Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Expensive Auction Items

Sotheby's holds the record for any printed book with the Bay Psalm Book. It was the first book printed in the colonies in 1640 by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It sold for $14.1 million last November.

The highest price for a manuscript goes to the Codex Leicester, one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, written in his mirror cursive, which sold at Christie's in November 1994 to Bill Gates for $30.8 million.

Huanghauli is a wood—the word is Chinese for yellow flowering pear, although it is actually a type of rosewood. It has a delicate fragrance and a shimmery surface that mellows in color with age. The market for furniture made of huanghuali has skyrocketed and this 15 foot table, made from a single plank, currently holds the record. It was sold at Christie's in March of 2013 for $9m.

Antiquities are setting records: The Cycladic marble figure was carved around 2400 BC somewhere in the Aegean. It sold in December 2010 for more than three times its estimate at $16 million. The bronze figure was made in Egypt some 2100 years later. It sold in June of 2013 for eight times its estimate at $2 million, a record for an Egyptian cat.

Christie's holds the record for highest sale for any work of art online with this oil on canvas from 1946, which sold for $9.6 million in November, 2012.

The 1856 magenta stamp from British Guiana. The holy Grail of stamp collecting is the only surviving 1856 one-cent magenta stamp from British Guiana. It was found by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America. World record price: $9.5m. The rarest of stamps is no stranger to world records. It has set one every time it has changed hands since 1900.

The Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet circa 1700, probably from Kerman Province, in current day Iran. From the estate of William Clark on his death in 1925. It sold at Sotheby's New York, on June 5, 2013, for $33.7 million.

US violist David Aaron Carpenter plays the "Macdonald" Stradivarius viola created in 1719 by Antonio Stradivari (1641-1737). The MacDonald viola is one of 10 Stradivarius violas known to have survived. Sotheby’s anticipates that offers closer to $45 million will be made.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Octave, Arizona

This 266-acre property in Arizona isn't much to see from above ground: cacti, dirt and a 2-bedroom manufactured home, two hours from anywhere. The reason for the property’s $5.9 million price tag is hidden underground: 25 miles of tunnels into what was once one of the richest sources of gold in the U.S.

The first people to discover the mine reported that the area was littered with gold nuggets the size of potatoes, according to a book on the Weaver Mining District.
In its heyday in the late 1800s, Octave was a bustling town with a school, a post office, a general store and a stagecoach line. The mines there were some of the most productive in the Old West before the area was abandoned by Asarco in 1940s.
The mine was featured in a short-lived cable show called “Ghost Mine,” where paranormal experts explored reports of ghosts in abandoned mines, including the spooky and notorious “Blue Devil of Octave.”

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Peacock Throne

The Peacock Throne was a famous jewelled throne that was the seat of the Mughal emperors of India. It was commissioned in the early 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan and was located in the Red Fort of Delhi. The original throne was captured and taken as a war trophy in 1739 by the Persian king Nader Shah, and has been lost ever since.

A 2000 report estimated the value of the Peacock Throne at $810m
Shah Jahan ruled in what is considered the Golden Age of the vast Mughal Empire, which covered most of the Indian subcontinent. It was ruled from the capital of Shahjahanabad and the imperial citadel Red Fort.
The Peacock Throne took seven years to complete. Large amounts of gold, precious stones and pearls were used, creating a masterpiece of Mughal workmanship that was unsurpassed before or since. It was only seen by a small minority of courtiers, aristocrats and visiting dignitaries.

The throne was even for the Golden Age Mughal standards supremely extravagant and cost twice as much as the construction of the Taj Mahal.
The throne was inaugurated with a triumphant ceremony on 22 March 1635.

Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb ascended the Peacock Throne and is considered the last of the strong Mughal emperors. By his death in 1707 the empire was in inexorable decline. Nadir Shah's invasion of India culminated in the Battle of Karnal on February 13, 1739 and the defeat of Muhammad Shah.
Nadir Shah entered Delhi and sacked the city. Persian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, taking with them the throne as a war trophy with many other treasures.

Among the known precious stones were the Akbar Shah diamond, Great Mogul diamond, Great Table diamond, Koh-i-Noor, Shah diamond, as well as the Samarian spinel and the Timur ruby.

An Imperial Mughal spinel necklace with eleven polished baroque spinels for a total weight of 1,131.59 carats. Three of the spinels are engraved. Two with the name of Emperor Jahangir (1569-1627), one with the three names of Emperor Jahangir, Emperor Shah Jahan and Emperor Alamgir, also known as Aurangzeb.

Portrait of Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum). She was the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. She died shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child in 1631. The following year the emperor began work on the mausoleum that would house her body. The result was the world-famous Taj Mahal.
A Mughal masterpiece. The necklace features five pendant Golconda diamonds with emerald drops. The central stone weighs 28 carats and is the largest table-cut diamond known. The five surrounding stones—weighing 96 carats, collectively—comprise the largest known matching set of table-cut diamonds. From the 17th century.

A rare Mughal pale green jadeite snuff bottle. 1800-1900. The translucent stone is of pale icy green tone. 2 in. (5 cm.) high, pink tourmaline stopper and bone spoon.

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