MORE THAN ANY ONE MONTH IN 2020 DESERVES??
SUPER BOWL LIV.: FEBRUARY 2
THE ACADEMY AWARDS XCII.: FEBRUARY 9
VALENTINE’S DAY MDXXIV: FEBRUARY 14
We understand what you’re thinking; these are or were nice warm-up distractions, – but when’s the MAIN EVENT?
(we’re glad you asked)
As the Curtain Pulls Back on the Main Stage, We are Proud to Announce …
THE L.H. SELMAN LTD.’s PAPERWEIGHT AUCTION LXXIV: FEBRUARY 18
“Late February days; and now, at last, Might you have thought that winter’s woe was past; So fair the sky was and so soft the air.” William Morris
That’s Right, kids! We’re classing up the joint with nothing but those Roman Numerals and 19th century quotes to let you know just how important this month is in your lives. And rightfully, it’s been building to a fitting climax…
The Gridiron and Hollywood have their places. But here now, is the real world, the world of magnificent glass paperweights – where clearly, (too obvious?) we offer you such incredible opportunities in the world of fine glass art, that all the other dates in February should just be embarrassed. Really? Average resale price for a ticket to the Super Bowl reached $9,000. (high of $46K!) while the market value of the Swag Bags at the Oscars has been reported to cash out at around $215,000. (No, that’s the correct number of zeros.) And trust us, you won’t even find a handy caliper tucked inside those giveaways like we had in our bags at “Celebrate the Paperweight!” The Nerve. And don’t even think about the real cost if Valentine’s Day goes really, really, well! (Adjusting for inflation and figuring on say, three children and the inevitable mortgage – well, we’ll need the Roman Numerals to figure out that impending cost.)
So, I think we’ve determined which of these monumental dates is offering the best deal in town here, right? You can have a wonderful experience participating in our exciting Winter 2020 Auction at absolutely No Cost! Really! No…wait a minute – actually that’s provided you don’t win anything, and what fun would that be? Answer – NO FUN!
So be glad you passed on attending the Super Bowl. And since no regular folks are even allowed to buy tickets to this year’s Academy Awards, you likely would not have qualified for an Oscar Swag Bag – so that leaves True Love and Fine Glass. No Comparison, We Know! Now the considerable savings you’ve realized from passing on the rest of February events can really be put to intelligent, long term and rewarding use. (We mean paperweights, not mortgage payments and college tuitions.)
So Without Further Ado, (who said that, Ed Sullivan or Bill Shakespeare?) let us to the main event.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE!
LOT I (1). Superb and rare antique Russian flower bouquet faceted paperweight.
Now we know what everyone in that movie was really after – our own very special LOT 1!
“From Russia With Love” is supposedly based on a Cold War attempt to spirit a Russian decoding device called a Lektor, out of Constantinople–but anyone with a crosshair scope can see that the Lektor’s case was actually designed to protect special art glass, with room left for a dagger and a belt of Krugerrands. (Our own President Kennedy listed From Russia With Love as one of his 10 favorite books, and the film was the last that he saw before going to Dallas in November of 1963.) Word on the street has it that it might have been author Sir Ian Fleming himself who successfully retrieved this magnificent Russian magnum faceted paperweight. With faceting that gives the impression of a massive rare gemstone and that harbors a full garden of nestling velvety florals, we’re pretty sure the Hermitage would be pleased to see this lavishly textured masterwork returned to Mother Russia for free. Fat chance – Bond risked his life to get it, and you deserve a chance to enjoy it. But if you don’t measure up, it could also possibly wind up in the Queen Mother’s collection. Word is she’s got money to burn, with Harry off the payroll!
ARE YOU READY FOR GENETICALLY ENHANCED ART?
LOT III (3). Rare antique Baccarat four-flower bouquet with “thousand petal” pink rose paperweight.
Remember the 1957 film Man of a Thousand Faces? We don’t either. But here we have the flower with a thousand blooms, or close to it, anyway. This entire garden on a stem is all the more amazing when you realize that the original French glass masters had to have learned something of the Principles of Inheritance from one Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) the Father of Genetics. (Remember how the high school pea experiments smelled?). Mendel was finishing his studies at the University of Vienna around 1845 and we think it could only have been he who shared something of his discoveries with the Boys of Baccarat. This is one crossbred beauty! And this is your chance to support art and science at the same time!
