Tiffany & Co. grandfather clock, Guy Wiggins painting among sale’s highlights
MERIDEN, Conn. – The Brechlins are home for the holidays and will celebrate as the Connecticut family’s Nest Egg Auctions presents its annual Gala Holiday New Year’s Auction on Saturday, Jan. 7. The sale will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
Those attending the 209-lot auction will be offered festive hospitality, with complimentary food and drink; and live music.
“Everyone comes to our New Year’s auction,” said auctioneer Ryan Brechlin. “Hey, free shrimp!”
Along with the food and entertainment, guests will be able to enjoy previewing an outstanding lineup of antiques and collectibles on display prior to the auction.
LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding for those who cannot attend the sale, which will be held at Nest Egg Auctions’ gallery at 30 Research Parkway in Meriden.
Ryan Brechlin will oversee the event together with his sister Jennifer Brechlin and their mother Mary Ellen Brechlin. All three family members work full time for the second-generation auction house. Present in spirit will be the family patriarch, Carl Brechlin, who died in 2008.
The Jan. 7 auction will be Nest Egg’s first sale of 2012. What better way to ring in the New Year than with a late-19th-century Tiffany & Co. grandfather clock that stands an impressive 100 inches tall and has all the bells and whistles expected of a fine Tiffany timepiece.
“It has a good German movement [Winterhalder & Hofmeier] and a beautifully carved mahogany case,” said Ryan Brechlin. “It’s enormous. People who want a Tiffany clock like them big.”
With a sun and moon dial, eight bells and Westminster chimes – all in running condition – the clock is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
Another large mechanical marvel in the sale is a Model 92 National cash register, which was custom made for a New York department store, Barton & Hoysradt, around 1902. The register is fully functional and includes all keys and its original instruction book. The entire piece – register and attached cabinet – measures approximately 19 1/2 inches by 26 inches by 36 inches and has a $1,000-$2,000 estimate.
“It’s a cool piece, one of the biggest registers National made. The drawers all integrated to the different departments in the store,” said Brechlin.
Another choice mechanical device in the auction is a Mills Novelty Co. American War Eagle nickel slot machine from the mid-1930s. From an Old Saybrook, Conn., estate, the classic one-arm bandit in working order is expected to make $1,000-$2,000.
The auction’s high point may come with the introduction of a Guy Carleton Wiggins (American, 1883-1962) oil-on-board painting of the New York Library in a winter storm. The artwork executed in quintessential Wiggins style carries a $5,000-$10,000 estimate.
“It has everything you want in a Guy Wiggins painting – New York in winter, snow and American Flags,” said Brechlin. “This one has two flags.”
Brechlin noted that the 12-inch by 16-inch Wiggins painting is from the Alfred Cheney Johnston Collection. Johnston was a famed New York City-based photographer known for his portraits of Ziegfeld Follies showgirls as well as of 1920s/1930s actresses. The final 65 lots of the auction consist exclusively of Johnston photos of this type.
“This will be the last of the Alfred Cheney Johnston estate photographs, which we’ve spread over three auctions during the past year. Because they’re the last offering, I’m hoping people will go a little crazy for them,” said Bechlin.
Some of Johnston’s beautiful subjects were noted silent film stars. These particular images will be sold individually. Many other lots include multiple images. Estimates range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
While the subject matter was risqué for its time, Johnston’s work was technically and artistically superb, and is highly collectible today. The enlargements, many 10 inches by 13 inches, are in excellent condition.
An especially desirable collector’s item in the sale is an Art Deco porcelain figure of a woman made by Lenci of Torino, Italy. The sultry blonde, wearing a short dress and carrying a basket of flowers, stands 9½ inches high. With minor damage, it has a $500-$1,000 estimate.
“Lenci was a small Italian pottery and their best pieces are highly sought after,” said Brechlin. “We sold a Lenci piece earlier in the year for around $13,000.”
A line from the popular 1934 hit Winter Wonderland – “Gone away is the bluebird” – comes to mind when considering a taxidermied passenger pigeon displayed in a period display case. The trophy, an example of a wild species that was hunted to extinction by 1914, is the size of a typical pigeon. The custom-crafted glass and wood case measures approximately 12 inches by 13 inches by 19 inches.
“We’ve done well with some taxidermy,” says Bechlin, who hopes to make $3,000-$5,000 with this former museum piece.
Three scarce Arts & Crafts Movement books on papermaking by Dard Hunter, a one-time associate of Elbert Hubbard, will be sold. One, published in 1927 and dealing with primitive papermaking, is number 83 of an edition limited to 200 copies. It has a $1,000-$2,000 estimate.
