Clars Auction Gallery’s monthly fine art, jewelry and decorative art auction on July 12-14 resulted in the largest July auction in the firm’s history, realizing just over $1 million. The highlight of the sale were these two rare, possibly 19th century Aboriginal Northern Australia shields, estimated to sell for $400 to $600 each, but managed to fetch $23,000 each. The shields came to auction as part of the ethnographic collection from a prominent San Francisco estate. They were both made of fig tree wood, had carved handles and carved bosses to the front. They measured 34 1/2 inches high by 14 1/2 inches wide. Prior to the sale, because of the difficulty of putting an age on the shields, they were conservatively projected to likely be post-World War II by Clars and another major auction house.
The bidding opened on the first shield at $400 but quickly became a heated phone battle between two Australian collectors, skyrocketing the final sale price to $23,000. It was a repeat performance for the second shield, which also earned the same amount. Both shields were bought by the same Australian collector.
Other highlight of the sale include a Murano glass “Pulcini” bird by Alessandro Pianon for Vistosi, circa 1963 (almost tying the world record price for its form), sold for $4,000, solidly surpassing its high estimate of $2,500. Also surpassing high estimate was a pair of Meissen covered urns, which garnered an impressive $9,000. Selling for solidly within estimate were a pair of Napoleon III boulle-style commodes, which earned $7,500, and a pair of Empire ormolu and patinated bronze ewers fetched $10,000. Rounding out this category, a slick 2012 Nissan 370 Z touring coupe sped off for $22,500.