you saying “Que bella!”

Numerous extremely rare and one-of-a-kind pieces from modern icon Margaret de Patta:

Margaret De Patta Flatware.

Margaret De Patta Flatware

This four piece sterling silver, copper and stainless steel flatware set is embossed with original de Patta insignias.  Only five of these sets are known to exist, with remaining suites held in museums and esteemed private collections ($12,000-16,000).

Margaret De Patta Ring

Margaret De Patta Ring

This sterling silver Margaret de Patta ring of fluid abstract design will also be presented, standing as an excellent example of her limited studio production work ($2,400-3,200).

Collection of Margaret De Patta Paper Ephemera

Collection of Margaret De Patta Paper Ephemera

Perhaps one of the rarest de Patta offerings in the auction stems from this group of her original design paper ephemera ($1,200-1,400).  The three handmade, one-of-a-kind, abstract Christmas cards are accompanied by original brochure photos from 1950, 1951, 1961, 1962 and 1964.  This extremely rare collection was exhibited in both Oakland and New York Craft Museum Margaret de Patta exhibits.

1963 Avanti by Studebaker

1963 Avanti by Studebaker

This 1963 Avanti by Studebaker automobile designed by Raymond Loewy will be offered at an auction estimate of $20,000-25,000.  The car is one of only two thousand and eight produced by hand in 1963, bearing a serial number of 777.  The automobile remains in exceptionally clean, authentic condition with all of its original parts.

Eames Storage Unit

Eames Storage Unit

Also of note in the auction is this scarce Eames storage unit ($3,500-5,000).  The coveted model ES2U100 is fashioned in a rarely seen perforated metal panel.  This first year production piece remans in exceptional showroom condition, with its original colors of red, white, blue and grey.

Previews for this not to be missed collector event will be held on May 2nd to the 4th, as well as on the day of sale, May 8, 2014.  The sale will consist of a wonderful selection of modern and contemporary furniture, artwork, lighting and decorative objects.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail info@michaans.com.  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

13
Mar
14

Asian Decoration Elation

Michaan’s April 7, 2014 Asian Decorative Arts Auction presents a comprehensive representation of works, including but not limited to, Chinese paintings, jade and hardstone carvings, silk textiles, cloisonné enamel wares and highly decorative ceramics.  Approximately 300 lots will be offered from both private and public collection sources, providing exciting bidding opportunities worthy of genuine bouts of elation – !

Wang Yachen (1894-1983): Birds and Prunus, Ink and color on paper

Wang Yachen (1894-1983): Birds and Prunus, Ink and color on paper

Wang Yachen’s (1894-1983) “Birds and Prunus” ($1,500-2,000)
The artist was a founding member of the art collective known as the “Silent Society.”  So beautifully rendered, how could I keep quiet about it?

A Brocade Purple-Ground 'Dragon' Robe, Late Qing Dynasty

A Brocade Purple-Ground ‘Dragon’ Robe, Late Qing Dynasty

A late Qing dynasty brocade dragon motif robe ($2,000-3,000)
Such a powerful piece!  Created for nobility, this royal purple robe buzzes with activity – sinuous golden dragons, flaming pearls, swirling clouds and crashing waves.

A Group of Amber and Jadeite Beads

A Group of Amber and Jadeite Beads

A 19th century amber and jadeite bead court necklace ($2,000-3,000)
The waves of elation will undoubtedly carry overseas and beyond for this piece.  Quality amber such as this is in high demand in the Asian marketplace.

The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at www.michaans.com when it becomes available.  Previews open at Michaan’s Auctions on April the 4th until the 7th, the day of sale.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail info@michaans.com.  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

12
Mar
14

Planting a Tiffany Garden

Michaan’s Auctions is honored to announce its third offering of spectacular Tiffany Studios treasures from Japan’s esteemed Garden Museum Collection.  The fine Tiffany masterworks will sold at 1:00 p.m. on April 12, 2014, providing discriminating buyers from around the world another exclusive opportunity to bid on these magnificent Tiffany treasures.  The following provides a sneak peek into a few Garden Museum Collection highlights in the sale.

Tiffany Studios Peacock Chandelier

Tiffany Studios Peacock Chandelier

This Tiffany Peacock chandelier is an expected high point from the sale’s Garden Museum Collection lots ($250,000-300,000).

Tiffany Studios 22 Inch Peony Table Lamp On A Reticulated Bronze Base.

Tiffany Studios 22 Inch Peony Table Lamp On A Reticulated Bronze Base

A Tiffany Studios Peony table lamp illuminates the sale at an estimate of $250,000-350,000.

Tiffany Studios Landscape Window

Tiffany Studios Landscape Window

Enjoying the view: a circa 1910-1920 Tiffany Studios landscape window ($250,000-300,000).

For more information on Michaan’s April Tiffany Auction please call (510) 740-0220 or visit our website at www.michaans.com.  A printed, full color catalog will be made available five weeks prior to the auction.  Previews will be held at Michaan’s on April the 4th through the 6th, on the 11th and the day of sale.  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

30
Jan
14

Love Is In The (Decorative) Details

Good ol’ fashioned love.  Love can of course be found in many different kinds of relationships, but perhaps some of the best old fashioned love stories are the ones held between a man and a woman.  Michaan’s February 2nd estate auction will present numerous lots celebrating the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day.  But, it is a select few offerings from the Furniture & Decorative Arts Department that seem to convey this blush of romantic love the most traditionally and beautifully.

Meissen Figural Group of Courting Couple

Meissen Figural Group of Courting Couple, with Deutsche Blumen decoration

Meissen Figural Group of a Courting Couple, Lot 498, $1,000-1,500
I like to think their names are Betty and George.

Large Louis XV Style Gilt Painted Trumeau Mirror

Large Louis XV Style Gilt Painted Trumeau Mirror

A Large Louis XV Style Gilt Painted Trumeau Mirror, Lot 102, $1,500-2,000
Their names are Venus and Adonis.  Look into the mirror and repeat, “My relationship will not end in the same way.”

Feel the love when previews open on January the 31st until February the 2nd, the day of sale.  XOXO

21
Jan
14

Rare Bird Sighting at Michaan’s Auctions

A very special collection of American bird prints by Alexander Wilson will grace Michaan’s auction room floor on March 2, 2014 ($20,000-28,000).  Images derive from original engravings from “American Ornithology, or The Natural History of the Birds of the United States” by Wilson, in which nine volumes were published between 1808 and 1814.  The volumes were acquired by a Bay Area corporate firm in 1975, at which time they were then sent to the Boston Museum in Massachusetts.  It was at the institution that they were removed from the volumes and restored, resulting in the archived works.

Original engravings, from “American Ornithology / The Natural History of the Birds of the United States”, 1st edition.Alexander Wilson (1766 – 1813)

Alexander Wilson (July 6, 1766-August 23, 1813) has been dubbed the “Father of American Ornithology” and is largely regarded as the greatest American ornithologist to have existed before Audubon.  Numerous species of bird have been named in reverence to him, including Wilson’s Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope and Wilson’s Warbler.

Original engravings, from “American Ornithology / The Natural History of the Birds of the United States”, 1st edition.Alexander Wilson (1766 – 1813)




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