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Friends, today a seasoned collector came in and browsed the auction and could not stop noting how affecting and appealing the weights are in person. That’s right. The finest cameras cannot always capture the shimmering reality of a fine glass artwork in your hand. I’ve long thought that if everyone could appear to preview the auction in-person, we would easily find new homes for 157% of the offerings… In the meantime, DO NOT Hesitate to call or write to us for any extra detailed images! It is also frustrating being limited to examining 5% or fewer of the weights to highlight in this column, when so, so many are spectacular. But we keep calm and carry on! So in lieu of being able to materialize into the gallery, don’t hesitate to ask for further descriptions, detailed images/videos, condition reports, you name it, and more… you’re no bother – put us to work!
A BULKED-UP AMERICAN ALL-STAR
THIS IS A MASSIVE and beautiful Mount Washington Rose poised regally in its own Superbowl Dome. And I am barely overstating the size. I recently saw a Cubs vs. Phillies game with a Mr. Dave Graeber, (who was thrown a ball by a Philly player, but I digress) and I estimate that the stadium would just fit into this Washington weight dome. There are apartments in New York City that – completely empty – would not be able to accommodate this magnificent accomplishment in glass. Each petal in the rose has a soft fade, resulting in a fabulous array of shades of reddish pink. Two lustrous buds welcome you like a mother’s hands, outstretched from a healthy stalk, and five robust and well-spaced leaves spread out like rays from the sun. Another American Masterpiece. Hard to see why the French glassworks ever stayed popular, once the Yankees’ operations were in full bloom. One more thing: the better beers at Wrigley Field were $14.00 PER CAN! Save your money for paperweights…! All jokes aside, this is a monumental Mount Washington weight. It will not only be the centerpiece of your collection, but it will be the centerpiece of your entire base camp!
THERE APPEARS TO BE A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY OF A CHANCE THAT JUST MAYBE…
Lots of mystery surrounds all things Russian, or all things attributed to Russia. And while they did not invent paperweights, they certainly have some absolutely magnificent examples, this included, of the artform credited to them. During the later 19th century, Czars Alexanders II & III (and later Nicholas) each instituted major reforms of sorts. Apparently one of those improvements involved increased aesthetic enlightenment, so a cattle call (no, make that ‘casting call’) went out to European glass artists to come to St. Petersburg and share the creative wealth. And that obviously resulted in crossover influence. This handsome, scramble we call Lot 2 is likely a Russian rarity, (the Cyrillic letters are certainly one clue) but such examples are few and far between, so act accordingly and don’t think you’ll see another anytime soon. One thing the Russians did invent, according to them, was baseball. They called it ‘Lapta’ (don’t ask) and get this – they claim to have put the first astronaut in space!!! Yuri something or other. Maybe he invented baseball while he was up there.
LOOK FOR PERFECTION WITHIN, FIRST
IF I COULD AFFORD an antique in this auction, it might be this. Forget what I just said about French glass houses. This weight has the most sublime color scape imaginable. The delicate and sophisticated color arrangements are truly too subtle to describe and do the artwork justice, especially when we can simply and easily send you extra Images on request! Even Penelope, who is careful with her wording, refers to the weight as being “in the style of the dazzling European decorative gardens…”. By the way, this is the very weight that graced the renowned New York Historical Society collection. In the 1974 publication on its holdings, the great Paul Hollister labels the piece, “SUPERB!” And if it’s good enough for Manhattan, it’s good enough for you!
Just the very word Baccarat conjures up the early scene in the film classic, Doctor No, with Sean Connery as James Bond, playing the elite card game of that name (referred to in the film by the French phrase Chemin de fer), while smoking unfiltered Morlands and looking lethally handsome and all the while winning thousands of English pounds and captivating the beautiful Sylvia Trench. (Look it up – it happened!) And yes, that is the feeling this weight will convey to you, dear lover of all things French—albeit through a Scottish actor portraying an Englishman. This weight has the striking air of sophistication and refinement to match anything I described in the above scenario, translated into fine glass and offering no chance of lung cancer. Extra charge for Sylvia Trench.
