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Old 17th December 2019, 08:29 AM   #1
Jean
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Default IFICAH funding sale at Czerny's

Dear friends,
This sale (Czerny's auction N 96) took place on Friday 13th December and many interesting krisses were auctioned. The most striking one was this very nice replica royal kris from Sulawesi or Sumbawa which fetched 22,000 Euros! it supposedly dates from end 19th/ beginning 20th century, and the dress is made from gilt metal (silver?). What do you think?
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Old 17th December 2019, 10:45 AM   #2
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The loop is missing? Somehow the blade does not seem to be a good match with the dress? Just a feeling.
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Old 17th December 2019, 12:14 PM   #3
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A royal kris may not need a loop (passio sumange or toli-toli) since I was told that it is supposedly made to secure the blade in front of the king?
Yes, the blade looks old but is not of matching quality with the dress.
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Old 17th December 2019, 01:03 PM   #4
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just as an aside, i wonder who got 200,201 and 203, all erroneously described as sumatran whereas actually hard to find chotengs (at least the dress are choteng if not the blades)
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Old 17th December 2019, 01:42 PM   #5
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Examples of similar royal Bima krisses with more elegant blades. All with loops.
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Old 17th December 2019, 01:47 PM   #6
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@ Green:
Are you surprised? Most auctionhouses make mistakes and it is up to the observer to make his / her own conclusions.
I have seen so many errors in their (good quality!) catalogue about the origin and even bone handles are abusively marked as being ivory. That's a real concern.
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Old 17th December 2019, 02:35 PM   #7
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Some people have too much money and too little sense...
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Old 17th December 2019, 04:31 PM   #8
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I had debated posting about this one for a few days. We have been having a rousing discussion about it on one particular Facebook page.
I have a lot of questions about this replica dress. Who was it actually created for in the first place? If they were creating a replica (and it is a rather nicely crafted one) why not create it with a blade that more closely represents this form. AFAIK this dress generally clothed a Javanese blade. As i have heard it and as related by the auction description, these keris were originally presentation keris to vassal states form the end of the Mojopahit and most often contain Javanese blades. I don't think it is so much a matter of this blade not matching the quality of the dress as much as not matching the original style such dress generally held.
While i do think this particular keris looks nice i did question the great sum it attracted. Keep in mind that the buyer also had to pay a 25% fee to the auction house, so when all was said and done the buyer actually paid over $30,000usd for this keris. That is quite a sum for a replica. There did seem to be many bad descriptions throughout the Czerny catalog and as far as i have heard many pieces when for much lower prices than they should have because of that. But the missing piece of information on this particular item was that auction house sent out a last minute message about it (see attached below). While the catalog description used the term "gilded yellow metal" a couple of times to describe the dress apparently they discovered at the last minute that the whole thing was actually gold. I don't know how such information alluded them to begin with, but the high price was probably driven by this last minute announcement. Of course the question i would still raise is "how much weight and what carat gold"??? Was the actual material value really enough to deserve such a price tag? The photos provided were not so great, but i still have doubts that any of the "gemstones" were real. The auction house only called them "red, white and green stones".
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Old 17th December 2019, 05:03 PM   #9
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I very rarely look at auctions these days, the ones that take place out of Australia make purchase too expensive because of shipping & handling costs, the ones that take place in Australia very rarely have things on offer that interest me.

However, I did bid in one auction in Australia that took place a few months ago. I knew the collection that was on offer, in fact, I knew it very well. The descriptions were not too bad, not good, but not nearly as bad as some of the European and USA auction descriptions that I have seen.

But as with the gold keris mentioned above, metal identification was a real problem for them:- mamas was described as silver, gilt silver was described as gold on brass, and suasa was described as copper.

It is impossible to determine the metal that has been used in a keris or other S.E. Asian weapon unless one is fully conversant with materials used in this area, and can actually handle the item --- well, impossible in the absence of an examination by a suitably qualified professional.

I think that there are several lessons to be learnt from these inadequate auction listings, and this is not the first time this subject has been mentioned in this Forum.

Firstly, if we are selling through auction, the auction house must agree to the use of data that the owner supplies.

Secondly, if we are buying we should try to the utmost to actually handle the object we are going to bid on.

Thirdly, if we cannot inspect in person, and we are dealing with people who are not specialist in the field that includes the items being sold, we should think very carefully before bidding past the value of the lowest possibility. In other words, if something is listed as silver, but we know from experience that it is most likely to be mamas, we should limit our bid to a mamas value.
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Old 17th December 2019, 06:14 PM   #10
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Well, here is a link to the auction. I don't know how long this link will remain active, but it shows the original photos, descriptions and prices realized on each item. Keep in mind that the buyer needed to add 25% of that price for the auction house fee. Even so, many items sold for a fraction of their true value. It is possible that was due in part because of the poor descriptions.
I am not sure who provided these descriptions, This was after all, a sale for IFICAH so you would think they would have had something to say about these descriptions and been at least a little more accurate than that.
https://www.czernys.com/a-96/?c=262
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Old 17th December 2019, 06:23 PM   #11
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There were many decent keris in this collection that sold for well under 200 euro. In fact there were a good number of very collectable items that went for under 100 euro. Kind of crazy in this day and age.
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Old 17th December 2019, 07:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
There were many decent keris in this collection that sold for well under 200 euro. In fact there were a good number of very collectable items that went for under 100 euro. Kind of crazy in this day and age.


