1861 Paquet Double Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 7.2M by Heritage
The San Francisco Paquet is a well documented regular issue of 19,250 coins. The current survivors have been circulated and no mint state specimen is known. On the opposite the Philadelphia Paquet is one of the rarest numismatic varieties with only two examples known, both in mint state, respectively graded MS67 and MS61 by PCGS.
The story begins in 1859 with a concern about an excessive cracking of reverse dies during striking. In Philadelphia the assistant engraver Anthony Paquet manages to propose some modifications which are accepted for the 1861 strike, although the impact on the original die problem is questionable. Concerned about readability, he improved the letters and reduced the edges, thus increasing the effective area of the engraved figure.
Sets of dies including that reverse are shipped to the subsidiary mints in San Francisco and New Orleans in November and December 1860. They are accompanied by an instruction stating that the new reverse die "is presenting a larger face for the device without changing the diameter of the piece. They will require a slight change in the milling to suit the border".
When it comes to start the new millesime in Philadelphia, it appears that the striking difficulty is bigger than expected. On January 5 the Mint Director stops the use of the Paquet reverse and sends instructions to do the same at the subsidiaries. The mail forwarded to San Francisco by the Pony Express arrived too late, when the first releases had been made. Another issue was that the new coins did not stack properly. No coin had been released from Philadelphia where the production with the Paquet reverse was totally melted with no survivor known.
The two Philadelphia coins have a rearrangement of the reverse design clearly intended to deal with the technical issue. Indeed their strike is perfect, but it was certainly obtained with the higher pressure from a medal press. This operation is not documented at the Mint. It is now believed that they were pattern coins prepared for saving the design for the next year.
The coin graded MS67 was sold for $ 7.2M by Heritage on August 18, 2021, lot 3471. On August 7, 2014, Heritage sold for $ 1.65M the other Paquet coin from Philadelphia, graded MS61 by PCGS with a perfect reverse, lot 5702.
Interestingly the difference between the basic and Paquet designs did not disturb the users. The San Francisco Paquet coins were not differentiated until the 1930s while the two Philadelphia coins were first sold at auction in 1865 and 1875 respectively.
The 1861 Paquet Reverse double eagle is one of the rarest coins in American #numismatics, and this example stands at the absolute pinnacle of rarity and exquisite condition.— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 11, 2021
August 18 - 22 ANA WFOM US Coins Signature Event, No. 1333 https://t.co/MmkBNpnJan#HeritageAuctions pic.twitter.com/sQ6M1NKnYH
1862 The Darings of Courbet
2015 SOLD for $ 15.3M including premium
He is provocative. Taking the format of an epic painting on a large size, 315 x 668 cm, L'Enterrement à Ornans makes a scandal in 1850. Proudhon is delighted.
The second empire, decreed in 1852, marks the return in France of a prudish censorship that sends its policemen against a pornography now facilitated by photography. For the artists opponent to the regime of Napoléon III, the nude becomes a challenge.
The deliberate ugliness enters the theme of the nude in 1853 with Les Baigneuses by Courbet. Even Ingres, yet close to the government, is interested in this new approach. His Bain Turc, on which he worked for ten years, is an unprecedented erotic accumulation that takes Orientalism as an excuse to avoid reprisals.
On November 9 in New York, Christie's sells a Femme nue couchée, oil on canvas 75 x 97 cm painted by Courbet in 1862, lot 10A estimated $ 15M.
The woman viewed in full length is reclining on a bed, her head turned in a rest position, looking like some replica of the Venus of Urbino but without the discreet hand. Her offering attitude and the half undone stocking reveal that a sexual activity was just completed. The provocation of the picture is increased by a surrounding in romanticist style with a curtain and a landscape.
Such women by Courbet represent a milestone in modern French painting. On one hand, new private customers invite Courbet to even more daring pictures. On the other hand, Manet does not hesitate to confront the scandal with Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Olympia.
1862 Portrait of the Artist as an Old Tiger
2018 SOLD for $ 9.9M including premium
The artist appreciates that passion is not a human exclusivity and he loves the powerful savagery of tigers and lions. A great admirer of Rubens, he is inspired by the whirlwind of his hunting scenes.
An artist needs real models, although Dürer's rhinoceros is a wonderful exception. Géricault is passionate about horses and Raden Saleh remembers big game hunting. For his tigers and lions, Delacroix looks at his pet cat and at stuffed animals in the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle. Fortunately the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes hosts a tiger from 1847.
