Marcel Sztejnberg, a former fashion retailer, has been collecting antique French silver since the 1970s, continually seeking out fine examples and accumulating hundreds of pieces. Now in his 80s, on the advice of his sons, he has decided to part with some of his collection at auction through Ader (28% buyer’s premium inc VAT) in Paris.
Two sales have already been held, in February and September last year. A third tranche went under the hammer at Drouot on February 4. This latest 137-lot offering realised a premium-inclusive total of more than €766,400, bringing the tally for the three auctions to €4m.
This was a wide-ranging collection in terms of type and place of manufacture: from hollowares to cutlery made in Paris and the French regions. It was also notable for including many pieces of early, pre-18th century French silver, scarce because so much was melted down in past centuries.
One such early example provided the top price of the auction, a rare pair of 6½in (16.5cm) high candlesticks made in Montpellier in 1675 and with the marks of the silversmith Pierre Coudougnan who was made master in 1664. The candlesticks are of a typical mid- 17th century form with fluted shafts set on square section bases and are engraved with armorials surmounted by a knight’s helmet. They doubled their estimate to sell for €105,000 (£88,985) to an online bidder.
A number of 18th century casters from provincial cities also featured in the collection. Among them was a 7in (17.5cm) high cylindrical gadrooned example pierced with fleur de lys to the cover and engraved with later armorials.
This was produced in Rennes, 1698- 1700, with marks for the goldsmith Jean Buchet who was made master in 1679. It realised €20,000 (£16,950). Another cylindrical example from 1748 with marks for the Narbonne goldsmith François Duran – made master in 1731 – sold for €13,000 (£11,015).
Notable among the prices for pieces by Parisian goldsmiths was a 7in (18cm) diameter porringer with openwork rocaille and shell handles marked for 1764-5 and François-Thomas Germain, made master in 1748, which trebled its estimate to sell to a collector for €42,000 (£35,595), and a 10in (25cm) high baluster formed silver ewer marked for 1738-9 by Sébastien Igonet, who was made master in 1725.
The latter featured a bearded male mask under the spout, a shell thumbpiece and decoration of what appeared to be windblown bullrushes on the lower half of the body. It realised €47,000 (£39,830), a multiple of its €8000-10,000 guide.
The sale also included plenty of pieces selling in the low four figures or even in some cases the three-figure range, like the simple circular 4¼in (11cm) wine taster from Bordeaux 1765-66 with the mark of Pierre Sicard that attracted the attention of the Musée de la Cour d’Or in Metz which preempted it at a low-estimate €800 (£680).
£1 = €1.18