Yes I agree and managed to buy few of these items at bargain prices. However the "precious" pieces with ivory fittings, kinatah or naga blades fetched quite high prices.
Regarding the replica kris and based on the available pics only (so not reliable) I have my doubts that the dress is made from pure gold as the base metal (silver or brass) is visible on the surface of the hilt especially. I am not a specialist of metal analysis but can a standard gold test kit distinguish between pure gold and thick gold plating/ gilding?
Also I believe that IFICAH and Czerny's would have checked this critical issue before posting this "high" kris.
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Old 17th December 2019, 08:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Regarding the replica kris and based on the available pics only (so not reliable) I have my doubts that the dress is made from pure gold as the base metal (silver or brass) is visible on the surface of the hilt especially. I am not a specialist of metal analysis but can a standard gold test kit distinguish between pure gold and thick gold plating/ gilding?
Also I believe that IFICAH and Czerny's would have checked this critical issue before posting this "high" kris.
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If this is true Jean then i would say that Czerny is guilty of fraud and should be prosecuted.
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Old 17th December 2019, 08:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Yes I agree and managed to buy few of these items at bargain prices. However the "precious" pieces with ivory fittings, kinatah or naga blades fetched quite high prices.

Well Jean, i just ran did a really quick search of the auction and in less than 60 seconds grabbed these 5 keris, all of which have nice ivory handles. They went all sold for between 100 and 200 euro. Three of these went for under 150 euro. And again, i grabbed these literally in less than 60 seconds.
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Old 17th December 2019, 08:51 PM   #15
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Searching through again i found most of the naga blades to be relatively new creations that i had little interest in. There are also many blades with kinatah that went for well under 200 euro including one that went for only 80 euro. So i don't think the materials made that much difference in this auction.
One of the keris i did quite like was #236. I might have actually bid on it, but didn't want to suffer the disappointing of having the ivory janggalan hilt confiscated in customs (a hilt form still not represented in my collection). But it was the entire ensemble that struck my fancy really. And it actually reached a more respectable price than most in this collection. You didn't happen to get this one, did you Jean?
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Old 18th December 2019, 03:53 AM   #16
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Jean, did you notice the damage at the back waist of the hilt figure. The gold foil is cracked all the way across. It was only just pointed out to me.
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Old 18th December 2019, 07:45 AM   #17
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You are right David about the low prices, it shows the lack of interest of European collectors for the keris (and too many pieces for sale), and the effect of the stupid ivory ban regulations. However some pieces with ivory scabbards were sold at much higher prices.
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Old 18th December 2019, 07:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Jean, did you notice the damage at the back waist of the hilt figure. The gold foil is cracked all the way across. It was only just pointed out to me.


These hilts on resin are very fragile, I had one broken during transport but fortunately it was nicely repaired by an Indian jeweler.
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Last edited by Jean : 18th December 2019 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 18th December 2019, 03:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
These hilts on resin are very fragile, I had one broken during transport but fortunately it was nicely repaired by an Indian jeweller.
Regards

Well, hopefully the new owner of this one knows an equally talented Indian jeweler.
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Old 18th December 2019, 05:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Well, hopefully the new owner of this one knows an equally talented Indian jeweler.


I hope that he is just a rich benefactor for IFICAH.

Czerny's are usually quite careful/ conservative about their descriptions, although they often make mistakes about the origin of the pieces and the materials (ivory vs bone/ antler especially).
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 19th December 2019 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 18th December 2019, 06:47 PM   #21
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Imagine bidding, winning and paying 30000 Euro for a keris covered in solid gold, then find out is only gold plated...
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Old 18th December 2019, 08:56 PM   #22
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It does happen Marius.

What also happens is suasa (rose gold) being described as copper.

Auction houses often get things wrong, and I believe that they pretty much cover their inadequacies with what they put into the fine print of their catalogues.

I simply do not believe the descriptions that auction houses present.

This means that I would need to try to work out what I wanted to bid on from the photos, and frankly, I am not able to do that.

So I do not bid --- unless I can handle what I want to bid on.
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Old 19th December 2019, 04:03 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Imagine bidding, winning and paying 30000 Euro for a keris covered in solid gold, then find out is only gold plated...



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Old 19th December 2019, 02:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Imagine bidding, winning and paying 30000 Euro for a keris covered in solid gold, then find out is only gold plated...

