Hector Guimard Art Nouveau House Numbers

Lot 148, Hector Guimard, house numerals, 1900-08, painted cast iron, at Christie’s 12 March

I don’t think I’ve ever been in an emotionally wrung out state where I get choked up by the beauty of house numbers, but here we f’ing are.

Hector Guimard had these absolutely exquisite numbers cast, like everything else, at the Fondries Saint Dizier. These are painted, which is fine. The set the de Menils bought in 1971 are just naked iron, which is better. The 25yo surmoulage bronze replicas being sold on 1st Dibs look like they’re wearing a gold lamé sweatsuit. It’d be less embarrassing to tape a hundred dollar bill to your door.

[A few excited minutes later update: as recently as a 2016 blog post, le Cercle Guimard reviewed the history of these numerals, which were available as products basically up until WWII. In 1971, some of the earliest connoisseurs rediscovering Guimard obtained the original counter-models from Saint-Dizier, which Dominique de Menil acquired, some for her own collection, and others she donated to the Musée d’Orsay. Their counter-models long gone, Saint-Didier began producing the surmoulage casts in the 1980s.]

12 March 2024, Lot 148: Hector Guimard, House Numerals, est. $3-5,000 [update: whoops, missed this, and they’re gone. were they withdrawn? or did they not sell?] [christies]