Art deco—the style of
the flapper, the luxury ocean liner, and the skyscraper—came to
epitomize the glamour, luxury, and hedonism of the Jazz Age. After
bursting onto the world stage, it quickly swept the globe,
influencing everything from architecture to interior design, fashion
jewelry, and radios. Above all, it became the style of the pleasure
palaces of the age—hotels, nightclubs, and movie theaters.
13 ½"-inch-high porcelain vase, featuring an elaborately painted
portrait of Catherine the Great of Russia and a mark on its base of a
dark red, inverted "N" surmounted by stars, recently went up
for auction on eBay for a staggering minimum bid of $30,000. However, at
the auction’s closing, only one bidder had placed a bid of $30,100 on
it, but the reserve on the item hadn’t been met.
The vase features an elaborate portrait of
Catherine the Great on its face and on its base is a mark featuring a
dark red, inverted "N" surmounted by five stars.
The April 8, 1927 issue of the New York Times
displayed a story about a valuable porcelain vase that was set to go up
for auction. According to the story, Catherine the Great had presented
the vase to Count Louis de Cobenzel, a prominent Austrian diplomat, who
Napoleon had come to meet to negotiate a treaty between Austria and
France. During the negotiations, Cobenzel insinuated that Austria
intended to ask the Russians for aid. Upon hearing this, Napoleon became
so enraged that he declared, " The truce is over. We are once again
at war. Before autumn is over, I shall shatter your empire as I shatter
this vase." And with that, he picked up the vase and threw it into
the fireplace, smashing it pieces.
Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, standing at his
side, rushed to gather up the pieces of the shattered vase and later had
it restored. After Napoleon’s downfall, Joseph escaped to America,
bringing the vase with him. He later gave it to his friend, Adam David
Logan, who, in turn, gave it to his fiancé, Mary B. Alburtis, a young
New York society woman. But Logan died before their wedding and Alburtis
kept the vase as a reminder of him until she left it to her personal
physician, Dr. Martha Huson.
Dr. Huson borrowed $3,000 from her nurse, Miss
Margaret Conway, using the vase as collateral for the loan. She
estimated the vase to then be worth $150,000, given its provenance. As
it turned out, she couldn’t repay the loan but refused to give up the
vase to Conway. However, Conway had a judgment issued against Huson,
and a judge ordered her to sell the vase at auction to pay off the debt.
But the auction never took place, and Huson had
to turn the vase over to Conway. The current owners of the vase are
relatives of a friend of Conway’s to whom she eventually gave the
No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.
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