Fairfield, Maine, June 19 & 20, 2009. ~ For the last few weeks, the talk in the rare lamp and art glass world has been the Julia auction of June, 19th & 20th. Without question the auction was the epitome of diversity, quality, rarity and value. This was the finest offering to take place in the glass world this year! The presentation at the preview was simply breathtaking. Showcase after showcase was filled with art glass treasures and row after row of spectacular colorful lamps were a beautiful sight to behold. Julia’s department head, Dudley Browne, together with his administrative assistant, Julie Killam had been exceedingly busy for the last six months gathering one of the finest groupings the firm has ever offered. But equally important were the energy, effort and expense put into the marketing program to entice participants, which resulted in a significant payoff. The days of the auction featured one of the largest crowds to attend such an event at the Julia firm in many years. There were a great number of strong prices and robust participation in all areas and the bottom line was a healthy gross of approximately $1.8 Million, a tremendous feat in this economy! Browne also stated that there were a number of negotiations in the works on unsold items so the gross will likely increase in the coming week as a result of post-auction sales.
Part of the success of Julia’s is a result of some decisions made in early December of last year. In a meeting involving all management and department heads in the Julia firm they discussed how to proceed in this new economy. One possibility was to do as 90% of all U.S. businesses had done in the past few months (i.e. let a significant portion of their staff go, cut back on services offered to their clients, ensure their commission charges would produce profit, etc.). But the Julia firm decided upon an entirely different approach. Jim Julia stated emphatically that his current auction company team was the finest that had ever worked for him and literally every employee was valuable to their success. Hence, he made a commitment to all the employees after that meeting that they would all be kept on full time and there would be no intention of cutting any positions. As a result of the meeting, an aggressive ad campaign was developed including what was referred to as the “Julia Stimulus Plan”. The “Plan” outlined a host of benefits and features to be provided to consignors in the future. Foremost was the 0% commission fee on expensive items. The theory of the Julia team was to charge less, give better service, and work harder and smarter. This new approach has proven to be exceedingly successful for the auctioneer, buyer, and seller. There can be no question that their formula is working. The spring firearms auction this year grossed an incredible $11.5 million dollars, one of the highest ever in the firearms auction industry in the world (Julia’s set the world record in March 2008 at $12.7 Million). Their glass & lamp auction was unquestionably the finest offering of glass & lamps offered this year in the auction world. Julia’s toy, doll, and advertising auction a week later was their best in the past three years, producing a final gross of over $1.3 Million against a low estimate of items sold of $796,000. To date, their new business model is performing admirably in an economy that would normally dictate an entirely different approach.
Of the numerous headliners in the auction was a marvelous clematis lamp with flared shade and featured pastel flowers over a mottled amber background with a band of geometric panels around the bottom perimeter. One of Tiffany’s more exceptional creations, distinguished by their internal dash numbering system, this stunning piece brought $69,000 within a presale estimate of $65,000-75,000.
The grand selection of Tiffany leaded lamps also included an impressive leaded shade with mottled translucent green tiled background with an elaborate Tyler scroll pattern across the entire top half. Seeing very active bidding, it finished up above its $10,000-15,000 estimate at $17,250. A Tiffany Studios 12-light lily lamp featured a bronze lily pad base from which a cluster of long stems emerge and terminate in brilliant iridescent shades. It approached the midway point of its presale estimate, selling for $37,375. An exceptional green linen fold table lamp in which the glass panels look like stretched fabric sold for $23,000 against a $20,000-25,000 estimate. And a wonderful Colonial leaded lamp in warm yellow, which when illuminated reveals dark internal mottling that contrasts beautifully with the lighter background. The piece sold within its $20,000-25,000 estimate for $20,700.
Complementing the fine array of Tiffany were examples by other astounding makers such as a lively Duffner & Kimberly Louis XV leaded lamp. With intricate floral design and cast brass overlay extending from its permanent high relief heat cap and resting on its original matching base, the lamp exudes extravagance at its finest and sold for $47,150 (est. $45,000-55,000) a price worthy of its appeal. A rare Pairpoint Puffy White Owl lamp, only the seventh known to exist on the planet, is considered to be the more desirable of the two versions created (the other is brown). The base consists of an elaborate heavy cast full bodied owl perched on a branch. Its glass shade is in the form of an owl in flight whose head is affixed with piercing yellow paperweight eyes. This piece saw much attention and several phone bids to swoop past its $15,000-25,000 pre-auction to sell for $42,550. Other highlights included a Handel reverse painted lamp depicting exotic birds flitting among the peonies. The vibrant colors and most realistic rendering helped push the lamp to a selling price of $13,800 against a $9,000-12,000 estimate. Even a contemporary lamp artist’s work saw active participation and a strong price. World renowned Tiffany expert Paul Crist’s massive spider mum table lamp in a broad palette of cool rich colors and intricate lead work sold for $17,250 against an estimate of $12,000-15,000.
In addition to the lighting was an expansive selection of art glass including works by Tiffany, Steuben, Quezal, Lalique, and others. This session was highlighted by a magnificent and large Tiffany vase with wheel carved and cameo decoration as well as padded white poppies. “It is truly stunning,” Browne stated. “This is perhaps one of the finest Tiffany vases we’ve ever had the pleasure of offering.” Condition, quality, and rarity meant a selling price of $37,375, exceeding expectations of $25,000-35,000. A lovely 18″ Jack in the Pulpit vase with bright gold favrile finish and brilliant iridescence from top to bottom sold for $17,250 against an estimate of $15,000-20,000. A stunning flower form vase with a heavily ruffled top flowing from vibrant orange to a green pulled feather stem was a sleeper, bringing $12,075, more than tripling its $4,000-6,000 estimate. A rare and seldom seen Tiffany cameo vase consisting of a clam broth iridescent background decorated with yellow flowers sold for $11,500 (est. $10,000-15,000) and a mammoth Tiffany trumpet vase in deep crimson red brought $7,475 (est. $5,000-7,000).
