• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2259

    Important Objects of Vertu, English, Continental and American Silver

    22 May 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1


    GENEVA, CIRCA 1830

    Price Realised  


    GENEVA, CIRCA 1830
    Oval, the cover enameled with the port of Istanbul, featuring the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, the base enameled with a Swiss lakeside scene, the sides with four lakeside panels, the borders and sides with champlevé red and green enamel leaves against a celadon ground, the interior cover enameled with a flower basket against a puce ground, with conforming champlevé enamel against a blue ground, apparently unmarked
    3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm.) long

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Pre-Lot Text


    The interwoven history of silver and wine is deeply rooted in tradition, ceremony and ritual. Playing integral roles from religious ceremonies to wedding toasts, both silver and wine are befitting of the most elegant of occasions and settings. Christie's silver auction presents a special selection of wine accessories that will appeal to seasoned silver connoisseurs as well as those who simply enjoy fine food and drink.

    Silver wine goblets exemplify the harmonious partnership between silver and wine. This sale includes three sets of goblets by the influential 20th century Danish designer Georg Jensen, celebrated for his modern and highly original hollowware, flatware and jewelry. Further accents for the wine-lover's table include a pair of wine coasters, whose traditional felt undersides allowed the bottles to slide smoothly down the length of wooden tables. An exceptional selection of silver wine funnels used for decanting wine, a pair of elegant Victorian claret jugs and a modern champagne cooler round out this impressive offering. More than just decorative symbols of status and refinement, these silver pieces offer practical additions to any table.

    The Silver Menagerie

    This May, elephants, tigers, and monkeys will move to the center ring in a grand celebration of playful refinement. Our May auction presents an exceptional group of silver and hardstone animals, ranging from a delightful silver parrot inkwell and turtle bell to a whimsical elephant band from Asprey. An important highlight of the group is this silver and enamel miniature circus from Tiffany & Co. Created by the firm's legendary window designer Gene Moore (who most notably brought to life the window displays of Tiffany's Fifth Avenue store), a miniature carousel and ferris wheel accompany the caparisoned elephants, trained tigers and roller-skating bear, embodying the imagination, fantasy and creativity of this collection from the storied American silver firm.


    When you have been brought up in a laughter-dappled and antique-filled house where seven children were raised, along with many dogs, well, the eyes and heart occasionally get whelmed, from all that elegance and pulchritude.

    Mum and Dad began collecting seriously in the mid-1950s in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, and London. Mum was self-taught, but had an eye for beautiful things. "Jeannie was never frightened away by a large pricetag," one dealer remembers. "She was discriminating, but she knew what she liked." Whether in a shop on Madison Avenue or Bond Street, Dad might ask (rhetorically) if they really needed another Queen Anne stool or Georgian silver salver, knowing that wasn't the point. Or he'd wonder, out loud, where on earth they would put the next chest-of-drawers or the Queen Anne settee. "Somewhere," was generally Mum's cheerful, non-committal answer, offered with her blazing smile, "God I love it!!"

    Dad was a very patient husband. He was in charge of reining Mum in, of keeping her passionate, infectious antique collecting in some sort of perspective. Mum relied on him for that counsel because she rarely saw an expensive piece of silver, porcelain or furniture she could live without. She also depended - utterly - upon him for the shipping details, the customs correspondence, and initial queries about, say, fourteen George II dining room chairs Mum just happened to see advertised in Country Life magazine.

    Together they were a formidable team. And they had so darn much fun traveling and collecting together, even if it was to an antique store in Victoria, which got a lot of their trade in the beginning. But it was in the 1960s that they began taking yearly trips to London in June -- a tradition that would last for more than four decades. It was the same in New York, every autumn for forty+ years. Hitting the Seventh Regiment Armory antique fair, opening night, with the charming Peter Duchin, and the redoubtable Pat Buckley, the Vancouver-raised daughter of my grandfather's business partner.

    After Dad died in 1998, New York was too painful for Mum, too full of graced memories with Dad. "We were of an era and of a time," she said on our last trip there together.

    Cleaning out the drawers, I found hundreds of bills of sale, for instance a receipt, from 1986, for a miniature. It is from somewhere called, "Ordinary, VA." I never remember my parents going anywhere near Virginia. And there certainly was nothing remotely ordinary about their antique collection.

    Nancy Southam
    Vancouver, Canada
    April 2009


    Coming upon the Truesdell collection of silver, Baroque bronzes, Renaissance works of art, and Old Master paintings is a delightful surprise. The severely restrained façade of Il Palazzetto, the Truesdell house in Baltimore, gives little away. But the works of art within immediately recall the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the period when American buyers such as J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick and Samuel Kress were seeking out great works of European art. Connoisseurship was an essential skill for building such a collection, something acquired only by spending hours examining the objects -- an almost non-existent luxury in this day and age -- and a skill that was clearly put to use in forming this group of silver.

    The collector, Professor Clifford Ambrose Truesdell, was himself extraordinary -- an enfant terrible in the field of mathematics, an expert on Baroque music, and an accomplished humanities scholar who spoke six languages and read classical Greek and Latin. His great love of Italy, reflected in his fine art collection, was no doubt entwined with the fact that he won all of the top Italian awards in his field, and his personal papers are now in the Library of the University of Pisa.

    Long after many similar collections have been scattered and, having remained off the market for more than 40 years, the Truesdell Collection presents a tremendously exciting opportunity.

    LOTS 1-36