The Literature of Papermaking 1390-1800 by Dard Hunter, published in 1925, is numbered 76 of 160 and signed by the author. The illustrated volume is hand printed in type of Hunter’s own design on handmade paper. It carries a $500-$1,000 estimate.
Hunter’s Papermaking in Indo-China, a limited edition published in 1947, exhibits similar handcraftsmanship and also has a $500-$1,000 estimate.
For additional information on Nest Egg Auctions’ Gala Holiday New Year’s Auction, call 203-630-1400 or toll-free 800-448-0692; or e-mail email@example.com. All forms of bidding will be available. View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com. The catalog may also be viewed on Nest Egg’s website: www.nesteggauctions.com.
Soda shop sign from Atlantic City’s glory days takes top-lot honors at $46K
NEW HOPE, Pa. – Antique toy expert and Antiques Roadshow senior appraiser Noel Barrett hosted a Nov. 18-19 auction featuring clockwork toys and automata from the Frank Mohr collection. The sale also included early advertising signs and toys from the personal collection of Bill Powell, a Tennessee-based dealer known for his well-cultivated taste in antiques of many types.
The auction realized $1,187,000 (all prices quoted inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium), with Saturday’s sales exceeding the session’s total high estimate by a whopping 40%.
“It was like an old-fashioned sale in terms of turnout. It drew about the same size crowd we had in the very same hall 23 years ago, at our first auction in New Hope. You don’t see that sort of turnout nowadays, with so many people opting for the convenience of phone and Internet bidding. It was one heck of a crowd,” said Noel Barrett.
“The auction took us full circle in a number of ways. I was able to point to a poster in the sale and say, ‘I sold this 23 years ago, and now it’s come back to us,’” Barrett continued. “That’s what the Bill Powell collection represented – antique toys and signs that had been off the market for decades. It was very exciting to see such a full house. All of the major buyers turned out.”
Friday’s 386-lot toy session was dominated by a British toy, an 1880s William Britain “Automatic Foot Race.” The clockwork toy featuring two quaint, cloth-dressed figures that trot around a paper-litho metal cylinder crossed the finish line at $18,400, against an estimate of $5,000-$12,000. The buyer was an American participating by phone.
Another early Britains production that finished near the top of the toy session was a Don Quixote and the Windmill Parlour Game. The scarce toy featuring a painted-wood windmill with tin blades and an armor-clad rider on horseback even retained its original box lid. The game outpaced its estimate of $2,000-$3,000 to end its run at $8,625. A Britain’s Drinking Highlander automaton garnered an identical winning bid.
An unusual 19th-century pull toy of painted tin with cast-iron wheels featured a uniformed cadet figure pulling a platform topped by a maypole with circling boy and girl figures. It finished just above its high estimate at $12,650.
Another toy that found favor with bidders was a French horse-drawn tin omnibus floor toy emblazoned with “Compagnie Generale Des Omnibus” and a point of departure and destination sign reading “Gare d l’Est – Montrouge.” Very nicely detailed and carrying 12 painted composition passenger figures, it breezed past its $2,500-$4,500 estimate to settle at $11,500.
The auction’s overall top lot was an appealing painted tin-on-wood sign believed to have come from a shop on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. It advertised “ice cream, fancy cake and all kinds of soft drinks,” the types of treats so popular with beachgoers both a century ago and today. The gold lettering and image of a mound of ice cream being served up on a silver utensil were remarkably clean, suggesting the sign had avoided exposure to harsh elements. Against an estimate of $8,000-$12,000, the sign was bid to $46,000.
A 19th-century, full-color wood sign advertising Chas. F. Wagner Furs featured a painted cartouche with the three-quarter image of a woman wearing an ermine-collared fur vest, her hands concealed in a fur muff. Against an estimate of $15,000-$18,000, the 58-inch-tall by 29-inch-wide sign achieved $26,450.
Both a J. F. Wiessner Lager painted-tin sign with the image of a foaming pint, and a “Glasses Fitted” optician trade with a suspended pair of oversize spectacles commanded individual prices of $12,650.
An elaborately detailed watchmaker’s trade sign shaped like a pocket watch with Roman numerals brought a surprising $11,500 – more than seven times its high estimate. But even Noel Barrett didn’t expect the intense interest in a painted-wood fishing lure trade sign replicating a speckled fish, estimated at $1,500-$2,500. “There were a lot of people on the phones for that sign, and one of them ended up being the buyer at $19,550,” Barrett said.
