An Auction Adventure
inJuly 3, 2012 - 11:36am
Our Beautiful Lady...what a "find"....Sometimes everything just happens right. Kismet. Karma. Tom and I just had a wonderful experience resulting from a “find” at an estate sale. As with most weekends, we were shopping the estate sales to find items for our Ruby Lane COBAYLEY shop. It was on a bright and sunny early spring morning and we headed out not expecting much of anything, but the sale had advertised collectibles and some antiques.
The sale was out in the country and everything about the day was wonderful, from the weather, to the grounds of the estate to the lovely people managing the sale. Everything was clean, well displayed and there were lots to look at. For being a true estate sale we were surprised at the few number of shoppers. There were some men in the garage and sheds sorting through the tools, but inside it was just me and a couple of other shoppers.
In the corner of one room was a deep corner shelf and it was packed with all kinds of odds and ends. Everything from teacups to eye cups to salt and pepper shakers. A quick glance told me I was interested in nothing there. I proceeded on through the sale making my pile. I shop, Tom guards my pile. Every time I passed through that room, I would glance at the shelf and dismiss it as not worth my time. The third time through, as I was on my last go through the house, I stopped and really looked. And there she was. In the back behind the Royal Albert Old Country Roses cups and saucers. She blended into the background. As I picked her up, I had trouble not trembling. I knew she was special and I knew I had to have her.
We paid for our purchases and went out into the sunshine. I told Tom, "I think we have something very special. Let’s get home so I can make sure." We examined her closely. There it was, R Lalique. She was the gorgeous “Ambre De Siam” Perfume bottle and stopper created for Volnay of Paris in the 1920’s. She stood a regal 4 5/8 inches tall and there wasn’t a blemish on her. Her nude body is set against a tangle of thorns.
I was so excited, I had to share. To my discussion group on Facebook I raced. It’s a private group and only members can see the pictures and enter into the discussion. I had found one reference to an auction result and the figure realized seem far beyond what I would ever realize for my lovely lady. Friends in my discussion group were elated for me, but advised me to remove the picture as she was so valuable, they felt it should not be broadcast that I had her in my possession. They advised me to contact an auction house. Suggestions included Sotheby’s and Christies. We chose Christies. And I’m so grateful I did.
The process of submitting an item for possible auction was at first very intimidating for me. I had never done it before. I worried about being rejected, or my item not being good enough. I was mistaken. Within 48 hours of sending pictures via email to Christies in New York, Kimberly Miller, a specialist for Christies was on the phone and within minutes I knew I had made the right choice. She talked me through the whole process. Next contact from Christies was Elizabeth Rutledge, Administrator. She helped us through the maze of paperwork, agreements, insurance forms and anything else that needed to be done before we submitted our item for auction.
It was decided that the Lalique perfume would be perfect for the “Important 20th Century Decorative Art and Design Auction” to be held on June 14th, 2012. There were several other pieces of Lalique in that auction and Kim felt our perfume would be a wonderful addition. So, carefully packed, heavily insured, the perfume was sent off via registered mail to Christies to get her photo shoot for the catalog.
The wonderful communication with Christies put us at ease and we knew everything would go smoothly. And it did. Two weeks before the auction we received our catalog in the mail. There she was, lot 150, on page 43. Beautifully photographed, she looks positively ethereal.
Kim advised me to get registered at Christies.com so I could watch the auction. Live. Oh my goodness, I thought, live? I don’t think so, I’d be a nervous wreck. A very close online friend was eager to watch also. I double checked the date…oh, no, I had an all day art class. No problem, my friend says, I’ll watch. But, New York time is way ahead of coast of Oregon time and at approx 9:00 AM, the auction was announced for lot number 150. Auction estimate was $6,000 to 8,000. Within seconds the reserve was met and passed the auction room was quiet, the bidding was fast and kept going higher and higher. Within minutes the hammer went down at $22,000.00. Tom and I had held hands as we watched. It was an excitement I cannot explain. To watch it live was such a thrill, I’ll remember it always.
If you are lucky enough to find something very special, do not hesitate to contact experts in the field. I cannot speak highly enough about Christies. They were very professional, but so friendly and they made me feel comfortable and confident. Never sell yourself or your finds short. Follow your hunches. That is so important in this business. You never know what you will find. Maybe “Ambre De Siam” by Lalique.
Written by Carolyn O'Bayley
Cobayley Vintage Jewelry Antiques Collectibles on Ruby Lane