Sollo Rago Modern Auctions 333 North Main Street, Lambertville, NJ; ragoarts.com/sollorago.php Since John Sollo and David Rago founded Sollo Rago in 1998, the Lambertville, New Jersey, house has dominated the niche market for modern ceramics and small-batch work by American craftsmen. It’s the place to go for pieces by designer-artists Paul Evans and George Nakashima, but you’ll also find Scandinavian classics like Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear chair. “If we believe in something, we’ll put it in, even if we don’t necessarily have a name for it,” says auction specialist Elizabeth Essner. If you’re at a loss for where to display your new acquisitions, visit the house’s 13,000-foot annex, where the collections are arranged in settings conceived by guest interior designers like Amy Lau and Alexander Gorlin. Auction schedule: Twice a year, in April and October Best in show: Carlton multicolored bookshelf designed in 1981 by Ettore Sottsass, est. $6,000 to $9,000.
L.A. Modern P.O. Box 56748, Sherman Oaks, CA; lamodern.com Established in 1992 by renowned collector Peter Loughrey, L.A. Modern was the first house devoted entirely to modern design. And Loughrey is a stickler: Everything sold must conform to the principles of the modernist movement, which is rooted in specific materials and manufacturing techniques and marked by a minimalist aesthetic. If what you really want is a Poul Kjaerholm sofa or an Eero Saarinen coffee table, you won’t have to weed through Art Nouveau pottery. The next sale at the house’s appropriately spare showroom in L.A.’s Pacific Design Center has a local focus: works from Californians Sam Maloof and Beatrice Wood, plus candy-colored Pop Art. Auction schedule: Three times a year, in February, June, and November. Next up: Modern Design & Fine Art, June 29. Best in show: Flagline chair by Hans Wegner, est. $4,000 to $6,000.
Phillips de Pury & Company 450 West 15th Street, New York City; phillipsdepury.com It may be an age-old operationone with branches in New York, London, and Genevabut Phillips de Pury has a hipper side. Founded in 1796, the house got a makeover in 2004 when gallerist Simon de Pury took over: He chucked the antiques in favor of modern design, art, and jewelry from Bauhaus onward. Three years ago, the house started its popular Saturday@Phillips series, with auctions that are social (like gallery openings) and accessible (a sale in London in March included a Joe Columbo poker table and a Banksy screen print). What makes Phillips a standout, though, is its pioneering work with contemporary designers like Ross Lovegrove and the rare finds it sells at auctionlike Zaha Hadid’s Aqua Table for Established & Sons, which fetched a record-breaking $296,000 in 2005. Auction schedule: In New York, Saturday@Phillips sales twice a year and design auctions twice a year, in June and December. Next up: Design, June 12. Best in show: Early version of Two Legs and a Table desk by Ron Arad, est. $200,000 to $300,000.