Monday, June 05, 2006
--Several things have prevented regular postings these last two weeks.
Chief among these reasons, as any regular reader of this 4 year-old blog might suspect, is my annual summer disgust with all things political.
Other reasons for avoiding the keyboard include gardening and related chores, several books I’ve been wanting to read, the visit of an old and dear friend and the arrival of the Cincinnati Art Galleries’ annual spring sale art pottery catalogue.
Internet Rocks Rookwood XVI
The Cincinnati Art Galleries' 16th annual American Art Pottery and Rookwood auction, Art Glass was included several years ago, took place this past weekend on the 5th floor of the CAG’s 6th Street command center in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
Thanks no doubt to the slowing Bush economy, sales for the generally pedestrian catalogue were somewhat mixed, however, several stunning hammer prices were achieved in an auction dominated, for the first time, by Internet bidding.
Though upstaged by the Internet, the expected star of the show was this 21 ½“ Black Iris vase executed in 1900 by Matt Daly.
Hitting the low end of its presale estimate with one absentee bid of $175,000, the vase becomes the third most expensive piece of Rookwood ever sold by the Cincinnati Art Galleries.
The biggest surprise came with the fevered Internet, floor and phone bidding attending the sale of this nearly 10” Iris glazed vase by Carl Schmidt.
In unusually frantic and highly entertaining bidding, this vase, with its brown mushrooms, exceeded the high end of its presale estimate by $27,000 to be sold to an elderly female floor bidder for an unbelievable $39,000!
Though undoubtedly flushed with the success of the Daly and Schmidt pieces, the CAG’s owners, as admitted to this writer, are sweating the arrival of high dollar checks from an array of unknown Internet bidders.
While the World Wide Web has been a growing presence on the auction scene and has been an insignificant participant in the last three years of CAG events, never before has Cincinnati’s premiere art house seen such a large volume of successful web bidders or such significant Internet hammer prices.
This image shows just four examples of successful high dollar Internet bids.
The dollar values shown are the hammer prices and do not reflect the 20% Internet Buyer's Premium and any attendant sales tax.
In the pre-web past, with the high end items, interested parties have made themselves known to the CAG owners and staff by having an ongoing relationship with the gallery or by visiting and physically examining the pieces during the pre-auction preview period.
With Internet bidding there is, more often than not, no personal relationship greasing the skids of acquisition.
Oh sure, the Ebay Live Event rules clearly state that a bidder enters into a binding legal contract with the seller through their bid.
However, this tissue thin legal prophylactic offers slim reassurance when one is waiting for a hundred thousand dollars worth of checks from completely unknown customers.
I’d love to know how many, if any, Internet checks bounce and if the CAG will prosecute bouncing offenders for fraud.
The CAG will undoubtedly remain tight-lipped.
Clues, if any, to the ultimate disposition of this past weekend’s historic Internet bidding will likely only be gleaned through the reappearance of this past weekend’s Internet sales in the CAG’s November Holiday Sale.
I know I won't be the only interested party watching.
Here is 2005's report on the spring CAG Sale, 2004's report on the CAG's Holiday Sale and 2003's Holiday Sale report.
Photos: Mark Mussio