New Event Offers American and World History at Live Auction
“At Mastro Auctions we listen to our clients and watch for emerging trends in supply and demand,” says COO Doug Allen. In response to an overwhelming public fascination with American and world history, combined with an increasing scarcity of important historical artifacts, Mastro Auctions is launching the “Connoisseur” auction at 10.00 am on Saturday, December 15th, to be held live at Mastro headquarters in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Burr Ridge is a suburb of Chicago, conveniently located near both major airports.Â
Connoisseur:Â “A person with informed and astute discrimination, especially concerning the arts or matters of taste”.Â Clients of Mastro auctions know that each catalogue is a history book, documenting and authenticating unique historical artifacts from the world of sports, or the wider world of political, social, and cultural history. “Connoisseur” will expand the reach of Mastro Auctions into this wider world, offering the opportunity to learn history through the study and collection of art and artifacts, or to showcase private and corporate collections to a vast and appreciative audience. Each “Connoisseur” catalogue will offer a cabinet of curiosities and a wealth of historical objects, with a strong emphasis on American political memorabilia.Â
The inaugural event includes objects as diverse as an ancient Egyptian statuette to a Royal Hawaiian quilt, and private collections of decorative and fine arts of extraordinary diversity. American history is superbly represented by artifacts from the last three centuries, including a unique collection of bronzes by American sculptors portraying American presidents; an impressive selection of signed presidential documents and photographs and important artifacts led by an early 19th century desk believed to have been used by Abraham Lincoln.
A remarkable work by Norman Rockwell ties American political history to the collecting genre of illustration art and fine art, and a fascinating selection of entertainment memorabilia is topped by an extremely rare archive of documents relating to Elvis Presley’s purchase of Graceland for his parents in 1957 . New auction categories include “The World at War”, featuring items surviving from the two world wars, notably a “trophy” wing section captured from a German Fokker fighter plane during WWI. A catalogue section related to the history of transportation features vintage material related to motoring, cycling, seafaring and aeronautics. Fine and decorative arts include a magnificent “Spider” lamp by Tiffany Studios, a comprehensive collection of Rene Lalique glass featuring a previously unrecorded “cire perdue” vase and paintings by American and European artists to suit all tastes and budgets, including a powerful and topical original work by Salvador Dali depicting the Madonna and Child in watercolor.
Completing the auction is a fine private collection of vintage American toys in excellent condition and a unique collection of period American metal advertising signs, including several rarities to the auction block. According to Nicholas Dawes, vice president of Live Auctions, “Objects have the power to open an educational window into history and present the opportunity to understand and appreciate the past. Connoisseur lets you open that window, as a buyer or a seller, and reap all of the rewards within.”
Â¼br /> Customers will be able to place absentee/ceiling bids, secure a phone for the lots they are interested in or physically attend the event at Mastro Auctions’ Burr Ridge facility. Specific highlights include:
1948 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Original Cover Artwork (Oil and Pencil)
Norman Rockwell’s technique was to gather excerpts from ordinary American life, including the faces of undistinguished people, and to blend the carefully-selected pieces into a tapestry that was his own, and thus unique. Careful reflection in pondering any Rockwell painting will inspire life’s most special daydreams behind the eyes of the thoughtful viewer.
The cover of the Saturday Evening Post, a weekly general-interest periodical whose circulation once blanketed the nation, was the most accessible public window to Rockwell’s touch, and his genius. The image being offered by Mastro Auctions in its December sale was drawn by Norman Rockwell, and it appeared, in its finished form, on the cover of the October 30, 1948 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The drawing depicts a young married couple, with their child and dog in the kitchen, “discussing” their political views over breakfast. Each party is holding the front cover of a Tribune newspaper, one showing a picture of Harry S. Truman, and the other folded to expose the likeness of Thomas Dewey. This issue of the Post was released the weekend before Election Day in 1948. Rockwell’s exasperated husband has clearly reached the end of his patience with his wife’s stubbornness to accept his political views. Such a scene is uniquely American, and no one but an American artist would have grasped it, or been able to summon the artistic insight necessary to diagram it. More particularly and accurately, this visual episode could only have been produced by Norman Rockwell. Auction estimate is $100,000 – $150,000.
