Insects spark great drama in the world of art and antiques. Since ancient times, bugs have had their rightful place in art and decorative objects. For instance, in ancient Egypt, bugs were revered in Egyptian culture and religion. The Egyptians believed that a divine scarab beetle actually pushed the rising sun above the horizon every morning at sunrise.
The scarab was responsible for the daily sunrise and thus associated with the process of regeneration, too. With its close association to the sun’s powers, scarabs were used as protective amulets and worn as jewelry. In addition, inscriptions were engraved onto the undersides of the scarab beetles and used as seals.
Scarabs appear as carvings on furniture, subjects of paintings, details on lamps and in jewelry designs, etc. Of course, possibly the most famous scarab jewelry was fashioned by Cartier and worn by Elizabeth Taylor, who played the young Egyptian queen, Cleopatra in the 1963 film of the same name. A Cartier scarab brooch, circa 1924 made of gold, platinum, blue Egyptian faience (used in Egyptian jewelry beginning about 5,500 years ago), round cut diamonds, emerald cabochons, smoky quartz, and black enamel was featured in the exhibit “Cartier and America” and valued in the high six figure range.
In 2009, a Cartier scarab belt buckle with a cobalt blue scarab with turquoise faience wings studded with cabochon sapphires and diamonds set in platinum measuring 5 inches long sold for an astonishing $302,500.
Fine artists, artisans, and designers throughout the history of art and antiques did not overlook creatures of the insect world in their compositions and constructions. For instance, insects were the subject for such pieces of art and antiques as Italian side tables, French sculpture, and Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass lamps. For example, a Tiffany Studios dragonfly table lamp with matching base from circa 1905 sold recently for $266,500.
Some of the most commonly seen insects on the antiques scene are bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Bees, butterflies, and dragonflies all refer to the interest in immortality, rebirth, and the power of the supernatural. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were common elements in the objects of the art world.
As for my aforementioned spider, many costume and fine art jewelry designers worked with the form of the creepy crawly spider in their designs. A pair of earrings in the shape of a spider (it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it) of 18 karat yellow gold with a coral body and emerald melee eyes sold for nearly $500.
Also, the pottery firm of Van Briggle attracted collectors with an apple green spider vase dated 1902 measuring 5 inches tall with a large spider embossed on the front. The firm’s antique spider vase cost $2,185. Personally, I’d still select one of Van Briggle’s other designs that do not feature spiders.
When it comes to art and antique design, forget about the can of Raid™ as bugs of all types are in style and in high demand.
As seen on NBC’s The Tonight Show, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, and Lifetime Television, celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events to audiences nationwide. For information about the value of your objects, visit DrLoriV.com, Facebook.com/DoctorLori, or call (888) 431-1010.