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Auction Overview
and Highlights

The Ira Simon Collection:
Sold for the Benefit of the
Art Institute of Chicago

Wednesday, April 27, 2022
10 AM CDT

VIEW CATALOG

PREVIEW DATES

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20: 10 AM – 5 PM
THURSDAY, APRIL 21: 10 AM – 5 PM
FRIDAY, APRIL 22: 10 AM – 5 PM
MONDAY, APRIL 25: 10 AM – 5 PM
TUESDAY, APRIL 26: 10 AM – 5 PM

 

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
818 North Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois 60301

 

On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, Toomey & Co. Auctioneers will proudly present a single-owner sale, The Ira Simon Collection: Sold for the Benefit of the Art Institute of Chicago. Curated by Vice President & Senior Specialist John P. Walcher, this unprecedented offering features over 300 lots with many rare and important examples of art and design from the Art Nouveau, Aesthetic Movement, Arts & Crafts, and Art Deco periods. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Ira Simon was a Chicago-based graphic designer who, in the 1970s and 1980s, began putting together one of the most impressive collections of late 19th and early 20th century material, in particular, works by Tiffany Studios and Émile Gallé. Eventually, Simon’s passion and expertise allowed him to make a full-time transition to buying and selling antiques and conducting appraisals for auction houses and private clients. Below are various in situ and period photos showing Ira Simon himself as well as his remarkable collection followed by highlights of the auction on April 27.

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 1, 193, 202, and 261

Ira Simon: Collector of Tiffany, Art Nouveau, and Arts & Crafts — A Biography by His Close Friends, Jim and Nancy Frugoli

 

Ira Simon and one of his cats surrounded by his collection at home, with Lots 4, 52, 234, and 271

Ira Simon had a passion for collecting the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Art Nouveau, handcrafted silver, pewter, and copper … and bats! He began building his vast collection in the early 1970s and through the 1980s with acquisitions from sources in the Midwest, such as Fly By Nite Antiques, American Art Galleries, Hanzel Art Galleries, and Direct Auctioneers, along with antique dealers back East, including Lillian Nassau Ltd., Macklowe Gallery, and ARC Antiques.

Ira Simon as a young man

One of his mentors was Lillian Nassau in New York City. In the 1970s, she was actively promoting Tiffany lamps and wares and Art Nouveau objects. Ira Simon saw the beauty, significance, and fine craftsmanship in these objects that had fallen out of favor during the middle of the 20th century. He began to acquire pieces through her shop and other sources.

Ira studied art and design at Washington University in St. Louis. He then found employment as a graphic designer with a major toy manufacturer. This was his day job. His true passion was his love of art and collecting handcrafted works, especially those created by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Ira Simon with a classic Mercedes-Benz

He attended antique shows and auctions, frequented local antique shops, and visited better antique dealers when in New York, slowly building his impressive collection of Tiffany, Art Nouveau, Kalo sterling silver, Georg Jensen sterling silver, Robert Jarvie copper wares, Kayserzinn pewter wares, and Carence Crafters objects and jewelry.

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 31, 101, 181, 186, 204, and 213

He also decorated the walls of his home with many paintings and prints in a variety of styles and subjects along with bronzes, Japanese baskets, and many outstanding examples of Gallé Art Nouveau furniture, adding to the museum feel of his surroundings.

Ira Simon [left] with close friends, Jim and Nancy Frugoli, in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, 1980s

Ira became an expert on the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, especially lamps, candlesticks, and inkwells, and he was the proud owner of a fabulous one-of-a-kind Tiffany mirror. Anyone who was fortunate enough to see in person the many fine pieces in his vast collection was awed by the scope and quality of the works he had single-handedly assembled.

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 6, 155, 164, 169, 170, 184, 207, 225, and 234
 
 

And of course there was his fascination with bats. Ira had a hanging bat lamp, a Tiffany lamp with a base of bats, a bat letter opener, bat prints, and other bat items.

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 179, 199, 200, and 203

Besides his mission to collect the best of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Art Nouveau, and Arts & Crafts, Ira loved gardening and raising orchids, Broadway musicals, architecture, fine dining, and all things Chicago. Ira remained a bachelor and his cats were his family.

Ira’s intense appreciation of the design and beauty of fine handcrafted items, especially those whose forms were based on the beauties of nature, stayed with him throughout his life.

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 146, 185, and 208

Later, he would step away from graphic design to focus more on buying and selling antiques and preparing appraisals for large auction houses and individuals.

Few collectors have been fortunate enough to amass a collection with the breadth and scope achieved by Ira Simon. His keen eye, knowledge, passion, and appreciation of fine design and quality workmanship made him unique in the world of fine antiques collecting.

Ira Simon and another one of his cats surrounded by his collection at home, with Lots 195, 214, 257, and 298

Ira Simon’s artfully staged balcony garden

Artists & Makers in the Auction of The Ira Simon Collection: Sold for the Benefit of the Art Institute of Chicago on April 27, 2022

 

American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Co. · Leonard Baskin · Hubert Émile Bellynck · Nelson Norris Bickford · Frank S. Boyden · Claude Buck · Carence Crafters · Charles M. Crocker · Alfred Louis Achille Daguet · Salvador Dalí · Stark Davis · Dominick & Haff · Werner Drewes · William B. Durgin Co. · Erhard & Söhne · Ferninand Erhart · Gerald Frank · Émile Gallé · Gorham Mfg. Co. · J. Jeffrey Grant · Jacques Gruber · Lucie (Lucille) Hartrath · Joseph Heinrichs · Malvina Cornell Hoffman · Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington · E.T. Hurley · Rudolph Frank Ingerle · Robert Riddle Jarvie · Georg Jensen · The Kalo Shop · Kayserzinn · Lebolt & Co. · Hugo Leven · After Paul Howard Manship · Marshall Field & Co. · Alphonse Mucha · George Mann Niedecken · Edith Barretto (E.B.) Parsons · John Pontus Petterson · Frank Charles Peyraud · Karl Plath · Albin Polasek · Julius Olaf Randahl · Carl Wendell Rawson · Harry Roseland · Victorin Sabatier · Sanborns · Édouard-Marcel Sandoz · Emory P. Seidel · Glenn Crawford Sheffer · George W. Shiebler & Co. · Shreve & Co. · Marie-Louise Simard · Hans John Stoltenberg · TC Shop · Tiffany & Co. · Tiffany Studios · George H. Trautmann · Eugène Vallin · Whiting Mfg. Co. · Edward K. Williams · & Others

Ira Simon’s collection in his home, with Lots 1, 193, 220, and 293

Please note that the lots featured below are selected highlights. Browse the online catalog to view all items up for bid on April 27, 2022.