Monday, October 15, 2007

"Old Collections" at Bonham's

I was looking at the forthcoming highlights of the October 26, 2007 sale of antiquities at Bonham's, London. [I would have checked more of the catalogue but there seems to be an error on their website.]

The highlights include:

a. Lot 70, Egyptian cat. "French private collection. Accompanied by a French passport".

b. Lot 82, Egyptian glass inlay of Isis. "Frida Chacos in 1970". [I presume this is the same as Frida Tchachos.]

c. Lot 102, Roman cameo. "Ex private Hungarian collection. Acquired recently in Munich".

d. Lot 140, Byzantine bronze polycandelon. "Property of a European private collector, 1960s - present day".

e. Lot 164, Apulian volute-krater. "Property of a private English collector, acquired from a London dealer between 1997-2002, formerly in an English Private Collection in the 1950's".

f. Lot 173, Hellenistic silver skyphos. "Property of a European private collector, acquired in Germany before 2000."

g. Lot 174, Roman gilt silver bowl. "Property of a private Austrian collector. Acquired in 1982 from a Salzburg dealer."

h. Lot 175, Roman marble Bacchic figure. "Property of a private English lady, acquired in the early 1990s from the Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair."

i. Lot 176, Roman head of Apollo. "Property of a private English lady, acquired in 1990 at Sotheby's London."

j. Lot 183. Roman portrait head. "Ex French private collection. Acquired by the current owner in 1996."

k. Lot 216. Achaemenid silver kyathos. "Acquired by the current owner from Sotheby & Co. London in 1975." [It also notes, "This ladle is virtually identical to the example in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (1980.11.14)." = von Bothmer, Greek and Roman Treasury no. 62]

How many of these pieces have recorded and documented histories prior to 1970? Are any of these histories based on "word of mouth"? If so, which ones? Anonymous private collections draw suspicion in such contexts - and for good reason given what we now know about the trade in antiquities.

Bonham's claims:

"A dedicated team of specialists, professionals and administrators in each Bonhams location seeks, by commitment to client service and integrity, to establish Bonhams as the prime auction house of choice for buyers and sellers worldwide."


If integrity matters to the company, would Bonham's like to clarify the situation?

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