Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Salvador Dali Original Engraving: "Pegasus in Flight with an Angel" (1970).

Salvador Dali Original Engraving:
"Pegasus in Flight with an Angel" (1970)

This original engraving is listed in the Field catalog as #70-3 and is limited to 1,000 prints (250 on Arches, signed; 1,000 in blue signed only in plate; total: 1,250).

As you can see, this engraving features some typical Dalinian imagery: sparse landscape with perspective lines, several objects with long shadows, a horse, cypress trees, etc.  I think the blue ink makes the image pop more than if it were done in black.

This print is on unidentified paper with no watermark, and measures about 11" x 14 7/8".  The image itself is about 10 3/8" x 8 1/8". 

Clearly this print suffers from mat burn.  The Kulicke frame and matte probably date to the 1970's, when this print was produced.  I have seen others of this same print in the same silver frame, so the frame may be original to the print.  Too bad an acid-free mat wasn't used back then.  What were they thinking?

Still, this is a beautiful and rare Dali engraving.  One seldom sees this print for sale, and the few that are currently up for auction are listed for extravagant prices--up to $500.  At that price, it's not selling.  A more reasonable price for this work is in the range of $175.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Poetic Homage to Gala-Salvador Dali.

Poetic Homage to Gala-Salvador Dali
by A. Reynolds Morse for
The Dali Museum, Cleveland (Beachwood) Ohio (1973).
I must admit that I am not a connoisseur of poetry.  When I do indulge in said written word, I prefer it to be short and to the point--like Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" or Poe's "Annabel Lee."  Say what you will, but anything else just goes over my head.

The poetry found in Poetic Homage to Gala-Salvador Dali falls into the category of poetry that I just don't understand.  As such, I cannot appreciate the inspiration reflected in these works, or that which inspired Morse to reprint said works therein.  Even Morse's astute explanation of the historical or social background to each poem does not make anything clearer for me.
Nevertheless, this book, like all Morse books for the Dali Museum, is erudite in its treatment of the subject at hand.  One finds assembled six Dalinian poems which span the years 1926-1964.  However, as the book's title suggests, these are not poems written by Dali, but about Dali.

Each poem is accompanied by an introduction and a biographical note about each author.  There are photographs of Dali and illustrations throughout.  Most notable are the several Dali drawings illustrating "Three Dry Spells" by Edward James.  One would likely have to track down a 1936 copy of the French art magazine Minotaure just to see these drawings.
Finally, the reader is treated to two new sonnets penned by Salvador Dali himself.

The entire package is, as always, well-done, but the poetry just doesn't do it for me.  If you're into that kind of thing, you might like this book.

The book is extremely rare, and as indicated on the book itself, it is limited to 250 copies.  My copy has an empty space where it should be numbered, leading me to suspect that more than 250 copies were actually put into circulation.

It seems that there are several numbered copies available in cyberspace for about $35.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Dali Journal: Impressions and Private Memories of Salvador Dali--January, 1920.

A Dali Journal:
Impressions and Private Memories of Salvador Dali,
January, 1920

Over the years, I have seen this book referenced in other works, and finally it has found its way into my collection.

This book, or booklet, was privately printed by Stratford Press in a limited edition for the Reynolds Morse Foundation in 1962.  It consists of 64 numbered pages stapled to a cover of heavy card stock.  It is richly-illustrated throughout with the boyhood pen and ink drawings of a young Dali, and with a number of photos and art reproductions, all in black-and-white.

The main content of the booklet is a word-for-word translation of a 15 year old Salvador Dali's personal journal from January, 1920.  Sounds interesting, right?  Well, don't get your hopes too high.

The youthful Dali doesn't resemble the megalomaniacal and esoteric wordsmith of his later years.  Here, we find a rather pedestrian Dali whose time is spent at school, hanging with friends, flirting with girls...just an average teenage boy.  We even get a look at the sappy side of young Dali on page 31:
...after that I went to sit on one of the boulevard benches...There I saw the enamored couples...walking before my eyes, showing their happiness...up and down, up and down, whispering their rapturous feelings.  They gazed at one another and in their faces there was a smile of happiness...I thought about how happy they must be; and I smiled.
Who knew that Dali was so normal???  Clearly this is not the picture he painted of himself through his own published writings.

I was a bit disappointed, and left wondering why Morse even bothered to publish this at all.  There is little evidence of the soon-to-be brilliant logician in this prosaic diary.  There is almost no reference to Dali's art or technique, and the journal entries are largely dominated by observations of the weather, and by accounts of the political strife of the period.

Surely there must be a more insightful section of Dali's memoirs suitable for publication.  Perhaps not.  Maybe this is all that had survived up to that point in time.  Apparently, the original journal fell into Morse's hands through a scholarly French book dealer who traced its lineage to a German auction.

Perhaps Morse simply felt a duty to share such a rare historical artifact that fortuitous circumstances had placed into his care.  Coincidentally, that is the same inspiration behind my creation of this very website.

And now for the brass tacks--just how much is this booklet worth?  Unfortunately, this is an item in which its rarity causes it to be more valuable than it realistically should be worth.  To buy one today, you would likely pay about $80.

