On The Block: Rago Arts Offers The Online Flea Market Of Your Dreams


Long regarded as the exclusive hunting ground of dealers, auction houses have been around since the mid-18th century. Online auctions have been around for barely two decades, but in an effort to beef up their razor-thin margins, they’ve opened up their sales to online bidding, taking advantage of secure payment sites — plus the Internet’s exceptional graphic and image qualities — to augment printed catalogues and cast a wider net. And if eBay and Etsy have shown us anything, it’s that anything can be shipped.

One of our favorite auction houses, Rago Arts in Lambertville, New Jersey, is starting off the year with a massive sale on January 10-11. It’s worth a look, if only as a history of the decorative arts of the 20th century, but there’s some great shopping to be had. This Rago sale is “unreserved” meaning that the items have no secret minimum below which they won’t be sold, plus a buyer’s commission of 28% of the hammer price, and they help arrange packing and shipping. Here are just a few highlights from the catalogue.

Out of a huge selection of Arts & Crafts furniture, the c. 1905 Limbert bench/window seat (at top) is as much a piece of sculpture as a place to sit, and estimated to sell for between $600-$800.

Globes are great decorative items…sculptural, kinetic, and colorful, they’re also good for a little geopolitical nostalgia. Rhodesia, anyone? East Pakistan? Lots 309 and 310 below would give you a roomful of these beauties, estimated at $300-$500 for each lot, and an instant collection.

The sale is full of Arts & Crafts pottery, but we’ll take this set of Roseville Frogskin, estimated at $400-$600, in a heartbeat.

Some people want to forget the last quarter of the 20th century, but this coffee table on industrial casters, an iconic collaboration between Italian architect Gae Aulenti and the art glass manufacturer Fontana Arte, is one of our favorite objects from the ‘80s. Expected to fetch between $500-$700, it sold for well over $3,000 back in the days of High Tech.

There are lamps and lighting fixtures of every decade and persuasion, but the standout lot is this witty pair of Mid-Century beauties by Gerald Thurston, one of Lightolier’s principal designers. Estimated to go for $600-$800.

Plus much Mid-Century seating, like these chic Milo Baughman chairs in need of a little plumping for $1,000-$1,500.

Edwardian, but almost new, this splendid burgundy Chesterfield is just crying out for cigars and whiskey, and estimated to go for $600-$800.

Clearly, something for everyone and more. Information on the nuts and bolts of bidding at Rago Arts here with links to the full catalogues below.

Rago Unreserved Auction: Early 20th Century Fine Art, Estate Goods and Danish Modern
January 10, 2015 at 10:00AM EST

Rago Unreserved Auction: Modern Design and Contemporary Art
January 11, 2015 at 10:00AM EST

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