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    Sale 5951

    Antiquities Including the Plesch Collection of Ancient Glass

    28 April 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 1

    A COLLECTION OF ANCIENT GLASS BOOKS AND CATALOGUES

    Price Realised  

    A COLLECTION OF ANCIENT GLASS BOOKS AND CATALOGUES
    Including G. A. Eisen, Glass, I-II, New York, 1927; F. Neuburg, Ancient Glass, London, 1962; Ancient Glass in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, 1962; O. Doppelfeld, Römisches und fränkisches Glas in Köln, Köln, 1966; M. G. Dikshit, History of Indian Glass, Bombay, 1967; E. Spartz, Antike Gläser, Kassel, 1967; A. von Saldern, Gläser der Antike: Sammlung Erwin Oppenländer, Hamburg, 1974; J. W. Hayes, Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1975; A. Engle, Readings in Glass History, 1-21, Jerusalem, 1973-1988; Ancient Glass: Formerly the Kofler-Truniger Collection, Christie's London, 5-6 March 1985; and a quantity of catalogues from Gawain McKinley, Charles Ede Ltd, and Sheppard and Cooper Ltd (a lot)


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    Provenance

    Plesch collection.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PLESCH COLLECTION OF ANCIENT GLASS

    Peter and Traudi Plesch met in 1959 in Staffordshire and married four years later. Both were refugees from Nazi persecution, Peter having left Germany in 1933 and Traudi Austria in 1938. Coming from a family of art collectors, Peter Plesch had already formed a fine collection of European glass when they met, as well as Chinese and Japanese art. One influence had been his maternal great uncle, Fritz von Gans, who had left his antiquities' collection to the Royal Prussian Museum, Berlin. However, on their honeymoon in Israel, Traudi fell for the lure of ancient glass which inspired a new joint adventure, the one criterion for a purchase being that she and Peter should both want the object, although not necessarily with the same passion. The frequent invitations given to Peter Plesch to lecture worldwide on Cationic Polymerisation, his specialism at Keele University, afforded the couple the opportunity of scouring antique shops in many countries for antique glass and other works of art. Thus their collection of ancient glass was formed slowly and wisely over four decades, reflecting their desire to have beautiful, but also academically meaningful pieces. They were invited to lend some of their major glass pieces to The Glass Circle's 25th and 50th anniversary exhibitions.

    Traudi Plesch's interest in ancient glass and her lectures thereon were a small part of her major life's work, which was volunteering locally and spearheading fundraising, whether for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, the Police Dependants Trust, the British Heart Foundation or the NSPCC as local president, amongst her many other charities. Her work was recognised in 1988 with an M.B.E. for "fundraising for charities" and, in 2000, with an O.B.E. for "services to the County of Staffordshire". A local newspaper referred to her as the "Robin Hood of the Westlands", the area of Newcastle-under-Lyme where they lived.

    One of their most rewarding trips was returning in 2002 to the Villa Lemm, at Gatow on the Havel outside Berlin, the former holiday home of Peter's parents, Janos and Melanie Plesch. It was here that a small flat in the gardener's cottage had been put at the disposal of Albert Einstein, Professor Janos Plesch's patient and friend. There Einstein was out of reach of unwelcome visitors and could sail his beloved boat. An exhibition held in 2004 at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on the professional Jewish bourgeoisie of circa 1830-1933 featured a painting of the Plesch family in 1928 by the German post-impressionist painter, Max Slevogt. It also included documents, photographs, clothing and other objects from the Plesch household.

    Theirs has been a long and enduring partnership and it is only now that Traudi and Peter Plesch have left their beloved home for a smaller residence, that they are parting with their glass collection, in the hope that other collectors will have the pleasure of owning some of these rare and exquisite artefacts.


    How I started to collect glass
    by Traudi Plesch


    When I married Peter, my second husband, in 1963, I obviously wanted to share in his activities and enthusiasms. Since I had no scientific background of any kind, I had no hope or any wish to participate in the chemistry part of his life, but his appetite for collecting many different kinds of artistic artefacts did appeal to me. During my childhood in Vienna, I visited many museums and had been surrounded by Viennese pictures and furnishings of the 19th and 20th century, so that I had a grounding and liking for artistic surroundings.

    My great love for ancient Mediterranean glass was started by a few pieces in Peter's collection and through visits to Israel, but I was really made aware of it through a rare chance. When, on one of Peter's American consulting journeys, we landed in New York, an arts-aware friend there had procured for us the catalogue of an Antiquities' sale, the distribution of which had been delayed by a postal strike. Thus at the sale only a very few dealers and collectors were present in the room, so that they and I were in the right place at the right time, which is what every collector dreams of. Peter was not with me but, nonetheless, I was able to make some outstanding purchases of Egyptian and Roman glass at very low cost to my delight and the great annoyance of those whose catalogues had arrived too late
    .


    A Cataloguing System for the Perplexed Collector
    by Peter Plesch


    I want to offer help to perplexed collectors by explaining the cataloguing system which I devised in the late 1950s when I started my collection.

    Each piece in the collection is given an unambiguous code mark which is put on the collector's name-label attached to each piece. Each object is classified in one of a few categories by type of material which is denoted by a capital letter, for instance A for animal materials, AG for ancient glass, H for hardstones and all other minerals, W for wood and all other plant materials. The shape of the piece is denoted by a lower case letter, as with h for hollow-ware such as bowls, v for vases, s for statuary. The third element of the code number is the largest dimension of the piece in cm or, if smaller, in mm. Pieces with the same code number are distinguished by capital letters, as in lots 38 (AGv 13), 74 (AGv 13A) and 30 (AGv 13D). NOT to be incorporated in the code number are the following: structural features, alleged geographical, cultural or ethnic origin, alleged age, subdivision of any material category, eg. gold, lead, brass, bronze, copper are all M for Metal, and earthenware, china, porcelain are all C for Ceramics.

    To make the method effective, every object must have its card or computer equivalent, detailing a description, measurement and photograph, when, where, from whom and for how much it was bought, the insurance value updated every two or three years, presumed country of origin, region and date of production, and all exhibition details. The reason for attaching a label to each piece is that it establishes provenance and pedigree and, therefore, enhances the value of the piece. This is an informative, very useful and convenient system for identifying objects, not only for the collector, but for insurance schedules and for testamentary dispositions. In the following catalogue entries, each lot includes its Plesch code mark.



    THE PROPERTY OF MRS TRAUDI PLESCH, O.B.E. AND PROFESSOR PETER H. PLESCH
    Lots 1-97

    The following lot is sold not subject to return