Frances Rocchi Saturday Evening Girls large (3½" x 12¼") bowl with roosters in cuerda seca on green ground, Boston, 1909, $96,875 (est. $17,500/22,500) on the phone. It is incised "Early to bed & early to rise makes a child healthy, wealthy & wise" and signed with the bowl shop mark "SEG/FR 18-6-09."
Two collectors wanted the 6½" x 6½" enameled vase decorated with mushrooms by Frederick Hurten Rhead and his wife, Agnes Rhead. It was made in University City, Missouri, in 1910 and is incised "UC/ FHR/ AR/ AWL" (for American Women's League, according to the catalog). Estimated at $10,000/15,000, it sold for $150,000 on the phone.
Viktor Schreckengost (1906-2008) designed this Jazz bowl for the Cowan pottery in Ohio in late 1929 or 1930. The iconic 11½" x 16" glazed bowl is signed on the body and stamped "Cowan" with a floral mark. Estimated at $40,000/60,000, it sold for $100,000 on the phone.
Piero Fornasetti Palladian cabinet, Italy, 1950's, lithographic transfer print over lacquered wood, brass, paper label, 29½" x 39½" x 22", $23,750 (est. $6000/9000). It was exhibited at the 10 Rittenhouse Square sample apartment.
Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, New Jersey
by Lita Solis-Cohen
Photos courtesy Rago
"The five modern auctions that preceded ours the week of our sale were mostly strong, but there were some soft spots in European furniture and Tiffany," stated David Rago in a post-sale press release. "Our sale had soft spots, too, but did pretty much as we had hoped, in spite of $20 million having been taken out of the market before our first hammer fell." There were some surprisingly high prices during Rago's June 16 and 17 sale in Lambertville, New Jersey, which brought a total of $4.74 million for 82% of the 1096 lots offered.
Rago said he would have liked to have been the first of the sales and not have had to sell on Father's Day, but he had to hold his sale on the weekend between two Antiques Roadshow shoots. Rago's Roadshow appearances and those of his wife, Suzanne Perrault, have brought in some business.
Rago Arts' Miriam Tucker did some clever marketing. She had Philadelphia designer Marguerite Rodgers furnish a sample apartment at the fashionable new 10 Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, complete with furniture, lighting, ceramics, and glass subsequently offered in the June sale, and with artworks from Rago's upcoming contemporary art sale. More than 100 people came to the preview party on Thursday night, and a steady stream of people arrived for a look on the weekend before the preview began in Lambertville. Most, but not all, of the things Marguerite Rodgers chose sold.
The sale on Saturday began on a high note. A Saturday Evening Girls center bowl by Frances Rocchi, decorated with a border of roosters and the Franklin proverb "Early to bed & early to rise makes a child healthy, wealthy & wise," estimated at $17,500/22,500, sold for $96,875 (includes buyer's premium). "It was one of her best pieces. The only one better is in the Ellison collection at the Met," said Rago.
From the same consignor, the matching pitcher, with "This is the cock that crew in the morn" around its waist and with a chip, sold for $12,500 (est. $10,000/ 15,000)demonstrating that pottery has to be rare, visually arresting, and mint to bring a big price.
A Tiffany floor lamp with a yellow Tulip shade sold for $137,500 (est. $100,000/ 150,000), but a Tiffany table lamp with a Dogwood shade (est. $95,000/125,000) failed to sell. A Tiffany lamp with a Peony shade sold for $45,000. A Tiffany Leaf and Scroll pattern lamp base sold for $18,750, well over its $5000 high estimate, but a Tiffany bronze student lamp missing its shades sold for $2000, its low estimate. Rago gets to sell top art pottery but not the top Tiffany, and the middle market in every field is unpredictable.
A star at Saturday's sale was a large (16" diameter) Jazz bowl by Viktor Schreckengost, made at the Cowan Pottery Studio in Rocky River, Ohio, in 1930-31, just as the pottery was about to close because of the Great Depression. Estimated at $40,000/60,000, the bowl sold to a phone bidder for $100,000.