Abraham Lincoln’s Desk – Circa 1830s Illinois State House of Representatives
Based on early 20th Century documents and later supporting evidence from the Illinois State Historical Library, the desk offered in Mastro Auctions’ December live sale is believed to have been used by Abraham Lincoln during his initial tenure with the Illinois State House of Representatives, at first in Vandalia, Illinois, and then in Springfield.
Lincoln was elected to the State House in 1834, the start of four consecutive two-year terms that carried him through to 1842. For the majority of his time, Lincoln served in Vandalia. But in July 1839, the Governor officially relocated the state government to Springfield. The desks from Vandalia were transported to a Springfield church, where the legislative session was held for approximately six months until construction was completed on the new State Capitol building which was outfitted with brand-new desks. The only other reputedly extant Lincoln State House desk is said to hail from that brief final period in the Springfield State Capitol, after his purported usage of this desk at Vandalia.
According to an unsigned handwritten account from the 1920s, Lincoln’s Vandalia desk from the church became the possession of his colleague John G. Graham, a future Fulton County member of the legislature between 1858 and 1864. Upon Graham’s death it then passed into the hands of a woman who owned property Graham had been renting, and this landlady stored the desk in a shed for several decades. In 1898, a businessman from Alton, Illinois, named C.E. Kuhlthau, purchased the desk. Kuhlthau returned to Alton, Illinois, then moved to Dayton, Ohio, and later settled in Delaware, Ohio. In Delaware, he donated the desk to Mr. Henry E. Buck, curator of the Museum Department of the Delaware Public Library. The desk’s estimated value is $10,000 – $15,000.
1957 Original Graceland Signed Real Estate Contract Archive
Vernon and Gladys Presley lived in a well-appointed house on Audubon Drive in Memphis, TN, purchased for them by their increasingly famous son, Elvis. They would have been comfortable there had their son not become the biggest show business sensation in the western world. It soon became apparent that 1034 Audubon Drive failed to provide privacy from an increasing army of fans who even started camping on the home’s front lawn.
Consequently, Elvis and his parents spent much of early 1957 in Hollywood where Elvis was filming “Loving You”, which featured his parents as extras. On Saturday, March 17, 1957, a day after they returned to Memphis, Elvis’ mother and father called real estate agent Virginia Grant to see what she had to offer. Grant wasted no time. That day she showed them two properties, leaving Graceland to last. By 6 p.m. she had accepted a $1,000 deposit from the Presleys and drawn up a provisional sales contract detailing the terms of sale, including an asking price of $90,000.
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 19, 22-year-old Elvis, accompanied by his parents, met Grant at Graceland. According to the real estate agent’s highly detailed, published account of the transaction, Elvis surveyed the property for a few minutes, then baptized the house by playing some Rock & Roll at a piano. Elvis, Vernon and Gladys Presley signed the sales contract on the spot as purchasers, and a closing date was set for Tuesday, March 26, at 4:30 p.m.The remarkable archive Mastro Auctions’ is offering in its December Connoisseur Sale details these landmark events. It includes two legal size copies of the sales contract document, each double-sided and dated March 17, 1957. The Graceland signing is written in Grant’s hand in red ink, hand-dated by Grant and signed on the reverse by the Presley family as purchasers and Virginia Grant as selling agent.
Vernon Presley signed first in bold deep blue fountain pen, Elvis appears immediately below in a different ink, and Gladys Presley signs below in different black ball point. The trio of signatures is immensely scarce, particularly Gladys Presley who died on August 14, 1958. Accompanying is a second, final version of the sales contract. Amendments include a revised price of $102,500, inflated due to several offers made to the seller as news of the deal leaked out. Also included is a remarkable survivor from the closing: a receipt slip dated March 26, 1957, acknowledging repayment from Virginia Grant of the $1,000 and signed by Elvis Presley. Auction estimate is $50,000 – $75,000.
Tiffany Studios “Spider” Lamp
This is considered by many to be the most avant-garde and provocative of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s wide repertoire of leaded glass table lamps. Tiffany lamps were designed for a fashionable elite in a rapidly expanding world of domestic electricity and comfortable American homes, but this haunting design refers more to the work of Edgar Allan Poe than F. Scott Fitzgerald. The web pattern shade is capped by an original bronze spider cap with six extended bronze legs and presented on an original bronze base of organic, inverted mushroom form. The base is impressed “TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 337.” The shade is impressed “TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1424.” Auction estimate $40,000 – $60,000.
