Museum Sale: Augusta Auction Company

Kimono, 1870s

Coming soon is the Augusta Auction Company‘s latest antique and vintage clothing and textiles auction.  Preview in New York City on Friday, March 23rd and Saturday, March 24th.  Auction starts at 12 noon March 24th.  If you can not be in New York City for the auction, despair not!  Absentee, phone, and internet bids will be accepted.   Nearly 400 catalogued lots, this auction is especially interesting as its contents are consignments from a number of prominent American museums, including:  Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, Chrysler Museum (Virginia), Montclair Art Museum (New Jersey), and the National Heritage Museum (Massachusetts).

Two Mainboche Lamé Dresses

The sale features antique clothing, accessories, Asian & middle Eastern garments & textiles, rugs, tapestries, lace, ecclesiastical objects, and more from the 15th to 20th centuries.  If you visit the Augusta Auction Company web site, you can view online galleries of consigned items, with more to be posted over the next few weeks.  The auction catalog is schedule to be posted online March 10th.

The following information comes from an email sent by the auction company:

Lots to be sold include rare textiles and clothing objects from the 15th Century right up to the 1990’s, including…designs from many of the top fashion names of the twentieth century – Elizabeth Hawes, Bonnie Cashin, Halston, Claire McCardell, Chanel, Ferragamo, Mainbocher, Phillip Hulitar, Sarmi, Stavropoulos, Galanos, Elizabeth Arden, Rudi Gernreich, Eta Hentz, Pierre Cardin, Balenciaga, Zandra Rhodes, Geoffrey Beene, Lilly Dache, Gucci and many others.

Rose Pink Evening Gown, 1910

If you are at all like me (and I suspect you may be, if only a tiny bit, since you are reading Worn Through), you have already asked yourself, “Why are museum pieces up for auction?”

Taken from the Augusta Auction Company web site, here is the explanation, really quite simple:

Garments and textiles offered for sale from most of the museum collections include pieces that no longer fit the criteria of the museums’ collections policies, duplicate other pieces in their collections, or are pieces that are no longer exhibited.  Many have been in museum storage for decades. All are new to market and have not previously been offered for sale. The museum collections are sold to the highest bidder, free of any minimum bids or auction reserves. Proceeds from auction attendees’ purchases go directly to the museums’ acquisitions funds or to support their conservation efforts.

See?  You can add a treasure to your own collection, and feel good about doing so, knowing that the proceeds from your purchases go directly towards supporting the museums. 

Here are a few more of the promised highlights of the March 24th sale:

Featured items include 1940’s posters from Charles James, donated by the designer to the Brooklyn Museum, a c. 1750 Chien-Lung Imperial palace hanging, a 15th C tapestry of Roman Soldiers, a 1770 dated Aubusson tapestry, a large 19th C. Meiji embroidery depicting mythical beasts, hand-woven and embroidered shawls, 16th & 17th C. ecclesiastical textiles & silk brocades, other early European embroideries, Victorian through late 20th C garments, shoes, hats, 19th C beaded purses & 20th C pocketbooks, silk lingerie and so much more.

Even if you do not plan to bid, if you are a collector it can be useful to check the results of this auction, as they can help you to determine the current market value of any similar pieces in your own collection (although, bear in mind that the museum provenenance adds to the value of these auction items), or even the potential auction price of a special something for which you have been searching and saving up.

To tempt you, below are some examples from the online gallery.

Elizabeth Hawes Evening Gown, 1945

Embroidered Chinese Export Robe, early 20th century

Orange and Gold Stavropoulos Evening Ensemble, 1982

Four Mod Serendipity Dresses, 1965

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  • Carolyn March 08, 2010 10.36 am

    Well, so much for the sanctity of “public trust”. I’m just heartbroken at what’s happened to the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, hopefully this will be the final indignity.

  • Lizzie March 11, 2010 07.04 pm

    I thought it was interesting that there are several dresses by Elizabeth Hawes in this sale. I wonder if they are museum deaccesioned items. If so, then some collection must have some might nice examples, as her work is so hard to find. There are going to be some very happy collectors who get their hands on these!

  • Worn Through » Issues In Dress Collection: Deaccessioning
    September 17, 2010 - 4:01 pm

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