Sunday, April 25, 2010

Upcoming Auctions - End of April and May

The auction season continues in full swing, and I hope you find the time to attend some or check out the on-line catalogues.


Bonhams has a number of sales coming up of art and furniture in all there US sales locations, so check out their web site if you are in New York, Los Angeles, of San Francisco for more information. I just highlight a few here.
Bonhams Lot 2121. Est $1,500 - $2,500

Christie's New York
  • May 4th Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale. Preview days April 30 - May 4th time of sale. This sale is not really for home decorating unless you are fabulously wealthy. But it is wonderful for seeing museum quality art that for a fleeting moment is out in public before going back in to private hands.
Christies - Kees van Dongen. Est $7 million - $10 million

Copake Auction (Copake, NY)

Copake is an authetic country auction venue. You really have to go in person to see the items because they can often look better on line. But going is lots of fun, so if you're in Columbia County make a day of it, and visit Hudson antique shops as well!
  • May 15th Unreserved catalogued estate sale. Preview days May 13 - 15 time of sale (5pm). There are a few preview photos on line so far. It looks like they will offer a selection of carpets, quilts, and furniture. 
Doyle New York
  • On May 5th Doyle has three art sales in one: Modern, English and American. Preview days are May 1 - 4. Below is by an American Impressionist painter who is represented in a number of museums, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian.
Doyle Lot 166 - Chauncey Foster Ryder. Est. $3,000 - $5,000

Doyle Lot 117 George II Gaming Table. Est. $1,500 - $2,000

Sotheby's New York

May is the month for the Impressionist sales. Sotheby's has theirs May 5th, with preview days April 30 to May 5. It's well worth a visit for museum quality art. This Modigliani has been in a private collection and will no doubt return to one. Visit the calendar for more auctions.

Sotheby's Lot 7 - Amedeo Modigliani. Est $8 million - $12 million

Stair Galleries, Hudson. NY
  • May 8 and 9 American, English and Continental Furniture and Decoration Preview days start April 24th and run mostly weekends until the sale. Check the web site.  This drum table more closely resembles the one I featured in my blog of April 15th on Re-Creating the Look. These make great entry tables or even a small dining table if you don't have much room. It looks to be a bargain as well!
Stair Lot 622 George III Drum Table $1,000 - $2,000
  • May 21 'Exposition Auction'. For preview days check their website. They start May 15th. I almost always try to go to these now since they usually have a number of opportunities for good buys. 
Neither Clarke Auction, nor New Orleans Auction have May auctions posted yet, but it's worth keeping an eye out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deaccessioning Strategies

Deaccessioning is a term used by museums when they are getting rid of unwanted pieces. That might be a bit lofty a word for individuals like us, but it's a good place to start.

We have bought at auction for over 20 years. This means we have a fair amount of possessions! One's taste can evolve or even change over time, and that purchase you made when you were 35 may not be what you want at 55.

Also, if we continue to make purchases at some point there needs to be something to go to make room. I don't believe in clutter, and there can be a fine line. 

As an example, we started buying landscape paintings and moved on to portraits in emphasis. This has meant that some of the earlier acquisitions needed new homes. We're lucky to have daughters that are happy to take them off our hands.


Above a pair of landscape paintings found a new home. The one on the left sits over an auction find at Lots Road Auctions in London. The one on the right takes pride of place above a sitting room fire place.

Now my husband informs me that he's getting tired of figurative paintings! Not sure what that means for all our portraits! The last portrait purchase was mine alone.

Our taste in furniture is also evolving from a focus on traditional, to a greater interest in Deco, Nouveau, and mid-Century modern. Lucky for us we have a vacation home that will be furnished with a more modern emphasis.

Chinese and other Asian art and furniture has always been a love, and usually goes with everything!

We have never sold a piece, but for this blog I started to do a bit of research on the options at the auction houses we frequent. There's always Ebay or Craigs List I suppose, but I decided not to explore those options for now.

Doyle's will take items on consignment or purchase them out right. They have walk in days for a free appraisal, or they'll make an appointment if the item cannot be transported easily. You can bring them a photo as a start.

Christie's and Sotheby's also will put a notice on upcoming auctions accepting consignments and arrange for appraisals.

Stair Gallery in Hudson will give free appraisals and take consignments.

Clarke Auctions will take consignments for their monthly auctions.

So it seems pretty easy to sell this way from the web site descriptions. So if you need room for that new purchase or you modify your style, an auction is a great place to sell as to buy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A visit to the Philadelphia Antiques Fair

Last weekend I went to the Philadelphia Antiques Fair. I had never been before, so this was a wonderful adventure.

It was packed with mostly dealers in American antiques, pre-20th century. There was some early 20th century Arts and Crafts examples, which is a new found passion.

Shows like this are a great way to educate oneself. Dealers are happy to tell you about their offerings which allows you to learn the good from the not so good, and to develop a sense of prices. This gets you ready for placing that bid at auction!

