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California Gold Rush leads to Don Presley's auction featuring retired prospector's personal collection
1988 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur. Don Presley Auctions image.

ORANGE, CA.- Gold is the commodity on everyone’s minds these days, and bidders could very well strike paydirt over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3 and 4, when southern California auctioneer Don Presley offers nuggets and other specimens from the private collection of a retired professional prospector.

Now in his late eighties, the prospector – who traded in precious metals and sold mining equipment for a living – built a special reserve collection over his lifetime that consisted of exceptional geological specimens. He is now liquidating his collection to provide for his grandchildren.

“Over the years, he has prospected all over the world, and this is the first time he has ever sold anything at auction,” said Don Presley. “Some of the pieces in his collection are just fabulous.”

Headlining the gold lots is a spectacular white quartz specimen with a total weight of 59.2 ozt. that contains a gold chunk weighing 29.5 ozt. “A specific gravity test makes it possible to determine the weight of gold when it is suspended in quartz,” Presley said. “The way the price of gold is going, it would have a melt value of close to $60,000, but I don’t know why anyone would want to melt it; it’s a fantastic thing to look at.” Presley has estimated the item at $60,000-$90,000.

Three nuggets have been consigned by the prospector, the largest weighing 12.86 ozt. (or 400 grams) and estimated at $25,000-$40,000. Presley said that because it is a solid nugget, it has more value than scrap gold of the same weight. An 8 ozt. nugget is estimated at $16,000-$20,000; while a 2 ozt. nugget that was made into a beautiful pendant enhanced with sapphires is expected to pan out at $4,200-$6,000.

Other, smaller gold-quartz specimens have been consigned to the sale, as well. An example weighing 29.58 grams (20 grams gold) is estimated at $1,500-$2,500; and one with a total weight of 20.96 grams (13 grams gold) is expected to fetch $800-$1,500. Reasonable estimates have been placed on all of the gold and gold quartz lots, with opening bids just under the melt value.

“The prospector’s collection has turned out to be quite a shrewd investment. Gold is on the rise, so his consignments have gone up in value without a single bidding paddle being lifted,” Presley observed.

Other valuable “metal” in the sale includes a selection of silver coins and an elegant 1988 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur motor car, which is estimated at $20,000-$35,000. Sparkling estate jewelry featuring sizable diamonds and emeralds are on the roster, as well as watches and a separate collection of Tiffany pocket watches.

Following in the footsteps of previous Don Presley sales, there will be a wealth of fresh to the market fine and decorative art from which to choose on Sept. 3-4. Many exquisite items came from a residence in the exclusive southern California enclave of Palos Verdes.

A grand array of 19th-century French furniture is to be offered, including cabinets, armoires, and an ornately hand-carved bed. Presley said two similarly decorated Linke-style tables deserve special attention. One is sized perfectly as an entry table, while the smaller of the two could even be used as a lamp table. Each of the glass-topped tables is richly adorned in gilt bronze with hand-painted porcelain plaques and cartouches.

Art glass includes pieces by Tiffany Studios – including a few Tiffany lamps – Galle, Steuben, Quezal, Wavecrest and more. Porcelain entries include designs by Sevres, Limoges and KPM, with the addition of two Dresden lamps.

An outstanding collection of Chinese ivories will be auctioned, including king and queen figures, a set of seven Immortals and a superbly crafted chess set. From a separate consignor comes a collection of approximately 100 netsukes that will be apportioned 12 to a lot. An impressive pair of 34-inch-tall Chinese gilded-wood foo dogs on 30-inch pedestals will cross the auction block, together with Chinese jade, scrolls and ivory fans.

The gallery will be alive with the sounds of ticking and chimes from a panoramic array of clocks. Of special note is a collection of desirable hunting clocks. A Steinway & Sons baby grand piano and many other outstanding artworks and bronzes complete the auction lineup.

Presley noted that 90% of the goods in his Sept. 3-4, 2011 sale will be auctioned “absolute,” without reserves or minimums. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will commence at noon Pacific Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers or Proxibid.

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