Archive for January, 2012

From Myth to Masterpiece: Viennese Rock Crystal

January 31st, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau

Australian aborigines called it the “stone of light” and the Celts believed its prismatic properties linked it to the sun. Even the fortuneteller’s rudimentary crystal ball was originally crafted of the mysteriously alluring mineral we refer to today as rock crystal.

Rock crystal, or clear quartz, has been revered by nearly every ancient culture in history. It’s clear, ice-like appearance, enhanced by light refracting fissures gave the mineral an air of mystique that carried on well into the Renaissance. The mineral’s innate beauty piqued the interest of 14th-century European royals and aristocrats and they began amassing stunning collections that largely included rock crystal objets d’art in rooms known as “curiosity cabinets.” Even today, many royal collections throughout the world contain pieces crafted of rock crystal.

The use of rock crystal in the creation of precious objects required highly skilled artisans that were proficient in a multitude of disciplines, including gem cutter, jeweler, goldsmith, and enamelist. No other group of craftsmen excelled in this art better than the Viennese. Their ability to marry so many varied techniques, with the utmost level of perfection and beauty, led to the creation of the most exquisite objects of virtu ever made.

This resplendent Viennese charger is inset with nine intricately engraved panels of rock crystal

This brilliant Rock Crystal Charger of Chateau de Chenonceau is believed to have been commissioned by the daughter of Scottish businessman Daniel Wilson, who purchased the Chateau de Chenonceaux for her in 1864. Created by a Viennese craftsman of obviously tremendous skill, a precise rendering of the chateau is carved into the central panel of rock crystal, while the surrounding insets are etched with an intricate network of Neoclassical scrolls. The silver and silver gilt frame of the charger boasts relief figures adorned with vivid enamel, pearls, rubies and emeralds. In terms of history and craftsmanship, this is arguably the finest example of Viennese rock crystal on the market.

A breathtaking rendering of the Chateau Chenonceau at the center of the charger

A single block of rock crystal was used to create this fanciful Rock Crystal and Enamel Vessel, in the form of a double-headed bird. From the exquisite carving to the intricacies of the silver gilt enameling, it would be easy to envision this elegant masterpiece in a most prestigious collection.

The fanciful form of this Viennese rock crystal vessel is similar to prized specimens currently held by museums.

M.S. Rau Antiques is incredibly fortunate to offer these and several other Viennese rock crystal wonders for sale. Rarely does such a large number of these desirable objets d’art become available for acquisition, as most can only be found in the most prestigious museum collections. Immersed in legend, sought by royalty and matchless in beauty, the reason why these treasures continue to lure collectors throughout the world is crystal clear.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques entire collection of rock crystal treasures, click here.

A Carnival Season Indulgence!

January 24th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene

George III Silver Gilt-Covered Monteith

If you were to ask someone from New Orleans, “What are the seasons,” they would definitely not give the answer, winter, spring, summer or fall.  You are much more likely to get the response of, “it’s Mardi Gras season, or football season, (or more specific, Saints season),  Jazz Fest season, creole tomato season, strawberry season, hunting season, fishing season, shrimp season, the season of Lent and I could go on and on. We all look forward to that next great season and a reason (or excuse) to celebrate.

Right now we are in Mardi Gras season and I am having a, “Twelfth Night Party”. What is a Twelfth Night Party? It’s just a great reason to have a party! The twelfth night was actually on January 6th or 12 nights after Christmas and it’s our official date to kick off the Mardi Gras season.  Today is January 14th, so I am a little late but who’s counting?

Style is such an intricate part of any celebration. If there were one thing in this entire gallery that I would love to have at my party it would be the George III Silver gilt Monteith. It screams style! For those of you who don’t know, a Monteith is an elaborately decorated vessel with notched rims allowing a wine glass to suspend inside the bowl which is filled with either ice or ice water.  Hence the chilled glass! The name monteith was derived from a very dapper dressing Scottsman, Monteith,  who wore a cloak of notched edges.

I can just imagine serving wine in chilled glasses from this magnificent silver gilt monteith elaborately decorated in repousse’ of huntsman, stag and hounds, flower garlands, winged figures and bearded satyr masks…stylish and great fun!

Whatever season you’re celebrating, do it with style. Make this Monteith your new centerpiece.


