Antiques & Collectibles: Authentic — from ‘Roadshow’ to Tiffany

An auction record for a Tiffany “Wisteria” lamp was set when this one sold at Sotheby’s 20th-century design and decorative art auction for almost $1.6 million.
An auction record for a Tiffany “Wisteria” lamp was set when this one sold at Sotheby’s 20th-century design and decorative art auction for almost $1.6 million.

“Antiques Roadshow,” PBS’s most watched prime-time series, returns for its 18th season tomorrow at 8 p.m. on WGBH Channel 2 with highlights from last summer’s visit to Boise, Idaho, where one of the highest valued finds of the season was discovered.

It was a painting of an Italian landscape by the Hudson River artist Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-80) that had been inherited and relegated to the owner’s basement. It was appraised at $300,000.

Among the other treasures found in the Gem State were a first edition of the Book of Mormon, a 1955 Picasso Madoura ceramic plate, and a 1974 end table signed by George Nakashima (1905-90), the master woodworker and furniture designer.


The Book of Mormon, which was valued at $75,000-$100,000, had descended in the owner’s family since 1863; the Picasso plate, valued at $10,000-$15,000, had hung for years above the kitchen stove collecting grease; and the end table, valued at $20,000-$25,000, had been purchased for $200 from Nakashima.

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Silver that descended in the Brown family of Rhode Island, whose forbear Nicholas Brown Jr. was the namesake patron of Brown University, is among the highlights of Skinner’s European Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction Saturday at 10 a.m. at its Boston gallery.

Highlighting the sterling silver are a Tiffany six-piece tea and coffee service and a 146-piece Gorham flatware service in the Old Medici pattern. Each has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

The tea and coffee service with an “SAB” monogram and inscribed on the underside “A Wedding Gift to Sophia Augusta Brown From her Mother October 7th 1885” was given to Sophia (1867-1947 ) when she married William Watts Sherman (1842-1912), a New York businessman with a home in Newport that is now a National Historic Landmark. Her parents were John Carter Brown II (1797-1874), whose library formed the basis of the John Carter Brown Library at the university, and Sophia Augusta Browne Brown (1825-1909).


Among the top offerings from other consignors are an 18th-19th-century 63-inch-high mirror, probably from South America, its fruitwood frame carved with a shell above a cartouche hung with fruit; a 1902 miniature 3¼-
inch-high stoneware Wally Bird jar and cover by the Martin Brothers of England; and a 11¾-inch-tall circa 1920 Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre vase. Each has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.

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Tiffany lamps and bronzes were the top sellers at last month’s auctions of 20th-century decorative arts and design.

At Sotheby’s sales of Important 20th-Century Design, Important Tiffany Lamps, and “Visionaries: The Yurcik Collection,” which grossed $10.3 million, it was a “Wisteria” leaded glass lamp that brought the top price of $1,565,000, an auction record for a Tiffany Studios “Wisteria” table lamp. The estimate was $600,000-$800,000.

Topping the 20th-Century Design sale was “L’enlevement d’Europe,” the French artist Claude Lalanne’s (1924-) monumental bronze of Europa, the mythological Greek princess, being abducted on a bull by Zeus to the continent known today as Europe. Sculpted in 1990, the 7-foot-wide and nearly 7-foot-high bronze sold for $485,000 against a $250,000-$350,000 estimate


A circa 1903 armchair, a rare example of the unadorned, rectilinear furniture designed by Gustav Stickley (1858-1942) and made in his Craftsman workshops in Eastwood, N.Y., brought the third-highest price of $245,000 against an estimate of $220,000-$280,000.

The modern and contemporary art collection of Joseph and Sheila Yurcik of New York saw works by Paul Evans (1931-87) bring four of the 11 top prices. His “Sculpture Front” wall panel, the collection’s top seller, set an auction record for the artist when it sold for $269,000 against a $100,000-$150,000 estimate.

This also was the estimate for a 1980 free-form buckeye maple burl and American black walnut coffee table by George Nakashima that brought $197,000, the collection’s second-highest price. Four other works by Nakashima were among the top 11 lots.

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Christie’s Important 20th-Century Decorative Art & Design and Magnificent Tiffany Auction, which grossed $5.8 million, was led by the 1909 “Elephant d’Asie en Marche (Grande Mo-dèle)” by the Italian sculptor Rembandt Bugatti (1885-1916).

The patinated bronze of an Asian elephant was executed in two sizes. This larger 17-inch-high, 27-inch-wide version sold for $725,000 against a $300,000-$500,000 estimate.

The top-selling furniture was a circa 1930 desk by the French designer Armand-Albert Rateau (1882-1938) that brought $413,000 against a $120,000-
$180,000 estimate.

Three quartz lamps by the French designer Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) were among the 10 top sellers with a circa 1931-32 lamp bringing the auction’s fourth-highest price of $317,000 and setting an auction record for the artist.

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Three Tiffany Studios lamps were among the 10 top sellers at Skinner’s 20th Century Design Auction with a circa 1910 “Dogwood” table lamp bringing the auction’s top price of $57,600.

The other two were “Bamboo” table lamps that sold for $46,800 (estimate $30,000-$50,000) and $19,680 (estimate $20,000-$30,000) for the lamp whose mosaic glass shade had several cracks.

Soaring above its $8,000-$10,000 estimate was a sideboard from the estate of Joan Sonnabend, which brought the auction’s third-highest price of $39,600. Reportedly the Boston artist Judy Kensley McKie (1944-) was commissioned in 1984 to design the 9-foot sideboard with animal, bug, and plant carvings for the dining room at the Sonnabend residence on Beacon Hill. Joan Sonnabend died in 2011, three years after the death of her husband, Roger, the Sonesta Hotel executive.

Other offerings that soared above their estimates were a 12½-inch Merrimac pottery vase made in Newburyport around 1897-1908 and “Kiss of Peace,” a 29-by-21-inch framed watercolor and ink on paper by the Russian-American artist Nikolay Moltchanov (1959-). The vase sold for $7,500 (estimate was $800-$1,200) and the 1997 painting for $10,200 ($500-$700 estimate).

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at

Correction: The highlights of “Antiques Roadshow’s” season premiere last week were from last summer’s visit to Boise, Idaho, not last season’s.