Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reggie Out & About: Cocktail Preview Party at Cove Landing

Well, Dear Reader, it has been rather a long time since I've posted an "Out & About" story here on Reggie Darling.  While I've most decidedly been running around Manhattan and its environs these last several months attending this and that, nothing has excited me to actually sit down and (so to speak) take pen to paper to report on it.  That is, until now. . .

The other evening Boy and I attended a cocktail party hosted by Mr. Angus Wilkie, the celebrated antiquarian and proprietor of Cove Landing, formerly of Upper Lexington Avenue.  The party was held to preview Mr. Wilkie's autumn exhibition sale of precious agate, marble, and hardstone objects, cleverly titled "Stoned."

The invitation to Cove Landing's cocktail party,
featuring an image of 19th-century Austrian

hallmarked silver-mounted agate cutlery

The exhibition sale was held in the galleries at W. M. Brady & Co., in a smart townhouse on a smart street on New York's Upper East Side, just steps off Fifth Avenue.

The party was attended by a swell, well-dressed set of New Yorkers drawn from the museum, auction house, and decorating worlds.  That, along with a smattering of investment bankers and assorted collectors, including yours truly.

I lusted after this delicious English nineteenth-century
Blue John and porphyry obelisk

The objects on display were all made of semi-precious or rare stone (hence the name "Stoned") and were mouth-wateringly covetable.

Mr. Angus Wilkie

The exhibition was assembled by Mr. Angus Wilkie, the debonair owner of Cove Landing, who is known for his exceptional eye, honed by a lifetime spent in the loftiest levels of the antiques and auction house worlds.  He wrote one of the earliest—and most definitive—books on Biedermeier when he was but a tow-headed youth in his twenties.

There was lots to see and admire at the Cove Landing cocktail party, including both objets and those attending the party.

These Blue John urns were the stars of the exhibition

I was particularly enamored with the pair of early-nineteenth-century English Blue John urns shown in the preceding photograph.  They excited a lot of admiration among the assembled guests.  I think they would look perfect on the mantel in our drawing room at Darlington House.  Alas, this will not come to be as their purchase price, while exceedingly fair given their rarity, was a tad high for Reggie's pocketbook.

The Emperor Tiberius

I also admired this nineteenth-century Italian carved marble wall placque of the Emperor Tiberius, formerly in the collection of Bill Blass.  I learned from one of the other guests, Michael Baldridge, during the party that Tiberius was a nasty piece of work, indeed.  However, such knowledge did not detract from my pleasure in seeing the piece, which I thought very handsome.

As I wrote above, the party was attended by guests drawn from the arts (both decorative and fine) and museum worlds.  The decorator Todd Gribben can be seen on the left in the above photograph, and Sarah Coffin of the Cooper-Hewitt can be seen on the far right.  Both Todd and Sarah have houses near us in the country.  Boy and I spent a week in a farmhouse in Tuscany with Sarah and her husband, Tom (seen on the extreme right of the photograph), a number of years ago.  Sarah's uncle, the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, wrote my prep-school letters of recommendation.

I admired this little late-nineteenth-century Russian gilt-bronze bear sprawled on a malachite base.  He was most appealing.

In addition to the main gallery room at W. M. Brady & Co., Cove Landing's exhibition extends into a smaller adjoining room that was set up as a cabinet of curiosities . . . of sorts.

I particularly liked this little nineteenth-century Italian Siena marble Roman tub, raised on carved paw feet.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I bought it.  It can be seen in the photograph at the outset of this essay, Dear Reader, sitting on a pier table in our Snuggery at Darlington House.  I'm very happy to have it.

In addition to offering decorative stone objets, Cove Landing is also selling a selection of handsome furniture and framed works of art.

The South German Biedermeier cherrywood center table shown in the preceding photograph has its original dished variegated gray marble top.  It's the perfect setting for the stone objets displayed upon it, don't you think?

Ms. Laura Bennett, of W. M. Brady & Co.

While at the Cove Landing party I was pleased to meet and speak with Ms. Laura Bennett, Director of W. M. Brady & Co.  She was very nice, and good-naturedly put up with me asking if she was related to the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice.  She said that she isn't, with a smile.

A stone-inlaid table, holding a collection of polished stone desirables.

Here's a photograph of Boy standing with the decorators Robert Lindgren and Tom Gibb.  I first met the charming Mr. Gibb around thirty years ago, when we were both just starting out in New York.

I thought this framed collection of nineteenth-century Italian sliced marble samples mounted on board was very attractive.

Guests at the Cove Landing party did not want for cocktails.  That's Mr. Phillippe de Montebello, the former head of the Metropolitan Museum, that you see standing in front of the table, wearing the light gray suit.

What desk wouldn't benefit from this elegant and severe English desk stand made of Siena marble and bronze mounts, circa 1810?

"Why, yes, I will have another cocktail, thank you!"

Boy and I briefly considered buying this George III alabaster and Blue John lidded urn mounted on a black marble base.  We opted not to, though, given that we had already committed to buying the little Siena marble tub.

While at the party we met and spoke with the decorator Tom Scheerer and his partner Michael Balding. Mr. Balding and I had a particularly amusing conversation, and he was the one who told me just how nasty the Emperor Tiberius (supposedly) was.  It was only after leaving the party that I realized Mr. Scheerer is the decorator who redid the public rooms at the Lyford Cay Club, which he did to perfection, in my view.

