London’s Apollo Galleries welcomes New Year with Jan. 16 Ancient Art & Antiquities Auction

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Company opens in-house lab for scientific testing, introduces elite new team of experts overseeing Ancient Egyptology, jewellery, weaponry, and classical antiques

LONDON – Apollo Galleries, London’s premier source for authentic, fully vetted ancient art and antiquities, will host its first auction of the New Year on Sunday, January 16, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. The breathtaking assemblage of rarities from legendary civilizations is offered with authoritative descriptions and assessments from a newly-engaged team of specialists whose experience at the highest echelons of the art trade are amply documented.

Londons Apollo Galleries welcomes New Year with Jan. 16 Ancient Art & Antiquities Auction
Londons Apollo Galleries welcomes New Year with Jan. 16 Ancient Art & Antiquities Auction

Each of the new consultants has a background ideally suited to an Apollo Galleries division. Emma Saber, an acknowledged authority on Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities for more than 20 years and a specialist for Christie’s, is also a lecturer with Christie’s Education on the antiquities market and how to collect and catalogue antiquities. Richard Falkiner, a respected professional who has provided his expertise to The Masterpiece, BRAFA Art, Frieze Fairs and Bonhams, covered Ancient, Medieval and Islamic items, as well as coins and medals, for Christie’s over a 14-year period. He was elected a Fellow of the venerable Society of Antiquaries of London, founded in 1707. Apollo Galleries also welcomes the expert contributions of Russel Scott, who has been the authenticity officer for the Viking Society for more than 26 years. He has been in the antiquities trade for 43+ years and consulted for the British Museum as well as BBC documentaries about medieval and Viking weaponry. His extensive body of knowledge includes manufacturing techniques of ancient periods.

The auction opens with a stunning selection of ancient ceramics, glass and metalware that includes many unusual items, such as a colorful Egyptian faience-beaded mummy shroud and mask, and silver letters used to spell out a good-luck message on Roman soldiers’ belts. Leading the group is a rare and important Neo-Assyrian vessel, circa 800-600 BC, which was cut and hollowed out from a single large piece of solid rock crystal – a feat that would have required considerable skill. Few examples of its type are known. Its lineage can be traced back to the 1960s and it is similar to a work that sold in 2012 at Christie’s London. Accompanied by a CIRAM lab authentication test and its original 1990s scientific report from Professor W.G. Lambert, it is estimated at £40,000-£80,000.

Another stellar piece is a circa 550-500BC blackware bucchero kantharos from Etruria. Distinctly burnished, bucchero is considered the signature ceramic of the Etruscans and was mostly used by the elite class. The bucchero offered by Apollo Galleries has been held in several prestigious European collections and was also sold by Christie’s London, in 1998. It comes to auction with a £10,000-£20,000 estimate.

Designed to hold wine, a handsome Etruscan-Corinthian pottery olpe vessel with incised decoration on its ovoid body comes from a private collector who acquired it directly from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology in 1965. It is similar to a book example credited to the collection of Hungary’s largest and finest art museum, the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Budapest. Estimate: £6,000-£9,000

Wearable ancient jewelry of extraordinary beauty includes rings, pendants, amulets, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, many of them crafted of gold and adorned with precious or semiprecious stones. A circa 300-400AD Roman sardonyx cameo pendant features the carved head of Medusa (or gorgoneion), with snakes around the face and wings entwined in its wild hair. When used in jewelry, Medusa was believed to confer protection to the wearer, including from the “evil eye.” The cameo was mounted in gold at some point, likely in the 18th century. Its auction estimate is £6,000-£9,000.

Collectors are sure to be delighted by the array of ancient gold rings chosen for this sale. Among them is a wonderful D-shape Roman gold ring with a sardonyx cameo of Mars. It dates to the Julio-Claudian Period, circa 100AD. The artist sculpted it in four layers, with an articulated eye and a crested helmet ornamented in relief. With provenance from a London private collection and acquired previously from an East Coast US estate collection formed before 1979, it is presented with a £6,000-£9,000 estimate.

Arms and armor always play a commanding role in Apollo Galleries’ auction events, with helmets consistently ranking amongst the most sought-after items. The January 16 sale includes several exceptional examples: a circa 550-450BC Greek Chalcidian bronze helmet of a type that was still in use by hoplite soldiers in the time of Alexander the Great, £45,000-£85,000; and an impressive and well-preserved medieval iron helmet composed of five plates joined by rivets, with ventilation holes and a shaped nose-guard, £15,000-£30,000.

Premium-quality Asian antiquities include a circa 200-300AD grey schist Gandharan upper torso of Bodhisattva that is similar to an example sold at Sotheby’s in 2007. It was held in a Japanese collection from the 1960s until its pre-2003 acquisition by a UK private collector. Estimate £40,000-£80,000. Another standout, a Late Shang Dynasty, circa 1300-1200BC jia, or ritual wine vessel, underwent an X-ray Fluorescence analysis at an independent Belgian laboratory and was found to be of the described period, with no modern trace elements in the patina. Acquired in the early 1990s in Hong Kong, it will be offered with a £20,000-£40,000 estimate.

Apollo Galleries’ January 16, 2022 auction will commence at 8 a.m. US Eastern time/1 p.m. UK time. View the fully illustrated auction catalogue and sign up to bid absentee or live online via LiveAuctioneers. The company ships worldwide, and all packing is handled by white-glove specialists in-house. Questions: call Apollo Galleries, London, on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: 

Apollo Galleries is a member of the British Numismatic Trading Association (BNTA) and the Art Loss Register (AR). Their newly expanded venue, with a new state-of-the-art on-site testing lab, is located at 26 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum.

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