image (2)

Lot 590. An Edward Farmer silver-mounted box with inlaid jade plaques, Ming dynasty; 18.2cm wide. Sold for HK$ 312,500 (€ 37,105). © Bonhams.

The rectangular silver box engraved with classical key-fret scrolls running around the edges of the sides and hinged cover, the two long white jade belt plaques on the cover each presenting one convex side and a dragon surrounded by flowering branches or cloud scrolls, the rectangular plaques on the sides centred with dragons in differing grounds, the dragon-centred belt plaque on the back finished with one convex side while the similarly shaped plaque to the front displays a human figure, lion dog and embroidered ball, the flat base stamped 'Edward I. Farmer, New York' and 'Sterling' and the corner feet decorated with scrolls attached to perforated jade beads incorporating shou medallions.

ProvenanceRobyn Turner Gallery, San Francisco.

ExhibitedEast Meets West, Orientations, Hong Kong, 1998, cat.no.12, pp.20-21.

NoteEdward I. Farmer (1872-1942) was a well-known art dealer in New York City with over twenty-nine years of experience in the field. His galleries at 5 West Fifty-Sixth Street and 16 East Fifty-Sixth Street offered a wide variety of Chinese works of art as well as European antiques. With an interest and flair for both Eastern and Western antiques, he is remembered best as the foremost expert in mounting fine Chinese porcelains and jades into decorative lamps and desk accessories, as highlighted by the current lot.

The breadth of his collecting can be gauged by the three-day sale of the contents of his gallery that took place in 16-19 April and 3-4 December 1947 at Parke Bernet Galleries. Although the current lot was not illustrated in those sales catalogues, a similar sterling silver box, with key-fret border trim surrounding applied Late Ming jade belt plaques, was also included in the same exhibition and catalogue (cat.no.6, pp.12-13). A jade-mounted gold jewel box from the Farmer studios was also sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 March 2004, lot 522.

Belt plaques carefully reticulated of white jade with dragon decoration are of a well-known type from the Ming dynasty. Sets of jade plaques dating to the Ming dynasty are illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, Vol.5 Sui-Ming, 2005, p.503, no.250 (complete belt set with figures) and p.504, nos.251-253 (individual dragon plaques).

Bonhams. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 24 Nov 2012, Hong Kong, Admiralty