Memories of an Acquisition

Roughly twenty-five years ago, a man was given my name and phone number as a potential candidate for the purchase of his two massive Rörstrand Art Nouveau vases that are now lots 183 and 186 in this auction. His voice struck me as familiar, as did his name, Phil Andrews. I called my partner, Fran Gelman, to see if she wanted to go for a ride. In about an hour we arrived at his home and I recognized him immediately. I had watched him on television, for the umpteenth time, the previous evening. He covered sports on Philadelphia's channel six Action News. After an exchange of greetings, Fran and I found ourselves in a room lit like an exhibition gallery, surrounded by life-sized mannequins mounted on pedestals and attired in the most elaborate military uniforms from countries across the globe and spanning military campaigns of the last one hundred years.

Needless to say, he was a collector! The Rörstrands were down the hall in a room that rivaled the previous in dramatic presentation. Each vase was provided its own alcove and spotlight. Although striking, the elaborate display was hardly necessary. Fran and I could have recognized them as museum-quality masterworks if blind-folded and forced to make our decision on touch alone. In short order, we purchased the works and bid farewell to the local sports reporter and his high-ranked collection, having acquired a memory that only the pursuit of beauty can provide. The vases have served ever since, in Fran's home, as brilliant representatives of The Golden Age of 20th century Ceramic Art.

—Earl Johnson