The Mark Fritz collection included several articulated wooden artist’s mannequins. The tallest, a French figure, 31½" high, sold for $15,000. Department manager Corbin Horn credits the result to height and great patina. Hindman photo.
As a sale surprise, it’s hard to beat the result for an Italian marble figural group from a Wisconsin estate. The 47" high piece by Donato Barcaglia (1849-1930) brought $86,500. Hindman photo.
This was an eclectic sale. The zebra foot lamps fetched $1625 (est. $400/600).
This oversize burlwood figural pipe with the bowl in the shape of a bearded knight brought $4000 (est. $300/500) and was from the Fritz estate. Hindman photo.
Engraved and dated 1776, this Revolutionary War-era powder horn garnered a lot of presale attention. Ten bidders duked it out, and it sold for $22,500 to a private collector. Hindman photo.
One of a pair of six-light brass sconces, $593.75, rests on the $7500 Empire parlor suite.
We expected applause when the ebonized and japanned side cabinet from a Manalapan, Florida, collection sold for $32,500. There was absolute silence. It was a decorous crowd. Hindman photo.
From a Chicago area estate, the pair of gilt bronze cassolettes had agate inserts, a rarity for the type. They sold for $12,500. Hindman photo.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago auctioneer Leslie Hindman has been through enough sales that she doesn’t bubble over about sale results. Asked about her February 10-12 fine furniture and decorative arts sale, she pronounced herself enthusiastic, adding, “We’re having so many great sales.” Translation: It’s all good.
Many Hindman sale regulars were especially “up” about this particular sale because it included several unusual and eye-catching collections.
Collectors, buyers, and decorators know that they’ll always find a selection of good merchandise at Hindman, but three astute collectors made this sale a standout for bidders. Hindman staffer Corbin Horn, a self-described “numbers guy interested in the big picture,” waxed enthusiastic, calling it “one of the neatest sales we’ve handled in years.” As for us, it was a pleasure to view the results of successful collecting, to see fine personal taste expressed and themes carried through the collections.
The sale was so large that it involved 1616 lots sold in three days. It was “the largest sale in a year,” said Horn. The sale opened with 68 lots from Mr. and Mrs. William E. Benjamin II of Manalapan, Florida. Not tied to a theme, the items in their collection included four hand-colored Pierre Joseph Redouté engravings that brought $750 (includes buyer’s premium); a good number of pieces in the style of Louis XV, including a set of four giltwood fauteuils that brought $1625; and goods in the Louis XVI style, including a 19th-century giltwood and porcelain overmantel mirror for $3500.
The star of the Benjamin collection was a Gillows of Lancaster gilt bronze, ebonized, and japanned side cabinet, 1866, that brought $32,500. The cabinet sold to the English market.
The other two notable collections came from estates. The Kenneth Holt estate from Minneapolis involved 29 lots of inkwells totaling over 125 individual wells, plus assorted pens, ink bottles, and related accessories.
A Chinese hardstone metal-mounted inkstand brought $375. A collection of 12 porcelain inkwells sold for $562.50, and three Scottish Perthshire millefiori glass examples brought $250. A lot of four colored glass inkwells sold for $500. There were pressed glass examples, traveling inkwells, French champlevé, and sterling mounted inkwells. A pair of Black Forest inkwells from another consignor sold for $688.
The “star of the sale,” as Horn put it, was the estate of Mark Fritz of West Bloomfield, Michigan, which encompassed many collections. The Fritz consignments could be spotted simply by eyeing the lots. If it looked like a Fritz piece, it probably was. Possessed of characteristic taste, Fritz gathered unusual smalls, from antique opera glasses to veneered card cases, quirky walking sticks, glass eyeballs, seals, and assorted objets de vertu.
According to the collector, genre expert, and connoisseur Francis H. Monek, a cane is an orthopedic aid while a walking stick is an accessory. The sale catalog defined pieces by handle type, but who cares? The collection was splendid. It involved 55 lots, quite a few including more than one stick, plus two cane stands that sold for $1500 and $3500.
