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Mastro Auctions To Offer Live Connoisseur Event In May

Mastro Auctions will conduct a live “Connoisseur” event at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 3rd, at company headquarters: 7900 S. Madison, Burr Ridge, Illinois. A preview is scheduled on Friday, May 2 from 9.00am to 5.00pm, and private previews may be arranged by appointment. Call 630-472-1200 for more information. The more than 500 lots will be an eclectic mix. Sections of the auction will be dedicated to: American presidential and political history, world events, entertainment memorabilia, Lalique glass, fine and decorative arts, vintage radios, Disneyana, antique toys, comic book and original illustration, American Southwest carvings and kachina dolls and coins for the collector.

Mastro Auctions introduced live “Connoisseur” sales in 2007. Already the leading auctioneer in high end internet Sports and Americana collectibles, Mastro Auctions sees its move into the live auction arena as the next logical growth step for the Mastro brand. “Our live auction events allow us to provide yet another level of service and opportunity to our rapidly increasing customer base,” says Nick Dawes, Vice President of Mastro Auctions Live Auction division. “The response to our inaugural event was very strong. We believe our live Connoisseur sales will become events that are as anticipated as those that compose the balance of our powerful auction line-up.”

Specific highlights of the live May 2008 Connoisseur auction include:


There is a powerful quality associated with items directly related to U.S. Presidential history, especially if representative of the great early leaders of the country. Mastro Auctions’ live Connoisseur event has many impressive items of this nature. One of the most phenomenal is a 1784 George Washington signed “Society of Cincinnati” certificate. The Society of Cincinnati was the country’s first military hereditary organization. The Society of the Cincinnati was to the Revolutionary War’s veterans and their families what the Grand Army of the Republic was to the Civil War’s union vets and their kin or what the Vietnam Veterans of America is to Vietnam vets and their families today.

Elias Boudinot was an esteemed member of this society as evidenced by this certificate signed by George Washington. Boudinot was a politically active New Jersey lawyer and Continental Congress delegate. He also holds the distinction of being the fourth of ten “Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled” who, under the Articles of Confederation, preceded the 1789 advent of the office of U.S. President under George Washington. As of the inscribed date, May 24, 1784, Boudinot had already served his year-long tenure at the helm of the U.S. in Congress Assembled, during which time the Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris (causing some historians to label Boudinot the de facto first United States President). Washington, still five years shy of becoming the nation’s official first Chief Executive, had presided over the Society of the Cincinnati since its founding one-year prior and he continued in this leadership role until his death in 1799. Washington’s immortal signature, “Go: Washington,” rates “6-7.” Minimum bid $5,000.

Another amazing artifact is a heartbreaking and tragically significant 1963 White House Christmas card signed by John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. The extreme rarity of these signed cards lies in the fact that the couple before JFK’s tragic assassination on November 22, 1963 signed less than thirty of them. In fact, their very existence was unknown (even by the Kennedy Library) until a number of them eventually surfaced in1985.

The cover of the 1963 Official White House Christmas card features the crèche in East Room of the White House. Both President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sign the card with the interior bearing both the Presidential seal and the preprinted holiday message “With best wishes for a Happy New Year.” It has been signed “John Kennedy” in black ink and “Jacqueline Kennedy” in blue ink directly below the salutation, with each signature meriting “10” assessment. Minimum bid $2,500.

According to many historians Abraham Lincoln was the greatest U.S. President. That explains why items such as this exceptionally desirable 1860 Abraham Lincoln campaign ambrotype badge will always command considerable bidding action. The remarkable ambrotype campaign pinback badge of Abraham Lincoln is one of political campaign collecting’s greatest finds. This artifact showcases the skill of people who created ornate, customized encasings for unique and original photographs. No two ambrotypes are exactly alike. The offered ambrotype is unusual for its genre, in that it was fashioned without the benefit of a sitting subject. The “Ambrotype Artist” who conceived and assembled this piece (“Geo. W. Clark, Jr., & Co.,” of Boston, as printed on the reverse) adapted the technology of the craft to facilitate replication of the famous Cooper Union photograph of Lincoln in the ambrotype medium. That is why each of the few surviving examples of this most highly regarded badge carry the identical portrait image, though ambrotypes by definition are all unique. Minimum bid $2,500.

