Archive for the 'M.S. Rau Blog' Category

In An Instant, I Was Whisked Away…

September 20th, 2013 | posted by Susan Lapene

Staring deeply into the rich green hue of this emerald, so crisp and clean, I was transported back in time to a visit I made to the Emerald Isle.  The incredible green countryside almost looked like an impressionist artist had come along and painted this surreal scene just for me.

It is amazing what thoughts can be provoked by beautiful gemstones, especially when surrounded by diamonds and a setting that could be deemed a work of art in itself.  The lucky wearer may even have thoughts of a time long past and, for a moment, be transported back to that time.

An extraordinary Colombian emerald smolders in this sumptuous ring

This is such a ring.  It has it all: an Art Deco style setting that is a miniature work of art and an emerald so bright and clear, it’s unbelievable.  In fact, no other emeralds bear the captivating verdant hue for which Colombian emeralds, such as this one, are especially prized.

The ring's stunning floral motif adds to its incredible charm

The ring’s stunning floral motif adds to its incredible charm

A work of exceptional beauty and artistry, the rare 4.61-carat treasure from Colombia that this magnificent ring exhibits has been certified by the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) as being completely natural and unenhanced. This jewel is supported in its eye-catching platinum setting by emerald accents on the top and in the intricate floral-motif gallery, as well as by approximately 2.00 carats of sparkling white diamonds

Surprise someone special in your life and create a memory that will last a lifetime.

The Rumble Heard Around the World: Muhammad Ali Memorabilia

September 12th, 2013 | posted by Bill Rau

“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” –Muhammad Ali

Gifted athlete. Magnetic personality. A true champion.

With a quick tongue and left jab to match, Muhammad Ali could dispose of an opponent even before stepping into the boxing ring. His uncanny ability to posture himself as “The People’s Champion” proved to be much more than trash-talk. With

An autographed photo of Ali announcing The Rumble in the Jungle match between he and George Foreman in 1974.

An autographed photo of Ali announcing The Rumble in the Jungle match between he and George Foreman in 1974.

a combination of superior hand speed and constant movement in the ring, Ali captivated audiences and won some of the most famed bouts in boxing history…effectively earning the originally self-imposed title of  “The Greatest of All Time.”

Ali continues to be regarded as the greatest heavyweight champion by sports commentators and historians. Artifacts from his career command considerable attention on the market, especially those involving legendary stand-offs such as the 1974 Heavyweight Championship match between Ali and George Foreman dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle.” M.S. Rau Antiques was fortunate

enough to acquire several such pieces from the private collection of Henry “Hank” Schwartz, the boxing promoter and telecommunications expert responsible for these incredible matches.

“The Rumble in the Jungle” world heavyweight boxing match is considered the greatest sporting event of the 20th century. When the bout was announced, most analysts at the time believed Ali was no match for the younger and seemingly stronger Foreman, who had won 18 of his last 20 matches by knock out. Ali refused to give consideration to such speculation, often stating that

Sports artist LeRoy Neiman created this sketch of Ali training in Zaire for The Rumble in the Jungle World Heavyweight Championship.

Sports artist LeRoy Neiman created this sketch of Ali training in Zaire for The Rumble in the Jungle World Heavyweight Championship.

Foreman was “too slow” and “too ugly” to beat him, nicknaming the reigning champ “The Mummy” for his solid stance in the ring, as opposed to Ali’s dancing and fast footwork. This great photograph was taken during the press conference in which Ali announced he was going up against Foreman to regain the title. Signed by Ali, this wonderful black and white image captures the unwavering confidence and charisma of this sports icon. That same focus can be seen in this stunning pencil sketch by renowned sports artist LeRoy Neiman. Completed during Ali’s training sessions in Zaire, Neiman captures the fighter’s  drive and grit to regain the heavyweight title against a perceived unstoppable opponent.

At the end of the day, Ali beat Foreman in the eighth round by a knock out. Over his illustrious 21-year career, this legendary boxer fought in 61 professional matches, defeating every top heavyweight of his time, winning 56 times with a total of 37 knock outs to his credit. Over three decades after his last bout, the name Muhammad Ali continues to inspire. His contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and guiding values of peace, respect and social responsibility have proved that he is a champion both in and out of the ring.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection Muhammad Ali memorabilia, click here.

The Work of a Master:18th-Century Pedestal Desk by Thomas Chippendale

August 23rd, 2013 | posted by Bill Rau
This incredibly rare pedestal desk bears numerous characteristics that suggest its creation by Thomas Chippendale himself.

This incredibly rare pedestal desk bears numerous characteristics that suggest its creation by Thomas Chippendale himself.

Finding an 18th-century furnishing that can be attributed to Thomas Chippendale is like finding the “holy grail” of antique furniture. This George III Mahogany Twin Pedestal Desk is just such a treasure.

Locking mechanisms by London metalsmith Elizabeth Gascoigne were another staple of furnishings created specifically by Chippendale.

Locking mechanisms by London metalsmith Elizabeth Gascoigne were another staple of furnishings created specifically by Chippendale.

Every inch of this spectacular desk bears qualities synonymous with Chippendale’s signature craftsmanship. A letter of authenticity by appraiser Gary Fowler notates seven characteristics attributed specifically to the master cabinetmaker. The use of the highest-quality Cuban mahogany, his signature “red wash”, “triple-wheel” friction casters and locking mechanisms by London metalsmith Elizabeth Gascoigne, among others, distinguish this desk as a very rare Chippendale original.

 

Chippendale was primarily a furniture and interior designer, and produced a handful of furnishings in his St. Martin’s Lane workshop. Since so few examples exist, on the rare occasions they do come on the market are met with great excitement. The current record for the most expensive piece of English furniture is held by the Herrington Commode, a bowfront cabinet attributed to Chippendale that sold in 2010 at Sotheby’s London for just under $6-million dollars.  The previous record holder was, not surprisingly, also a Chippendale piece, which had sold in 2008 for approximately $5 million.

 

The impact of Chippendale’s designs on the history of both furniture and the whole of interior design can never be overstated. His Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director was the first interior design text ever published, and it showcased to the world Chippendale’s gift for line, proportion and superior craftsmanship. His designs and theories were so pivotal that he is the only person to have an entire style named after him rather than a monarch.

 

 To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ outstanding selection of antique furniture, click here.

 

Tortoiseshell: An 18th and 19th Century Luxury

August 17th, 2013 | posted by Susan Lapene

One of the rarest and most luxurious materials of the 18th and 19th centuries, tortoiseshell has long been valued for the manufacture of jewelry cases, tea caddies, snuffboxes, and other decorated items.  This rare and exquisite material is mainly produced from the shell of the hawksbill sea turtle. The large size and unique, unevenly distributed shades of orange, brown, and black make the hawksbill’s shell especially suitable for these beautiful crafts. Early European artisans sought out tortoiseshell material despite its expensive price because it was easily molded by heat unlike other similar, ductile materials. The final product would be a flexible yet durable material with a vibrantly mottled appearance.  In our gallery, we have a wide array of tortoiseshell products that are truly amazing in color and form. Come by today and see for yourself!

This beautiful George III tea caddy is enveloped in elegant tortoiseshell. Caddies of rare tortoiseshell are especially prized, for they are among the scarcest and most luxurious examples produced.

This beautiful George III tea caddy is enveloped in elegant tortoiseshell. Caddies of rare tortoiseshell are especially prized, for they are among the scarcest and most luxurious examples produced.

 

Crafted of luxurious tortoiseshell, this sleek desk clock by J.E. Caldwell & Co. exudes Art Deco elegance. This sophisticated timepiece is set in a frame of bronze ormolu, a flawless match to the tortoiseshell's warm mottled beauty.

This beautiful George III tea caddy is enveloped in elegant tortoiseshell. Caddies of rare tortoiseshell are especially prized, for they are among the scarcest and most luxurious examples produced.

The Incredible Spherical Puzzle

August 6th, 2013 | posted by Deborah Choate
Chinese carved ivory tazza with the addition of a puzzle ball, Circa 1820

Chinese carved ivory tazza with the addition of a puzzle ball, Circa 1820

If you were to hear the word “puzzle,” the first thing that would probably come to mind would be the countless jigsaw puzzles that you solved throughout your childhood. Puzzles; however, come in many shapes and sizes and serve various purposes aside from entertainment. One characteristic that all puzzles share is a unique quality of mystery and their presentation of a mathematical or logistical problem.

Throughout history, the Chinese have been known for creating beautiful works of arts and crafts. The Chinese puzzle balls of the early 19th century are perhaps the most mysterious and nuanced crafts ever created. Even though these tiny treasures are not meant to be solved like a normal puzzle, they are called “puzzle balls” due to the mystery and puzzling explanation behind their making. Technically speaking, they can be solved by aligning all the holes from each layer together; however, due to their fragility and delicate material it is recommended that they be used simply for decorative purposes.

Carved from a single piece of ivory, the ball is comprised of a series of nested spheres that move independently.

Carved from a single piece of ivory, the ball is comprised of a series of nested spheres that move independently

Chinese craftsmen paid much attention to detail when crafting these delicate masterpieces. Puzzle balls are typically made of ivory and have 3 to 7 layers of concentric, hollow spheres. Using a small “L”-shaped tool, the artist would start with a solid ball of ivory, jade, wood or any other ductile material and carefully drill his way through to the center. He would then hand carve various holes within, working his way up, ultimately dividing the solid ball into many layers. This process required a great amount of time and of course, an incredibly steady hand.

The final result would be a ball containing multiple layers of unique smaller spheres within. While each layer would have its own unique design or symbols, the outermost shell showed the most extraordinary amount of craftsmanship and beauty while also telling a symbolic story. Loaded with important symbolism and charm, these puzzle balls were often used as good luck charms for Chinese royalty and nobles. A painstaking and costly process is required to create just one of these elaborately ornamented treasures; therefore, ivory puzzle balls are highly sought after by collectors today.

Each brilliantly carved figure stands atop a Chinese puzzle ball with a lotus blossom base

Each brilliantly carved figure stands atop a Chinese puzzle ball

 

These puzzle balls are truly amazing to see up close. Come stop by our gallery today to see one in person! Whether it’s our puzzle ball chess set or incorporated at the base of our carved ivory tazza, you will certainly be blown away by the incredible attention to detail found in each ball.

« Prev - Next »