In 1862 the artist feels old and tired. The tiger remained his emblem and his friends flatter him by comparing his behavior with the anthropocentric emotions attributed to this animal. Delacroix imagines confrontations with reptiles. Facing the threat of the snake, the big cat no longer knows how he can still win.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells Tigre jouant avec une tortue, oil on canvas 45 x 62 cm painted in 1862, lot 3 estimated $ 5M.
As ever the animal behavior is fanciful. A fully grown tiger no longer plays because game is used by cubs to train in hunting. This one with a paw on the tortoise is stopping as if he waited some advice. The tortoise disturbed and threatened by the predator omitted to close its shell.
François de Ricqlès, President of Christie’s France, explains how this exceptional Romantic work that ‘marks the beginning of modernity’ also speaks to the Rockefeller family’s long and mutually admiring relationship with France. Check it out here: https://t.co/8QpCJrNHVH pic.twitter.com/alUUMid0bs— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) March 25, 2018
1863 US Grant's Remington Revolvers
2022 SOLD for $ 5.2M by RIAC
Remington released in 1863 their New Model Army revolver. The serial numbers 1 and 2 were presented in the summer or fall of 1863 or in early 1864 to Grant as a cased set by two veterans made wealthy from the cotton trade. The ivory grips were carved in raised relief with his bust on one side and US attributes including the flying eagle on the opposite side. These unsigned figures were made by the master engraver Louis D. Nimschke.
Hidden from public view, the pair surfaced on display in the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show in 2018. Offered in its deluxe rosewood case, was sold for $ 5.2M from a lower estimate of $ 1M by RIAC on May 13, 2022, lot 106. Both revolvers are in excellent condition with a deep sharp engraving. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Russia, which was a staunch ally to the Union, followed that example. In 1864, after a visit of the Russian fleet to the USA, their government commissioned another pair from the same model for presentation to Tsar Alexander II. Their ivory grips are decorated in raised relief, the left side with the Russian double headed eagle and the opposite side with the same US attributes as on the Grant revolvers. Nimschke signed these pieces with his trademark.
Re-united in 1991 by a keen historian after being separated since the Russian Revolution, the Russian pair in an exceptionally fine condition was sold for $ 460K by RIAC on May 15, 2021, lot 1158.
1864 The Quest for the Golden Age
2016 SOLD for £ 3.3M including premium
His career is glorious but his life is controversial. This keen traveler is clearly not interested in the English culture. He chooses his themes from mythology to prevent and possibly even push away the religion. He never communicates on his personal life and does not marry but he knows how to communicate enthusiasm in his teaching.
For thirty years from 1864 Leighton built a fantastic house to shelter his collections which will be dispersed by Christie's in 1896 through nine consecutive days of sales. Within this group his collection of Iznik ceramics was exceptional.
Leighton believes that art should bring a depth of thought rather than emotion or virtuosity. His colors are bright but his line is too sharp and the next century will forget him. He is the friend of the pre-Raphaelites who come in his salon to chat and drink brandy.
Leighton admires Cimabue, Giorgione and Titian. In 1864 he sought for the Golden Age in the Italian past which he links with the arts. To stand him aside from the pre-Raphaelites, his trend is called Aestheticism. The Painter's Honeymoon shows a newlywed couple in Venetian cloth. The young woman is leaning to better follow the movement of the artist's hand.
The same couple comes back in Golden Hours. The woman is seen from behind. Elbows on the piano, she observes the man who is playing. As in the Honeymoon, the hand has the essential role of creating or transmitting art that itself transcends time. Golden Hours, oil on canvas 80 x 125 cm, is estimated £ 3M for sale by Christie's in London on June 30, lot 4.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
1864 Lincoln's Fatal Blow to Slavery
2010 SOLD 3.8 M$ including premium
At the promised date, January 1, 1863, Lincoln proclaimed an executive order abolishing slavery in the ten states on which he had no control.
This strategy is of paramount political skill. It confirms that in the mind of Lincoln the end of slavery is the main issue of the American Civil War. Without alienating the states loyal to the Union, it gave such a boost to the slaves that their emancipation had no more obstacles, entering into the constitution through the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.
One hundred years later, the Kennedy brothers are considering new advances for civil rights. The murder of the President does not slow down the ardor of his brother. In 1964, Robert Kennedy bought at auction at Parke-Bernet a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln.
This document is again for sale on December 10 in New York by Sotheby's (Parke-Bernet's successor). It is estimated $ 1M, and illustrated in the press release shared by Paul Fraser Collectibles.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate of this prestigious lot was undervalued. It was sold for $ 3.8 million including premium.
