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Couture and Vintage Clothing Sale Held at New Venue on Central Park West

Richard de Thuin | April 17th, 2013

Ah, Paree! This circa 1911 two-piece empire waist evening gown by Mme. Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936) came from the Brooklyn Museum and was of a black silk net over ivory silk satin, with a black velvet sash and bow, all beaded with white and jet beads. Despite some tears in the beaded areas and a few missing beads, the gown attracted both the room and a bidder on a phone manned by Bob Ross; the phone bidder won the gown for $3300 (est. $600/800).

Bidding opened at $700 from an absentee bidder and reached a fever pitch with the room competing for this 1860 handmade 80" wide toile and reseau point de gaze veil (partially shown) in elaborate floral patterns. The absentee bidder stuck it out to win the veil for $7800 (est. $600/800).

Three circa 1900 Belle Époque silk petticoats, each in ivory with multiple layered deep hem flounces. Two petticoats with flounces of Valenciennes lace and ivory satin ribbons were in good condition, and the remaining petticoat, printed with delicate floral baskets and identical lace, was in fair condition. The lot sold for $2400 (est. $300/400) to a phone bidder competing against the phones of Karen Augusta and Bob Ross.

Augusta Auction Company, New York City

Augusta Auctions has moved up in the world, well, at least farther uptown to Landmark on the Park, a different church from their usual venue, St. Paul’s at Ninth Avenue and 55th Street, all the way up to Central Park West and 76th Street, directly across the street from the New-York Historical Society. The church is huge and has Tiffany stained-glass windows, high ceilings festooned with intricate carvings, and an impressive looking pulpit where auctioneer Leila Dunbar handled her auction duties in an exemplary manner throughout a sale that began at noon and ended after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17. Dunbar did her job without a break, only occasionally having sips of water to stay hydrated.

Auction-goers were not only treated  to a sort of hallowed hall of worship in which to bid but also sat on large upholstered red chairs, a definite change from the hard plastic chairs at St. Paul’s.

Property in the sale featured items consigned to Augusta by the Brooklyn Museum, The Strong, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, the Moore College of Art & Design, and more than a dozen other institutional and private consignors. In total, there were 395 lots, and all sold, a typical occurrence at an Augusta auction. Less desirable lots tend to start at $50, and oftentimes a lucky bidder can win a dress, coat, gown, or hat for under $100.

This April auction offered a selection of couture gowns, dresses, coats, suits, chapeaus, shawls, lingerie, corsets, and vintage children’s clothing, plus several lots devoted to chasubles (priest’s robes) that brought some very high bids from the room, the phones, and the Internet.

Karen Augusta and Bob Ross, proprietors of Augusta Auctions, covered the action in their usual professional style and often staffed the phones along with a phone attendant named Holly, who did very well bringing in high bids throughout the sale. Wooden Spoon Republic served as caterer, bringing delicious soups and sandwiches.

The single problem we noticed concerned how long it took for some lots to go under the hammer as there was quite a bit of downtime waiting for bidders to decide whether to increase a bid, be it from the phones, Internet, or in the room.

On April 11, the team from Augusta Auction Company was featured in the season finale of the new hit television show L.A. Frock Stars on the Smithsonian Channel. For this informative show on 20th-century fashion, the producers follow Los Angeles vintage clothing expert Doris Raymond as she scours the countryside seeking vintage treasures. This episode was taped at one of Augusta’s recent specialty auctions, a sale that captured the auction house’s spirit and excitement and that was called by Dunbar, who is also an Antiques Roadshow appraiser.

For more information, visit the Web site ( or call (802) 376-9988.

The moment we eyed this circa 1910 straw hat by Mme. Georgette of 1 Rue de la Paix in Paris (the same address for the couture designer Mme. Gres) at the preview, we wanted it and were willing to pay up to $500 to get it. But instinctively we knew that the young man bidding for a Paris collector would outbid us, and that’s just what happened. This natural straw hat with a shallow crown and a very wide brim, accented by a gray velvet ribbon with two cut steel buckles, and a lining stamped in gold was in excellent condition and had come from Karen Augusta’s personal collection. The hat brought $1200 (est. $200/300). Boy, were we disappointed.

This early 20th-century fuchsia silk jacket from China, damask embroidered with figural roundels, butterflies, and flowers, 30" long, was bid on by two on-line bidders who fought for it. It realized $2160 (est. $200/300).

The room, phones, and Internet jumped into the fray when this embroidered chasuble from Italy, a 1450-75 example, opened for bidding. It is made of a green Venetian velvet cut to metallic gold and has a center front panel with gold and silk embroidered figures, and a center back panel of Christ on the cross and figures of disciples surrounding him. In fair condition and from the Brooklyn Museum, it sold to the Internet for $9000 (est. $600/800).

Four phones competed for this purple crepe evening gown from 1940 that had silver lamé short sleeves and a silver lamé  back bodice, a jewel neck to a low V-back, and a matching belt. The phones lost the gown to the young man bidding for a Paris collector for $1320 (est. $300/500).

This 1960 hot pink raw silk strapless ball gown with a petal-covered empire bodice by Jacques Heim (1899-1967) was in very good condition and sold to the Internet for $1800 (est. $300/500). Heim, a designer born in Paris, France, created women’s clothing and beachwear but is not as well known as other designers. Heim designed a two-piece swimsuit he called the “Atome,” promoted as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Soon after, Louis Réard designed a smaller suit he named the “bikini.”

One of several chasubles (priest’s outer vestments) offered in this auction was this red velvet and gold chasuble, a 1550-75 example, the velvet cut to metallic gold wrapped cording with an Ottoman pattern of pomegranates and arabesques. In fair condition and from the Brooklyn Museum, the chasuble sold to a bidder in the room for $2700 (est. $500/700).

A bidding war ensued between the room and an absentee bidder over this Italian teal silk velvet dalmatic, a 1400-24 example, its velvet cut to a stylized floral outline pattern and featuring gold silk damask sleeve ends. In very good condition and from the Brooklyn Museum, the dalmatic went to the room for $7200 (est. $800/1200).

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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