A superb European sculpture unveiled at the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral on Christmas Day of 1913 is the highlight of Don Presley’s Dec. 31-Jan. 1 New Year’s Auction. The sale features 1,000 lots of antiques, Asian and other fine art, plus a bumper selection described by Presley as “a gallery of amusements.”
The headliner – a Carrara marble grouping known variously as ‘Paetus et Aria, ’ ‘The Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife, ’ and ‘The Galatian Suicide’ – is a copy of the Hellenistic 3rd century B.C. original by Epignonos, ex Boncompagni Ludovisi Collection. In 1900, the Italian State purchased the original – and 103 other sculptures – from the royal Boncompagni Ludovisi family for ensconcement in the Pergamum Museo Nazionale at Palazzo Altemps.
A deaccession from the Scottish Rite Library & Museum, the antique copy of the famous Greek statue in Presley’s sale – whose exact age is unknown – comes with a written history from Masonic archives. In its post-Christmas 1913 “Bulletin to the Los Angeles Consistory,” an article describes the statue – a gift from Scottish Rite member V.M. William Rhodes Hervey – as “one of the finest marbles in America, not unworthy of being the center of [the Cathedral’s] collection of statuary, pictures and books.”
The statue measures 94 inches tall by 42 inches wide, inclusive of custom-made marble base, and is expected to make $40,000-$75,000 at auction.
Presley’s New Year’s sale also features an extensive selection of top-quality ivory and Asian antiques. A pair of coveted Chinese huanghuali chairs in spotless condition came from a Los Angeles residence. Auctioneer Don Presley explained that one reason chairs of this type are so scarce is because the wood from which they are constructed is only rarely found in pieces large enough to be used in furniture.
“Huanghuali chairs were made for emperors and royalty from exotic hardwoods in the rosewood family that have an especially beautiful grain and pattern of knots,” Presley said. “They can fetch high prices at auction. We have placed a conservative estimate of $15,000-$25,000 on the chairs consigned to our sale.”
Another Asian highlight is a 19th-century carved bone over wood statue of Guanyin. The figure, which has an ivory face and hands, holds a candle and has a phoenix (bird) ornament in its hair. It carries an estimate of $8,000-$15,000.
Approximately 200 antique clocks will be auctioned, including 40 more from the same Beverly Hills collection that highlighted Presley’s Nov. 5-6 sale. The grouping includes French and other European clocks, carriage, boulle and tortoiseshell; champleve, gilt-bronze, jewel-face and American clocks (Tiffany, Ansonia, etc.). There are also a few wall and mantel clocks.
Several impressive diamonds, sized from 2 to 3 carats each, add a fine edge to the sale, as does a Rolex Daytona Model 16520 Oyster Perpetual man’s wristwatch with Zenith movement. With original box, the classic timepiece could realize $12,000-$20,000.
An Art Deco sterling silver tea set marked “Jimenez” is a premier example of Mexican craftsmanship. The teapot and accessory pieces are stamped ‘Sterling 925’ and have a fluted exterior, while the stamped tray is adorned by a substantial, wide repousse trim. The stylish set weighs in at 159.6 troy ounces and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
The perfect furnishing in which to display a tea set of such quality is the 19th-century bronze ormolu vitrine that comes to the auction from a residence in the exclusive Orange Park Acres section of Orange County. With cartouches hand painted in the vernis Martin style, and with its original glass intact, the elegant vitrine could fetch $4,000-$6,000.
Don Presley has amassed an assortment of unusual amusements for his Dec. 31-Jan. 1 sale. Several were featured on the History Channel’s new show Real Deal, which is taped at Presley’s gallery. They include a 1957 Williams “Deluxe Baseball” pinball machine, est. $3,500-$5,500; and a fully documented circa-1891 binnacle from the Spanish flagship Infanta Maria Teresa, $15,000-$25,000. A third item that appeared on Real Deal is a circa-1900 medical device called a “nebulizer.” Presley explained that the device was used in upscale medical or dental practices and produced a mist for inhalation by patients. Estimate: $1,200-$1,800.
A special transportation attraction that would be right at home at Knott’s Berry Farm is a Butterfield stagecoach, 3/4 size, made around 1942 for use in parades, rodeos and other festive events. The vehicle has perfect wheels, is leather slung with barrel sides and even has lanterns to accommodate candles, in the manner of 19th-century stagecoaches. The auction estimate is $25,000-$30,000. For those who favor the Mod era, a pair of zippy 1960s Vespa scooters may fit the bill, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000 apiece.
Additional entries of note include a Capodimonte chess set on a wood base with bronze ormolu, est. $1,500-$2,500; a sizable collection of Roseville, Bauer and other California pottery; fine porcelains, various other fine and decorative-art objects; and 200 Hummel figurines. A 5ft. 6in. electric automaton organ grinder and monkey comes with cassettes to provide a musical accompaniment.
Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will commence at 12 noon Pacific Time. Preview Mon.-Sat. 10-5. The gallery is located at 1319 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.