Archive for August, 2010

Work begins on deluxe 17,000-square-foot addition to Dan Morphy Auctions Gallery

August 11th, 2010 by

This electronic sign stands in front of Dan Morphy Auctions’s current facility, seen in background. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Construction crews have broken ground at Dan Morphy Auctions’ south-central Pennsylvania premises to initiate a 6-month expansion project that will nearly double the firm’s existing gallery, office, preview and storage space to 35,000 square feet. Upon completion, Morphy’s full-service venue will rank among the largest of all eastern U.S. auction houses.

“Our growth has been explosive. We’ve more than tripled the number of sales we conduct annually – from six or seven a year to more than 30 a year,” said the company’s owner and CEO, Dan Morphy. “We’ve been bursting at the seams and need more display space, more storage and office space, and a large, purpose-built auction room to handle the volume of sales.”

When completed, the preview gallery will feature an additional 4,000 square feet of display area, enabling consigned articles to be viewed for several months prior to sale.

Eight additional office spaces, a conference room and individual executive offices are part of the plan, as are three self-contained photography studios. “Based on the number of collections that had been coming in, we could foresee that we were going to need these additional studios,” said Morphy.

An architect’s rendering of what the auction gallery’s saleroom will look like reveals an Arts & Crafts flavor in the choice of furniture and fabrics. Image courtesy of Althouse, Martin & Associates.

The jewel in Morphy’s crown is the proposed 4,000-square-foot ballroom-style auction gallery with 110 theater-style seats, each with a fold-over lap desk and cup holder. Four of the seats will accommodate physically challenged bidders. The acoustically perfect saleroom will be independently climate controlled and specially wired for the latest electronic and Internet devices, and will be enhanced by a chandeliered tin ceiling, marble floor and professionally designed dais for phone-bidding lines. Auction attendees  will be able to dine in the adjacent café – where they’ll be able to follow the sale on a 5-foot TV screen – or out on the patio, where additional seating will be provided.

The new construction will also create a fully enclosed loading and unloading dock with a hydraulic lift that adjusts to any truck or van height, and an adjacent 1,000-square-foot holding area for goods to be loaded in or out. From there, incoming consignments are easily movable to a custom-built 9,000-square-foot storage space with a 25-foot-high ceiling and museum-quality storage rack system that can accommodate everything from fine art to jukeboxes.

Other amenities to be added are a black-light room, more restrooms and a 600-square-foot checkout and packing room where Morphy staff, or the customers themselves, can pack up their purchases.

A top-notch security system will be installed, adding another 26 surveillance cameras to those currently in use. A new digital phone system has already been installed.

Eighty new parking spaces will be created, and the gallery’s façade will undergo a mini makeover with the installation of a beautiful hotel-style canopy extending from the front door. “This new feature is more than just cosmetic. It’s also functional,” said Morphy. “Our customers will appreciate it when it’s raining or snowing, or if they’ve purchased a large or heavy item and want to drive up to collect it.”

Left to right: Tom Sage Jr., chief operating officer; Kris Lee, general manager; and Dan Morphy, owner and CEO of Dan Morphy Auctions examine the architectural plans for the gallery expansion. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

Morphy said he feels very fortunate that his auction business and on-site Adamstown Antique Gallery have performed as well as they have in the midst of an economic recession. “I think our growth can be attributed to the way we run our operation and the way we treat our bidders and consignors, who tell us they like the way we promote and advertise our sales. They especially like the extended preview period, which is something Morphy’s is known for.”

“We’re a relatively young company, now in our seventh year. The antiques community has welcomed us, and the word has gotten out about how we change with the times and reinvest our profits into new technology and marketing strategies,” Morphy said. “We’ve been putting more money and effort into Internet exposure, and it has paid off. Five years ago, our auctions were 70 percent sold to in-house bidders, with 30 percent going to the Internet and phones. Now we sell 80 to 85 percent to the Internet and phones. People are more confident about buying through the Internet and know they can trust our catalog descriptions and condition reports.”

The World Wide Web has made it possible for Dan Morphy Auctions to become an international presence, Morphy said. “The Web has exposed us to international clients who might not have found out about us as quickly through traditional methods. It’s a cheaper, faster, easier way of doing business.”

Morphy, a 38-year-old graduate of Penn State, said he has a 25- to 35-year business plan in mind and that the expansion is essential to its success. “The future of this company is very bright. In undertaking this expansion project, I’ve had the unwavering support of my family and my loyal, dedicated staff, who are very excited about what lies ahead for us.”

