Archive for the 'Decorations' Category


Understanding the Misunderstandings Pt 3 – Sterling Silver Marks

Furniture and Decorative Arts Assistant Katie O’Connell:
“There is so much confusion in understanding what determines whether a piece is sterling silver or is, for instance, a silver plated item.  With very few exceptions, sterling silver is always marked.  If you cannot find a mark that says sterling, bears a number or see evidence of English hallmarks, then it is not a sterling silver piece.  The look of the piece has little to do with making this determination; it is all about the mark or lackthereof.”

Preisner Sterling Four Piece Tea and Coffee Service marking

Preisner Sterling Four Piece Tea and Coffee Service marking

Please visit Michaan’s Auctions appraisal event every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Main Gallery located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.  This free service is a wonderful opportunity to not only find out information on up to five pieces, but to potentially find out if you are sitting on a treasure!

By Laura A. Baker


June Fine Auction Offers Shipshape Collection

Five lots of Captain Jacob Stone’s personal items will be sold in Michaan’s fine sale on June 7, 2013.  Jacob Stone (Dec. 4, 1764 – June 23, 1831) was an authentic sea captain based in the small coastal city of Newburyport in Essex County, Massachusetts.  Stone joined Newburyport’s Marine Society in 1801, climbing its ranks from Secretary to Vice President.  His first entry at the Newburyport Custom House chronicled a cargo journey from the East Indies in March of 1805.

In line with auction house lore, it is believed that spirits loom amongst their beloved belongings as they journey between this world and the beyond.  I wonder what Jacob Stone would say…

Lot 2297 - An American painted leather fire bucket, circa 1775 ($500-700)

Lot 2297 – An American painted leather fire bucket, circa 1775 ($500-700)
“Batten down the hatches! Had a flashback. This here bucket kept me and my hands adrift.”

Lot 2298 - An 1805 watercolor painting of the American Brig Industry of Newburyport ($1,000-1,500)

Lot 2298 – An 1805 watercolor painting of the American Brig Industry of Newburyport ($1,000-1,500)
“Surrender the loot! A wonderful painting from my collection, vexes me to see it go.”

Lot 2299 - Oil on canvas portrait of Jacob Stone in a period frame ($800-1,200)

Lot 2299 – Oil on canvas portrait of Jacob Stone in a period frame ($800-1,200)
“Shiver me timbers! The best lot of the sale in my eyes.”

Lot 2300 - An early 19th century black leather portfolio ship log ($1,000-1,500)

Lot 2300 – An early 19th century black leather portfolio ship log ($1,000-1,500)
“Anyone who took this out of my cabin without me: walk the plank!”

Lot 2301 - A group of fifty-four Chinese export Canton blue and white china pieces ($3,000-5,000)

Lot 2301 – A group of fifty-four Chinese export Canton blue and white china pieces ($3,000-5,000)
“These cups helped  get me three sheets to the wind many times.”

The Jacob Stone Collection will be offered amongst the fine Furniture and Decorative Arts selection, along with artworks and jewelry.  Previews will be held on May 31, 2013 until June 7th, the day of sale.

Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


What Time Is It? It’s Time To Get Modern!

Modern furniture and decorations are back in a major way.  Generation X and hipsters at heart make up a major part of the genres fan-base and it’s not hard to see why.  Modern pieces are cutting-edge, creative, interesting, fun and functional, providing an artisan sense of originality to any living space.  Most major auction houses with a modern department or offered mod lots have seen great demand for these pieces, with final sales often commanding premium prices.  Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction offers many lots that can not only spice up your décor, but maybe even your life.  See how a little touch of mod can do just that in the following April 6 sale highlights.

George Nelson Multicolored Ball Clock

George Nelson Multicolored Ball Clock. Original Howard Miller 1950s production with original paint.

Multicolored Ball Clock by George Nelson – lot 1201, $500-700
Is it time for fun?  I think so!  Reflecting modern design’s playful and distinctive side is a multicolored ball clock by George Nelson for Howard Miller.  Hour markers are fashioned by skewered, painted wooden balls in powder blue, coral, olive green and black.  Animated hour and minute hands compliment the overall look, set upon a simple white, round face.  Now you can say, “It’s half past the second black ball.”

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa. Recovered in a teal microfiber upholstery.

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Modern Sofa – lot 1132, $3,750-4,250
You.  Lounging on a fluid, sinuous couch by one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century.  Cigarette holder in hand.  Perfect sheath dress on from the Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire.  Louboutin heels.  Jackie O. sunglasses.  No smile.  Best. Facebook. picture. ever.  (That is if you are a woman).

