The sparkle of fine jewelry from the estate of world traveler and Philadelphia businesswoman Ruth London sets the tone for Stephenson’s much-anticipated August 18 Summer Antiques & Decorative Arts Auction. An estimated 90% of the over 200 lots of jewelry offered in the sale are from the private collection, vault and safe deposit box of the late Mrs. London, of Rydal, PA. Her discerning eye for quality and design guided a lifelong collection of luxury goods that incorporates not only exquisite 18K and 14K gold jewelry but also designer clothing and furs purchased during her many trips abroad.
The jewelry selection includes rings, earrings, necklaces, cuff bracelets, brooches, stickpins, cufflinks, pocket watches, and wristwatches. Many design periods, origins and styles are represented, from Victorian and Edwardian to retro, contemporary and Native American.
“Ruth purchased fine jewelry in every country she and her husband visited. She particularly loved opals, gold and diamonds, which will be evident to anyone previewing her collection,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers.
Lot 44, a substantial 18K gold lion brooch, presents a whimsical expression with enlarged cabochon ruby and diamond eyes, a ruby nose and an open mouth that secures a half-carat diamond. With a weight of 15.3 dwt, it is expected to make $1,000-$2,000. Stunning platinum drop earrings with diamonds weighing 2.35 carats (total) come with an original 1984 receipt from Gimbel’s department store and will be offered as Lot 31 with a $600-$1,200 estimate. Leading the timepieces is lot 76, a Rossel & Fils (Geneva) enameled gold key-wind pocket watch stamped “18K” and estimated at $400-$600.
Three of Ruth London’s furs will follow the fine jewelry. Two full-length Canadian lynx coats are included, one of them, Lot 226, with a label from Diane Furs. The other coat, lot 230, whose design incorporates lynx paws, has a label from Philadelphia Main Line furrier Phil M. Stupp (now known as Stupp Furs). Each coat is estimated at $1,000-$2,000. In addition, there is a full-length ranch mink coat with fox collar and cuffs from Mirrow’s Furs. Entered as lot 227, it is offered with a $600-$1,200 estimate.
Silver tableware from elegant Philadelphia-area homes add luster to the auction lineup, starting with lot 275, an impressive Reed & Barton sterling center bowl that measures 18 inches in diameter and weighs more than 100 ozt. Adorned with high repousse decoration, it is estimated at $3,600-$6,000. There was immediate online interest in lot 276, a coveted Christofle silverplate flatware set containing 54 hallmarked pieces in the Triade pattern, estimate $300-$600. Sterling flatware sets, an International Sterling tea/coffee service, and a Watson Co., sterling teapot also enhance the August 18 silver selection.
Bids are also coming in steadily for 22 lots of Herend “fishnet” porcelain animals, including a lavender Stingray, Panda eating bamboo, Kangaroo with joey in pouch, Boxer (dog), Gorilla, Puffin, Octopus and other very nicely executed examples. Each is estimated at $200-$400. The group will be auctioned consecutively starting with Lot 21, a green Squirrel figurine.
The fine art category is led by lot 448, an exemplary Conrad Schwiering (American, 1916-1986) oil-on-canvas titled The Ropers. Signed and dated 1977, and bearing the artist’s label and original price sticker on verso, the 30 x 40-inch (sight) scene of cowboys roping Hereford cattle has a pleasing composition with a mountain range and cloud-filled sky in the background. The painting came from a Bucks County, PA, estate and is accompanied by two letters written by the artist in which he discusses the commission for the artwork and its pricing. Estimate: $8,000-$16,000
The buoyant market for midcentury furniture will be well served on August 18 with quality pieces by some of the most sought-after names of the period. Highlights include: an Eileen Gray ‘Transat’ chair, $600-$1,000; Robert Whitley ‘Martini’ table, $800-$1,600; Warren Platner ‘Bernal’ glass-topped side table, $400-$800; Baker French Art Deco-style server in the manner of Jacques Ruhlmann, $500-$1,000; and a pair of chairs estimated at $400-$800 that are in the style of the classic tubular ‘Wassily’ chairs originally designed by Marcel Breuer for Knoll. Also, a John Widdicomb cherry bombe bedroom set consisting of a triple dresser and pair of matching nightstands carries a $600-$1,000 estimate.
There are 16 World War I-era posters in the auction, many with themes or imagery not often seen, such as lot 452, an Adolph Treidler poster depicting a woman in overalls and cap, holding up a bi-plane. It reads: “For Every Fighter A Woman Worker – Care For Her Through The YWCA.” Estimate: $100-$200.
A great rarity from the horseracing world, Lot 423 is a Kentucky Derby Trophy poster hand-signed by 55 winning jockeys, trainers and owners. Nearly all of the signatures include the year of the signer’s Kentucky Derby win. “This is one of only 16 posters of its type,” said Cindy Stephenson. “It took 17 months and more than a dozen airline flights to obtain all of the signatures. All represent horseracing royalty, with connections to some legendary winners, such as Secretariat, American Pharaoh and California Chrome. We’re honored to be able to auction this historically important poster.” Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.
Stephenson’s Friday, August18, 2017 Summer Antiques & Decorative Arts Auction will begin at 1 PM ET. The pre-auction inspection will be held on Thursday, August 17 from 1 PM to 7 PM, and on auction day from 11 AM until 1 PM. The gallery is located in suburban Philadelphia at 1005 Industrial Boulevard, Southampton, PA 18966. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, or AuctionZip. The online catalog appears on all three sites.