Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers’ sale featuring selections from the estate of Killer Kowalski

July 29th, 2011 by

An early publicity photo of champion wrestler Killer Kowalski, from a large selection of career ephemera to be auctioned. Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers image.

SAUGUS, Mass. – A towering figure of a man, 6ft. 7in. Walter “Killer” Kowalski (1926-2008) was a world champion wrestler who enjoyed wealth and celebrity during his 30-year career in the ring. But there was much more to the man than just his ability to eliminate opponents with body slams, knee drops and his trademark “Kowalski claw,” said Tonya A. Cameron, who will auction selections from the Pro Wrestling Hall of Famer’s estate on Thursday, Aug. 11.

 

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was quite a surprise to discover that Mr. Kowalski was something of a modern day Renaissance man. He had many diverse interests, including photography and piloting his own plane to exotic locations,” Cameron said. “He was passionate about his charity work and his own successful businesses, was devoutly religious and was a committed vegetarian who frequently lectured on health and fitness.”

 

Kowalski and his wife Theresa, who survives him, enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in their Boston-area home and “bought good things,” Cameron said. The couple’s china, glass, furniture, lighting and Asian antiques will be auctioned in Cameron’s 350-lot sale, together with their jewelry and a fascinating assemblage of wrestling memorabilia and apparel associated with Killer Kowalski’s career.

 

The china section of the sale includes complete Limoges services with game-bird motifs. One of the sets contains 12 plates and a large platter, each adorned with the image of a pheasant. Another Limoges set, consisting of six plates and a platter, has a fish theme.

 

19th century Chinese celadon porcelain umbrella stand from the Kowalski residence. Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers image.

An extensive Booth China “Blue Willow” dinner service for six includes numerous gilt-trimmed serving pieces such as tureens, a tray, gravy boat and teapot. A grouping of elegant Dresden dinner plates is accompanied by matching candlesticks.

 

An impressive collection of 19th-century Wedgwood includes 27 historical plates in cobalt blue and white. Also by Wedgwood, a large, deep-well meat platter with six matching plates displays a landscape-with-cows motif.

 

The Kowalskis’ glass collection includes Moser stemmed ware, Bristol glass, dresser bottles and numerous pieces of European and American brilliant-cut crystal. Additionally, there are console sets consisting of center bowls with matching candlesticks, perhaps by Cambridge.

 

An exceptional array of Bohemian glass includes a pair of heavy, 16-inch covered ruby glass mantel jars deeply etched with an elk and forest scene; and a pair of open ruby glass mantel vases with a motif of scrolling vines, landscaping and forest animals. Other prized Bohemian glass lots include large open baskets, heavy cobalt blue vases, and stemmed glassware.

 

The sale features several crystal chandeliers of various sizes – medium to large – including an Art Nouveau hanging ceiling fixture with four 1915 iridescent orange NuArt shades and lion-embellished drop-downs. Many excellent-quality lamps will be offered, as well as decorative brass and crystal wall sconces.

 

Killer Kowalski’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch. Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers image.

The Kowalskis also collected Asian art, some of which was purchased during trips to the Far East. Top pieces include an exquisite 19th-century Chinese celadon porcelain umbrella stand with bamboo decoration, 19th-century Asian vases, a spinach jade bowl, and cloisonné figural fish on pedestals. Handsome floor vases executed in shades of brown, blue, purple and orange display a chrysanthemum motif and have foo dog handles.

 

Leading the small selection of furniture are a custom-made bombe chest and an ornate 1920s French vitrine with swagged border. Classical scenes are painted on both of the vitrine’s side panels and on the bottom of the door.

 

Mr. Kowalski’s Rolex Oyster perpetual wristwatch will be auctioned, as will a sizable assortment of Theresa Kowalski’s Victorian jewelry, which has been grouped into one lot. The contents encompass a wide range of adornments: brooches, necklaces, lockets, miniature purses, and jade earrings with a matching ring. Other jewelry to be offered includes 14K gold pendants, charms, crosses and rings. A special highlight is the pair of 18K gold and enamel bee brooches with “jeweled” eyes.

 

Sports memorabilia collectors are expected to jump at the chance to own historical items and match-worn apparel direct from the estate of Killer Kowalski. Key pieces include Kowalski’s size 14 blue kid leather lace-up wrestling boots and three of his eye-catching robes. One of them is purple with silver metallic, while a second

One of three flashy robes to be auctioned, each worn by Killer Kowalski in the ring prior to important matches. Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers image.

robe is royal blue with gold metallic. The most important of the three robes dates to the 1950s, when Kowalski was wrestling under a different name: Wladek Kowalski. The robe is peacock blue velvet, with Kowalski’s name written in silver metallic script on the back.

 

The estate produced an immense amount of ephemera from Kowalski’s career. There are photos of him in his wrestling gear – some signed and some with other wrestlers – posters advertising wrestling matches, correspondence from the International Wrestling Federation, a letter confirming Kowalski’s election to the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, and even the Articles of Incorporation for his entertainment and recreation business, Victory Inc.

 

Walter “Killer” Kowalski was an accomplished pilot who logged thousands of hours in his private plane, as documented in this flight log. Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers image.

Another lot with a close personal connection to Kowalski was his flight log. Tonya Cameron, herself a former Class C licensed pilot, said she was able to understand what the logbook’s entries meant and was “amazed to see how extensively he traveled…There was nowhere he wouldn’t go. He regarded his airplane the way most of us regard our cars.”

 

Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers’ sale featuring selections from the estate of Killer Kowalski will take place on Aug. 11, 2011 at the company’s gallery at 113 Bennett Highway, Saugus, MA 01906, commencing at 5 p.m. Eastern time. All forms of bidding will be available, including telephone, absentee and online through Proxibid. For additional information, call 781-233-0006 or e-mail tac602@gmail.com. Visit Tonya A. Cameron Auctioneers online at www.tacauctioneers.com.

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