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Bauhaus chess set and Martin Brothers highlight New Jersey auction

09 April 2013Written by ATG Reporter

Rago Auctions’ recent modern auction in Lambertville, New Jersey featured a Josef Hartwig-designed chess set of the 1920s.

Hartwig (1880-1955) headed the Bauhaus wood-carving and sculpture workshop from 1921-25. This chess set - a collaboration with Joost Schmidt, the advertising and packaging designer - epitomised the Bauhaus dictum of form following function.

Each stained beech chesspiece is an abstract representation of the moves made on the chessboard; for instance, the square-shaped rook implies movement back and forth, left and right and the Queen's spherical head represents her ability to move in any direction.

It sold for $14,000 (£9270)

Martin Brothers

The day before at the auctioneers' early 20th Century Auction on March 2 offered seven different examples of the iconic anthropomorphic Martin Brothers salt-glazed stoneware bird tobacco jars.

All the lots found buyers, with four selling above their high estimate. The most expensive was an early 11in (28cm) high example, dated 1892, signed Martin Bros London & Southall and estimated at $35,000-45,000.

Exhibited at the LA County Art Museum in 1983, it was formerly in the Harriman & Judd Collection sold by Sotheby's New York in a benchmark auction in 2001, where it fetched $20,000. This time around the bird sold for $75,000 (£49,670).

The buyer's premium was 25/20%.

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