To be clear Marius, the bidders final cost were more likely just a bit over $30,000 USD, not euros. I generally don't like spending too much time talking about money on this forum. I think people were all just scratching their heads a bit at first because the catalog description of this keris was very cautious, calling the materials only "yellow metal" that had been gilded. But if you noted my post #8, Czerny Auctions made a last minute announce on this keris claiming that the metal had tested as gold. I must say that at this point it seems unlikely that the dress is only gilded at this point. There would be legal ramifications for such a deception and they are a long standing and respected auction house.
What i would rather steer this conversation towards is the Auction House's claim that this is an "Important" keris. They stress this word "important" in the catalog description as well as their last minute social media update about gold content.
Given that is is a replica made at a date far removed from when keris in this original gold dress had some legitimate cultural meaning do members here also see this keris as being "important" in the world of keris and/or keris collecting? If so, why? Who would such elaborate replica dress have been made for at the start of the 20th century, especially assuming it is in fact solid gold? What function would it have served?
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Old 20th December 2019, 08:26 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
But if you noted my post #8, Czerny Auctions made a last minute announce on this keris claiming that the metal had tested as gold. I must say that at this point it seems unlikely that the dress is only gilded at this point. There would be legal ramifications for such a deception and they are a long standing and respected auction house.


This last minute announcement that the metal of the scabbard and hilt was tested as solid gold does not look professional in my view. For instance I was not informed about it although I placed many bids in this auction (but not for this piece of course ). Czerny's should have corrected or removed the ad.
Just for reference, one collector whom I know claimed against Czerny's because the description of the received item was not as described and Czerny's replied: "OK, we will give you a (small) discount on the price of your next purchase". Of course the prejudice was much smaller than potenrtially in this case....
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Old 20th December 2019, 06:06 PM   #26
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Jean, to my mind this is the key question:-

What steps do you take to make an informed bid when considering an article at auction if you do not have a reasonable opportunity to inspect the goods?

In a situation where the seller does not have an obligation to disclose the quality of goods sold at auction, then how is it possible to make an informed bid?

In respect of goods sold at auction, I do not know the law in any country other than Australia. In Australia the fine print of auction catalogues are hedged with so many caveats and qualifications that even in a case where an auctioneer misrepresents what is being sold, any court action is likely to fail, and for items of small value, would in any case be a waste of time and of throwing good money after bad.

What is small value? I would guess that in this sort of situation the concept of "small value" might be something in the order of under $100,000.

I would assume, perhaps incorrectly, but logic tells me that this would not be an incorrect assumption, other countries across the globe have similar laws governing sale by auction as does Australia.

If we buy at auction in the absence of personal inspection of the goods to be sold, we are gambling. It is that simple.

I believe I would have a better chance of coming out on top by backing racehorses than by buying at auction in a situation where I could not personally inspect what I intended to bid on.
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Old 20th December 2019, 10:45 PM   #27
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Admittedly i don't really know how the law would operate under this specific scenario either, but i would like to think that if an auction house presents an item like this in a cautious manner (i.e. this item is made of some "yellow metal" that has been fire gilded) but last minute puts out a public notice that they just discovered the item in question is really hallmarked gold, thereby raising the perceived value of that item in time to affect bidding, but that once the item is received the winning bid discovers that said item is, in fact, not solid gold, that a court would consider that a case of fraud. But again, that would be my hope. I have no idea how the law works.
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Old 21st December 2019, 12:33 AM   #28
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I believe that this would not necessarily be the case David. Only a specialist in this area of the law could provide a valid opinion, and I suspect that such an opinion might be based on precedent rather than legislation or regulation.

A reading of the fine print in the relevant auction catalogue might give a hint as to what chance one would have in achieving an equitable outcome.
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Old 21st December 2019, 08:08 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Admittedly i don't really know how the law would operate under this specific scenario either, but i would like to think that if an auction house presents an item like this in a cautious manner (i.e. this item is made of some "yellow metal" that has been fire gilded) but last minute puts out a public notice that they just discovered the item in question is really hallmarked gold, thereby raising the perceived value of that item in time to affect bidding, but that once the item is received the winning bid discovers that said item is, in fact, not solid gold, that a court would consider that a case of fraud. But again, that would be my hope. I have no idea how the law works.



I know the case of a reputed journalist specialized in fine Asian art who dared to write an article in his newspaper accusing the most famous Auction House to sell fake antiques at an auction. What happened? He was fired!
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Old 22nd December 2019, 07:20 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
I know the case of a reputed journalist specialized in fine Asian art who dared to write an article in his newspaper accusing the most famous Auction House to sell fake antiques at an auction. What happened? He was fired!


Of course he was fired! He was threatening a multi million business.

However, reputed auction houses do not hesitate to fully refund a customer that was grossly misled by a wrong description, even if this is disclaimed in the fine script, as their reputation in the business is way more important than a one time purchase. But, these "reputed" auction houses are very, very few...

Anyhow, in the end, Alan is pretty much right when saying that bidding online is like betting. In some cases you may win, but you are most likely to loose.

And it is understandable since we are dealing with asymmetric information.
On one side is the auction house who has the item in their hands, can get all the seller's information and can have the item professionally expertised.
On the other side is the prospective buyer who only has the description in the catalogue and a couple of photos to make an educated guess.

This said aside, among the plethora of auction houses, from my experience, Czerny's is one of the finest. Not only they are providing many high quality photos that are very helpful for your decision process, but they a also refunded me for a couple of items that arrived damaged.

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