The estate sale from the Elinor Gordon’s private collection in Sotheby’s maybe the last time for the public to own a piece of her label. Amassed mostly before she published her groundbreaking book Collecting Chinese Export Porcelain in 1977, these more-than 200 porcelain pieces remained largely intact over the following years and not only reflect Mrs. Gordon’s astute connoisseurship but also are of historical significance. Mrs. Gordon was one of the most important dealers in Chinese export porcelain who was instrumental in building some of the most important private and public collection in this field.
Here is a story from the book A Fragile Union the Story of Louise Herreshoff:
As a “show-stopper” Elinor had brought the large “Hong Bowl” from their personal collection, and when the determined collector, Louise Herreshoff Reeves from Providence, RI, espied it and inquired about the price, Elinor had to admit that “The bowl is not for sale. It belongs to my husband Horace.” Quietly, Mrs. Reeves replied, “Mrs. Gordon, any item on display in this show is for sale. How much is the bowl?” Elinor rushed to the telephone to call Horace, who sagely advised her, “This is your first major show, and it is important to establish an excellent reputation. Fix the price so outrageously high that she will not pursue the matter.” Elinor returned to the booth and informed Mrs. Reeves that the price was $1,500, whereupon Mrs. Reeves pulled fifteen $100 bills out of her purse, claimed her prize and departed immediately for the train to Providence, cradling the bowl on her lap for the entire trip.
Today the Hong Bowl is in the Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University.
Ron W. Fuchs II, curator of the Reeves Collection at the Washington and Lee University will give a lecture at 10:30AM on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010.