Auction of the Week: Rago Curiouser & Curiouser sale, December 1, 2018



2018-11-14 13:07:08

This week's featured auction is the 'Curiouser and Curiouser' sale at Rago Auctions on December 1. The catalogue is packed with strange and remarkable lots, from outsider and folk art to bizarre taxidermy, political propaganda, historic artifacts, unusual decorative antiques and a whole bunch of items that defy description! Here are just a few of our favourites...

Three children's store mannequins

Estimate: $900 - $1,200

A trio of slightly creepy-looking 20th century department store child mannequins, all with removable limbs and originating from Spain.

Raku-fired ceramic elephant by Ellen Silberlicht

Estimate: $600 - $900

This Elephant vase is the work of Pennsylvanian ceramic artist Ellen Silberlicht, and was created using the ancient Japanese method called raku, in which pots are removed from the kiln at high temperatures to create unique colors and textures.

Untitled (Statue of Liberty - Good People) by Bertha Halozan

Estimate: $600 - $800

This 1991 painting is the work of outsider artist Bertha Halozan, an Austrian-born opera singer who emigrated to America in 1954.

For many years Halozan could be found selling her paintings on the street corner of Broadway and 55th Street in Manhattan, near the hotel where she lived before she passed away in 2004.

Her works often included images of the Statue of Liberty with pigtails, and she would tape newspaper clippings to reverse of each painting mentioning her career as a singer and the story of how she was jilted at the alter.

Chinese Cultural Revolution space race ceramic sculpture

Estimate: $400 - $600

This 20th century Cultural Revolution propaganda statue depicts Chinese peasants riding a rocket, and features the translated motto "We will Catch Up to you America, and Exceed Britain".

Folk Art Bird House

Estimate: $300 - $500

An American, 20th century hand-carved and painted folk art bird house, in the form of a surprised boy (complete with glass eyes).

Rattlesnake tails in glass dome

Estimate: $500 - $700

This undated and slightly macabre display dome contains a large collection of severed rattlesnake tails.

Hornmann Magic Co. animated hand

Estimate: $400 - $600

This carved wooden hand made by the Hornmann Magic Co. circa 1918. A hidden internal mechanism allowed the disembodied hand to rap out answers to questions from the audience on a sheet of glass.

Shirley Temple wax museum figure

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500

This 1930s figure originates from a wax museum in Miami, Florida, and depicts the famous Hollywood child star Shirley Temple.

Mid-century American propaganda posters

Estimate: $900 - $1,200

A collection of three U.S propaganda posters designed in the late 1940s by artist Victor Wells, to promote and incentivise hard work in the aftermath of WWII and the perceived threat of communism.

Giant insect model

Estimate: $1,800 - $2,500

This large, highly detailed resin model of a stag beetle was created in the 1990s and used as an exhibit in a German natural history museum.

Hand-painted West African Barber Shop Sign

Estimate: $300 - $400

This colourful hand-painted wooden sign originates from a West African barber shop, and advertises an 'American Coiffeur' with sharp styles that include 'concord', 'tupac' and 'ford'.

The Monstrous Anti-Communist Red Menace

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000

A bizarre anti-communist sculpture made in America circa 1920-30, depicting the 'Red Menace' as a dragon with a human head.

The beast features a hammer and sickle under its tail, along with scales that “Family, Home, Prosperity, Drink, Food, Cement, Insurance".

Headstone for a horse

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,800

This carved marble headstone was originally created as a memorial to a horse named Gay Pete, who died in 1944.

At the time, the word 'gay' was used as an equestrian term to describe horses which held their tails up high.

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