Bonhams & Butterfields SoMa Estate Sale Brings Nearly $600,000 in September

Bonhams & Butterfields, international auctioneers, opened its 2007 Fall auction season in San Francisco with an exciting and successful SoMa Estate Auction. The sale, which took place on September 16th& 17th , featured beautiful examples of 20th Century furniture and decorative arts, in addition to Native American art, toys and collectibles, and jewelry. The auction totaled nearly $600,000, with many items selling well above estimates.

Furniture was a particularly attractive section of the sale, with innovative designs from all over the globe selling at excellent prices. Danish Modernist Hans Wegner’s striking teak dining suite was an especially strong sale. The beautiful lines of the table and three ‘Heart’ chairs inspired competitive bidding, ultimately drawing $3,300. Another highlight was a set of chairs from the San Francisco-based McGuire Furniture Company. The lot boasted eight rattan ‘Regency’ dining chairs, and far surpassed an estimate of $400-600, fetching $3,600. Italian designer Antonio Citterio’s green upholstered settee, offered with a companion armchair, sold for $3,300. Bonhams & Butterfields began including a section within the monthly sales dedicated to 20th Century design earlier in the year. “We have had a very strong response from buyers and collectors in the Bay Area and will continue to consign items of 20th century design in our future sales,” said Christine Larson, SoMa Estate Auction Director.

Another auction highlight was a signed and dated seascape painting of a ship by American painter Gideon Jacques Denny. This dramatic painting, bearing the signature “G.J. Denny 1880” in the lower right corner, easily outsold its estimate of $1,500-2,500, bringing $9,600. Another notable sale was a late 19th-century silver entrée dish with cover by Vanderslice & Co., from the San Francisco estate of Donald Ritchie. The dish, featuring stag’s head masks as handles and a domed lid bearing a recumbent stag, sold for $5,400.

Native American Art was another successful section, as competitive bidding brought prices for these items to exceptional highs. A large Hawaiian wood bowl on a separate stand brought $3,000, more than doubling its initial estimate. An intricately beaded Crow bridle with red pigment and yarn accents drew $3,300. A particularly fascinating lot was a pair of colorful Northwest Coast masks, including “Killer Whale” (Kaa-Kaa-Whin) and a depiction of a frog/human. The dynamic masks sold for $1,020.

Marbles were something of a dark horse, with several lots of the quintessential American children’s toy selling well above initial estimates. Bonhams & Butterfields had the honor of presenting the collection of Norman Brown, a late Californian who’d amassed what is likely the largest single-owner collection of toy marbles ever to be sold at an auction. The exciting collection lured a wide assortment of serious and amateur collectors alike, and strong bidding pushed the one-time playground currency to unprecedented levels.

One highlight from the collection included a grouping of Christensen “Flames” manufactured by the marble magnate MF Christensen & Son Company, which operated from 1902-1917. Highly competitive bidding brought the final price for this beloved toy to an impressive $6,300, shooting far beyond its estimate of $300-500. Another wildly successful lot was a grouping of “Oxbloods,” featuring a delicious collection of egg yolks, blue swirls, lemonades and other corkscrews. This particular grouping drew $2,160.

As Bonhams & Butterfields Toys and Collectibles specialist Jim Friedman stated prior to the sale, “If we’d had any idea these objects would be as valuable as they are today, kids from the sandbox and marble circles would have done well to leave their marbles in their pockets for their grandson’s treasury!” Bonhams & Butterfields’ SoMa Estate Auctions are a monthly event, the auction house routinely offering a wide assortment of exceptional pieces which will spark the interest of established and amateur designers in search of wonderful objects to redecorate a room or an entire house. See for an illustrated catalogue, sale dates and more information.