I suggest that you try to find one in the $20 range, or do what I did: find this item bundled with another book for a great combination deal.  I paid almost nothing for this booklet considering the fair price I paid for the book that it was bundled with.  Awesome score!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beachwood (Cleveland) Ohio Salvador Dali Museum Dedication Medal/Medallion/Coin.

Beachwood (Cleveland) Ohio
Salvador Dali Museum Dedication Medal/Medallion/Coin

I first encountered this medallion in late 2010.  At the time, I hadn't yet decided to go all-out for collecting Dali medallions, and I lost the sale to a fellow Dali enthusiast.

Since that time, I have become a more active Dali medallion collector, and have pined for the one that got away.  That is, until now.

This rare medallion finally showed up, and I stepped up to the plate to swipe it faster than lightning.

It was obviously made to commemorate the March 7, 1971 dedication of the original Salvador Dali Museum established by Mr. and Mrs. A. Reynolds Morse.

It is composed of 30g of .999 fine silver, is 1.5" in diameter, and is stamped on the rim with serial number "0156."  Interestingly, the auction I lost in 2010 was for medal number "0157."

In my experience, this medallion is extremely rare.  It is not clear exactly how many of these were actually made or distributed.  So far, I have only observed the two low number serials above.

Of the two that sold over the past year, medallion number 0157 sold for $86.  However, I paid far less for my medallion number 0156--more than 33% less, in fact.  At current market value for silver (~$40/troy ounce), there's only about $40 worth of silver in this medallion.  Therefore, this medallion is likely worth about $60-$70, on average.

Of course, it's really worth whatever you are willing to pay for it now that you know it exists.  Happy hunting!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Leda and the Swan" by Salvador Dali (1974).

"Leda and the Swan"
by Salvador Dali (1974).

It appears that in the early 1970's, Dali had embarked on a collaboration with Philip R. Friedman, President of Silver Creations Ltd.  It was from this collaboration that the Leda and the Swan medallion was born.

The COA indicates that the medallion was limited to 7,500 in 18k gold over bronze; 2,000 in solid sterling silver; and 500 in solid 18k gold.

Most sightings of this medallion show it within a bezel, to be worn as a pendant, with an included pouch and a COA.

Note that the serial number of each medallion is stamped on the reverse side.

I was recently hunting through cyberspace for this medallion when I ran into an intersting item.  It appeared to be the Leda and the Swan medallion, but I noticed that the reverse side did not have a serial number.  Upon discussion with the seller, I discovered that the composition of the medal was identified as pewter by a stamp on the rim.

The seller turned out to be the widow of the aforementioned Philip R. Friedman.  Her opinion is that the medal was likely a test strike, or proof, of the medallion.  Indeed, the pewter version is the same size and has the same design on both sides as the limited edition.

While talking, Ms. Friedman shared with me the story of how her husband came to work with Dali.  It seems that an earlier collaboration on the Lincoln Mint's Easter Christ of 1972 is the genesis.  Here is a picture of the late Mr. Friedman presenting the Easter Christ to Dali.

Back to the pewter medallion.  It may just be a test strike, but definitive information is lacking. 

I have since observed this pewter medallion at auction from a UK vendor who tells me that a relative won it in a raffle about 25 years ago.  It is impossible to authenticate this statement, but the seller includes the medal in a bezel similar to the one the limited edition comes with, and an info document.  Perhaps this pewter version was an unlimited edition promotional item.

The pewter medallion weighs 25.5g, is about 37mm in diameter, and is stamped on the rim "AMI PEWTER ASGL."

But wait, that's not all!

Ms. Friedman was kind enough to offer to me one other item I have not seen before: a Leda and the Swan plate.

This plate is cool.  Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea about the origin of this item.  I don't think this plate was ever officially released, and there is no proof in cyberspace that this item exists anywhere else on the planet.

Could it be a one-of-a-kind?

Anyway, the emblem appears to be lacquered brass (best guess), and is very bulky.  It weighs about 416g by itself.  The plate is stamped pewter on the back, and weighs about 500g by itself.  I know the individual weights because the emblem loosened in shipping, so I removed it and properly re-attached it with double-sided tape.  The plate is 23cm, or just over 9" in diameter.

The emblem is in perfect condition, but the plate itself is in rough shape.  It has a number of dents, dings, scratches, and scuffs.  Here are several pictures which hide most of those blemishes.

It is very difficult to estimate the value of rare or one-of-a-kind items.  As for the pewter medallion, I think it has relatively little value.  The silver limited edition Leda medallion/pendant, while relatively rare, appears to be worth only about $50.  This pewter version, even if it is a test strike, is probably worth only about $50 at best, simply because demand appears to be low.

I have a different view of the plate.  I think this plate is quite valuable.  If my suspicion that this is a one-of-a-kind is true, I think this is a very important and valuable piece.  As a sample project that never came to fruition, it could easily be worth $200-$300 on the low end, and about $1,500 on the high end.  On the other hand, if it's just a cheap piece of crap, then it's worth about $40. 

Until more information about these pieces turns up, the jury's out.

I will leave you with a dedicatory picture from Dali to the late Mr. Friedman that Ms. Friedman shared with me.  Let this be a lasting tribute to two great men who, more than 35 years later, live on through their inspiration of creative contributions by the living inhabitants of our race on this planet.

Bravo Friedman!  Bravo Dali!