Another outstanding piece of presidential history can be found in an offering of 1801 Jefferson/Madison signed Ambassadors papers. In the letter of State dated May 30, 1801, President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison notify the government of the Netherlands (then known as the Batavian Republic) that the U.S. Ambassador (then known as the Minister) will be recalled, and they further express every intention for continued friendly relations between the two nations. Jefferson’s signature, “Th: Jefferson,” is the larger, more prominent of the two signatures, while Madison’s, “James Madison,” is rendered more darkly in his customarily meticulous and more diminutive style. The autograph pair rate “8” and “10”, respectively. Minimum bid $2,500.


As Mastro Auctions’ Connoisseur sales gain momentum, so too do the quality of the original artwork they attract. The May event is packed with works from well-known and popular artists including Icart, Basquiat, Manet, Renoir, Picasso and Cezanne. Louis Icart (1888-1950) masterpieces are synonymous with Art Deco renderings of women. He has been called the last of the French impressionists, and his unique style of painting certainly embraces all the lessons, and legacy of Manet, Monet and Degas. While probably most known for his various posters and etchings, Icart also produced paintings, a number of which have found their way into Mastro Auctions’ May Connoisseur sale.

An interesting Icart painting being offered is ”Aux Trianons”. The painting captures the most elegant of French scenes; two immaculately dressed and coiffed female beauties strolling with their borzois hound accessories in the gardens of ‘Le Petit Trianon’. The Trianon, a major tourist attraction today, is a Rococo château built by Louis XV on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles as a “miniature” to accommodate the leisurely pursuits of Marie Antoinette. This exquisite painting is presented in excellent condition, clearly signed lower right and inscribed on reverse: “Aux Trianons, X/72 L.I.” Canvas 20″ x 24″. Frame 30″ x 34″. Minimum bid $3,000.

In entirely different taste is a Jean-Michel Basquiat “Head – Series 1″ large limited edition screenprint. This print is one of a series of four released by the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Brooklyn’s enfant terrible of the post-punk New York art scene and a favorite among collectors of contemporary art internationally. Basquiat produced fewer then ten different print images in his short lifetime, and this image is widely considered his strongest and most representative. The subject is inspired by a personal favorite painting, which Basquiat refused to sell and is still retained by the his family. The work is signed by Gerard Basquiat and dated 2001. The image measures 40″ x 40”. Minimum bid $5,000.

Another exquisite offering is an Edouard Manet circa 1860s “Jeanne” limited edition etching on paper. The impressionist portrays the popular Parisian actress Jeanne DeMarsy in one of the last etchings he ever produced. The work was originally created by Manet to represent spring in a series of seasons, but remains the only image of the intended four ever produced. The etching measures 6″ x 4″ and is signed by Manet in the plate lower left. Minimum bid $1,500.


Mastro Auctions will be offering one of the largest and highest quality collections of Kachina dolls ever made available to the public. Purchased and collected in the early 1990s from some of the most respected carvers, the dolls have been kept in pristine condition. While there are dozens to choose from, a few of the best examples are represented in a Kachina Trio - #61 Lowell Falashoma, #43 Timothy P. Talawepi (Takursh Mana) and #166 Harrison Kewwnvoyouma. These dolls were crafted by three of the finest cottonwood root modern kachina carvers. The first doll depicts a mature Hopi woman, wearing the headdress of married status and familiar shawl. The doll is signed by Lowell Talshoma Sr. (1950-2003). Dominating the group is a highly animated pot-bellied Mudhead figure ‘Kipok Koyemsi’, depicted dancing and beckoning to the clown he torments. The heavyweight kachina is signed by Hopi Harrison Kewenvoyouma. Completing the trio is a Tewa Long-hair Girl Kachina by 50 year-old Hopi carver Timothy Talawepi. He depicts ‘Tewa Angak’Chin Mana’, the “sister” figure in the act of preparing to induce a distinctively Hopi ‘grunting’ sound from her gourd. Minimum bid $1,000.     Â


When it came to home entertainment in the early part of the 20th century nothing reigned more supreme than the radio. Music, mystery and news all found their way into homes via the airwaves. The radio revolutionized home entertainment. In Mastro Auctions’ live Connoisseur sale a variety of these early home entertainment systems will be available. Among the most valuable and rare will be an enormous 1936 Sparton “Nocturne” Cobalt Blue Mirrored Radio. The incredible Nocturne owes its creation to the modern movement that exploded on the American scene in the early 1930s, permeating everything from architecture to household items to industrial design. The mirrored midnight blue giant was the creation of an industrial designer named Walter Dorwin Teague (1883-1960), the man now considered the Dean of Industrial Design.