At antiques fairs you get the chance to see dealers from places that you may never get to, and to browse freely. I know that I sometimes don't want to go in to a very high end shop because I will never buy anything at the prices, but at a fair this is not the case. So, when there is an antiques fair near you, go and have fun and ask lots of questions!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Winning and losing at auction

I'm pretty pleased. I got something I really wanted at the Doyle + Design auction today. I bid on three things for our new house. The results were very interesting. First let's start with the items on which I wasn't successful.

This rug was in great shape. Unlike a lot of rugs at auction, it had no wear that I could see, and I can only guess it's been on a wall, as it was shown in the sale room. The estimate was $500 - $700 and we bid what we thought was well above the top range. However, that just wasn't enough. It sold for $2,750 before the buyers premium (total of $3,438).

These chairs were very cool art deco style veneer with leather upholstery. They were in great shape with only minor dings to the wood. I sat in them and they didn't wobble at all, which is often the case. The estimate was $300 - $500, which I thought was a bargain. We bid above the range, but they sold for $2,000 ($2,500 with the premium). I still think that's a good price, and you would pay much more at retail.

Finally, the piece on which I was a successful bidder. I got a desk for my office in our new house. I did some research before bidding. I went to ABC Carpet and Home, Restoration Hardware, and a shop in Hudson, NY - Lili and Loo. I found several desks to consider with prices between $1,200 and $2,500. So, when I went to look at the desk at Doyle I had something to compare in terms of style, quality, and price.

The desk is Danish late 20th century. It's made of rosewood and is in very good condition. It's the style I was looking for, which is a mid-century modern. The estimate was $500 - $700, and we absentee bid $1,400, which is what we got it for. It will be perfect in my loft office. Now I just need a chair!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Re-create a look at Auction

I've been enjoying the Traditional Home archive of photos. There were a number of rooms I liked and saw many opportunities to re-create the looks at auction. So the challenge I set for myself was to find pieces that would furnish similar rooms, and try to find them at prices that would get you thinking about re-creating the looks.

This classic Empire sofa add an almost architectural element to any room. Upholstered in a white canvas makes the mahogany carved wood pop.

This inlaid round hall table is paired with an ornate mirror in a room that is both traditionally furnished, but the white floor and contemporary art on the wall make it feel very modern.

I usually go for more color, but the white theme of this room also make the ornate console table and painted wood frame sofa sitting on a lovely oriental carpet look fresh.

I just love these columns flanking the painted french style cabinet and the decorative chairs.

So, from the recent Stair Galleries auction I found a couple of items that would re-create some of the looks above.

This Louis XV style armoire may not be painted like the one in the Traditional Home photo above, but a light paint job could re-create the look exactly. It sold for $700, and I'd leave it as it is!

This George III style giltwood mirror would look very well paired with the round hall table as in the photo from Traditional Home. It sold for $450.

The recent New Orleans auction had some very nice pieces to re-create the look.

This beautiful George III style carved giltwood mirror above sold for $1,200. Well worth the extra money.


This Louis XVI style console table sold for $1,800 and would serve as a very good option for the third photo from the top. Paired with this neoclassical sofa would finish the look. This sold for $2,040.

Clarke Auction has a sale coming up April 18th. There is a neoclassical sofa on offer that could serve as an option for the photo at the top.

This may not be quite as elegant as the one in Traditional Home, but reupholstering in a white canvas and polishing up the wood would make it a runner up. The estimate is $300 - $500, so there would be ample money in the wallet to spruce it up.

In the last Christies Interiors sale this round table would fit well in the second photo along with the ornate giltwood mirror.

This table sold for $1,625. It has lovely carved legs and a marble top.

I couldn't find the columns, but I've seen them at various auctions in the past. They tend to be fairly pricey because they're very decorative and really add interest to a room.

Auctions are a great place to find pieces to re-create a traditional look often at budget prices. The photos from Traditional Home show that traditional decor need not be stodgy. These rooms all look modern and comfortable.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Postscript to Stair Auction Bids of April 9

Well, we didn't get anything at the Stair auction with our absentee bids! Very disappointing, but in looking at the results we may have had better luck if we could have attended.We were pretty close on many of the results, but then again who knows what would have happened in the sale room.

We bid absentee $225 for this mirror and it sold for $325. Bargain for a very nice mirror.

The Venetian style mirror was another story.

We bid 'high' for us on this one at $550 (estimate range was to $400), but it went for $1,100. We wouldn't have gone that high. It's nice, but not all that interesting for that amount.

There will be other auctions and we will bid again!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Homage to the English Country House at Auction

Sotheby's has an auction April 15th called A Celebration of the English Country House with all the classics. I am reminded of one of the great decorators who re-created English Country House style for the 20th century. Nancy Lancaster created memorable rooms.

This is the iconic yellow room that epitomizes the Colefax and Fowler style. I love rooms with color and this yellow is beautiful. English houses are not afraid of color which offsets the many grey days outside.

This bedroom also ticks all the boxes. Note the cabinet on the left.

John Fowler was Nancy's partner, and here is another perfect yellow room decorated by him.