In addition to stone objets, Cove Landing also has a selection of beautiful rock crystals on display.  They, too, can be yours.

Realizing that we were—once again—among the remaining few guests at a party, Boy and I gathered ourselves together and bid our adieus and exited down the townhouse's somewhat treacherous (well, at least it was after several drinks) staircase and headed out into the late October night . . .

. . . where we hailed a taxi on Madison Avenue . . .

. . . and sped over to Swifty's for dinner.  As I have reported here on Reggie, Swifty's is one of our favorite "go-to" restaurants on the UES.  Mr. Robert Caravaggi, the restaurant's co-owner, kindly gave us the sole remaining table, even though we arrived there on a busy night without a reservation.  Swifty's was the perfect place to wind up after our very pleasant evening at the Cove Landing cocktail preview party.

For those of you who are fortunate to be in New York City this week, Reggie highly encourages you to visit Cove Landing's autumn sale.  But you'd better hurry, though, as it closes on Friday, November 1, and I expect that it will sell out soon (if it hasn't already).  Oh, and please tell them that Reggie sent you!

Cove Landing at W. M. Brady & Co.
22 East 80th Street, Third Floor
(212) 288-7597

23 October through 1 November
11 o'clock to 6 o'clock


  1. Did you see the Blue John pieces at Homewood House? We were discussing them the other evening at the party there. xo

    1. Meg, I think a trip to Baltimore is in order, as I do not recall seeing any Blue John at Homewood (on my three visits there over the years). However, I was so completely overcome on each of those visits that I'm not surprised. Reggie sure loves him some Blue John!

  2. Hello Reggie, Those grand-tour objects are the epitome of elegance. I admire your choice of the marble tub--it is crisply carved and beautifully proportioned, and makes good use of the color, pattern, and translucency of the stone.

  3. Be still, my beating heart! The bears would have loved that bathtub, no?

    If Tiberius were only a tenth as nasty as his chroniclers reported he was a nasty piece of business indeed. Of course, history is written by the victors, so the stories of drugged and drunken orgies culminating in nubile boys being flung over cliffs after being violated may be a slight exaggeration. He plays a large role in Robert Graves' charming novel, "I, Claudius".

    Please, do not tease! What did you eat at Swifty's? If I am going to live vicariously (while I eat my (quite yummy) chicken and noodles) there must be details!

    XOX, yr. sister.

    1. Yes, please do tell us about dinner at Swifty's. Which was more expensive dinner or the stone bathtub which by the way would look stunning with an arrangement of fresh flowers.

    2. Dinner at Swifty's was, I admit, a bit of a blur. I know it started with a martini and was followed by steak frites, but that's all I remember...

  4. Love your purchase.........YOU two done good!

  5. Beautiful Reggie. And a big hello to your handsome husband. I think the invitation alone is a thing of beauty. And I hope your grandnieces will be allowed to play with the bathtub, now and again:).

  6. Just the sort of useless objects that I adore; there was a beautiful, tiny shop near the Spanish steps when I lived in Rome that had hundreds of bibelots like these and other objet de vertu in precious metals. An unfair wealth of agates and bits of coral and rock crystal, marvelous pieces of pietre dure and micro mosaics of astonishing detail. I don't really understand why these completely seduce me, but they do. At Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen there's a room with walls and ceiling entirely in marvelously discolored mercury glass set in channels of silvered bronze, with large objects of turned and carved agate before every window -- I can think of only a few things in life as satisfying.

    1. I'd like to see the Amber Room one day.

    2. Friend of the family knew some of the craftsmen working on the Amber Room and visited while in progress; said it was like entering an oven or a cavern of glowing embers.

  7. Good morning Reggie,
    Some very beautiful pieces on display, and particularly the Blue John urns. The bath tub took me back to my visit to the Vatican, and the rather special tub there.

  8. Oh Reggie, what a marvelous cocktail party with such pretty and delicious things to savor. Your Grand Tour souvenir is truly stunning and will complement the other stone pieces in your Snuggery (as seen in AD). You really have a very fine eye and a knack for rooting out exquisite pieces for your home.

  9. Love those Derbyshire Blue John urns which by the way look like a pair from the Wrightsman Auction of a few years ago...and your little Roman Bath, reminds me of the bathroom I designed in slab Siena Marble with Thassos slab floor...demolished at close of sale!

    1. Yes, the Wrightsman Sale had a lot of Blue John in it. Talk about covetable!

  10. I feel like I was there. Thanks so much.

  11. I am so excited that you purchased that adorable piece. When it rolled up as the first photo, I was hoping. It is so handsome and will be perfect at Darlington. I think you need the urn, too.


  12. Good afternoon Reggie,
    Can I just add that unless you have had the pleasure before, then on your next visit to the UK, a trip to Stourhead Hose and Gardens is a must if you would like to see something really special along the lines of those in the exhibition above. The Popes Cabinet is one of a kind. A google images link is here:

    1. Thank you, I have never been to Stourhead. It is now on my ist of "must visits" when I am next in England. RD

  13. Oh my Reggie that last Blue John piece is stunning! I love the color shape, style of the lidded urn.

    Review: "Fifth Avenue Style"


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