NEW YORK (AP) - The original Tiffany lamps that lined the bar at Eddie Rickenbacker’s pub in San Francisco are heading to a New York City auction house, where they are expected to bring more than $2 million, Christie’s said Thursday.
All six of the table lamps and one Tiffany hanging chandelier will hit the auction block on June 14.
Eddie Rickenbacker’s colorful proprietor, Norman Jay Hobday, died in February 2011. He is credited with inventing the “lemon drop” martini and the “fern bar,” a term applied to another bar he had owned called Henry Africa because of all the hanging plants. Hobday later adopted Henry Africa as his own name.
He purchased his first Tiffany lamp at a 1993 auction, and kept them safe using “a low-tech security system,” said Josh Holdeman, Christie’s director of 20th century art, who met the bar owner in 2004.
“They were intertwined with all the high balls and low balls and the martini glasses and they were secured by a chain around which each had a padlock,” he said.
“Every of the lamps that he bought are excellent examples of their pattern,” Holdeman said. “The quality is extraordinarily high.”
Hobday frequently could be found perched on what he called his “davenport,” a couch near the bar’s entrance that also served as his bed because the SoMa-district restaurant was also his home.
“He was a very eccentric, colorful character,” who loved how the lamps made the bar light up with all the vibrant colors that came through the glass, Holdeman said. “He just felt they really made the entire place seem totally alive.”
Their pre-sale estimates run from $30,000 to $700,000.
The crown jewel of the collection is a circa 1910 “Wisteria” leaded glass and bronze table lamp featuring saturated variations of purples, violets and blues. Next in line is a “Laburnum” lamp, an intricate design of laburnum flowers and leaves in bright yellows and greens and brown stems.