The first three Jazz bowls were ordered by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1929 to celebrate the election of her husband Franklin as governor of New York. Schreckengost, an industrial designer who taught at the Cleveland School of the Arts, went on to do plates and bowls in the Jazz series with elements that summed up the Jazz Age in black and Egyptian blue glazes. Schreckengost would scratch the individual designs into the clay shapes, and the potters would add the glazes and fire the work.
The secondary market for 20th-century studio ceramics seems to get a little stronger each year. At this sale a 12" x 10" tile portrait of a boy by Pablo Picasso, made in 1956 and in a carved and gessoed frame, sold for $59,375, topping its $40,000 high estimate. An Ampersand teapot with a cactus lid by Adrian Saxe sold for $11,875 (est. $5000/7000). But plenty of pots were left behind.
Some stylish pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture sold over estimates, and a phone bidder picked up some classic examples, often just under estimates. The phone bidder, apparently a dealer, bought a good portion of the furniture for stock and got some good deals. A rare early (circa 1903) round library table by Gustav Stickley (No. 636), Eastwood, New York, was his for $5625 (est. $4000/6000). The same bidder got a pair of Gustav Stickley double-door bookcases for $4375 apiece; each was estimated at $4000/ 6000.
Jerry Cohen, who runs the Arts and Crafts furniture part of the sale, said he was very gratified with the sales results of Arts and Crafts furniture. "Prices on many items are holding steady and in some cases improving," he said. "The market is as good as it has been or better; there is more participation and some new buyers. With the Forbes collection and the collection of Marilyn Gould, who had some very nice pieces of Limbert, and with some fine Stickley on board, we have a very exciting sale coming up in October."
Most of the bidding was from the phones or on line. According to Miriam Tucker, 15% of the on-line bids were from outside the U.S., from the U.K., Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.
Sunday's sale began with the cover lot, a 62" tall sculpture by Paul Evans, an organic form from the 1960's with a verdigris patina, that sold on the phone for $53,125 (est. $45,000/65,000). It was consigned by a Princeton, New Jersey, collector who came to the sale and watched.
For more information, phone (609) 397-9374 or check the Web site (www.ragoarts.com).
Franz Hofstätter for Loetz Phanomen art glass vase, circa 1900, with an etched signature "Loetz Austria," 7½" x 4", $17,500 (est. $3500/4500).
Samuel Yellin pair of large (95" x 24½" x 7½") doors, Philadelphia, circa 1928, wrought iron, bronze, and quarter-sawn oak, door handles and hinges marked "Samuel Yellin," $37,500 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a midwestern collector on the phone. They were from the collection of blacksmith Peter Renzetti, who fished the pair out of a Dumpster at Bryn Mawr College when he was working on the restoration of Yellin iron at Goodhart Hall.
Méret Oppenheim for Simon International Traccia table, designed for the Ultramobile Collection in Italy, 1972, 25" x 26¾" x 20¾", in gold-leaf wood and cast bronze, with the manufacturer's label, accompanied by two original Simon catalogs, $11,250 (est. $3000/5000). It was exhibited at 10 Rittenhouse Square.
Gustav Stickley, Eastwood, New York, unusual two-door bookcase, circa 1912, the case with a branded mark, 44½" x 38" x 12", $10,000 (est. $4000/6000). "Diminutive pieces often bring more than a full-size piece," said Jerry Cohen, who runs the Arts and Crafts furniture part of the sale. "They are hard to find and fit in so many places."
Wendell Castle Molar settee, 1960's, made of gel-coated fiberglass and rubber, unmarked, 25½" x 52½" x 33", $10,625 (est. $1800/2400).
Paul Evans for Directional set of seven sculpted metal dining chairs (PE 105 and 106), two armchairs and five sides, 1970, made of bronze, composite, steel, and upholstery, accompanied by copies of the original receipts, $33,750 (est. $8000/10,000).