(NOKOMIS, FL) – Self made American millionaire William Boyce Thompson (1869-1930), an industrialist and mining mogul, was part of the American Red Cross Mission sent to turbulent Russia in 1917 after the February Revolution and the overthrow of the Czar. The purpose of the Mission was to find ways to feed the hungry populace while the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky tried to stabilize the country. Thompson donated $1 million of his own money to the cause, in vain it turned out, because the Bolsheviks came to power after the second Revolution in October and discarded all outside aid efforts.

But Thompson’s trip was not entirely without results. While in Russia he used his considerable wealth to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire a number of major Russian art treasures under favorable circumstances. One of those treasures was a relatively large 6 inch, elaborately decorated gilt bronze Easter egg once presented to Peter I by a prime minister. The egg will soon be presented again, this time for sale at Don Elder’s Fine Art & Antiques Auction during the two week online sale hosted by iGavel February 18 – March 3. Elder expects the egg to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000.

Another treasure, this one from the East, bears the Qianlong reign mark of 18th century China. A large vase and cover, 9 inches tall, carved entirely from white jade having an unusual color called “white water,” features a highly stylized taotie mask on the body with an interior chair carved attaching the lid to the body. The taotie mask represents the face of a mythological man-eating beast from ancient Chinese legend. The vase was originally purchased from Gump’s in San Francisco in 1926. Gump’s, founded in 1861, has long been a marketplace for Asian, American and European art objects. The magnificent vase has a pre sale estimate of $10,000/$15,000. Also in the inventory is a large statue of a court lady of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, 618-907 A.D.

What is expected to be the top lot of the sale has a much younger provenance. It is a necklace made by French jewelry firm Cartier in the 1950s containing a breathtaking assemblage of jadeite, onyx, platinum and diamonds. This elegant ornament has a pre sale estimate of $20,000/$30,000.

American art will be represented by eighteen examples of works by Ben Wilson (1913-2001). Wilson was among the little recognized painters of the Abstract Expressionist school of the 1930s through the 1960s but whose work is now beginning to gain popularity. He was nurtured in the “Project”, the WPA of the Depression era, attending the National Academy of Design, 1930-33, graduating from City College of New York in 1935 and from Academie Julien in Paris 1953-54. His work was influenced by cubism in the 1950s and he evolved a vocabulary of interlocking shapes and bold sweeping gestures that served as a transition from his early figurative expressionism to his later more abstract constructivist works. Wilson kept a large portion of his body of work for himself and this sale represents a rare opportunity to acquire a variety of pieces by this important American artist. The sale will also include two works by Wilson’s wife, sculptor Evelyn Wilson.

For more information on this sale call auction owner Don Elder at Elder’s Antiques, (941) 488-1005, visit the website at for a preview or email [email protected] Elder’s Antiques is located at 901 Tamiami Trail (US 41) South, Nokomis, Florida 34275.