Rare Isamu Noguchi chess table soars to $109,250 at S&S Auction in Repaupo, N.J. A rare and important chess table designed by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller in the 1940s sold for $109,250 at a multi-estate sale held Oct. 22 by S&S Auction, Inc., in Repaupo, N.J.
News-Antique.com - Nov 13,2012 - (REPAUPO, N.J.) – A rare and important chess table designed by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller in the 1940s and discovered by a contractor renovating a home outside Newark, sold for $109,250 at a multi-estate sale held Oct. 22 by S&S Auction, Inc. The auction was held in the S&S Auction, Inc., showroom facility, located at 62 Repaupo Station Road in Repaupo.
“The contractor found the table, in sections,” said Glenn Sweeney of S&S Auction, Inc. “Someone suggested he bring it to our auction, which he did, along with four other modern pieces. He had no idea of the table's importance until he saw it featured on the home page of our website. In the end, a buyer in Los Angeles purchased it for $95,000, plus the buyer's premium.”
The original design for the table was made in 1944 for the Imagery of Chess exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City. There, it was lauded as “the most beautiful piece in the show.” In 1947, designer George Nelson convinced Herman Miller to commercially produce the table, but in limited quantities. Only about eight of this particular table are known to exist.
The table was by far the top lot in a two-session auction that featured uncataloged items in the daytime and cataloged lots in the evening. The table sold in the evening session, along with 232 other lots, most of which were fresh-to-the-market items pulled from prominent estates and local collections. Over the course of a long day, around 500 people attended the auction live.
In addition, more than 250 people registered to bid online, through LiveAuctioneers.com, and phone and absentee bids were brisk both sessions. Most lots were sold via the phone and the Internet. “The table helped make a good sale a great sale,” Sweeney remarked, “with healthy prices realized for many of the better items proving the upper end of the market remains strong.”
Following are additional highlights of the auction. All prices quoted include a 17.5 percent buyer’s premium.
Artwork featured an original, unsigned study of a New Year’s baby for a 1938 cover of The Saturday Evening Post by J.C. Leyendecker, 24 inches by 16 inches ($6,463); a 44-inch-tall stone carving of an African woman, unsigned, in very good condition ($3,819); and a 19th century oil painting of cyclists, framed, with remnants of an artist’s signature visible ($3,231).
Ivory pieces included a carved African elephant tusk with elephants, 39 ¼ inches long, in good condition except for a small break in the carving ($2,233); an Asian carved ivory and wood figure with mother of pearl inlaid robe, 24 ½ inches tall, in very good condition ($2,644); and a pair of Chinese carved ivory vases, 11 ¾ inches tall, one missing a small figural head ($1,763).
Sterling silver included a 55-piece Gorham Vermeil flatware set with heads on handles, monogrammed “Lois” on the back and in very good condition ($4,700); and three lots of Tiffany & Company silverware in the Audubon pattern (10