There were German, English, Japanese, and American canes with ivory, binocular, monocular, sterling, Sheffield, and you-name-it tops. Sticks in ivory, fruitwood, ebony, bone, gold, bamboo, brass, and so much more featured heads such as a bulldog ($531), a millefiori paperweight ($188), two ivory putti ($406), and animal themes. Add a conductor’s baton ($406), several Irish shillelaghs, presentation sticks, and a cane that functioned as a yardstick ($531).
Top lots for canes/sticks were a playable flute and a German example topped with a sinuous silver jungle cat crook. Each sold for $1000.
What induced palpitations and had collectors flooding the house for condition reports were the opera glasses from Fritz’s 40 years of collecting. There were more than 500 pairs of all types.
After Horn contacted the Ophthalmic Antiques International Collectors’ Club (OAICC) about the upcoming sale, the house was inundated with requests for condition reports. Requests came from all over the globe. Immediately, detailed reports had to be prepared for every single pair and/or lot. “These are things we don’t see very often,” said Horn. “They were unusual, and they were quality.” Because it is easier to incorporate smalls into a buyer’s collection, bidders perked up.
On the subject of things that one doesn’t often see, viewers were either riveted or repelled by Fritz’s sample case of prosthetic glass eyeballs. Looking back at viewers from a shallow partitioned sample case, the 100 eyeballs of all types, convex on the backs, sold for $5000. Horn told us that the collection drew many ocular collectors, yet not one had asked to handle the lot. On sale day, ten bidders vied for it before the lot sold by phone to a private Chicago collector.
Condition reports weren’t the only concern. How does one display that many lots of smalls, and to advantage, no less? Horn credited senior specialist Michael Intihar with the knack. Somehow every small was made visible and ready to be lifted from a case for viewing. Arrangement was faultless.
Every single lot of opera glasses sold. The highest price for a multi-item lot was $1875 for three pairs of French opera glasses veneered in shagreen. The highest result for a single-item lot was $1188 for a pair of Bautain French ivory-mounted collapsible glasses that extended with an accordion-style mechanism. The buyer was a serious opera glass collector who knew Fritz.
As with the canes he amassed, Fritz had an infinite variety of glasses. Some had handles; others were monocular. Many were enameled; others were covered in metal. Many were veneered mother-of-pearl; others were champlevé or abalone.
The same variety followed with Fritz’s seals and card cases. We counted more than 200 seals divided into 51 lots. A lot of five Continental ivory seals fetched $2000; a lot of seven agate-mounted seals sold for $1500.
When 55 lots of card cases, inset boxes, and a few inkwells from the Fritz collection sold, it was the same story; they were only the finest, and there were lots of them. Mother-of-pearl veneered cases were numerous, but there were also silver, tortoiseshell, ivory, abalone, and tooled leather cases. Top dollar for cases was $875 for a 4½" high tortoiseshell and ivory-veneered card case.
To be fair, there was more to the sale than the Fritz and other collections, but they were what captured the eye.
Hindman sales can be very eclectic. A 1969 green (the color of money) Jaguar XKE 2 + 2 brought $8750. A Revolutionary War-era powder horn carved with soldiers, animals, a mythical creature, and the words “John Frost, His Horn Made at Cambridg. by Jacob Gay Janu.r 5, 1776” and “Success to America” brought $22,500. “Dozens asked about this in advance,” Horn told us. “We had ten bidders for it on the day of sale.”
A pair of Neoclassical cassolettes in gilt bronze with agate insets from a Chicago-area estate sold for $12,500. “We knew they were interesting because the use of agate was unusual,” Horn added.
A major surprise was an Italian marble figural group that brought $86,500. From a Wisconsin estate, the 47" high sculpture of children playing by Donato Barcaglia (1849-1930) was a tour de force of stone work.
It was one heck of a sale. Was Hindman surprised? Not really. “It’s something [collections] we do really well,” she said. “We take the specific and make it available.” Having successfully sold a large private collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia, costumes/props/memorabilia from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, equipment and furnishings from Comiskey Park and Chicago Stadium, plus a fine gathering of old Erector sets, Hindman knows collections.
Hindman and her staff can chalk new hash marks in the growing tally. Three more collections successfully recycled; more to go.
For more information, contact Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Inc. at (312) 280-1212 or check the Web site (www.lesliehindman.com).
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest