Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Expensive Auction Items

Sotheby's holds the record for any printed book with the Bay Psalm Book. It was the first book printed in the colonies in 1640 by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It sold for $14.1 million last November.

The highest price for a manuscript goes to the Codex Leicester, one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, written in his mirror cursive, which sold at Christie's in November 1994 to Bill Gates for $30.8 million.

Huanghauli is a wood—the word is Chinese for yellow flowering pear, although it is actually a type of rosewood. It has a delicate fragrance and a shimmery surface that mellows in color with age. The market for furniture made of huanghuali has skyrocketed and this 15 foot table, made from a single plank, currently holds the record. It was sold at Christie's in March of 2013 for $9m.

Antiquities are setting records: The Cycladic marble figure was carved around 2400 BC somewhere in the Aegean. It sold in December 2010 for more than three times its estimate at $16 million. The bronze figure was made in Egypt some 2100 years later. It sold in June of 2013 for eight times its estimate at $2 million, a record for an Egyptian cat.

Christie's holds the record for highest sale for any work of art online with this oil on canvas from 1946, which sold for $9.6 million in November, 2012.

The 1856 magenta stamp from British Guiana. The holy Grail of stamp collecting is the only surviving 1856 one-cent magenta stamp from British Guiana. It was found by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America. World record price: $9.5m. The rarest of stamps is no stranger to world records. It has set one every time it has changed hands since 1900.

The Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet circa 1700, probably from Kerman Province, in current day Iran. From the estate of William Clark on his death in 1925. It sold at Sotheby's New York, on June 5, 2013, for $33.7 million.

US violist David Aaron Carpenter plays the "Macdonald" Stradivarius viola created in 1719 by Antonio Stradivari (1641-1737). The MacDonald viola is one of 10 Stradivarius violas known to have survived. Sotheby’s anticipates that offers closer to $45 million will be made.

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Octave, Arizona

This 266-acre property in Arizona isn't much to see from above ground: cacti, dirt and a 2-bedroom manufactured home, two hours from anywhere. The reason for the property’s $5.9 million price tag is hidden underground: 25 miles of tunnels into what was once one of the richest sources of gold in the U.S.

The first people to discover the mine reported that the area was littered with gold nuggets the size of potatoes, according to a book on the Weaver Mining District.
In its heyday in the late 1800s, Octave was a bustling town with a school, a post office, a general store and a stagecoach line. The mines there were some of the most productive in the Old West before the area was abandoned by Asarco in 1940s.
The mine was featured in a short-lived cable show called “Ghost Mine,” where paranormal experts explored reports of ghosts in abandoned mines, including the spooky and notorious “Blue Devil of Octave.”

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

The Bar Kokhba revolt was a rebellion of the Jews of Judea Province, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire and fought circa 132–136 CE. It was the last of three major Jewish–Roman wars.

Although Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the Jews. The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism.

A cluster of papyrus containing Bar Kokhba's orders found in the Judean desert.
In September, 2009 the largest cache of rare coins ever found from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt was discovered in a cave by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University.

Most of the coins were overstruck as rebels' coins on top of Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
The significance of this particular cave relates to its size, its proximity to Betar, and the large collection of coins found there. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-35 CE.

"This discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert."
Last year news broke of a hoard in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat, Israel. Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period.

A wealthy woman likely stashed the hoard of coins and jewelry in the pit due to the impending danger of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the researchers suggest. In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.

The outbreak took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube.

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 AD. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils"

The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 A.D.

“This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it,”

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ciudad Blanca - 'White City' of Gold

The legend of the fabulous lost city of Ciudad Blanca - 'White City' of Gold was first recorded by Hernan Cortes who, in 1526, less than five years after vanquishing the Aztecs, came to the colonial town of Trujillo, on the north coast of Honduras.

In 1544, Bishop Cristobol de Pedraza, the Bishop of Honduras, wrote a letter to the King of Spain describing an arduous trip to the edge of the Mosquito Coast jungles. He tells of looking east from a mountaintop into unexplored territory, where he saw a large city in one of the river valleys that cut through the Mosquito Coast. His guides, he wrote, assured him that the nobles there ate from plates of pure Gold.
In June 2012, a team of scientists using advanced laser mapping detailed a remote region of Honduras that may be the legendary lost city.

Flying over the Mosquitia region in a small plane shooting billions of laser pulses at the ground, they created a 3D digital map of the topology beneath the jungle canopy.
Ciudad Blanca has played a central role in Central American mythology. Text's cite it as the birthplace of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl and previous reported sightings over the years have described golden idols and elaborately carved white stones, leading to the lost city's name.

No positive confirmation of the existence of the city has yet been provided. If confirmed, the discovery of Ciudad Blanca would be comparable to forgotten sites such as Machu Picchu, which lay ruined for hundreds of years until reintroduced to western eyes in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham.

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