GOT MILK? IT WORKS FOR MARIAH CAREY!
LOT XII (12). Antique Bacchus patterned millefiori circlets on sodden snow ground paperweight.
This beautiful weight can be best described as possessing qualities both crisp and smooth simultaneously. Canes with delicately tinted hues are all relaxing in a luxurious milk bath – just ask Mariah “I bathe in milk” Carey; she swears by them as beauty treatments. Yet for all the softness in this surface, there is also a distinct brightness to it. You’ll never see a more harmoniously delicate palette than in this unusual Bacchus. It is almost reminiscent of a medieval object of veneration proudly displayed in the Library at Trinity College between the Book of Kells and the Book of Hours. (Reference Room Only). And you thought the Dark Ages were Dark? Not by a long shot – providing you don’t count all the forced confessions!
MORE VOLTAGE THAN THE THIRD RAIL IN A SUBWAY
LOT XVI (16). Rare antique Clichy blue and white barber pole, millefiori and rose chequer paperweight.
Electrically charged barber poles, snake and collide their ways among lusciously large complex canes like bumper cars in a Chinese puzzle, to offer a near psychedelic visual. A rich and satisfying palette with fabulous canes, including a beautifully executed trademark rose. There is a jazzy, almost vibrating rhythm to this arrangement that makes you think it could almost move by itself. Museum putty on request to hold it still.
WHY OLD ROADSIDE DINER TABLES ARE COOL AGAIN
LOT XXVI (26). Antique Bohemian Riedel close packed millefiori paperweight.
Black and Silver. Sorry, Raiders fans (your team last won a Super Bowl in 1984). But your colors thrive in this antique Bohemian weight. It’s filled with a beguiling variety of less familiar shapes and colors, all resting on a ground that resembles ultra-cool American postwar 1940s Deco-style kitchen tables and countertops. And believe it – that period is hot in today’s market. The 40s and 50s are about as antique as the market goes. (You can’t even give away fine Chippendale.) But just don’t try digging up the bits of ‘silver’ scattered throughout the weight. It doesn’t work that way. Remember the end of Raging Bull, (DeNiro won the Academy Award for Best Actor 1981) where Jake LaMotta cut the jewels out of his championship belt to pawn – only to discover that it was really the belt as history and symbol (the jewels didn’t hurt) that provided the value? So leave the weight alone and enjoy it whole, Jake…
I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU, (WHERE DID YOU GO?)
LOT XXXVIII (38). Very Rare Baccarat Type II blue primrose miniature paperweight.
We hear many discussions about the importance of “transparency” in business and government, and sometimes this applies to the arts as well. The Beatles covered this concept nicely with the hit song, “I’m Looking Through You,” back in the Sixties… Marcel Duchamp made some of his greatest work of transparent glass. (Put the phone down – we’re not here to quibble…) And the paperweight Oscar for greatest transparent beauty in a work of glass or transparent medium goes to ……. The Baccarat Primrose, with its way too cool for school and totally transparent blue petals!!! This is a radiating little treasure, (thanks in part to the star-cut base). And speaking of stars – Elizabeth Taylor would’ve snapped this up as a large earring and commissioned its mate. Subtle and gorgeous.
WHEN IS A PEACH NOT A PEACH? (ASK MAGRITTE.)
LOT CXVI (116). Rick Ayotte 2004 two peaches with blossoms paperweight.
It always makes the hair on our several heads stand on end to read critical essays in the arts that employ that exhausted formula of desperately seeking to elevate a reputation by drawing comparisons in the minds of the readers between the artist under discussion and another who enjoys universal acclaim. BUT HERE we can say that there is – without exaggeration – a close kinship in quality between the finest Ayotte weights and the paintings of Jan Davidsz de Heem, a true 17th century Dutch master. Their works are closely related because both artists strive for and achieve absolute verisimilitude in their depictions of the natural world. The peaches, blossoms and almost breathing leaves in Lot 116 hold their own and more against de Heem’s stunning still lifes (yes, that’s the right grammar)- which were among the sought-after highlights of the Golden Age of Dutch painting. AND, de Heem only had to master 2 dimensions! Ever hear of Stendahl’s Syndrome? It could apply here…you could faint from desire for these fruits. Eat a good breakfast before looking at this weight.
