You have 2 more free articles remaining

In the event, they were the subject of quite a bidding battle between the
underbidder, a US dealer on the telephone, and the successful Finnish private who took them to more than four-times estimate at FiM230,000/€38,685 (£24,800).

The candlesticks were designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950) in 1912, 11 years prior to his family’s emigration to the United States. Although they bore no maker’s marks, there was no doubt as to the origin of the candlesticks since they had been shown in exhibitions and illustrated in two works published by the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

They were brought to Hagelstam by the Finnish family who had inherited them directly from the designer himself. Saarinen is best known for designing the Helsinki Railway Station (1905–14) and for his work at the Cranbrook Academy complex in Michigan, US, which embraced the design of the buildings, their layout, the interior masonry and furnishings.

The influence of the 19th century Arts & Craft movement was prevalent throughout Saarinen’s career, but earlier works, such as Helsinki Station and these candlesticks, in fact, exhibit a strong affinity with more geometric Jugendstil designs.

While Saarinen’s oeuvre extended across a broad range of media, his silverware rarely makes an appearance on the market and Hagelstam’s managing director Mikael Schnitt told the Antiques Trade Gazette that nobody at the auction house was aware of any other candlesticks by Saarinen
in existence and he admitted that, for these reasons, the estimate of FiM50,000 had been plucked out of the air.

Another highlight of the same Hagelstam sale was the Finnish silver coffee pot, right, by Lars Anders Hahnstedt, 1778, which was estimated at FiM100,000/€16,818 (£10,800). Finland is not a country rich in silver and as fashions changed, silver works would usually have been melted down, so original 18th century Finnish silverware is an extremely rare commodity that hardly ever comes up for auction.

Imagine the excitement, then, of the
auctioneers when this coffee pot was brought to them for a second time, having sold in their rooms for FiM98,000 in 1981 to a private collector, who had now died, leaving it to his son.

Finland’s silver collectors were always going to dictate the coffee pot’s price and, despite valiant efforts on the part of a Finnish museum, it went to a private collector for a triple-estimate FiM300,000/€50456 (£32,400).

£1 = FiM9.26/€1.56