At Auction, Curios And Collectables That Beat Expectations

A look at the recent auctions of historical papers, diamond jewelry, and decorative arts.



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In a world of emails, tweets, and texts, weddings still are the one occasion for which one can expect to receive—and even look forward to receiving—paper invitations on heavy, embossed stationary. Paper is an increasingly rare commodity, and, as life-long
collector Eric Caren knows, it has value.

“Once a document is in digital form, it can be corrupted and altered via digital means,” says Caren, who recently sold 300 select pieces of his world-class historical paper collection through Bonhams, an auction house on Madison Avenue in New York City, for $1.3 million. “Paper is authentic, which means that its history cannot be revised. Therefore, the monetary and historical values both increase.”

Included in the Bonhams auction was a 1676 dated tract printed in Boston and authored by Cotton Mather, which brought $45,000. “It was valuable because it was the first printed book that was secular,” Caren explains, “meaning it was not about a religious sermon, but a precursor to a newspaper article detailing a contemporary account of King Philip’s Indian War, which was taking place at the time.” Another sale was a dramatic protest propaganda broadside (now known as a poster) from 1775 adorned with coffins and the names of patriots killed in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. (Yes, the one about which Paul Revere rode through the night to alert the troops for the upcoming battle.) This historical document sold for $118,750.

Historical Papers

Listed below are the five most notable items sold from Caren’s collection last April:

1775 broadside commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord

Estimate: $25,000-$35,000
Sold: $118,750

1692 account of the Salem Witch Trials by Cotton Mather

Estimate: $10,000-$15,000
Sold: $19,000

1884 color poster for a professional championship game in Boston

Estimate: $15,000-$25,000
Sold: $15,000

Diary of a witness to the atomic bomb blast at Bikini Atoll

Estimate: $600-$900
Sold: $1,400

1897 Newspaper report of a UFO landing in Lanark, Il

Estimate: $300-$500
Sold: $800

A 1692 acount of the Salem witch trials that sold for $19,000.


Jewelry

Since the vast majority of brides choose diamond rings, here is a look at some of the diamonds sold at Christie’s magnificent jewel auction this spring.

A Harry Winston diamond ring that sold at auction for $5.8 million.

Diamond Ear Pendants

Each set with a circular-cut diamond, weighing approximately 22.60 and 22.31 carats, from a shield-shaped diamond to the circular-cut diamond surmount, mounted in platinum

Estimate: $7,000,000-$10,000,000
Sold: $8,565,000 

Oval-Cut Diamond Ring

40.43-carat diamond set in circular-cut diamond hoop, mounted in platinum

Estimate: $5,800,000-$7,800,000
Sold: $7,669,000 

Harry Winston Diamond Ring

Cut-cornered rectangular-cut fancy intense pink 6.10-carat diamond, flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum and 18K rose gold

Estimate: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Sold: $5,765,000 


Decorative Arts

Although Joan Rivers is best known for her jokes and cutting fashion commentary, she is also famous for her design sense. In April, she auctioned off what she called the “treasures of my life” from her country home in Connecticut. Highlights included a modern tester bed upholstered in pink linen as well as pieces from furniture designers such as Thomas Messel. As she wrote in the Christie’s catalog, “My family and I shared only the happiest moments in this home and I hope my possessions bring the new owners equal happiness and joy.”

A Pair of White-Painted Tole Palm Trees, 20th-Century

Estimate: $3,000-$5,000
Sold: $13,750

12 French School, 19th-Century Plates: Etchings with Hand-Coloring

Estimate: $3,000-$5,000
Sold: $3,250

Early 19th-Century Regency Mahogany Cellarette 

Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Sold: $1,750

Joan Rivers sold treasures from her Connecticut home at auction, including her pink tester bed.

 

 

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