The Caza Blog
Everything we know.
In one webpage.
Even though we hate blogs.
Art people can be pretentious. With closely guarded secrets, and big made-up words like “craquelure”, the industry is designed to confuse people. This blog is aimed to demystify all things art and antiques, for the masses.
How to tell the difference between a real painting versus a gicleé
How to tell if something is gold, silver, or something else
So, the key to knowing if you have valuable jewelry or other metals such as tableware and silverware is determining the contents of the metals. Fortunately, for years jewelers and silversmiths have been marking their wares with very small impressions that serve as clues for people hundreds of years later. These impressions makes it easy for jewelry appraisal and estate evaluations.
Get a loupe
The easiest way to find a mark is to get a jewelers loupe — a tiny magnifying tool that can be found on Amazon for a few bucks. Tnen go hunting for marks. There are a number of resources out there on the web to consult. The Cliffs Notes version is this: for gold, look for markings of the karat composition — 10K, 14K, 18K and so on. GF means gold filled, and is low on the value scale. For silver, it’s a bit more complex. American examples will say “Sterling.” British examples have a proprietary taxonomy, but all British sterling will have the mark of a lion. Makers from other countries sometimes will simply write 925 (meaning 92.5% sterling).
Do you have a valuable print? Look no further than the margin.
Don’t be scurrrrred. Auctions are easy. Here are some tips.
Most auction houses have variable Buyer’s Premiums (BP) based on how you purchase. For example, we charge 28% if you buy on a third party auction platform like Live Auctioneers, 25% if you purchase on cazasikes.com, but then only 23% if you bid by phone. That savings of 5% adds up when you are bidding on expensive items.
New York > Louisville > Cincinnati > Hong Kong
The journey of a 3000+ year old Chinese bronze
We often sees interesting objects that hopeful consignors offer for analysis and potential sale. When the phone chimed recently with the prospects of auctioning the contents of the Man O’ War Horse Farm in Louisville, KY, the expectation was an estate full of equestrian art, and (hopefully) rare bourbon. That was not to be.
Decades ago, the horse farm with the iconic resident was purchased by a couple from New York City – Michael and Reiko Baum (Sakagami). He, a renaissance man with a successful framing business. She, a Japanese-born artist and socialite who palled around in high-culture circles, was involved in the formation of New York’s Japanese tea society. They lived for decades in a six-story brownstone in New York, complete with a custom and meticulously curated rooftop Japanese garden. Upon their passing, all of the contents of the home were sent to Lexington to be stored.
In lieu of horse paintings (maybe there were a couple), the modernized estate where the famous thoroughbred Man O’ War “studded” and lived out his final days, was filled with modern art and ceramics, rare prints, Asian antiquities and a selection of art created by the Baums. There were more than 100 delicate Chinese yixing teapots – the lifelong collection of Reiko. There were modernist prints from names like Albers, Picasso and others. And there was one inconspicuous Asian bronze, a Chinese serving vessel of unknown age, that was packed on the truck with all the other art for a short trek back to Cincinnati for processing.
After all the items were researched, cataloged and photographed, the auction launched for preview on the major online bidding platforms. The preview period, roughly 2-3 weeks before the day of the auction, provides a keen sense of what items will attract the most interest and bidding come auction day. Of the more than 300 items in the collection, packed with works from museum-worthy artists, it was the little Chinese bronze attracting all the questions and bidding registrations.
Come auction day, Caza Sikes had multiple people registered to bid by phone, and thousands of bidders watching online. The bronze, possibly from the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 B.C.), attracted heavy bidding on the phones and online. As the price increased, the bidders dropped one by one, leaving two online bidders duking it out in the realm of the high-five-figures. When the hammer dropped, the winning bidder had agreed to pay $102,400 for the item – the top lot of the sale. Often, little is known about buyers of such objects, but we do know this item now heads to Hong Kong, either to reside in a private collection, or to be dealt for what would assuredly be an even higher price tag.
Caza Sikes holds six auctions each year and sells objects from (but not limited to) the following categories: fine and decorative art, art pottery, modernist works and prints, collectibles, rare coins, folk art, Asian art and antiquities. They take consignments of single exceptional items and entire collections/estates. Bidders come from all 50 states and countries across the globe. Graydon Sikes, one of the owners, is a featured appraiser on PBS’s hit show, The Antiques Roadshow.
See the object that fetched six figures: