May - Market snippets and more on fakes

Market Place

Now that eBay no longer has live auctions, the miniature portraits on offer there are not as nice as they used to be.

However, a couple of recent sales were very appealing.

The miniature of a man set into a snuff box was a rare example of a miniature in enamels by Dupuy, 1801. It sold for $830 and I think was a good buy at that level. Enamels are special because of the work involved and as they will never fade, unlike miniatures on ivory.

Many European miniatures were made to be the lids of snuff boxes, so it is nice to see one complete and still in good condition.

A high price was paid for the miniature of a young lady. It was not signed, nor the sitter identified, but I think it is by Andrew Robertson. If so, that will explain the price of GBP3658.

A fringe area of miniature portrait collecting is enamel portraits on silver vesta cases and silver cigarette cases from the late 19C to around 1940.

These usually depict scantily clad ladies and often sell for over $1000. Several sold much more cheaply recently. Apologies for the small images, but they were all I could locate.

The prices ranged from $202 to $436, which I think was very cheap buying and probably a sign of the economic climate.

In style they are similar to this enamel portrait of a cat, in the form of a tie-pin. These were popular in the 19C. It is by William Essex and was painted in 1828, so an early work by him.

It was offered on eBay at its 1999 buying price of $6500, which is very high and did not sell.

A similar tie-pin by Essex of a fox, sold for only a couple of hundred dollars recently, which was cheap, so I would think a market value for his tie-pins is probably in the range $500-$1000.

Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware

It is frustrating to see so many decorative miniatures for sale with silly prices. This miniature of George Washington (yet another one!!) is shown as an example of how careful new buyers of miniature portraits need to be. It is up for auction with an estimate of $4000-$5000, but is worth only $100-$150

It is described as "c. 1830, George Washington, Miniature Portrait Painting On Ivory, Ornately Framed, Choice Extremely Fine. Likely French, this early first-half of the 19th Century Miniature Portrait Painting On Ivory is signed middle right “N. Lubex". The central, Oval George Washington Portrait Painting measures 7/8" x 1.5" (sight) and the full frame measures 3.5” tall x 3” wide, with a beautiful and highly decorative tortoise shell partially covered with a gilt brass design. The back of the frame has been previously opened for inspection and there is European newspaper print covering. The painted image shows Washington facing to the right in his military uniform and a ruffled shirt. This depiction has the appearance of being painted by a French artist, as Washington is given a soft, Regal and almost “Royal” appearance. The detail is extremely sharp and precise, the colors vivid and distinct."

What a load of codswallop! It shows how a description can appear to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! It can be seen at

A similar fake was this soldier recently sold on eBay for GBP295, which I think was about twice its true value.

The seller did ask me about it beforehand and I told him it was a decorative copy from the late 19C, but he still listed it with a description of; "THIS IS A RARE BOULLE MINIATURE PICTURE FRAME, WITH A LATE GEORGIAN OR EARLY VICTORIAN PAINTING OF AN 18TH CENTURY OFFICER. ON THE BACK OF THE FRAME IS A SMALL LABEL WHICH SAYS GENERAL SIR C. STEWART, THIS CAN BE RESEARCHED ON THE NET, TO SEE THE GENTLEMAN'S HISTORY" which in my opinion is misleading.

In the last week, I have been able to save two potential miniature collectors several thousand dollars each. They were both contemplating buying different, but very highly priced miniatures, which I had previously pointed out on my website, were not as claimed by the sellers.

They came across my references and separately asked me why I thought they were not as claimed in the descriptions. So I detailed the problems. Although, there was no financial benefit to me, I am glad I was able to save the collectors their money.

No comments:

Post a Comment