Sometimes the type of product being advertised on a sign can be just as important as the graphics. A case in point was the lithographed cardboard sign touting Hansen’s Auto Gauntlets and illustrated with the image of a liveried driver wearing a pair of the sturdy gloves. “Sometimes automotive items can be totally surprising, because the field is so strong. I had never seen this sign before, and it had a great image,” said Barrett, commenting on the winning bid of $9,775 (est. $400-$800).
Provenance played a role in the success of an “Allegiance to No Crown” oil painting from the Greg and Molly Caron patriotic Americana
collection. The artwork with provenance from the legendary Bernard Barenholtz collection ignited a bidding battle amongst six phone competitors. The painting of a sailor holding an American Flag and Victory holding a laurel wreath above his head flew past its $2,500-$3,500 estimate to sell for $8,625.
While the packed room and bank of busy phones were the source of furious bidding on many lots, the Internet was a huge presence, as well, with 1,000 registered bidders taking part through LiveAuctioneers.com. In the end, online bidders accounted for 17% of the gross and 32% of the lots sold.
Noel Barrett will conduct his next sale on Nov. 16-17, 2012, the weekend before Thanksgiving. For additional information call 1-215-297-5109 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Barrett’s website at www.noelbarrett.com.
TEHACHAPI, Calif. – On Jan. 1, 2012, California-based Government Auction will host its seventh annual New Year’s sale, featuring rare gold coins, fine jewelry and gems; art and antique music machines. More than two million dollars in merchandise will be sold to the highest bidder at the event, which is structured as an absentee, phone and Internet auction, with Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.com.
The company traditionally reserves for its annual New Year’s sale only the best and most valuable items in its inventory. “It takes a lot of time to prepare for our New Year’s auction, but it’s always worth it. Collectors love it because most of the lots have no reserve and start with an opening bid of only one or two dollars,” said Chris Budge, of Government Auction’s Marketing department.
A strong candidate for top lot of the 2,000-lot sale is a 1795 13-leaves $10 gold eagle coin. Fewer than 5,100 gold eagle coins were minted in 1795 – some with the eagle grasping a branch with 13 leaves and others with nine leaves. Only 400 to 500 examples of the 13-leaves coin are known to exist. These coins hold strong interest with collectors because they were the first U.S. gold eagle coins to be stamped. Designed by Robert Scott, each weighs 17.5 grams and has 91.7% gold content. The coin in Government Auction’s sale is graded NGC AU by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., and is expected to make $123,000-$246,000.
Additional coin highlights include an 1882-CC $20 Liberty Head coin, est. $37,500-$75,000; and a 901-S Barber 25-cent coin, est. $70,500-$141,000.
Several truly exquisite necklaces are entered in the auction. A design in 18K yellow and white gold features 35 emeralds with a total weight of 19.02 carats and 288 diamonds having a total weight of 7.20 carats. The Gemological Laboratory of America has valued the necklace at $86,419. It carries a presale estimate of $43,000-$86,000.
An 18K yellow gold necklace with 36.15 carats of genuine Ceylon cabochon sapphires and 3.5 carats of diamonds could fetch $32,000-$64,000; while a striking 7.90-carat cabochon ruby pendant-style 14K gold necklace is estimated at $18,000-$36,000. The ruby in the latter necklace is a blood-red color and serves as the focal point of three stepped squares of surrounding diamonds. The pendant is suspended from a heavily diamond-encrusted necklace. Estimate: $18,000-$36,000. Yet another select entry is the 2,281.35-carat faceted emerald gemstone, described as having a “dark tone with strong, vivid saturation.” The massive emerald could realize as much as $80,000 on auction day.
A signed John Lewis Brown (French/Scottish ancestry, 1829-1892) oil-on-board painting showcases the artist’s skill in painting equine, canine and military subjects. “Brown was influenced by the Impressionists, especially Degas, which is obvious in this painting,” said Budge. The framed 18 by 22in. pastoral work is estimated at $13,500-$27,000.
The auction will not be short of musical accompaniment with a 1940s Rock-Ola jukebox in the lineup. The classic jukebox plays 78 RPM records and exudes visual appeal with its colorful, illuminating Art Deco façade. Estimate: $5,100-$10,200. Two early forms of mechanical musical entertainment will be available to bidders, as well. A rare Polyphon music box in immaculate condition carries an estimate of $10,500-$21,000; while a Regina upright music box in mint condition and accompanied by 15 discs may climb much higher, to its estimate of $57,000-$114,000.
