By Lenore Fedow
lenore.fedow@nationaljeweler.com
This 90-piece collection of cameos and intaglios spanning several eras went up on the auction block at Bonhams London Wednesday.
London—A 90-piece collection of cameos and intaglios dating from antiquity to the 19th century seemed to be popular with buyers as they all sold at auction Wednesday.

The collection, sourced by one person, totaled nearly $367,000 at Bonhams London’s Sept. 23 jewelry auction.

The Hercules Collection of Cameos and Intaglios featured pieces from ancient Egypt, ancient Rome and the Sasanian Empire (224-651 CE), which was the last pre-Islamic Persian empire.

Cameos and intaglios have been crafted and created since antiquity, with their history dating back to the early civilizations of the near east, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Minoan Crete and Cyprus, when intaglios were used as seals and a means of identification, as well as to display the owner’s wealth, according to Bonhams.

In addition to demonstrating social standing, carved rings featuring the pieces also acted as amulets to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye.

The Hercules collection included gems depicting gods and goddesses, animals and birds, mythological scenes and portraits, including several depicting the god Hercules.

In fact, the top lot of the collection was a carnelian intaglio of Hercules carrying the vanquished Erymanthian boar over his shoulder (seen below), circa 18th-19th century. Formerly belonging to Polish noble Prince Stanislas Poniatowski (1754-1833), it garnered $31,991 Wednesday.

20200925 Hercules insert
This was followed by an agate cameo of a bearded man, intended to be Hercules, circa 19th century, which went for $25,528; and a carnelian intaglio featuring two men seen in a bacchanalian scene, circa 18th-19th century, that garnered $22,347.


The collection of carvings came as part of a larger sale held Wednesday, which included diamond and gemstone jewels in a variety of styles.

Tied as the top lots were a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet set with 20 carats of diamonds and a pair of early 20th century diamond earrings collet-set with a row of brilliant-cut diamonds ending with old brilliant-cut diamond drops weighing 3.11 and 3.09 carats. Both lots went for $47,947.

To see the full results, visit Bonhams.com.


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