Sotheby's has all the classics that you would expect to see in any classic English Country house.

Any self respecting country house must have a chinoiserie cabinet.This one is a George I (circa 1725)  with an estimate of $120,000 - $180,000.

The perfect dining room and I love the mirror! It's a George II (circa 1760), and 'only' $6,000 - $8,000! 

And, of course the hall chair! All good English country houses must have them. Great place to put the mail when you come home.

These are two of a set of four and are George III (circa 1980). The estimate is $8,000 - $12,000.

The auction is full of beautiful pieces, and we can at least dream of owning some of them!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Seriously on an auction hunt

I've mentioned before that we're building a modern house. Well, we just bought the adjacent property which was mostly to preserve our view, but also will serve as the guest house that we wanted to build but was too expensive. Believe it or not in Upstate New York it's just cheaper to buy.

The house is a modest 1980's prefab and is getting a spruce up, but not major investment. It's currently having crown molding put in all the rooms and new paint to add some color. The mirrored sliding closet doors had to go (my painter called them 1970s trailer park!), and are being replaced with wood doors. For the outside we'll have the front door and shutters painted a bright deep blue to add some curb appeal. For decorating I plan to go back to my 'rules':
  • Decorate the walls - we have some artwork, but I will want to add some interesting mirrors.
  • Install window treatments - simple shades and inexpensive curtains will do. Pottery Barn and Smith and Noble are my go to sources.
  • Add rugs - the floors in the living room are nice wood, so some inexpensive orientals bought at auction will add color and interest.
I took these 'rules' with me to the preview for the Stair Galleries auction taking place tonight (going on as I write). It's an 'exposition' auction which means no reserves and I'm hoping for some bargains. We absentee bid on a number if items.

Tole Trompe L'Oeil Bucket - Est. $100 - $200

This bucket is just a very decorative object that could serve as a waste basket. We bid fairly low just to get it if there wasn't much interest.

We bid on these two mirrors (the photos don't show them very well). The one on the left is a Venetian style and a good size. It's simple mirrored and slightly distressed frame would be a good bedroom piece. It's estimate is $300 - $400. The one on the right is described as neoclassical style and is estimated at $75 - $125. We like it's decorative potential, but not too ornate, for our living room.

This Edwardian inlaid mahogany settee fits in to the 'hall chair' category (see previous blog posting). It looks great and is not very comfortable to sit in for any length of time. It's estimated at $200 - $500, which is a pretty big range. We'll see!

Finally, we bid on this rug described as Northwest Persian. It's about 5' x 7' and estimated at $100 - $200. It has great color, and while it's a bit worn it will add the interest we're looking for.

I'm planning on going to the Doyle New York American Furniture and Decorative Arts preview tomorrow (auction April 13th), and depending on what happens tonight at Stair Galleries I may be bidding again! What fun.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Decorating with Rugs from Auctions

A beautiful and/or interesting rug is often the basis for decorating a room. Many decorators will tell you that everything starts with the rug and then the color scheme goes from there. I don't particularly ascribe to that, but then again I'm not a professional decorator.

Rugs can be modern or old, but they should have some interest. They add warmth to any room: a small one in an entrance hall or a kitchen, or a large one to define a space in a living or dining room.  It's worth the investment.

We've been very lucky at auction, and I think I can say with confidence that it's much cheaper than buying retail. Also, when was the last time you went to a rug store and had the daunting task of wading through 100s of rugs and never even find one you like!

Decorator: Lori Dennis

Here a classic oriental mixes very well with a modern interior design. The chairs pick up the red in the carpet, and it serves as nice contrast to the white sofa.

Elle Decor Nov. 2008 - Designer: Michael Smith

Traditional living rooms will almost always have an oriental carpet setting the tone. In this photo I like the way the yellow sofas stand out from the carpet. 

Architectural Digest June 2005 - Designer: Suzanne Lovell

This living room has a relaxed country feel to it and the carpet complements it. The red is further picked up in the wall decorations.

We have had good luck buying carpets at auction, and have never paid that much. We've been 'opportunistic' about it, so we have missed out on some along the way.

Stair Galleries Lot 249 April 9 Auction

This Persian Carpet being sold at Stair Galleries is estimated at $500 - $700 and is 15ft 8" by 9ft 1", so a big carpet for the money. 

New Orleans Auction

This carpet was in the recent New Orleans Auction sale and sold for $1,560. It is described as an 
8' x 10' Agra Serapi carpet. I love the design and the colors. There is a lot in this carpet to build a room's color scheme around. 

For something quite different here is a modern example from the upcoming Doyle + Design auction being held April 20th.

Doyle + Design 

This is described as a 20th century design carpet and measures 7' 9" x 6' 8" and is estimated at $500 - $700. This would be a bold statement in any room, but very interesting. I think it would be comfortable in a traditional to modern style room.

One tricky thing about buying carpets at auction is that you really have to see it in person. We have been attracted to offerings in the on-line catalogue only to be very disappointed in person.

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