Harvey Probber Rosewood Gentleman's Cabinet

Harvey Probber Rosewood Gentleman’s Cabinet.

Harvey Probber Rosewood Chest – lot 1258, $1,800-2,250
Clearly mod items can add some fun to life, but let’s not forget just how practical and functional they can really be.  Point in case is a Harvey Probber rosewood chest.  Numerous shelves and drawers are condensed into the interior, making it a most effective storage unit.  The fact that it is crafted in bookmatched Brazilian rosewood is the icing on the cake.  The harvesting of this wood has been extremely controlled for over a decade, making it quite an expensive and sought after material.  As beautiful as it is useful!

Visit us on April the 6th for Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction and take a modern approach to life!


Pack Your Bags, We’re Taking an Auction Journey! Part 4

miniature portrait

Regency Portrait Miniature of a Man with Chops, Estimate: $500/700

Another wonderful collection makes an appearance in April, found in fourteen portrait miniatures.  Highlighted depictions include collectible images such as a military serviceman, a gentleman at his writing desk and lady at her tea table sold as one lot, a man of period styling and a folk oil on board portrait of a lady.  These miniatures were used to express sentiments and keep memories of loved ones near.  For example, they often served as a snapshot of the time, as soldiers and sailors kept portraits close by while they were on duty.  Auction estimates for the “mini gallery” range from a low of $500 to a high of $800.

miniature folk painting

Miniature Folk Oil on Board Portrait of a Lady, 19th Century, Estimate: $500/700

This is where our tour ends, but the auction journey surely continues.  Please join us on Sunday, April the 7th for Michaan’s estate auction.  Previews for this sale open on April the 5th and continue until the day of sale.  The illustrated online catalog will be available for review at  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Consign Furniture & Decorative Arts

Michaan’s is actively seeking quality consignments for the upcoming fine sale season of June 2013.  Fine auction property is considered to be high-end, top tier items for the discriminating buyer.  Whether it is fine art, period furniture and decorations, jewelry or Asian works of art, Michaan’s is looking to find the best of the best.  This blog series from our in-house experts provides insights as to what they are seeking in order to present exceptional fine auctions to the bidding public.

Furniture & Decorations Specialist Elizabeth Dalton:
“A great thing about the Furniture and Decorative Arts Department is that we are driven by fresh, exceptional estate property.  Outstanding antique silver has consistently proved to be one of our strongest categories, evidenced in offerings of Modernist and Tiffany & Co. pieces as well as in Chinese and Japanese export silver such as Arthur Bond.  European and American period furniture and fine clocks are quite popular with our bidders from around the world too.  Substantial, ornate, period French furniture of quality is an impressive contender at auction.  Large European china service does great numbers, including Meissen and Royal Copenhagen, especially in the Flora Danica pattern.  Specialty decorative pieces are wanted as well.  From fine Obesan tapestries to Russian icons to American folk items, I want to please many different collectors on the highest level possible.”

Lalique Vase

R. Lalique Opalescent Bacchantes Vase, model created 1927, Marcilhac 997, stencilled R. Lalique, France. To be offered on June 7 at Michaan’s Auctions

Ms. Dalton can be reached at (510) 740-0220 ext. 127 or at

Information regarding Michaan’s Auctions fine sales will be posted on the web at  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Forget About the Food, Look at this Plate!

Okay, so you can’t cook and Christmas is right around the corner.  What better way to detract from dry ham and runny cranberry sauce than to serve it on some first rate china?  Michaan’s Auctions will offer groupings of fine china service sets in a specialty sale slated for December the 7th of 2012, just in time for the holidays.  The unique auction event will present period and modern furniture and decorations as well as exceptional jewelry pieces to the buying public.  Five lots of decorative Royal Copenhagen service sets will be made available, featuring dinner plates (lot 3309, $6,000-8,000), soup bowls (lot 3308, $5,000-7,000), cups and saucers (lot 3310, $4,000-6,000), salad plates (lot 3307, $5,000-7,000) and smaller luncheon plates (lot 3306, $3,000-4,000).  The lots contain twelve to eight pieces each and hold a variety of flora and fauna designs, bordered by delicate, textured, gold leaf rims.  A plethora of additional outstanding service sets, fine silver and flatware is available in the auction, just in time for the holidays, your next party or kitchen disaster.

