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Antiques 'fit for royalty' to be auctioned April 14-15 at Don Presley's California gallery
Benneman 19th-century Louis XVI-style commode with key, 69 inches wide, est. $25,000-$30,000. Don Presley Auction image.

ORANGE, CA.- Preparations are well under way for an April 14-15 auction of premium-quality estate antiques and art to be held at Don Presley’s Southern California gallery. Every corner and aisle is brimming with decorative pieces of old gold, soft silver, rouge marble and jade – key inclusions from among the 1,000+ lots selected for the two-day event.

“We have a great mix in this sale, most of which comes from upscale estates,” said auctioneer Don Presley. “Imagine the fanciest European antique shop you ever walked into, and that will give you an idea of what awaits bidders in this sale. I think even the most sophisticated buyer would agree that many of the objects that came from Beverly Hills and Newport Beach consignors are fit for royalty.”

An exquisite 19th-century Louis XVI-style ormolu commode crafted by ebeniste Guillaume Benneman is a lavish presentation measuring 69 inches wide and 37 inches tall. “Benneman was the last of the royal cabinetmakers before the French Revolution. His early neoclassical designs are highly refined and of impeccable quality. They were favorites with French nobility,” said Presley. The commode to be auctioned is estimated at $25,000-$30,000.

Another important entry in the furniture section is a signed Paul Sormani (Italian/French, 1817-1877) rouge-marble-topped bronze ormolu table. Sormani’s work was shown at many Expositions Universelles, including the 1855 edition in Paris, where one of his designs won a gold medal. The 43-inch-wide by 29½-inch-tall Sormani table in Presley’s sale carries a $9,000-$15,000 estimate.

Practically every upper-class European home of the late 18th/early 19th century included a lavishly gilded tall-case clock amongst its interior furnishings. Just such an example is the 91-inch boulle clock with bronze ormolu decoration, porcelain Roman numerals and sunburst pendulum, estimated at $12,000-$20,000. The shapely 91-inch timepiece with a three-dimensional finial of Old Father Time gripping a scythe is signed “F. Dardenne a Orleans.” It is joined in the sale by several other carved clocks of substantial quality.

The auction includes dozens of fine Continental paintings, led by a framed oil-on-canvas landscape by Jean-Alfred Desbrosses (French, 1835-1906) titled “Vallee de Fontana (Auvergne), Soleil Couchant.” A superb depiction of a distant sunset as viewed down a tree-lined path, the signed 95½- by 66½-inch painting is a testament to the artist’s understanding of perspective, Presley said. “When you look at it, the view goes on forever. It’s deeply dimensional,” the auctioneer observed. Estimate: $50,000-$75,000.

Occupying one of the top slots in the decorative art portion of the sale, a signed and dated 1875 marble statue of a blindfolded, armless Cupid was created by the listed Italian artist Ferdinando Andreini (1843-1922). It stands 30 inches tall and could reach $20,000-$25,000 on auction day. A recent comparable Andreini sculpture sold for $32,000.

Approximately 10 pieces of KPM porcelain will be presented to bidders. A 19th-century Berlin KPM plaque, signed “Wagner” and depicting an ethereal beauty with flowing hair, could fetch $12,000-$15,000.

Monumental in size, a 19th-century Meissen mirror is profusely embellished with porcelain flowers, foliage, cherubs and birds. Measuring 70 inches long by 42 inches wide, it carries a $30,000-$40,000 estimate.

Three pieces of coveted Georg Jensen silver are set to cross the auction block: a covered sugar bowl, compote and vertical teapot with decorative finial and handle. Each is estimated at $800-$1,200.

A magnificent 42-piece Reed & Barton sterling silver flatware service in the “Love Disarmed” pattern has a total weight of 75.85 ounces. It includes 6 place settings (dinner fork, salad fork, teaspoon, dessert fork) plus nine oyster forks, a large punchbowl ladle, and salad-serving fork and spoon set, in a fitted wood case. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000.

Noteworthy among the Sevres lots are a monumental hand-painted centerpiece with putti, $6,000-$9,000; a 19th-century hand-painted and gilded cachepot, $16,000-$18,000; multiple clock and candelabra garniture sets; jardinieres, vases and other select objets d’art.

A top auction highlight is the antique verni Martin French sedan chair. Essentially, the sedan chair is an extravagantly carved and decorated portable “cabinet” with side windows and hinged door, in which wealthy aristocrats or “dandies” could be carried from place to place by footmen. “Sometimes it was for show, but often it was to prevent their clothes or hairdos from getting soiled by dust from town roads. They were a rich man’s taxi cab before such things existed,” said Presley. The fare to ride off in Presley’s giltwood sedan chair is expected to be $50,000-$75,000.

The sale includes much more to tempt the discriminating bidder, including Chinese jades, Italian micromosaic artworks, two French Erard harps, pairs of Old Paris porcelain vases, and signed Tiffany sterling silver and glass designs.

The auction will commence at 12 noon Pacific Time on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15, 2012. Preview Mon.-Sat. 10-5. The gallery is located at 1319 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through and For additional information, call Don Presley at 714-633-2437 or e-mail View the catalog at or on the Presley website at

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