These Aboriginal shields were offered in the on-line catalog, but a sale was negotiated prior to the auction. They ended up going to a museum in Sydney, Australia for $25,000.
These Japanese Kamakura wood masks were housed in stacking lacquer boxes with signed lids (not shown). The wooden masks are large (13½" x 10½" x 6") and bear traces of their polychrome and lacquer-painted surfaces. The catalog stated they are possibly Kamakura period (1185-1392). Provenance is the Robert H. Ruby collection. The bidding started at $600, which was above the high estimate of $500, and they sold to a local bidder for $1044.
When auctioned at Sotheby’s in April 1996 after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s death, these chairs sold for $19,550. For this discovery auction, they were estimated at $4000/6000. They were owned by President and Jacqueline Kennedy and were used in the White House West Sitting Hall during the Kennedy administration, according to the auction catalog. The Louis XVI-style cane-back armchairs with oval backs and shield-shaped seats display straight tapered and fluted legs, bear printed chintz upholstered cushions, and are 37" high x 22" wide x 22½" deep. They were from the estate of Robert H. Ruby. Sadly even with such provenance, this time around the chairs received little interest and few bids, and in the end, Skrzypczak chose to pass them.
Klein James Seattle Auction Gallery, Seattle, Washington
Photos courtesy Klein James Seattle Auction Gallery
Change happens. When we last reported on the Klein James Seattle Auction Gallery, the only change was with the name. Jim Skrzypczak and his partner, Kevin James, had just changed the name from Seattle Auction Gallery to Klein James Seattle Auction Gallery. Skrzypczak still had auctioneer Richard Broad and his wife, Sally, as well as Kathy Johnson helping with the auctions. Auctions were conducted monthly from the gallery, and bidding was either from those attending in person or from phone bidders. Prices were decent, but often Broad had to beg for bidders, and bargains could often be had. What a difference a few years makes.
Skrzypczak has added a video monitor to display the items being auctioned, augmenting his floor help. The firm now offers on-line bidding, which in turn saw the addition of estimates, as required by the on-line auctioneer. Now bidder number 8 wins a lot of bids, but this is just Katie Toft doing her job and handling the on-line bidders and bidding process. Skrzypczak has realized a dream he had when he started the auction gallery back in 2009. Last year he became the auctioneer.
Skrzypczak has made the auction dates more flexible. Scheduling sales once a month on the third Thursday has given way to taking months off—such as March this year—and the third Thursday is no longer set in stone. Skrzypczak has always sent out the auction date well in advance to those who are on his e-mail list, and a week before the auction the on-line catalog is available.
The changes have been good. On-line bidding has raised awareness of the auction gallery, which in turn has brought in bidders from all around the world. The local participation on auction night has slowed, but regulars still make the effort to show their faces and view the goods in person. The end result is a wider audience.
The prices realized have been steadily improving, and some offerings have caught the eyes of collectors far and wide. At the January 24 auction, a pair of Aboriginal shields went to a museum in Australia for $25,000. The shields were posted in the on-line catalog, but the museum negotiated the sale just prior to auction night.
The buyer’s premium has increased. It is 16% for in-house bidders. For the January sale 17% was charged for on-line and phone bidders. Skrzypczak said the on-line buyer’s premium would be increasing to 19%.
The January auction offered an array of items from several prominent local estates including those of Robert McKay Shields (1917-2012), who was a force in Pacific Northwest architecture; physician, author, and world traveler Robert H. Ruby (1921-2013) to benefit Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington; and Hollywood director Monta Bell (1891-1958) and his wife, Lucille Bell (which caused some confusion, as people initially missed the fact it was Bell, not Ball). The items all had good provenance, but many did not garner the interest expected.
Attendance at the gallery was light, and the chairs emptied early. This auction moved in record time; bidding started promptly at 6 p.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m.
Skrzypczak was happy with the results at night’s end. He chooses to stay true to his vision and is pleased with how it is panning out. Sales are on the upswing, and that will bring more consignments to the auction house. Skrzypczak has done well with the choices and changes that he has implemented. What lies ahead? More bidding, of course!
For more information, call (206) 282-0399 or check the Web site (http://seattleauctiongallery.com).
This Chinese amber snuff bottle was a mere 2 3/8" high, and the estimate was also small, $60/100. Bidding opened at $120 and quickly jumped to ten times that, ending with an on-line bidder winning the lovely snuff bottle for $1404. It was from the estate of Robert McKay Shields.
Silver shows up frequently at the Klein James gallery. This Austro-Hungarian .800 silver flatware set for six has 40 pieces in all, and the overall weight, excluding the knives, was 1296.99 grams. The pieces bear a mark of 1872-1922 and were from the estate of Robert McKay Shields. Selling to a local bidder, they went for $1102, the lower end of the estimate.
Skrzypczak was willing to start the bidding at $90 even though his estimate began at $150 for this Meiji period Japanese cotton horse trapping, also known as an uma-gake. The indigo-dyed piece is made from handspun cotton and measures 94" long x 24" wide. Uma-gake means “horse covering,” according to the catalog. The bidding jumped immediately to $225 on the Internet, but ultimately a phone bidder won the piece for $585.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest