Know Before You Bid: The Annual New Year’s Day Sale From Nadeau’s Auction Gallery
The Annual New Year’s Day sale from Nadeau’s Auction Gallery offers over 700 lots of museum-quality merchandise. We spoke with Edwin J. Nadeau, Jr., President of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery, to learn more about this celebratory sale, its history, and the backstory on a few of the lots on offer.
Auction Daily: Could you update our readers on your take on the state of the auction industry today in terms of the COVID-19 situation? Are there any silver linings of note? Has this public health reality resulted in any lessons learned that you will continue to implement when things return to normal?
Ed Nadeau: The auction industry as a whole is very strong since returning from the shutdown in CT. Our silver lining, being in this industry, is that our business is good while some other types of businesses are suffering. We feel lucky. As far as lessons learned, we will continue to keep the operations we have put in place, like socially-distanced seating and hand sanitizing stations, to stay ahead of the curve. That will be important moving forward in a post-COVID world.
AD: The Annual New Year’s Day sale arguably has become your most famous signature event. Can you give us a little history on the sale and what prompted you to hold it on January 1st?
Nadeau: Our January 1st sale started over 30 years ago. We had just brought in a nice estate for those times and decided to try to offer it on January 1st. The room was filled with people, and bidding was very strong, probably the whole sale totaled under $100,000. We did very well, so that was the beginning of our annual New Year’s Day auction.
AD: This sale offers a number of lots with ties to Park Avenue in New York City. What makes a Park Avenue address appealing from the provenance perspective?
Nadeau: Park Avenue in New York is universally recognized as one of the premier addresses on the planet. Merchandise from that location often has a magical, almost aspirational feeling about it. We have two estates in this upcoming sale with specific ties to Park Avenue. Perhaps the one with the most name recognition is Gloria Schiff (American, 1928-2019). She led a most interesting life; she was an identical twin, model, socialite, philanthropist, and a fashion editor at Vogue magazine in the 1960s. She had a great eye, and that is clear from the items we’ve handled on behalf of her estate.
AD: What are some of the most eye-catching lots from the Schiff estate?
Nadeau: This sale includes some remarkable furniture, decorative, and fine art offerings from her 630 Park Avenue home. Three lots to watch include lot #321, a George I figured walnut double-domed bureau bookcase in two parts, estimated at USD3,000-5,000; lot #475, a pair of Leopold Bracony (American, 20th Century) marble and bronze pair busts of a Tunisian couple, estimated at $4,000-8,000; and lot #588, James Guthrie’s (Scottish, 1859 – 1930) Portrait of Edward Martin Dressed for Fox Hunting, estimated at $4,000-8,000.
AD: And finally – ending on a high note here – what is the story behind lot #450, the rare original c. 1890-1893 gramophone? What makes it so interesting from the collector’s perspective?
Nadeau: It is so rare, and we’ve never seen or heard of another one before! It is an original, hand-cranked, cast iron gramophone made by Emile Berliner around 1890-1893. It was the first in the series of production by Kammer & Reinhardt of Germany for playing 5-inch (12.5cm) Berliner records. This example even retains its original shipping box.
This machine was patented by Emile Berliner in 1887 in Germany and America simultaneously, followed by patents in several other countries. This first edition machine didn’t get much interest in the US due to competition from Thomas Edison’s improved cylinder phonograph, which debuted at the Paris World Exhibition of 1889. Berliner went on to carry out improvements to this design and had sales success in Europe. His big break-through in America came a few years later, with a slightly modified design and appearance for the transatlantic market.
For more information on the Annual New Year’s Day Auction from Nadeau’s Auction Gallery, please see the company’s website.
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