Retro Radios Auctioned at Bonhams New York 20th Century Sale

. December 16, 2009

Bidders eagerly awaited the December 9th sale of 20th Century Furniture & Decorative Arts presented by Bonhams New York. With over 600 lots offered, the sale’s great diversity resulted in a number of standout performances. The Madison Avenue salesroom was filled with bidders, both seated and standing in the back and harkened back to the pre-recessionary feeling of freely tendered bids.

Without a doubt, a collection of Art Deco Catalin radios proved to be amongst the most highly sought after lots of the sale. Spanning from the early to late 1930s, the collection included desirable models by Emerson, Motorola, General Electric, and Air King.

Retro RadioA 1940 Garod two tone green 1B55L drop handle radio proved to be the top lot of the sale. Estimated at $3,000-5,000, the rare lot sparked no less than a bidding war. Following a round of aggressive bidding, the radio shattered expectations, ultimately realizing the amazing price of $115,900.

Also greatly outperforming their initial estimates were two Tom Thumb radios, circa 1939. A marbleized green radio soared past its estimate of $3,000-5,000, bringing a final price of $33,350, while a bright cherry red example fetched a remarkable $27,450– more than five times the original estimate of $4,000-6,000. However, collectors were drawn by much more than radios.

A Tiffany Studios, c.1899-1918 leaded glass and bronze Rambling Rose lamp shade was cause for excitement amongst Tiffany collectors, dealers and aficionados, who flew in from all across America to view and discuss the early rare piece. Touching off a moment of intense bidding amongst telephones, live and absentee bidders, the lot more than tripled its estimate of $20,000-30,000, bringing an outstanding $112,850.

Other Tiffany studios lots attracting attention were a patinated bronze Senior floor lamp base which brought $36,600 and a leaded glass and bronze, Arrowroot shade which sold for $29,280 against an estimate of $12,000-15,000.

Also selling strongly were a 1988 Ron Arad polished steel Italian Fish Chair which realized $47,580; three 1925 Émile Jacques Ruhlmann gilt-bronze two-armed Antelope sconces that fetched $25,620; and a 1925, Edgar Brandt wrought iron and alabaster Grape chandelier which brought $26,840 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000.

Works by the Contemporary Studio artists also faired well, with glass works, ceramics and furniture pieces all drawing spirited bidding. Several pieces by glass master, Dale Chihuly, attracted many bidders, culminating in the sale of an exceptional Large Macchia, which sold for $41,480. The large colorful, blown glass vessel, inscribed and dated Chihuly 92, is from one of Chihuly’s most iconic series, Macchia, and well surpassed its’ original estimate of $18,000-25,000. Pieces by George Nakashima and the late Sam Maloof, two of Americas finest furniture artists, continued to draw strong interest, with a walnut settee by Maloof selling for $18,300.

The illustrated catalog for the December 9th sale will be online at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks following the auction. For more information about the department, please visit www.bonhams.com/newyork.

Category: Antiques News

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