Michael Shaheen, Washington, DC
When Michael Shaheen Jr. retired from a career at the Department of Justice, he threw himself into collecting art, antiques and silver. While he’d always been interested in history and craftsmanship, his affinity for art from other cultures was deepened during his work trips to Russia, where he went as part of an advisory team to transition the country after the fall of the USSR. He returned to the US and started collecting himself; and also invested in the independent jeweler and silversmith shop that is now Alexandria and Company (formerly Lawrence Miller & Co). His son, Tim Shaheen, manages it the studio and boutique today. “Michael passed onto Tim an appreciation for craftsmanship and history that rings true to how he runs his business now,” says Meaghan Foran, Tim’s business partner and wife. “Michael loved finding an incredible piece that held within it not only a story but a detail of a craft that is often lost in modern mass-produced items. He was a natural storyteller himself and I think he appreciated it in other art forms.”
Hand-Painted Russian Orthodox Icon of Saint Demetrios the Warrior
14K Yellow Gold Diamond and Gemstone Bracelet
Pair of Antique American Classical Dining Chairs with Horse Hair Seats
Chinoisserie Stacked Ceramic Trinket Boxes
Theodore Alexander "Althorp" Chinoiserie Secretary
Medieval Hand-Painted Double-Sided Latin Manuscript on Vellum
Vintage 14K Yellow Gold Sapphire and Seed Pearl Bar Brooch
Hand-Painted Russian Icons of Christian Figures
Victorian 14K Yellow Gold Amethyst Thimble
H. Westfall Watercolor Painting of a Barn Landscape
Watson Sterling Silver Demitasse Cups and Saucers with Lenox Porcelain Liners
Antique Chinese Export Meat Dish with Ship Scene
Late 15th-Century Hand-Painted Miniature Illumination from French Book of Hours
Arts and Crafts 10K Yellow Gold Cameo
Heinie Hartwig Oil Painting on Board of a Mountain Landscape
Unique Southeast Asian Repoussé Silver Bowls
S.B. & Co. Silver Plate Grape Motif Footed Platter
Lynn Dutton Watercolor Painting "Morning Fog at Shuter's Hill"
Antique Canton Covered Casserole and Meat Dish
Gorham Mfg. Co. Silver Plate Five Light Candelabrum
Filigree Accented Sterling Silver Demitasse Spoons
Openwork German 870 Silver and Reticulated Sterling Silver Salt Cellars
Early 18th-Century Hand-Painted Manuscript Page from the Dala'il al-Khayrat
Pewter Tone Mug
18K Yellow Gold Cultured Pearl Ring
Hand Painted Persian Manuscript "Poems of Asaf"
Antique Gold Gilt Vanity Mirror
Late 15th-Century Miniature Hand-Painted Vellum Page from French Book of Hours
Stone Top Side Table
Watercolor on Paper of Greek Ruins
Miniature Medieval Hand-Painted Page from a Book of Hours "The Annunciation"
14K Yellow Gold Necklace
Michele Reday Cook Oil Painting "Peaceful Harbor"
Pair of Antique Chairs with Caned Seats
Hand-Painted Latin Sheet Music Manuscript Folio
Vintage 9K Yellow Gold Watch Fob Pendant
Vintage Mahogany Knee-Hole Desk
Antique Hand-Painted Page from a Persian Manuscript
14K Yellow Gold Gemstone Scarab Bracelet
Early 16th-Century Page from a Book of Hours "The Coronation of the Virgin"
O. Tyborski Oil Painting on Board "On The Road Again"
Malachite Beaded Necklace and Chip Inlay Earrings
Victorian 15K Yellow Gold Diamond Pendant Brooch
Ruth G. Thomson Watercolor and Ink Painting "Summer Morning in Founders Park"
Six Late 15th-Century Hand-Painted Pages from French Book of Hours
La Pierre Mfg. Co. Weighted Sterling Silver Candlestick Holders
Henry Winkles Engraving on Paper of Freiburg Minster
Watson Co. Sterling Silver Tray Frame
Medieval Hand-Painted Vellum Page from Illuminated Breviary Manuscript
14K Yellow Gold Ruby and Diamond Hinged Bracelet
Monna Kauppinen Pastel Drawing on Paper of Cherry Blossom Branch
Late 15th-Century Hand-Painted Vellum Pages from a French Book of Hours
14K Yellow Gold Amethyst Pendant
Late 16th-Century Miniature Hand-Painted Vellum Leaves from French Book of Hours
Hand-Painted Manuscript Page on Vellum "Petrus Lombardus"
The Stieff Co. "Puritan-Engraved" Sterling Silver Creamer and Sugar Bowl Set
As silver experts at Alexandria and Co. what can you tell us about some of the pieces in the sale?
The SB & Co plate with the grape motif is from Tim’s mom’s side of the family. Polly Dammann was a lawyer at the DOJ and her grandfather, Charles McLaughlin, was a famous artist. This particular plate has the initials ABCD engraved on it, which stand for Aileen Byronne Cowardin Dammann. It’s part of a larger collection of family silver that we still have and use. Tim remembers that Gorham candelabra as one of the silver items that was always on display in their home. The creamer and sugar bowl set, from the Stieff Co., the Baltimore maker that was founded in 1892 is interesting because typically they created much more ornate, repoussé-style pieces that were reflective of the greater Baltimore aesthetic at the time — the heydey of silver manufacturing. These have a simpler, “Puritan” design that makes them unique.
What about the manuscripts and Russian idols?
Michael wasn’t religious, but he was intensely interested in the personal meaning that religious artifacts held and to both the craftsman and the audience. With the manuscripts it’s a similar story. Some of them are of Ottoman descent; the Shaheens were likely Ottoman. His dad was Lebanese, so I think he wanted to collect and appreciate pieces from his family’s ancestral land.
What about the watercolors?
If Michael came across a painting he liked, he had no hesitations buying it. He always took time while traveling to seek out local artists and bring home art that was emblematic of the place. The column painting, for example, was purchased in Italy from a local artist. Tim remembers their living room walls were completely covered in art. Michael even contemplated a ceiling mural for their home!