The Toledo Sale Presented by Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.

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March 30, 2017 – Recently Harlan J. Berk, Ltd was fortunate enough to work on a unique experiment with the Toledo Museum of Art in their decision to deaccession. Museums and other institutions follow the guidelines set forth by the AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors). 

Logo Toledo Museum of Art.

When a museum deaccessions, there is a tension between trying to keep collections in the museum community (by selling to other museums) and their fiduciary responsibility to realize as much value as they can so they can acquire pieces which better suit their collections. To complicate matters further, major auction houses have value restrictions, which make it difficult for AAMD members to deaccession lower value works that no longer fit into their collections and which do not meet these standards.

Harlan J. Berk, Ltd gladly agreed to take on this project presented to them. Having over 50 years of experience selling ancient material made their firm easily equipped for the task. The items deaccessioned by the TMA are not the highest priced pieces found at the top of the auction market but they were properly presented as if they were. 

Edward and Florence Libbey.

What was most intriguing about this project for Aaron Berk, VP and Director of Antiquities at Harlan Berk, was the unique pedigrees associated with these pieces. “In our business it is typical to end up with many objects without pedigree because too often collectors lost or didn’t keep their pedigree information. We are then left with many “orphan” objects which are legally in this country for decades but no longer have their paperwork. 

Lot 2 marked libby 1 in attachedment is Egyptian Bronze Cat, Late Period, ca. 664-332 BC. Purchased by Libby in 1906.

To work with the TMA on nearly 150 objects that primarily have pedigree before 1930 is amazing and humbling. The names of original donors associated with these objects make up what early collecting was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Names like Edward Drummond Libbey, the founder of the TMA, or Luigi Palma de Cesnola, the first president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many other interesting donors of the period.”

Luigi Palma de Cesnola.

The Toledo Sale is the reality of this experiment. The items in this catalog are first being offered by the TMA to AAMD members only. This makes it possible for these pieces to remain in the collections of museums and institutions for years to come. Once the AAMD members have finished going through the catalog, HJB will make the catalog available for the public to purchase from in the near future. 

Lot 55: Cypriot Base Ring Jug, ca. 1500-1200 BC. From the Cesnola Collection.

Berk also stated, “For collectors this will be a rare opportunity to own museum objects with wonderful pedigrees and when their collections are dispersed, I am sure most of these objects will end up being donated back to the museums that these collectors support. This is what makes this project so special on so many levels.”

Anyone wishing to find out more information about the Toledo Sale should contact Aaron Berk via mail or phone him at 312-609-0018

To browse through The Toledo Sale Catalog click here. 

More information about Harlan J. Berk Ltd you find on the company’s website.