RenÃ© Lalique (1860-1945) is best known today for his remarkable work as a glass designer and manufacturer, and his legacy is still evident in luxury products of the modern Lalique Company he founded over a century ago. Prior to glassmaking, however, he forged an extremely successful career as a jeweler, and by 1900 was widely considered one of the leading jewelers in the world. Among his most innovative, and currently desirable, creations are therange of automobile mascots, introduced in 1925 and all but out of fashion ten years later. This auction contains some of the finest Lalique creations. Highlights include:
R. Lalique Green Alicante Vase
An extraordinary example of Rene Lalique’s large colored glass vases, “Alicante” takes artistic inspiration from the exotic flora and fauna of the French colonial world. The vase offered in Mastro Auctions’ Connoisseur Auction is in the extremely rare bright green glass, the color of jungle foliage. It is presented in exceptionally fine original condition, with heavy wall and bold neck. The vase features the stenciled “R. LALIQUE” and engraved “France No. 998,” for the original Lalique design number, rarely found engraved on vases of this scale and period. Auction estimate is $35,000 – $45,000.
1928 R. Lalique “Victoire” Automobile Hood Ornament
From RenÃ© Lalique’s range of mascots, “Victoire” is the most evocative of the “golden age of speed,” and ranks within the top 5% of all Lalique in both rarity and desirability. Also known popularly in the period as “The Spirit of the Wind”, Victoire is Lalique’s largest mascot, and clearly designed for the most luxurious and stylish automobiles of the day. Examples of “Victoire” appear in several U.S. and international museums, where they are used to illustrate the elegant Art Deco era. It is molded “R. LALIQUE FRANCE.” Lalique design #1147. Auction estimate is $15,000-20,000.
1925 R. Lalique “Suzanne” Statuette
RenÃ© Lalique is widely considered the best sculptor in the history of glass making. In recent years, several collectors have focused on his small range of statuettes, produced mainly in the 1920’s. This magnificent figure of a nude with diaphanous gown demonstrates his extraordinary understanding of the female form. Few original bases have survived. The statuette presented on an authentically made French bronze illuminating base and in superb original condition. The auction estimate is $5,000-$7,000.
Â Â Â Â Â Â¼br /> Salvador Dali “Madonna and Child” W/C Oil Painting
Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was born in Catalonia and brings a full spectrum of Mediterranean colors to his powerful work. This amazing masterpiece was probably painted in the 1960s. The unique painting by the modern master and surrealist depicts a compelling Virgin clad in vibrant blue holding the Holy infant in a pose clearly influenced by Raphael. The background is formed as a swirling sky in old master tradition, enlightened by an unpainted oval. The painting is signed in the lower right. Auctions estimate is $10,000 – $15,000.
1910s Important and Rare American Racing Automobile Sheet Copper Weather Vane
This is just one item from a huge assortment of high end Automobilia being offered in Mastro Auctions’ Connoisseur Auction. It is the only example of this weathervane design known to exist, and is an important relic of early American motor racing, uniquely combined with the highest standards of folk artistry. The weather vane is made to the highest standards of its day. Two sheets of copper have been cut to the outline of a period racing automobile and driver, then fashioned into the ornament. The outstanding piece of Americana folk art was discovered from the air by the present owner, an amateur pilot, when flying over New England farmland in the 1970s. Auction estimate is $5,000 – $7,000.
Â¼br /> FOR MORE INFORMATION
To pre-register for Mastro Auctions’ December 2007 Connoisseur Auction and receive auction catalogs, call 630-472-1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.
About Mastro Auctions
Mastro Auctions of Burr Ridge, Ill., is part of the Silkroad Equity family of companies. It is the leading high value collectibles auction company. The company has sold many of the most famous and valuable sports and Americana collectibles ever offered to the public, including the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner which sold for nearly $1.3 million, Norman Rockwell’s “The Dugout” for $355,000, Roger Maris’ 1961 jersey he wore when he hit home run #61 for $302,000, the bus Rosa Parks rode on when she refused to stand for segregation for nearly $500,000 and the famous Steve Bartman Cubs foul ball for over $100,000.