This document printed and signed in 1864 is bearing the autograph signatures of Abraham Lincoln and of Secretary of State William Seward.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by Sotheby's :
1865-1870 A Maharajah converts to Islam
2009 SOLD 5.5 M$ including premium
He commissioned the creation of a carpet in pearls and gems, whose beauty can be worthy of the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina. This work unique in its kind was made, but the Maharaja died in 1870 before the gift was made. The carpet was retained by the family, and remained there for over a hundred years.
It looks in its patterns like a textile carpet centered with three rosettes, and otherwise based on the millefleurs motif fashioned in India in the previous century. It consists of two millions of natural pearls, hundreds of gems of all kinds and a countless colored glass beads.
Sotheby's, which sells it in Doha on March 19, does not publish the estimate but only the starting bid: 5 MUS$. For the moment it is the most extraordinary artwork that has been announced for auction this year.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sensing the difficulties in the market for Islamic art, Sotheby's had lowered its starting bid at $ 4.5 million. They have done well. The carpet of pearls was sold at $ 4.8 million hammer, $ 5.5 million including fees.
1867 Ideal Women by Rossetti
2013 SOLD 4.6 M£ including premium
His art combining painting, poetry, music and the expression of feelings became highly original, anticipating Klimt. He isolated himself from other artists but his life remained unconventional and romantic. His act of burying his unpublished poems in his wife's grave is spectacular but attests to his difficult relationship with the world.
On December 4 in London, Sotheby's sells A Christmas Carol, oil on panel 46 x 38 cm painted by Rossetti in 1867, estimated £ 4M.
The young woman in highly colored exotic dress plays a two-stringed mandolin. She is completely absorbed by this activity. The Christian inspiration evoked by the title is confirmed by an image of the Holy Family on the wall.
The artist's work was a meticulous quest for perfection. Two other versions are known with the same composition. A study in pencil is in the British Museum, and a red and white chalk drawing in same size as the oil was sold for £ 360K including premium at Christie's on November 21, 2007.
The worsening mental problems of Rossetti did not diminish his artistic creativity. A beautiful Proserpine made with colored chalks, 120 x 56 cm, dated 1880, was sold for £ 3.3 million including premium by Sotheby's on November 19, 2013.
POST SALE COMMENT
This charming painting by Rossetti won £ 4.6 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video in which Sotheby's introduces A Christmas Carol as one of three outstanding paintings from the Leverhulme collection :
1867 WH Hunt, Pre-Raphaelite and Romantic
2014 SOLD 2.9 M£ including premium
In 1866, Hunt was working on Isabella, the poignant poem by Keats combining youth, love and death, directly related to a tale by the greatest medieval storyteller, Boccaccio.
Tragedy strikes also the artist in his personal life : Fanny Hunt dies two months after the birth of their child. He loved his wife and was deeply shocked. Isabella, his masterpiece, is a post-mortem tribute to Fanny.
As in the poem, the hallucinated young women has forgotten any thing from actual life. She comes in sleepwear caressing the pot of basil which contains the head of her murdered lover. The basil was used in the Middle Ages to accompany the dead.
The life size oil on canvas 187 x 116 cm completed in 1868 is kept at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Hunt also painted a small version 61 x 39 cm dated 1867, now deaccessioned by the Delaware Art Museum to be sold by Christie's in London on June 17. It is estimated £ 5M.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Pre-Raphaelite art is often difficult to sell. Isabella was sold for £ 2.9 million including premium, far below the estimate.
1868 Scandal amidst the Roses
2014 SOLD for £ 2.9M including premium
In 1868, he painted Venus Verticordia, a Latin term which means that the goddess plays the role of protector of female chastity. This painting is the best nude by Rossetti and a masterpiece of erotic symbolism.
The warrior woman is authoritative. She firmly holds two weapons. Her apple threw such a discord among men that it generated the Trojan War, yet the fruit is also peacefully or surreptitiously feeding the butterfly. Cupid's arrow is just another source of havoc. She holds it ambiguously as if it were Lucretia's dagger.
Apple leads to Eve, and it is no coincidence that the thick red hair of Rossetti's Venus is surrounded by a halo. In the previous year, his Christmas carol had already approached the theme of the position of the woman in the Christian civilization.
Below the nude breast, the body of Venus is hidden by an abundant rose bush, another voluptuous symbol. John Ruskin went into a rage when he saw the flowers on this painting.
He was probably right not to consider it only as a pre-Raphaelite symbol. Since his marriage failed by lack of consummation in 1846, his approach to women was a subject of ridicule. A recent attempt to restart his life had also just failed, with a very young woman named Rose.
The Venus of Rossetti fortunately pleased other amateurs and the artist made some replicas. A watercolor 67 x 59 cm, also dated 1868, is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 10, lot 8.