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Antiques & Collectibles: Extravagant sentiment ages into gold

Pearl necklace given by Henry Fairfield Osborn, the paleontologist and president of the Museum of Natural History, to his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1906 will be offered at Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction with a $25,000-$30,000 estimate.

Pearl necklace given by Henry Fairfield Osborn, the paleontologist and president of the Museum of Natural History, to his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1906 will be offered at Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction with a $25,000-$30,000 estimate.

A pearl necklace that Henry Fairfield Osborn, the renowned paleontologist and president of the Museum of Natural History from 1908-33, gave to his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary is a highlight of Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction Tuesday at 10 a.m. at its Boston gallery.

The 67-inch-long necklace composed of 353 natural saltwater pearls comes in its original heart-shape box and is expected to bring $25,000-
$30,000.

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Osborn (1857-1935), the son of Salem-born railroad tycoon William Henry Osborn, in 1881 married Lucretia Perry, a descendant of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the Rhode Island-born naval officer who in the War of 1812 earned the title “Hero of Lake Erie.”

Another piece of jewelry of interesting origin is the pin that Boston-born Henry Sayles Francis (1902-94), curator of paintings and prints at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1930-70, commissioned artist Alexander Calder in 1939 to design for his wife. The pin designed as a brass coil has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

An Art Deco platinum and green sapphire intaglio ring once owned by actor Rudolph Valentino, the sex symbol of the silent screen era, is among jewelry being sold by The Strong, the National Museum of Play, in Rochester, N.Y., to benefit its collection fund. The ring depicting a classical battle scene between a Greek soldier and a Persian soldier on horseback has a $5,000-
$7,000 estimate.

Among the antique jewelry from other consignors are an 18-karat gold micromosaic bracelet ($8,000-$12,000) depicting various Roman sites, including the Colosseum, and a micromosaic brooch ($1,500-$2,000) depicting St. Peter’s Square.

An unusual offering is the selection of jewelry and objects by Nora Copley (1916-2006), who, when she was 50, started making jewelry that she described as “surrealist inspired” and that transformed “the everyday, the common objects that are taken for granted into poetry to wear.”

The selection, which is from the collection of Jean Stark, co-founder of the Kulicke-Stark Academy, now the Jewelry Arts Institute in New York, includes a hand-hammered silver necktie ($800-
$1,200) and an 18-karat gold bangle designed from one of her house keys ($1,500-$2,000). This also is the estimate for an 18-karat gold “screw” ring, designed as a screw split in half, and an 18-karat bicolor “candy’’ box ring, designed as a hinged box joined to a gold band.

The expected top sellers of the 711-lot auction are an unmounted 3.11-carat round brilliant-cut diamond and a platinum ring set with a princess-cut diamond flanked by intense yellow radiant-cut diamonds. Each has a $75,000-
$100,000 estimate.

.   .   .

Following Sotheby’s sales last spring of the Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Collection of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art, the auction house will offer a selection of French jewels from the collection at its Sept. 24 Important Jewels Auction.

Alex, an inventor and manufacturer, who held patents for scores of inventions from the Lewyt vacuum cleaner to clip-on bow ties, died in 1988 at 79 and Elisabeth, who was born in Chartres, France, died last December in her 90s.

Both were longtime champions of animal rights. With the proceeds from their collections benefiting a foundation being established in their names, their work on behalf of animals will carry on. Last spring’s art sales brought $108.3 million, and there is more art to be sold.

Among the 25 lots of their jewels being auctioned is a brooch of a reclining golden retriever, a favorite breed of the Lewyts, who at one time owned eight goldens. The 18-karat blackened gold, colored diamond, diamond, citrine, and ruby brooch by the French designer René Boivin has a $70,000-$90,000 estimate.

Diamond estimates range from $200,000-$300,000 for a platinum and diamond double clip pendant brooch of marquise-shape diamonds weighing 5.22 and 5.28 carats by the French designer Schlumberger to $40,000-
$60,000 for a palladium and diamond triple-band cuff bracelet by the French designer Suzanne Belperron that Elisabeth wore on the day in 1956 when she married Alex.

.   .   .

A new gallery, Art of the English Regency, the only one of its kind at a US museum, will open on Sept. 24 at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Located on the first floor in the Art of Europe, the gallery will house a collection of circa 1790-1830 English decorative arts donated to the museum by Horace Wood Brock, who over the past three decades has assembled a collection of French and English decorative arts dating from 1675 to 1830 as well as paintings and Old Master drawings.

In 2009 some 140 objects from his collection of more than 300 works were on view at the MFA in the exhibition “Splendor and Elegance: European Decorative Arts and Drawings From the Horace Wood Brock Collection.”

One of the world’s foremost economists, Brock, who is known as “Woody,” is the founder and president of Strategic Economic Decisions of New York, which for more than two decades has been providing research services to a variety of clients from high net worth individuals to pension, mutual and hedge funds to investment banks.

In 2010 Brock donated 12 pieces of English Regency furniture and decorative arts to the MFA, followed later by fund donations and gifts of art.

Inspired by early-19th-century interiors, the 30-foot gallery will feature a unique tented fabric ceiling and some 50 objects from top designers of the era led by Thomas Hope (1769-1851), one of the leading figures in the history of English design. His book “Household Furniture and Interior Decoration,” published in 1807, introduced the term “interior design” into the English language.

The furniture, wall lights, and ornamental plaques designed by Hope to be on view in the gallery represent the largest collection of his work in a US museum.

Objects by other designers include clocks, candelabra, bronzes, vases, and furniture. A focal point in the gallery will be a gilt-bronze and jewel-encrusted bust of George IV presented by the royal family to the king’s physician.

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at vbohlin@comcast.net.

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