Set of Twelve Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica Dinner Plates

Set of Twelve Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica Dinner Plates

Please visit us on the web at  to view the complete auction catalog.


Snapshots from the Sale: Tiffany Masterworks

Yet another example displaying the fine craftsmanship of Tiffany mosaic glass is seen in this Last Supper panel from the early 1920s.  The bronze cast of Christ and His Apostles is set amongst luminous, multi-hued mosaic glass.  The piece is a replica of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Last Supper, depicting one of the twenty-eight panels of the life of Christ that were commissioned for the doors of the Baptistery in Florence from 1403-1424.  Estimate: $50,000-70,000.

Tiffany Studios Last Supper Glass Mosaic and Brass Panel

Tiffany Studios Last Supper Glass Mosaic and Brass Panel


Treasures of Louis C. Tiffany from the Garden Museum Japan Auction
Sale date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Previews: November 2, 3 and 4, November 10 and 11, November 16 and 17


Snapshots from the Sale: Tiffany Masterworks

In the upcoming weeks, Michaan’s blog will provide a sneak peak into the specialty auction season of 2012 with exclusive highlight photos and reflections from the experts.  This year Michaan’s features a trio of winter fine sale auctions accompanied by a once in a lifetime offering of the finest Tiffany and Art Nouveau pieces on the market.

The specialty sale season begins with what can only be described as pieces representing the world’s finest Louis Comfort Tiffany masterworks.  Every lot in the sale was a part of Mr. Takeo Horiuchi’s internationally acclaimed Garden Museum Collection.  The selection is comprised of Tiffany lamps, windows, vases, paintings, enamels and mosaics from this unparalleled museum grouping.  Originally, the pieces were not intended for sale, but will now provide an extremely exclusive opportunity for the most discriminating collectors from around the world.  The Treasures of Louis C. Tiffany from the Garden Museum Japan Auction will be held on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Tiffany Studios Mosiac Column

Tiffany Studios Mosiac Column

Mr. Allen Michaan reflected on the honor of bringing the Garden Museum Collection to auction.  “This acquisition, which is the largest single transaction to ever occur in the world of decorative arts, elevates Michaan’s Auctions from a well known, fast growing national player on the antiques and art scene to an entirely new international level,” he said.  “I am very proud and excited that Michaan’s Auctions is at the center of such a history-making event and that we will be able to offer many of these spectacular works of art at our venue.”

Reflecting the beauty and prestige of Tiffany art works in the sale is a Tiffany Studios mosaic column fashioned in favrile glass.  The piece is one of six mosaic columns that were a central decorative feature in New York’s Tiffany Studios showroom.  The other columns can be found at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000.


Inauthentic Gallé Vase

The appraisal event held on August 22, 2012 brings with it a cautionary tale, but one to learn from nonetheless.  A woman from San Leandro brought a vase to be appraised on behalf of her client.  Her client bought the vase about fifteen years ago from an antique broker believing it was an authentic Gallé and paid $3,000 for it.  One other appraisal had been conducted on the vase since its purchase, deeming it a fake.

Questionable Gallé Vase

Questionable Gallé Vase

Vase signature

Vase signature

The client thought it would be wise to get a second opinion and decided to turn to Michaan’s Auctions.  Furniture and Decorations Specialist Elizabeth Dalton was immediately leery of the piece, noticing that the look and color was quite off.  Dalton noted the irregular texture, appearing as if it was “impressed with a cheese cloth,” as well as the dye running in multiple places.

Vase texture

Vase texture

Running dye on vase

Running dye on vase

Dalton then showed the woman comparisons of real Gallé glass works, providing information that would have been valuable to know prior to the purchase. Unfortunately, Dalton believed the true market value of the vase to be around $300-500.


July 11 Appraisal Event find

A gentleman from San Francisco came to the appraisal event held on Wednesday, July 11th with this wonderful 19th century Bohemian enameled decanter.  He spotted it about one month ago in a pile of relative rubbish at a garage sale in San Francisco’s Mission District.  What appeared to be exceptional hand painting and a large punt at the base intrigued him and he ended up buying the wine vessel for $10.  Furniture and Decorations Specialist Elizabeth Dalton was in agreement of the fine art work and was quite impressed at the “amazing detail.”  They both noted the charming party scene depicting figures playing the doodle sack and hurdy gurdy as well as the band of gold leaf that handsomely finishes the piece.  Dalton estimated the decanter at $800-1,200, proving it to be quite a find indeed.

19th century Bohemian enameled decanter

19th century Bohemian enameled decanter


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