21 AND OLDER, PLEASE!
This is a compact masterwork. It breathes restrained elegance and sophistication. What you can really only see in person and what also gives this vintage Patek Phillipe of a paperweight a lightness of spirit is a score of perfectly arranged micro-bubbles that sparkle like microscopic diamonds – with the weight in a stand and bathed in overhead light. An adult weight for adults only! (Unless you’re a kid with money, then call me…)
“MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME!”
Honestly – raise your hands here if you thought we were trying to fool you or If you thought we had the nightshift finish the cataloguing. YES, this IS an antique; this delightful free-for-all reminds me of several legendary parties from my youth—I only wish that I had been invited to some of them. And it is not only unusually large for an antique scramble, with a confident, swashbuckling, free-wheeling air about it – it serves as a reminder that FUN is both contemporary and historical, or antique! Have you ever looked at the paintings by Brueghel, of the peasants partying in the fields after harvest? Wow. And Edgar Allen Poe wrote about a phenomenal blowout of a party – a renowned masked ball people still read about. Anyway, this rambunctious antique party favor will zest up your collection, and maybe remind YOU TOO, of legendary parties from your youth that you were not invited to. In the case of Poe, that would have been a good thing…
NO SCHOOL TAUGHT YOU HOW TO MAKE GLASS COME TO LIFE LIKE THIS!
Remember the revolutionary school of arts and crafts united with new technologies, named the Bauhaus? Me neither; it was closed by the National Socialist Party in 1933. Although several school leaders fled here to Chicago, and we have many reminders of the Bauhaus ethos, not the least of which are several buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe. Anyway, the shape of Dave’s lively, stacked pedestal bears an arresting resemblance to certain paintings and ballet costumes created by Oskar Schlemmer, a renowned painter and sculptor and Master of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop. In Lot 96, there is a splendid balance between the two geometric forms, the (head) sphere and the (body) edited ovoid. Together, there is to this viewer, a superbly realized human form standing proudly on a richly warm red translucent base. Otherwise, those at the Bauhaus had nothing on Dave’s flame work… Finally, I would say that this splendidly detailed creation is both monumental and meditative. I swear that if I were lucky enough to buy this it would feel more like an adoption than a purchase. A brilliant accomplishment.
AND TO THINK WE USED TO TRUST MUSEUMS!
Some have called for this stunning vase to be returned from the British Museum to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Which is interesting because that heralded cultural project is not completely finished with construction. The fact is that the British Museum is not in possession of this masterwork. It is LOT 126 here at the Selman gallery in Chicago!! The British Museum does, however, still hold the Elgin Marbles. (What nerve – not only did the British Museum receive stolen goods, but they also renamed the culturally priceless ancient sculptural frieze they accepted, after the aristocratic clown that swiped them!) Egyptian scholars who have mistaken Michael’s creation for a five-thousand-year-old masterwork in glass belonging to a pharaoh, have made an understandable mistake. Except that Michael Hunter’s workmanship is simply superior to anything of theirs I can Google. This vase – created from an encyclopedic array of exquisite glass canes, brilliantly juxtaposed, and spanning decades of dedicated experiment and design –represents an autobiography of the paperweight career of one of our most celebrated artists. Call for extra photographic details. Museum guard extra.
YES, THEY SERVE THANKSGIVING DINNER AT THE MGM GRAND HOTEL & CASINO!
I was trying to think of why this weight keeps catching my eye. I realized there’s a comforting sweep to it, a gently arching, somewhat vertical flow and offering a gesture of lush harvest and well-being. I love it. In the Thanksgiving of my imagination, the assemblage it presents would adorn the old but brightly painted white wooden door of grandma’s small farm; The door opens with her smile close behind and delicious cooking odors filling the foyer. In the Thanksgiving of reality, she sold the farm 6 years ago and is currently living with her sister in a condo in Reno, Nevada. You can find her 7 days a week at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, where she’s addicted to chain smoking and the slots. Sorry, did I overshare? They don’t pay me extra for this column, but they did tell me I could vent once in a while. Anyway, you should get this paperweight and create your own new memories of well-being! And on your next holiday visit, bring a dish with you; maybe your own grandmother won’t resent you and spend your inheritance on the pool boys at the Bellagio.