AND YES, THE SEEDS WILL KILL YOU …
LOT CXX (120). Mike Hunter 2017 “Patch” patchwork apple hollow sculpture.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and you come to own this glorious specimen, you’ll never again need to even have a check-up. This apple is a high caliber masterwork by a master worker – a superbly structured glass quilt combining several techniques and multiple patterns; it is a celebration of the possible. Just don’t eat a full 200 seeds in one sitting, (look it up) or we’ll be getting it back from your estate for another auction…
MAKE IT A DOUBLE!
LOT CXXXIII (133). Chris Buzzini 1993 Artist Proof lilac and buttercup rectangular paperweight.
You know how in the chicer restaurants these days, the tendency with certain drinks is to include only a single, major league ice cube just a little bit smaller than the glass itself? Me neither. But we hear from friends it’s a ‘Thing!’ Now we know where the mixologists found their inspiration – the Buzzini Top Shelf Ice Cube Paperweight! That’s right, kids – fresh frozen fruit has been followed by flash frozen flowers! Thank you, technology! And, this crisp-looking beauty also has a gorgeous ‘green anise’ back that provides the perfect foil for the compact but lively arrangement within. The sides are icily textured, of course and the weight is cool to the touch. If Fred Astaire and William Powell were alive today, they would quip to the death over which man deserved this treasure. Which would then leave the Buzzini on the Rocks (or Rock) for Ginger Rogers and Myrna Loy to share amicably. And so it goes…
MORE TREASURES OF THE SIERRA MADRE
LOT CL (150). Bob Banford entwined black snake with spider and ladybug paperweight.
Very spotty job here by Mr. Banford, and we mean that in the best way! These convincingly shaped and positioned characters might have been just a bit too delightfully unsettling were it not for the deco martini olives two of them are sporting like Versace jackets. Or is this a mirage; is it what Humphrey Bogart saw after weeks in the desert and days out of water? All three of these creatures look like they’re too cool to rumble. Besides, looks like Ladybug is asking the Sir Snake to tell Mr. Spider that it’s meatless Friday. The artist leaves us wondering. Some say the job of the artist is not to supply answers but mainly to ask the right questions. Maybe they’ll all settle for feasting on the plant. Maybe we’ll never know.
LOVE IS BLUE.
LOT CCXX (220). Baccarat 1994 “Bouquet de lilas” lilacs magnum paperweight.
YES, you old romantics – of course it had to be Frenchmen (Pierre Cour and André Popp) who wrote the little ballad “Love Is Blue,” that was played every single waking minute of the late 1960s and on into the 1970s. (Laws were passed after that.) When Paul Mauriat recorded it, it became and remained (until 2017) the only performance by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100. The song has appeared everywhere from The Simpsons to the closing credits of Mad Men. And now we know the source, the inspiration for this obsession – a glass paperweight made by – of course – Frenchmen!! This Baccarat weight is pure blue. It sings blue and whispers blue. It breathes blue. It glows blue. You thought the sky and sea were blue…well, they used to be. And compared to this glass artwork, the next most beautiful blue in the world looks brown. Oh, wait a moment, our Blue didn’t come along until 1994! We’re still right!
MISS THE GAME OF THRONES?
LOT CCLXVII (267). Lundberg Studios 1995 dragon engraved surface paperweight.
Well if the Super Bowl didn’t slake your thirst for stylish conflict and violence, you’re in Luck! Daenerys Targaryen has heard your pleas. (Also, HBO is not doing a sequel, so the dragon’s contract is up and he’s available.) Honestly, this magnificent Dragon is something to behold! It wraps sinuously and omnipotently around the shimmering golden skies in an effort to circle the world and catch up with itself. Be relieved it’s not looking your way. Iridescent gold and matte black (actually it’s a very striking translucent amber) have always been one of the most exquisite combinations, frequently employed during the Art Deco movement. Here they are joined to stunning effect. The famed Czech artist Lubomir Richter, who has etched his name delicately at the baseline, has truly outdone himself with elegant cutting that is in equal measure delicate and muscular. Screaming peasants not included.
Okay, gang, we heard the bell too. Close your books and mark down your favorites on the palms of your hands in ball point pens. We’ll see you soon!
Click here for more information on the auction, to view the digital catalog, or to begin placing bids.