Morphy said others who are playing a key role in the evolution of Dan Morphy Auctions are Susquehanna Bank, who provided the financing for the new expansion, architects Althouse, Martin & Associates; and the award-winning local firm Benchmark Construction, which is widely known for its upscale commercial projects.

To contact Dan Morphy, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail Visit Dan Morphy Auctions online at

Pennsylvania minister’s 50-year collection of farm antiques, lanterns, dairy bottles headed to auction, Aug. 14 at Morphy’s

August 9th, 2010 by

Metal pharmaceutical company sign advertising veterinary product Kreso Dip. Sign features images of horses, turkeys, roosters, pigs, sheep and cows; est. $800-$1,200. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – In 1960, Frank Zeager, a Mennonite minister from Lancaster County, Pa., attended his first auction and impulsively purchased a pair of old door hinges. His father-in-law, who was with him at the auction, asked Frank where he planned to use the hinges. Frank replied, “I just want to look at them.”

Little did Frank suspect his first auction purchase would lead to a 50-year pursuit of country antiques and farm-related Americana. Together with his beloved late wife, Rhoda (who passed away in May), Frank wended his way through thousands of flea markets, antique shops and auctions over the decades, as the two of them amassed a collection of objects they would proudly display and enjoy in their home, a 100-year-old homestead.

The Zeager collection is a living testament to rural Pennsylvania’s early agrarian culture. It encompasses hundreds of rare dairy bottles, glass jars, railroad and skaters’ lanterns, insulators and farm utensils. There are tractor seats and tools, utensils, chicken feeders and graniteware, and an assortment of fascinating kitchen implements including corn shellers and cherry seeders.

Their wonderful array of advertising signs, numbering in the hundreds, includes some real gems that advertise, for example, Vitalic Tires & Motorcycle, Old Fort Seeds, and a veterinary product called Kreso Dip No. 1. A double-sided flange sign emblazoned with the image of a comical, scraggly-looking rooster advertises Conkeys First Aid Products. Many of the rare and colorful signs are in pristine condition.

Circa-1934 emerald green glass eggnog bottle from East End Dairy, Harrisburg, Pa.), 9 ¼ inches, near mint, extremely rare, est. $1,500-$3,500. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

Frank’s interest in milk bottles began more than 30 years ago when he purchased a Foltz Dairy bottle for $40. Today, that bottle might be worth $2,000-$3,000. Rhoda, on the other hand, had a passion for peanut butter tumblers – the decorative glasses that served yet another utilitarian purpose after the contents had been consumed.

On Aug. 14, 2010, the Zeagers’ collection will be auctioned at Dan Morphy’s gallery in Denver, Pennsylvania (approx. 1 hr. 20 mins. northwest of Philadelphia). “Many outstanding collections pass through our doors, but we’ve never seen anything like the collection Frank and Rhoda Zeager built over 50 years’ time,” said auction company owner, Dan Morphy. “Frank grasped one of the most important lessons about collecting with that very first purchase of door hinges. He bought something he genuinely wanted to look at, and that’s something he and Rhoda continued to do throughout their collecting journey. They bought what they liked, and they always went for quality first.”

The auction of the Frank and Rhoda Zeager collection of farm antiques, glass lanterns, dairy bottles and advertising signs will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010, at Dan Morphy Auctions, 2000 N. Reading Road, Denver, PA 17517. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet as the sale is taking place through Morphy Live ( or

All items are available to preview now at Dan Morphy’s gallery. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail View the fully illustrated color catalog online at

Du Mouchelles – August Auction Preview

August 9th, 2010 by

John W. Coker announces Sept. 15 no-reserve auction of Dr. Albert K. Chapman collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist treasures

August 9th, 2010 by

‘Intensely private’ former chairman of Eastman Kodak formed core of collection

from 1930s-1960s; very few knew of its existence

NEW MARKET, Tenn. – An extraordinary and virtually unknown collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterworks amassed by the former president and later chairman of the board of Eastman Kodak will be auctioned without reserve on Sept. 15, 2010, at the John W. Coker gallery in New Market, Tennessee.

The Dr. Albert K. Chapman (1890-1984) collection, which has been privately held in three subsequent generations of the Chapman family since the 1930s, includes artworks by Childe Hassam, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Bonnard and 30 other distinguished artists from the period 1870 to 1950. None of these paintings were exhibited at any time while in the hands of either Dr. Chapman or his heirs. Additionally, the collection is graced by a superb pastel work by Mary Cassatt that has been exhibited only once since joining the Chapman collection – at the Smithsonian Institution in 1970.

