As collectors of stones from numerous countries and followers of the antiquity market, we often review serious auctions of fine viewing stones. Today’s post covers auctions that were held in Hong Kong, London and New York some time back. We hope that it encourages us to document our stones as we spoke of in one of our more recent blog posts.
As with any art market, there is a tremendous latitude in pricing. If you follow the Early American furniture market, you can be surprised, if not shocked, at the variability in prices for furniture.
In October, 2007, at a piecrust-top mahogany tea table, circa 1760, attributed to the “Garvan” carver of Philadelphia, sold for $6.76 million at Christie’s Oct. 3 sale and this doesn’t include the buyer’s premium.
We know what you are thinking, we’ve seen similar tea-tables with a single comma in their price. Why is this one so expensive?
The craftsman credited with the design of the table is considered the most accomplished carver working in Philadelphia in the 1750s and early 1760s and is known for a boldness and vigor in his carving. He is known solely by the body of surviving furniture bearing his distinctive hand. A tea table attributed to the Garvan carver is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
So craftsmanship, beauty and provenance sent this piece with an original estimate of $2-3 million to nearly $7 million. A bit too lofty for most of us I’m afraid.
So back to stones, as many of us have collected stones, or purchased them, what long-term aspirations do we have for them. We personally have 3 stones collected by Mas Nakajima, a highly influential suiseki collector from the West Coast, and for us personally this added great value to these stones. Not just because they were beautiful, but also because Mas found great value in them and most importantly because he personally collected them.
A beautiful Black Butte stone collected by Mas Nakajima and gifted to us. We subsequently hired Jerry Braswell to craft a rosewood daiza for it and we believe he did an excellent job. It was accepted and shown in the 4th Japan Suiseki Exhibition held February 10-13, 2017 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
I hope you see where we are going with this lengthy description. From Mas’ wonderfully talented eye in collecting the stone, to a well matched rosewood daiza to accompany it, to being selected for display at one of the world’s most prestigious stone shows. Keeping this documented for its future owners we believe adds value to the stone as well as making it even more collectible as an art object.
We hope you don’t take these past few paragraphs as some way of saying look at our collection, we simply don’t mean nor intend for it to be that. We are just passionate that we as collectors document objects in our collections for future generations.
Recently, we were fortunate to collect two well documented stones from Japan. These will be the topic of a future post; however, for today we would like to share with you some stones sold in a Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s Auction of Fine Chinese Ceramic and Works of Art
So lets’ take a few moments to share with you a number of works of art that sold during this auction.
A Small Porcelain Scholar’s Rock
This nationalistically molded porcelain scholar’s rock molded in the form of a craggy rock of irregular outline and deep undulating fissures, the porcelain a dark color with a fitted wood stand. The estimate was $800-1,200 USD and it sold for $12,500 USD.
When first observing this object, we remarked that it had a beautiful patina for a stone. Only until we read the caption did we discover this is in reality a porcelain representation as a stone. Very well done wouldn’t you say.
A Lingbi Scholar’s rock with inscription
In the shape of a mountain peak, of a silky smooth surface and pewter gray in color, with holes penetrating the crags, inscription carved onto small areas of the rock: Li da zhen wan (the favorable precious gift) and Shi Hanzi kuiwei nian, Sanlink zhi shi (the stone replaced at Sanlin, the guiwei year of Shi Hanzi) with wooden stand. Estimate $8,000 – 12,000 USD.
A Zitan Qing Dynasty, 18th Century
Naturalistically modeled in the form of a mountain with steep crests, small pits and crevasses, inscribed to the base with four characters reading Xinghua shanguan, the wood of a rich dark chocolate-brown tone with a matt finish. Estimate 3,000-5,000 GBP and sold at 5,250 GBP.
A Yellow Wax Stone Scholar’s Rock Qing Dynasty, 19th/19th Century
A yellow wax stone in horizontal orientation, naturalistically modeled with pits, deep crevasses and perforations, the textured stone of an orange-yellow tone with a matte finish, wood stand. Sold for 3,750 GBP.
A Large Huanglashi Scholars’ Rock
A Huanglashi Scholars’ rock with a narrow foot rising to a cloud-like plume, filled with perforations of various sizes, the stone of ivory color with caramel and crystalline inclusions, with a wood stand. Estimate $6,000-8,000 USD and sold for $6,250 USD.
A Qilian Scholar’s Rock
A Qilian Scholars’ rock of flattened form, the outline resembling two peaks with an overhang, the ‘eyes’ imparting a sense of lightness to the furrowed undulating surfaces, northern style wood stand. Estimate $6,000-8,000 and sold for $6,250.
A Yellow Wax Scholars’ Rock”
A Yellow Wax Scholars Rock with a weathered surface enlivened with rhythmically spaced hollows imparting a feeling of lightness, the profile resembling a swooping eagle, the mustard-yellow rock with some orange inclusions and waxy appearance. Provenance: Ian and Susan Wilson, San Francisco, CA, USA. Literature: Nicholas Grindley The Ian and Susan Wilson Collection of Chinese Scholars Rocks, London, 2009, no 61. Estimate $10,000-12,000 and sold for $18,750 USD.
An exquisite stone by very well known collectors. The texture, patina and stand are all superb.
John J. said:
Thanks for another great post and congrats on your submission of your stone to the Japanese Suiseki Exhibition. The porcelain scholar’s rock is nicely done. I’ve never seen something like that before.
Carl persaud said:
But what were some of the prices of the viewing stones, I picked one up today and it’s beautiful and I believe large as far as viewing Stones go, 16 in across in 14 inches high including the stand, Curious about its value and Putting it up for auction Any information will be greatly appreciated
Sam Edge said:
Carl, without seeing the stone it’s impossible to estimate the price. Viewing stones can range from a few dollars to tens of thousands.
Carl persaud said:
I would love to show you I don’t see where I can attach a file
I bought it from a couple who Got it in it antique store in China some 20 years ago. It’s different than the ones I see displayed here
Sam Edge said:
Carl, yes Chinese stones are often quite different. You can email it to samedge at pacbell dot net.