WHERE’S LORD BYRON WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
There are delightful weights I have shown but not described, saying simply “Too cute for words,” get it? But here, there’s nothing to say because I’m not Lord Byron. It would take his gifts to do justice to this workmanship. I mean Doug and Barry give the finest examples of Roman vases with diatreta work, a run for their money. And please do take the time to read Penelope’s exquisitely phrased description. There’s no humorous angle to write about here; the piece is simply glorious! Maybe Byron would be speechless. Sometimes the poets just stand back and let it all be…
R.I.P. ROLAND MAX ERLACHER, 1933 – 2022.
A lovely example by the master. Born onto the simmering cauldron of 1930s Austria, which was sandwiched between Italy and Germany, Max survived WWII, and after intense technical training in glass, he came to Corning New York in 1957, already certified as a Master Engraver by Lobmeyr, and there he remained throughout his career. A consummate artist and passionate perfectionist, as well as a teacher and a gentleman, we shall not see his like again…
BUT WATCH OUT FOR THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT!!
Without exaggeration, here’s another weight for which you should consider paying us twice. Why? Because the base is stunning enough to merit its own base! And if you admire fine abstract designs, you’ll relish the playful glassy streams of pristine white, dancing around like the Disney film where fluttering ribbons, cloth and threads assembled in thin air the dress for Cinderella on the night of the Grand Ball. (I think some mice and birds also helped out!)
Then turn this weight over and you’ll see some of the most elegantly pulled latticinio in paperweight history. The reds in the dome are of a delicate, watery translucence which provides a perfect ethereal backdrop for the lacy ribbons. Hey, and what about the center? Cheerful red petals of the single flower surround a geometrically perfect complex cane center and the lush green stem and leaves shimmer with aventurine. Don’t think of buying this as a gift for someone, because you will never give it away!
“I WATCHED C-BEAMS GLITTER IN THE DARK NEAR THE TANNHÄUSER GATE.” ~Roy Batty
Looking at this marble by Gateson Recko, I get a delicious sense of vertigo–almost falling into the universe, or should I say Multiverse…or Multiverses! Several phrases come to mind here about this and weights in the adjoining lots. “Good Things Come in Small Packages.” “Space, The Final Frontier,” and “We saved the Best for Last!” and even our own, “Worlds in Your Hand!” I mean if there were ever a weight or sorcerer’s crystal where 2 inches succeeded in traversing light years and encompassing the Heavens, THIS IS IT ! Sweeping interstellar vistas reveal everything beyond – from distant nebula to constellations to a delicate rendering of a maybe second Earth! (Maybe there IS a Planet B!). How in the World (pun intended) did the artist crowbar whole galaxies into a glass golf ball? It’s so magical, I don’t even want to know. “There are more things in heaven and earth, fellow collector, than are dreamt of in your cosmological philosophy.” (It also appears that we have inaugurated Space Force just in time!) This and the other 2-inch wonder marbles will expand your mind. In heaven’s name, watch Marty’s spin videos…no excuses!
Ok, so maybe you akin our auctions to a human-paced waltz, while others compare it to progressive jazz, man. But, with courtesies observed, our current method works very well for most everyone of you. In our auctions you can answer the doorbell without missing your favorite lot. You can take a walk, or go to a party! Live your life, you know we will be in touch if needed, which we hope you appreciate as much as we do. Our connections with you during the sale, and our literal physical connections to the lots in auction right now, make us your ally and friend.
We appreciate your business, your bids, and your patience if you’ve made it this far… thank you.
Now get to your bids page! Click HERE to visit the auction website.