The collection’s 65 artworks, many accompanied by bills of sale or other written provenance, are described by auctioneer John Coker as “lost and forgotten treasures that are sure to excite the fine art community.”

Mary Cassatt, Simone Talking to Her Mother, pastel on paper, 25½ by 30½ inches, est. $200,000-$400,000. John W. Coker Auctions image.

“Very few people even knew Dr. Chapman’s collection existed,” Coker said. “Most of his acquisitions were made prior to the 1960s, and once he purchased a painting, he did not want it out of his possession. They are untouched, with no visible signs or cleaning or repairs, and with the exception of the Cassatt, the paintings were never exhibited or displayed outside the family home after he acquired them.”

According to Dr. Chapman’s grandson and granddaughter, who are the collection’s consignors, not even the few close friends their grandparents, and later their parents, chose to entertain in their homes had any idea the artworks were originals. “This is a family of intensely private, highly refined people who would not have made a point of mentioning the art was original, as this might have been misconstrued as an ostentatious show of wealth,” Coker said.

Dr. Chapman’s greatest prize was Childe Hassam’s (American, 1859-1935) oil on canvas titled Royal Palms, Cuba, which will be included in an upcoming catalogue raisonne. Its bill of sale indicates that the 25- by 30-inch artwork depicting towering palm trees against a cloud-filled turquoise sky was purchased from the M. Knoedler & Co. gallery in 1948 for $1,500. The 1895 painting was previously owned by Horatio S. Rubens, a Cuban-American tobacco industry lawyer who boasted that he had bankrolled the sinking of the

Childe Hassam, Royal Palms, Cuba, oil on canvas, 1895, 25 by 31 inches, est. $300,000-$600,000. John W. Coker Auctions image.

U.S.S. Battleship Maine during the Spanish-American War. “We believe Rubens was quite likely the original owner,” Coker said.

A succession of European ambassadors and dignitaries had previously owned Mary Cassatt’s (American, 1844-1926) Simone Talking to Her Mother, a 25- by 30-inch pastel on paper that was another of Dr. Chapman’s purchases from the Knoedler gallery. He acquired it in 1950 for around $5,000. Making a rare exception, Dr. Chapman loaned the artwork to the Smithsonian in 1970 for Adelyn Dohme Breeskin’s exhibit and accompanying catalogue raisonne. Ten years later, Dr. Chapman received a letter from a man hoping to buy the painting from him. Paperwork discovered in the Chapman archive documents the doctor’s sincere reply: “Thank you for your enquiry of December 5, but I have no intention of selling the Mary Cassatt. Living with it gives us entirely too much pleasure to have it depart.”

Dr. Chapman was a “brilliant inventor” who held a patent for a type of prismatic effect used in photography, Coker said. “When you look at his art selections as a whole, you’ll see the same array of colors as in a prism.” An example would be Pierre Bonnard’s (French, 1867-1947) Landscape St.-Tropez, a 1956 acquisition that depicts a lush view of mountains across a bay, with a bridge leading to a beachside village.

Gustave Loiseau, Roof Top View from Artist’s Studio, oil on canvas, 25 by 21 inches, est. $40,000-$60,000. John W. Coker Auctions image.

Other alluring works include Gustave Loiseau’s (French, 1865-1935) Roof Top View from Artist’s Studio and Emile Bernard’s (French, 1868-1941) Pont Aven, purchased in 1961 from the M.R. Schweitzer Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York. The hilly village landscape with grazing fowl is accompanied by a two-page letter [written in 1961 in French, with translation to English] from the artist’s son, in which he confirms that his father painted the unsigned picture in 1889 in Brittany.

Paysage Ain, a 1917 painting by Suzanne Valadon (French, 1865-1838) – mother of Maurice Utrillo – was purchased in 1953 for $5,750 from Sam Salz Inc. of Park Avenue, New York. The verdant, long-range view from a hillside perspective was previously in the collection of Edouard Herriot (1872-1957), three-time Prime Minister of France. The picture was exhibited twice in Paris – in 1924 and 1931. The Chapman archive included a letter from Sam Salz in which the art dealer wrote: “I have known of this painting for a long time, and it was always my intention to buy it for myself.”

Coker said he made it his mission to locate all existing written provenance held in Dr. Chapman’s records so the documents could be permanently reunited with the artworks. “Luckily, Dr. Chapman kept his receipts, and eventually I was able to find all of the backups by digging through his files,” said Coker.

A.T. Hibbard, Late Sun, oil on canvas, 36 by 28 inches, est. $15,000-$25,000. John W. Coker Auctions image.