Teague’s genius came through in the contrasting satin chrome elements that provided the radio with functional mounts as an operating platform. Teague envisioned and created the Nocturne’s midnight blue Tufflex mirrored glass disk and the radio’s glowing green “eye.” It’s easy enough to imagine that such a magnificent creation just had to be a hit for Sparton but that wasn’t the case with any of their models. It is believed that all four of their designs were poor sellers, partially explaining their scarcity today. In addition, the radio came with an elevated price point. Created during the heart of the Depression, the Nocturne’s price tag of $350 to $375 almost put it into the category of a new car purchase. The radio was supposed to be marketed to ritzy environments. Little evidence has been found to suggest that the Nocturne ever succeeded in hitting its target market and few exist today as a result. Minimum bid $25,000.


When it comes to entertainment history, few things shook up the music world like the introduction of The Beatles. And few photos captured the moment better than one available In the May Connoisseur auction. The Beatles Arriving New York 1964 photo is the quintessential early Beatles photo showing the Fab Four on the airplane staircase acknowledging screaming fans on their first explosive trip to the United States. Scottish photographer Harry Benson accompanied the mop-topped musicians on this unforgettable tour. He was there on the plane from London to New York. He was there on the media-filled tarmac. He was there for the hotel pillow fights. He was there on the Ed Sullivan Show set for that earth-shattering televised performance of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But of all his captivating Beatles photographs between 1964 and 1966, it is arguably this one, of the band hamming it up as they descend onto American soil for the very first time that is most historically significant. Years later, the iconic image was featured in Life Books’ 100 Photographs That Changed the World, even meriting the prominent top-center slot on the cover montage.

The offered print is from Benson’s original negative. The glistening, silver-gelatin photograph measures more than three feet across and two feet tall. Benson’s handwriting across the bottom margin offers the title, limited-edition number (out of 35 produced) and signature: “Beatles Arriving New York 1964 – 7/35 – Harry Benson.” Minimum bid $2,500.


Although Mastro Auctions’ Connoisseur events are relatively new, the company’s ability to bring quality Lalique pieces and attract equally attractive prices are fast becoming legendary. Case and point, the Lalique Amber “Aras” vase available in May.

The French were fascinated with their exotic colonial world in the mid-1920s, and images of tropical flora and fauna began appearing in the repertoire of fine and decorative artists, notably Rene Lalique. This richly patterned Art Deco vase is in exceptional, original condition and has the rich, reddish amber color selected for Lalique’s most dramatic large vases. Molded signature “R. LALIQUE.” Minimum bid $7,000.

Also available is a Lalique Blue “Biskra” Vase. Rene Lalique chose the vibrant and distinctive blue color of a tropical evening sky for this powerful Art Deco vase, patterned with massive, naturalistic palm fronds in a geometric arrangement and accented with subtle use of frosting and whitish patina. Stenciled signature “R. LALIQUE”. Minimum bid $6,000.

In addition, there is a 1921 R. Lalique “Trois Sirenes” inkwell with original cover in opalescent glass. The largest and most spectacular from Rene Lalique’s range of seventeen inkwell designs created from 1912 to 1927, it is rarely found in any state, and rarely with the original domical cover. Engraved “R. Lalique France.” Minimum bid $5,000.


Today, Disney is synonymous with childhood. But it wasn’t always the case. Long before there were magic castles, theme parks and blockbuster movies, there was the little mouse that could. From him, it seems through him, everything Disney evolved. Perhaps that is why Disney toys still hold tremendous appeal.

