Mughal Dagger Tops $314,000 at Rago’s September 16th Auction “Daggers such as this only come to auction once in a collector’s lifetime”
Lambertville, NJ: Rago Arts and Auction Center’s 2000 lot auction on September 14, 15 and 16 would have been a great succe
News-Antique.com - Sep 19,2012 - Mughal Dagger Tops $314,000 at Rago’s September 16th Auction
“Daggers such as this only come to auction once in a collector’s lifetime”
Lambertville, NJ: Rago Arts and Auction Center’s 2000 lot auction on September 14, 15 and 16 would have been a great success without lot 2606. With it, Rago’s has made news. Lot 2606, catalogued as “jewel encrusted Mughal dagger, Northern India, rare Kanhjar form, 18th/19th c. Quillon, grip and pommel in gold set with cabochon rubies, emeralds and diamonds stretched over iron, sheath with similar mountings, finely worked Damascus steel blade,” sold on the phone to a private collector for $314,500.
The collector, who wishes to remain private, said this of his purchase, "Beautifully crafted and decorated daggers such as this only come to auction once in a collector's lifetime. When I laid eyes on it, I immediately recognized not only the sheer beauty of its form, but also its undeniable historic and cultural significance. To think that centuries ago a fabulously wealthy and powerful Mughal Emperor or Indian Maharajah may well have owned this glorious example of human endeavor instills in me a deep sense of privilege and honor. Indeed, it is an incredible feeling to be the latest custodian of this elegant and rare weapon".
“We knew that it would sell far over estimate when we set the price.” said Tom Martin, who heads Rago’s Estates department, “Needless to say, we had no idea what the final selling price would be. One of specialists here did guess $250,000 as the hammer. Maybe it was the twenty phone bidders that clued him in.”
The twenty phone bidders were a new record at Rago’s, up from eighteen for a lot by contemporary artist Raymond Pettibon that sold in a recent fine art auction. The selling price was not a record at Rago’s, which has sold property for upwards of $500,000 before. It is the highest selling price for property outside of Rago’s founding specialty in 20th c. design and an apt demonstration of how the auction house has evolved.
An online search indicates this to be the second-highest selling price for such a dagger. Another, from the Theodor Sehmer and Heidi Vollmoeller Collections, described as "North India or Deccan, second half 17th century," sold at Christie's in London in 2004 for $1,149,909.
GREAT ESTATES HIGHLIGHTS
There were a number of other extremely strong sales in the Great Estates auction, as well as the two-day Discovery auction which preceded it, also worthy of note, if less excitement. Ephemera performed exceedingly well. Lot 2627, the George T. Dowling Abolitionist papers, consisting of twenty letters, including one from Abraham Lincoln dated 1862, one from President Grant and others from prominent civil rights leaders and abolitionists, brought $20,000. An Edgar Allen Poe autograph brought $11,875. A collection of Lotten glass brought over $60,000, exceeding the high estimate and bringing in buyers from across the country. Coins and currency (lots 2651-1395) achieved a total of over $61,000, surpassing the high estimate of $49,100.