Don Presley’s March3 Once In A Lifetime Auction Features An Exciting Array Of Genuinely Unique Items The one-of-a-kind treasures include a Turkish sultan’s private photo album, mysterious tapestry and a Roman micromosaic.
News-Antique.com - Feb 23,2012 - ORANGE, Calif. – Southern California’s finest estates continue to yield their treasures to Don Presley, whose March 3rd “Once in a Lifetime” auction of antiques, art and collectibles includes an exciting array of genuinely unique items.
The first of the one-of-a-kind entries in the sale is an incredible photorealistic Italian micromosaic artwork depicting the Roman Forum and its surrounding landscape. Composed of thousands of pieces of hand-laid miniature pieces of glass, the circa-1870s artwork was executed in the manner of Vatican master mosaicist Cesare Roccheggiani. Artworks of this type were created for noblemen and wealthy aristocrats visiting Rome during their Grand Tour of Europe. Each commissioned work was painstakingly crafted and reflected the artist’s own impression of the subject, just as though it were a painting. One of four antique micromosaics included in Presley’s sale, it measures 11¾ by 14¼ inches and is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.
The second unquestionably unique item in Presley’s sale is a remarkable mid-19th-century sultan’s photo album containing pictures of his concubine, as well as other people and views of Constantinople.
For several decades the album was the property of the Scottish Rite Museum in Los Angeles. It comes with a signed letter from the person who donated it to the Scottish Rite Temple for its archives. The letter reads: "While on duty with the Navy for 2 1/2 years (1919 to 1921) in Constantinople, an assistant postmaster gave me this album as we were jointly working, photographing mosques and other places of interest in that area. The original photographer is, of course, unknown. Originally the album was probably in the archives of the sultans, as the gold insignia on the cover is the Official Seal of the Sultan…Photos 19 to 40 are priceless, as photographically they are what is known as the "wet plate" process in which the photographer would wet a sheet of glass with collodion, put it in the camera and take the picture as soon as possible thereafter, but the edges of the plate would dry, leaving a reticulation on the outer edges, which are the "fingerprints" of the wet plate process.” The writer goes on to explain that the wet plate process was abandoned after the so-called dry plate process was invented in 1880.
“This photo album has to be seen to be believed,” said Don Presley. “I can’t imagine there is another one like it in the world.” Its presale estimate is $6,000-$10,000.
Another deaccession from the Scottish Rite Museum is a metallic tapestry that was donated to the fraternal organization around 1900. Woven with silver and gold threads, it is decorated with arcane Masonic or possibly Knights Templar symbols including a skull and bones, stonemasonry tools, a handshake, and a pentagram overlaid with a diamond.
“This tapestry is a mystery. We can’t identify some of the symbols. It may have been a burial shroud, as it does not appear that it was ever hung,” said Presley. “We showed it to a museum curator who said he thinks it’s 300