Dr. Chapman also appreciated the work of a variety of regional artists.” The collection includes Anthony Thieme’s (American, Rockport school, 1888-1934) Entrance to Magnolia Gardens in Spring, Charleston, S.C.; A.T. Hibbard’s (American, Rockport school, 1886-1972) Late Sun; and Harry Leslie Hoffman’s (American, 1871-1964) oil on board titled The Cotton Pickery – Savannah.

Additional highlights of the collection include Camille Pissaro’s (French, 1830-1903) graphite-on-paper work titled Young Lady Reading in Bed and Alfred Sisley’s (English, 1839-1899) Conte crayon-on-paper sketch for the painting La Rade de Cardiff.

“This magnificent collection most certainly would have been welcomed by any of the major auction houses in New York, London or Paris, so it is a tremendous honor for us to have been chosen to sell the artworks for Dr. Chapman’s heirs,” Coker said.

The no-reserve auction of the Dr. Albert K. Chapman Fine Art Collection will be held on Sept. 15, 2010 commencing at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live in the gallery, absentee, phone and live via the Internet through Complete auction and bidding details appear on John Coker’s Web site at The fully illustrated auction catalog may be viewed  online at, or beginning Aug. 10.

John W. Coker’s auction gallery is located at 1511 W. Hwy. 11E, New Market, TN 37820. For additional information, call 1-865-475-5163 or e-mail Visit the company’s Web site at

Reyne Gauge: Superman Saves the Day! By Reyne Haines

August 9th, 2010 by

Who doesn’t like a happy ending?  I know I do, and I especially love it when antiques play a role in that ending.

Everyone is going through hard times and is looking to save a few dollars here and there.  Many of us have lost our jobs and there seems to be nothing on the horizon.  Some of us have dealt with collectors,  credit card fee increases, and issues obtaining loans from banks. Let’s face it; it’s not easy out there.

One struggling family recently was staring foreclosure in the face, but was fortunate to stumble across the answer to their problems; a comic book that was found in their basement.

We’ve read numerous articles lately about the record prices being achieved at auction for comic books.  Six figures have been paid time and again for some of our favorite childhood memories.

The family had lived in their home since the 1950s, and were about to lose it to the bank.  They were devastated.  As they packed up 60 years of memories, they found a box of old comic books.   Many of them were worth $10 to $30, however, there was one diamond in the lot.  It was a copy of Action Comics #1, dated June 1938.  The cover depicts the man of steel lifting a car above his head.  The original price tag; 10 cents – value today, up to $250,000.

After unearthing the box of comics, the family decided to search online for their values. They read how had brokered two Action No 1 books – one for $1 million in February and then another for $1.5 million in March.

Comics are valued by issue, but also like many other items, by their condition.  This copy was recently rated as a 5.0 VG which is a Very Good rating on a scale of 1-10 hence the lower value.

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, is still a bit overwhelmed with their find.  They realize their luck in having found the comics, just in the nick of time.  It is as if Superman was called in to save the day.

Bonhams & Butterfields – SoMa Estate Auction

August 9th, 2010 by

Catalog Now Online

August 15th, 2010

San Francisco

Bonhams & Butterfields – Asian Works of Art

August 9th, 2010 by

Catalog Now Online

Auction August 23rd, 2010

San Francisco

Picking with Reyne – Vol 14 – By Reyne Haines

August 9th, 2010 by

This was an exciting week in the world of picking.  CNN first reported a guy who was a garage sale enthusiast who had purchased a set of negatives some years ago for $45.00.

Recently the buyer took a closer look at them and thought they might be something. He showed them to an unnamed appraiser, only to be told they were the works of Ansel Adams and worth $200 million dollars.

Now, I can only imagine how visions of new cars, homes and trips around the world were running through his mind. I know they would be if it was me (ok, maybe visions of Christian Louboutin’s, a vintage Corvette, and a home on the ocean…)

In the meantime, the press catches wind of the story and reaches out to Ansel Adams grandson who reviews them and does not believe they are the works of his grandfather.

The owner of the negatives plans to setup a website to sell prints of the images on the negatives  for $45 for a poster and $7500 for a darkroom print.  The managing director for the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust is considering suing the buyer for using a copyright name for commercial purposes.

We’ve all had finds over the years we’ve thought were something, only to find out later they were a clever fake.  Whether is a reproduction piece of furniture, a lamp, or a painting…you have to be careful.  Take the time to do due diligence before buying, or making a claim like this owner has. That initial $45 investment might end up costing him millions before it’s all said and done.

Tell us your stories of great finds that turned out to be great duds here!