Roy Rogers And More At Bonham's Natural History Auction
Rogers collected nearly every detail from his life. He held on to everything he could. In today's world he'd might end up an episode of a hoarding television show but instead the cowboy icon created a museum full of all the personal things he saved. Even his famous horse, Trigger, was mounted and displayed at the museum, which was first in Victorville, California. The museum suffered with dwindling attendance and in 2003 was moved to Branson, Missouri. Unfortunately it didn't fare too well there either and it closed last year. The various pieces of the collection, from the old battered car that took Rogers's family from Ohio to the large memorabilia archives from the family and the old Roy Rogers television show, will be sold off piecemeal through various auction houses with appropriate specialties.
Up for sale at the Bonhams Natural History auction will be Rogers's mineral collection. One of the things Bonhams is most known for is its specialization in minerals and the upcoming sale features far more just Rogers's collection. Although he had always had an interest in fossils and stones, Rogers began collecting minerals in earnest after moving to the high desert region. An article entitled "Happy Rock Trails" appeared in Gems and Minerals magazine shows Rogers with a quartz crystal cluster. The magazine and crystal speciment are being sold together with an estimate of $700 - 1,000.
Rogers went out and found his own minerals and also owned lapidary equipment and cut his own cabochons. He enjoyed collecting the agates and jaspers often found in the desert area. One of his rings, up for bid at the auction features a fire agate that he cut set in a yellow gold lasso-styled setting (estimated at $600-$800).
Other treats at the upcoming sale include delicate carved shell cameos. Bonhams often consigns pieces directly from jewelers, miners and artisans. The delicate cameos are made from the Queen Helmet conch and instead of featuring dated Victorian ladies with updos, these delicate pieces are carved in high relief showing nature scenes like tropical fish swimming in coral or local flowers.
These well-crafted pieces are carved by Wounaan Indians of the Darien Rainforest Region of Panama. The tradition of carving for the tiny Wounaan Indian tribe indigenous to the tropical rainforests of the Darien Peninsula goes back many centuries. Usually their medium was either the hardwood species cocobolo or the tagua nut but they began using shells in the late 1990s. Andrew Ike brought these shells and tools to the tribes and together with his business partner Roslyn Zelenka he founded a jewelry and cameo carving partnership, now called Rainforest Design, employing three native artists. The Wounaan spend the majority of their time in dugout canoes on river estuaries living a life close to nature. Their cameo work are actually detailed portraits of indigenous flora and fauna done in three-dimensional relief with the layering of color in the material providing a sense of depth. The bracelet shown here, a tiger lily in high relief with a hummingbird mounted in 18K yellow gold and six strands of 3.5 mm uniform seed pearls is estimated at $1,800 - 2,500.
While checking out some highlights of the sale this week I was introduced to the work of goldsmith and jeweler Angela Conty, one of the jewelers who works directly with Bonhams to bring her intricate and distinctive designs to market. Conty has been designing and creating jewelry for decades and her designs have appeared in several magazine and book publications. A necklace and earring set of hers was worn by an Oscar presenter at the Academy Awards. The piece shown here is a brooch/pendant called the Fairy Bride. The wings of the fairy are formed of carved sections of Lightning Ridge black opal from Australia, the reverse side is pierced to permit the transmission of light, creating a beautiful weblike effect. Her bouquet is formed of small emerald and iolite beads suspending a small tassel of cultured freshwater pearls.She wears a diaphanous gown of 18K yellow gold and sits atop a large South Seas keshi pearl. This piece is estimated at $10,000 - 15,000.