The May Connoisseur auction includes a large section of these popular collectibles. One such toy is a 1930 Borgfeldt – The First American-Made Mickey Mouse Toy. Disney artist Bert Gillett designed the toy for the George Borgfeldt Corp. It is the first Mickey figure to be produced in the United States. This makes perfect sense, as Borgfeldt (the sole Disney toy licensee in the early years) is known to have imported all other Mickey items prior to this toy’s creation. Simply outstanding in all regards, this is the must-have piece for any quality Disney collection. Minimum bid $900.

Another highlight from the Disney toy section are 1950s Hagen-Renaker Ceramic Mini-Figurines of the Characters from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp.” Thirteen miniature ceramic figurines, all part of the popular Hagen-Renaker line, are unique from the others in some way. This subset of figures is the largest in the H-R Disney group, remaining in production from around the time of the film’s 1955 debut until the final license expiration date in 1961. Minimum bid $300.


Just recently Mastro Auctions has become more active in coin acquisitions. Headed by Rich Mantia, Mastro Auctions’ expanded coin efforts will be noticeable with several high-end coin lots being offered in the May Connoisseur sale. One of the best is an 1837 $10 Mormon Currency Ohio Note Kirtland Safety Society- Joseph Smith signed nearly uncirculated. Serial #2062 position B $10 Dollar Kirtland Safety Society. This March 9th, 1837 note from The Kirtland Safety Society of Kirtland Ohio is made out to a V. Knight and authorized as well as signed by J. Smith Jr. (Mormon founder) as cashier and by S. Rigdon as president. This note would be the centerpiece of a Territorial or Broken Bank Note collection and appeals to the autograph collector as well as Mormon specialists. Joseph Smith was the founder of the Mormon Church in 1830 in New York and after some persecution, he and his followers moved to Kirtland Ohio in 1836 to establish their colony. On November 2, 1836 a bank charter was drawn up that listed Joseph Smith as the President and Sidney Rigdon as the Cashier. Notes were printed in Philadelphia and brought back on January 1st, 1837. This is one of those notes! The bank was established without adequate specie in reserves and was issuing currency that had no support. The bank failed and a lawsuit had been filed against Smith and other bank officers, which was legally pressing on the colony. The group was found guilty and their decision was under appeal when they decided to leave the state and it prosecution or persecution of them in the fall of 1837. They moved westward to Missouri, then Illinois, and finally Utah to the Great Salt Lake. Minimum bid $500.

Another great coin offering is a 1903 McKinley Gold One Dollar Commemorative Proof 64 Cameo (NGC). The 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition commemorative gold dollars were struck to raise money for the anniversary event. This became the fifth attempt by the U.S. Mint to produce commemorative coins. Two distinct obverse designs were produced. One featured a bust of Jefferson, who authorized the Louisiana Purchase, and the other, offered in the Mastro Auctions’ May sale, depicting the recently assassinated President McKinley, who authorized this World’s Fair Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904. The reverse of both coins featured the legend “Louisiana Purchase Exposition St. Louis” surrounding “One Dollar 1803-1903.” Only the first 100 coins struck for each of these were specially produced as proofs. Minimum bid $5,000.

In addition an 1850 Mormon Five Dollar Obverse Uniface Copper Pattern K-7 Ch. B.U. Choice Brilliant Uncirculated Red-Brown will be available. This is a truly RARE issue! First it is a Pioneer issue, second it is a Mormon issue, and third it is a Pattern or Die Trial. More specifically it is a die trial pattern from the Deseret (“Honeybee”) Utah Territory Assay Office for the new design of the 1850 Mormon $5 gold coin. This piece was struck in copper from a uniface obverse die and with a plain edge. These uniface patterns are regarded as restrikes, as are all, and were struck in 1898 as 50th anniversary issues. The obverse design features clasped hands reminicent of the U.S. Indian Peace Medals and symbolic of friendship, as the central device surrounded by the denomination spelled out “FIVE DOLLARS” and the lettering “G.S.L.C.P.G.” which is an abbreviation for “Great Salt Lake City Pure Gold”. The logical usage of the clasped hands due to the Mormon settlement being located in the middle of Indian Territory in West. The “Pure Gold” claim was false, as not only was the gold content sub-standard, but it came mostly from California. Minimum bid $1,000.


To pre-register for Mastro Auctions’ May 2008 Connoisseur Auction and receive auction catalogs, call 630-472-1200 or go to

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.

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