11” diameter x 15 1/2” high

Asking Price: $68,500

Wouldn’t this exquisite piece be perfect for your next festive occasion?

2012 Brings 100 Years of Excitement in the First Quarter of the Year

January 6th, 2012 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Happy New Year from all of us at M.S. Rau Antiques!  Having just completed 2011, our most successful year ever, the first quarter of 2012 promises to be even more exciting!  Beginning on January 18th through the 22nd, M.S. Rau will be present at the annual Los Angeles Fine Art Show, where we will be offering original works of art by Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Gauguin, Winston Churchill and many other great artists.  As our truck travels the I-10 corridor from New Orleans to L.A., we will be stopping at clients’ homes along the way, fulfilling their requests to see specific items amid the décor of their own homes.  If you happen to live anywhere between the two cities, please peruse our website, find those perfect pieces, call us and we will gladly bring it to your homes for you to see as well.

February is even more eventful as we visit those snow birds who headed south for the winter to both east and west coasts of sunny Florida.  The annual Naples Art, Antique and Jewelry show will run from February 9th through the 13th while the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art and Antique Show will follow February 17th through the 21st.  From our fine art to rare silver by Tiffany, Gorham, Paul Storr, Hester Bateman, Myer Myers and others, to porcelain, objets d’art and the finest antique furniture available, these two shows are not to be missed. Once again, we are pleased to show you items in your home should you be interested.

Additionally, M.S. Rau’s very own Rau for Art Foundation will be accepting submissions to its inaugural art scholarship competition through February 15th. Find out more at

The Grand Finale of the first quarter of 2012 will undoubtedly be the 100th anniversary celebration of the gallery, owned by the Rau family throughout its duration. The weekend of March 9th, 10th and 11th, we will be hosting several events in the gallery welcoming our clients to view our most magnificent collection ever.

For those familiar with our gallery, you can appreciate how incredible this event will be. To potential new clients I welcome you to visit and help us celebrate 100 years of selling the finest, rarest and most desirable collectables found anywhere.  Come help us as we celebrate 100 Years of Excitement throughout 2012.

–Lyndon Lasiter

Hot to Trot Collectibles: Antique Carousel Horses

January 5th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau

This extremely rare and delightful carousel horse by Philadelphia Toboggan is one of the earliest made by the renowned company

There was a time when no amusement park or playground was complete without a carousel ride. Children and even adults could take pleasure in a whimsical ride atop an array of horses and other fanciful creatures carved by the most skilled artisans of the day. Though quality examples of these nostalgic masterpieces come few and far between on the market, that doesn’t seem to deter the demand for these magnificent figures.

The carousel reached its golden age in early 20th-century America, and lasted until the Great Depression of 1929. This roughly 25-year period saw the creation of carousel rides that rivaled, and in most cases surpassed, their European counterparts. With no money for life’s essentials, much less a carousel ride, many of these hand-carved wonders were abandoned and fell into disrepair, or were demolished. By the time the Depression ended and the public was ready to enjoy these treasured amusements once again, carousel figures had become mass-produced, cast metal versions of their former selves.

Renewed interest in the carousel art form began in the 1970s, when enthusiasts began uncovering these lost American treasures and appreciating the tremendous skill and imagination they embodied. This particular example from the renowned Philadelphia Toboggan Company is one of the rarest American carousel horses. The realism of the wind-swept mane, life-like musculature and expressive eyes, this “golden age” example is an outstanding example of American wood working at its highest. Many carousel figures were made into other imaginative creatures, like this Carousel Rabbit by Dentzel. Created by the company’s head carver, Salvatore Cernigliaro, this English hare worked perfectly with the popular “jumping” mechanisms that made the rider feel as if their figure had come to life. Such inventive forms by Dentzel are some of the most desired on the market.

Whether horse or hare, there is no denying the charm of the carousel. Each majestic figure embodies not only the skill of its craftsman, but also the most innocent and carefree moments of our lives, when a break from the real world was just a spin away. With incredible examples like the above emerging from private collections, the desire for these once-lost childhood memories is greater now than ever.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection of carousel figures, click here.

The only limit to antique carousel forms was the carver's imagination. This lively rabbit by Dentzel exhibits magnificent craftsmanship

This stunning pony with real horse hair tail was crafted by Charles W. Dare, one of the first American carousel makers. To find such an early example is truly exceptional. Circa 1800