This lot is exempt from Sales Tax.
On October 14, 1992, the first part of the Charsky collection of Antique Jewellery and Objects of Virtue was sold by Christie's in our Great Rooms at St. James' in London. With 550 lots, it was one of the largest single owner sales of Georgian and Victorian jewelry to be sold in living memory. On October 2, 2003, the remainder of the late Mrs. Francis Charsky's collection will be sold in New York. The contents of a crammed six-room apartment in Denver will form the core of the April "House Sale" at Rockefeller Center, while fine silver and English furniture, including a superb pair of George II arm chairs, will be among items included in specialised sales in the spring. The entire proceeds of these sales will be used to benefit various charities in her hometown.
Mrs. Charsky and her husband, Louis, formed the collection, or more correctly collections, during their semiannual visits to Europe between 1950 and 1970. They chose objects from leading European dealers, such as David Lavender, Wartski, S.J. Phillips, and Tessiers, as well as from small "country "shops, prestigious international shows and at auctions. While jewelry was their passion, their trips were devoted to searching for rare and unusual items in any collecting category. Their European holidays must have been spent in one long "antique hunt". Fabergé and silver were acquired, for example, from the Mecklenburg family sales at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg in 1952, superb Georgian furniture came from the Grosvenor House Antique Fairs in London, while fine treen and brass were purchased from shops all over England and Scotland.
Mrs. Charsky used to say of her jewelry- "I just saw something that I liked and that was that". The single-owner catalogue of her jewellery collection reveals a much more discriminating eye than this perhaps implies. It is a collection put together with taste, knowledge, enthusiasm and balance. It is a testament to the 19th century, with interesting and wearable bracelets, bangles, brooches, necklaces, pendants, parures, earrings, gold chains, rings, stick pins, miniature charms and fob seals. The subtleties of English romantic period jewellery are embodied in the gem-set endearments of the so-called "regard" jewellery of which she was particularly fond, i.e. pieces set with a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby again and a diamond. These, like other pieces decorated with lovebirds bearing forget-me-nots, were given, of course, as love tokens while the numerous snake bracelets she sort out were symbolic of eternal life.
Mrs. Charsky's jewellery collection was a very personal one. She had a critical eye for quality and condition. The pre-sale viewing and the sale itself will provide a wonderful opportunity to examine and obtain pieces at every level from what is virtually a study collection of late 18th and 19th century jewellery. Prices range from $1,000 to $20,000, giving every collector the possibility of finding something interesting.
The Charskys were profoundly influenced by a fellow collector who faced with the decision of what to do with his own possessions wrote: "It has been suggested that efforts should be made to retain the collection as an entity, but I do not subscribe to that view. If all such collections are caused to ossify (if not moulder) in museums, what will there be for future collectors to collect". Mrs Charsky wanted other collectors to enjoy the objects she had such pleasure in acquiring, owning and using - she wanted those objects "to pass", as she put it, "from loving hands to loving hands".
Mrs. Charsky also wanted the proceeds of the sale of her collections to go to the Denver Foundation to help to improve the lives of the citizens of Denver and the surrounding area. Founded in 1925, the Foundation will use the income derived from investing this legacy to give grants to non-profit organizations throughout the city and its hinterland, in four basic categories-arts and culture, civic and education, health and human service. In 2001 no less than 700 such organizations benefited from grants by the Foundation.
The sales then will provide a wide range of collectors the opportunity to acquire many varied and exceptional works of art which have not been on the market for at least a generation. Although their collections will be dispersed, Mr. and Mrs. Charsky's legacy, in both the material and immaterial sense of the word, will live on and be remembered in Denver for many, many years to come.