A select grouping of Steuben included two fantastic Frederick Carder era pieces. Considered very innovative for the time and rather sought after today, Carder’s early works for Steuben are true works of art. A gorgeous Steuben green aurene pulled feather vase was a must have for several bidders. It eventually went to the one willing to pay $15,225, ignoring an estimate of $7,000-10,000. A scarce 13″ Tyrian vase transitioning from blue to sea foam green iridescence with leaf and vine decoration boasted the size, color, and iridescence to make this the one of the best examples available. It sold for $10,925 within expectations of $10,000-15,000. Other Steuben included an iridescent gold aurene vase with pulled peacock feather decoration over a calcite background, which sold for $11,500, beating out an estimate of $7,000-10,000. And a cire purdue figure of a panther vanquishing a snake combined action and realism with a pleasing texture and appearance. It was signed and dated by Frederick Carder whose cire purdue creations are true works of art. Considered very innovative for the time and rather sought after today, the figure sold at the upper end of its $8,000-10,000 estimate for $9,200.
Adding to the breadth of the sale was an ample offering of French and English Cameo glass by the most sought after names in the genre including Daum, Galle, Le Verre Francais, Webb, and others. A magnificent selection of French Cameo included some of the finest pieces the firm has seen. Included was a terrific Galle marquetry vase with purple, mauve, and amber crocus flowers on a saucer foot that brought $34,500 against an estimate of $30,000-40,000. A wild naturalistic free form vase with green leaves and stems featured a mottled yellow to brown background that was cameo cut with spider webs all around the outside. It was further highlighted by cameo and enameled red flowers and finished with two cameo and enameled bumblebees, and sold for $14,950. A Galle mold blown vase with fuchsia flowers and dark leaves on a pastel yellow background was a gorgeous piece and broke into its $10,000-15,000 estimate to sell for $10,925. A Daum Nancy pillow vase decorated with a graceful swan swimming through a quiet marsh sold for $10,350 above a pre-auction estimate of $7,000-10,000. And a massive Daum Nancy tri-cornered vase with padded narcissus flowers standing against a mottled blue sky sold for $9,200 against an $8,000-12,000 estimate.
English Cameo glass was also quite popular and included two junior sized kerosene lamps with finely carved white floral decoration. The first, a rare amethyst example with ivy and branches, finished with cameo butterflies nearly tripled its $6,000-8,000 estimate to sell for $17,250. The second, a junior banquet lamp with pomegranate leaves and fruit on a rich blue background exceeded its $5,000-7,000 estimate, finishing up at $10,925. But it was a rare Jules Barbe cameo and enamel vase that surprised those in attendance. Beautifully rendered red plums and currants with gold leaves over an etched leaf background, it sold for $24,725 versus expectations of $8,000-12,000. And one of the finest Webb vases to ever grace an auction block features allover carved white flowers, stems and leaves on a deep blue background, finished with dragonflies and bumblebees. It created a buzz and ultimately sold for $12,937 against a presale estimate of $5,500-6,500.
Helping to round out the sale was a selection of Victorian glass, Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre, and rare Tiffany bronze desk accessories with which Julia’s has had great success. This time around, highlights included a Tiffany Studios Spanish desk lamp with an antique gold dore finish with intricate art nouveau decoration. The lamp’s heavy casting and exquisite detailing was most appealing, finding a buyer at $8,625 (est. $8,000-10,000). Other Tiffany Studios desk accessories included an elaborate bronze and jeweled frame in the 9th Century pattern that brought $5,750 against a $4,000-6,000 estimate and a Venetian letter rack with heavy ornamentation that sold for $1,725 (est. $1,500-2,500).
Selections of Wedgwood’s wild line of Fairyland Lustre included a Firbolg vase consisting of a midnight blue lustre background on which was a gilt design of goblins and trees. It sold for $4,025 against an estimate of $3,000-4,000. And a Fairyland Lustre plate in the Imps on a Bridge pattern approached its $7,000-9,000 estimate to bring $6,900.
Of the Victorian glass, a Mount Washington lava glass vase with colorful slashes on an obsidian background sold for $4,887 against expectations of $2,000-4,000. A Mount Washington Royal Flemish cracker jar with a silver portrait coin of Nero on the front brought a solid $3,450, tripling its $1,000-1,500 estimate.
For the last eight months, Jim Julia has advocated, “These are times of great opportunity, and astute buyers will stay vigilant and involved in the market. For the first time in the last eight years, there are fabulous buying opportunities.” Any of the unsold items from the auction are now posted on their website, and Julia’s invites you to make an offer and possibly get a bargain!
Julia’s upcoming auctions include their fabulous end of summer antiques & fine art extravaganza in August. Always the highlight of the New England summer auction season it will feature approximately $5 Million in spectacular merchandise. Julia’s important firearms and military memorabilia auction will take place in October. Julia’s toy & doll auction as well as a rare lamp & glass auction will take place in November. Julia’s is currently accepting consignments for these and other upcoming auctions. These economic times are indeed a time for opportunity. One dealer, frustrated with the results from his recent shows elected to consign his entire inventory. The results were $230,000 in sales, far greater than he had realized in total for his past eight shows combined! Call immediately for inclusion in these exciting sales. For more information, contact their offices at 207-453-7125. James D. Julia, Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937. E-mail: email@example.com.