Past Auction

The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain

Thu, Jun 24, 2021 at 10am EDT |
New York
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Sale Total Topped $1 Million Surpassing Expectations!


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  • Successful Auction of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain on June 24, 2021
  • Exceptional Collection of Important Porcelain Assembled by Belk Department Store Heiress and Philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell
  • Sale Total Topped $1 Million Surpassing Expectations!

NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle held the successful single-owner auction of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain on June 24, 2021. This exceptional collection was assembled over many decades by Belk department store heiress and passionate philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell. Mrs. Gambrell who died last year at age 102, was a resident of Charlotte, NC.

With international competition, the sale totaled $1,031,562, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $645,000-1,027,500, with a strong 88% sold by lot and 98% sold by value.

Rare du Paquier Porcelain Tobacco Box -- $94,500!
The top lot of the sale was a rare and important Vienna (du Paquier) porcelain tobacco box, cover and tamper (Tabaktopf) that soared past its estimate of $15,000-25,000 to achieve a stunning $94,500. The circa 1730 tobacco box was offered complete with its porcelain crossbar lock, which doubled as a tamper.

Meissen Porcelain Kakiemon Bowl -- $69,300!
Mrs. Gambrell’s collecting extended beyond European examples to include Japanese and Chinese porcelain. Three pieces in the Collection reflect Mrs. Gambrell’s interest in the European fascination with Asian luxury goods. An 18th century Japanese Kakiemon hexagonal bowl in the Collection is mirrored by European examples in the Kakiemon style produced by the factories of Chelsea and Meissen. Competitive bidding drove a circa 1730 Meissen porcelain Kakiemon bowl to an exceptional $69,300, more than tripling its estimate of $15,000-25,000.

European & Asian Porcelain
The Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection traces the early history of European porcelain through rare 18th century examples by the most prominent Continental manufacturers, including Meissen, Vincennes and Vienna, as well as the important English factories of Chelsea, Bristol, Longton Hall and others. A sophisticated collector, Mrs. Gambrell concentrated on pieces of superb quality and condition that illustrate the diversity of wares produced by fine European factories.

Partial Chinese Imperial Falangcai Porcelain Vase. Auction September 2021.
Partial Chinese Imperial Falangcai Porcelain Vase, Qianlong Period. Auction September 20, 2021.

The rarest highlight of the Collection is a partial Chinese Imperial porcelain vase that reflects the Qianlong Emperor’s (1735-1796) admiration for the European aesthetic. Decorated in Falangcai, or “foreign enamels,” the vase depicts a colorful scene of two European women and a child in a garden. Falangcai was the most expensive and challenging decorating technique employed by the Imperial workshop. The jewel-like colors it produced were unparalleled in their brilliance. The vase will be auctioned with Asian Works of Art on September 20.

Fine & Decorative Arts
Fine English and Continental furniture, decorative arts and Old Master paintings from Mrs. Gambrell’s elegant home in the Eastover section of Charlotte and her New York apartment on Park Avenue will be auctioned in October.

Sarah Belk Gambrell
The daughter of Belk department store founder William Henry Belk, Sr., Sarah Belk Gambrell (1918-2020) spent her life as a trailblazer. Charting a path in a retail world run by men, she coordinated the women’s wear and cosmetics businesses for hundreds of Belk stores across the South. In 1952, she married banker Charles Glenn Gambrell, and the pair maintained homes in Charlotte and New York.

A generous philanthropist, Mrs. Gambrell was a tireless advocate for women and other marginalized groups nationwide, and in her native city of Charlotte. She served on the national, NYC and Charlotte boards of the YWCA and donated generously to the Mint Museum, Opera Carolina and the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra. Among her educational philanthropies were Queens University in Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University and Furman University. She supported medical institutions, including the NYU Cancer Institute, the UNC Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. She helped build NC’s first homeless shelter for LGBT kids by donating to Time Out Youth.

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  • Estate of Sarah Belk Gambrell

A Selection of Auction Highlights

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