From the same general timeframe as the mechanical music machines, a Caille upright 5-cent slot machine is richly decorative, with a copper marquee, front plates, paw feet and additional trim to its handsome oak body. A stunning work of art, its target price is $66,000-$132,000.
Sports fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to bid on a custom-matted and framed collage of autographs, images and collector sports cards representing the athletes known collectively as the “NBA 60 Greatest Players.” Among the superstars included in the collage are Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and many other masters of the hardcourt. An estimate of $14,997-$29,994 has been set on this lot.
Government Auction’s Jan. 1, 2012 New Year’s Day sale will commence at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time/10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Absentee, phone and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com will be available. For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Debbie on 661-823-1543 or e-mail email@example.com.
View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
Don Presley’s New Year’s auction features sterling, Asian art, clocks and Scottish Rite’s treasured antique marble sculpture ‘Paetus et Aria’December 20th, 2011 by admin
ORANGE, Calif. – A superb European sculpture unveiled at the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral on Christmas Day of 1913 is the highlight of Don Presley’s Dec. 31-Jan. 1 New Year’s Auction. The sale features 1,000 lots of antiques, Asian and other fine art, plus a bumper selection described by Presley as “a gallery of amusements.”
The headliner – a Carrara marble grouping known variously as ‘Paetus et Aria,’ ‘The Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife,’ and ‘The Galatian Suicide’ – is a copy of the Hellenistic 3rd century B.C. original by Epignonos, ex Boncompagni Ludovisi Collection. In 1900, the Italian State purchased the original – and 103 other sculptures – from the royal Boncompagni Ludovisi family for ensconcement in the Pergamum Museo Nazionale at Palazzo Altemps.
A deaccession from the Scottish Rite Library & Museum, the antique copy of the famous Greek statue in Presley’s sale – whose exact age is unknown – comes with a written history from Masonic archives. In its post-Christmas 1913 “Bulletin to the Los Angeles Consistory,” an article describes the statue – a gift from Scottish Rite member V.M. William Rhodes Hervey – as “one of the finest marbles in America, not unworthy of being the center of [the Cathedral’s] collection of statuary, pictures and books.”
The statue measures 94 inches tall by 42 inches wide, inclusive of custom-made marble base, and is expected to make $40,000-$75,000 at auction.
Presley’s New Year’s sale also features an extensive selection of top-quality ivory and Asian antiques. A pair of coveted Chinese huanghuali chairs in spotless condition came from a Los Angeles residence. Auctioneer Don Presley explained that one reason chairs of this type are so scarce is because the wood from which they are constructed is only rarely found in pieces large enough to be used in furniture.
“Huanghuali chairs were made for emperors and royalty from exotic hardwoods in the rosewood family that have an especially beautiful grain and pattern of knots,” Presley said. “They can fetch high prices at auction. We have placed a conservative estimate of $15,000-$25,000 on the chairs consigned to our sale.”
Another Asian highlight is a 19th-century carved bone over wood statue of Guanyin. The figure, which has an ivory face and hands, holds a candle and has a phoenix (bird) ornament in its hair. It carries an estimate of $8,000-$15,000.
Approximately 200 antique clocks will be auctioned, including 40 more from the same Beverly Hills collection that highlighted Presley’s Nov. 5-6 sale. The grouping includes French and other European clocks, carriage, boulle and tortoiseshell; champleve, gilt-bronze, jewel-face and American clocks (Tiffany, Ansonia, etc.). There are also a few wall and mantel clocks.
Several impressive diamonds, sized from 2 to 3 carats each, add a fine edge to the sale, as does a Rolex Daytona Model 16520 Oyster Perpetual man’s wristwatch with Zenith movement. With original box, the classic timepiece could realize $12,000-$20,000.
An Art Deco sterling silver tea set marked “Jimenez” is a premier example of Mexican craftsmanship. The teapot and accessory pieces are stamped ‘Sterling 925’ and have a fluted exterior, while the stamped tray is adorned by a substantial, wide repousse trim. The stylish set weighs in at 159.6 troy ounces and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
The perfect furnishing in which to display a tea set of such quality is the 19th-century bronze ormolu vitrine that comes to the auction from a residence in the exclusive Orange Park Acres section of Orange County. With cartouches hand painted in the vernis Martin style, and with its original glass intact, the elegant vitrine could fetch $4,000-$6,000.
Don Presley has amassed an assortment of unusual amusements for his Dec. 31-Jan. 1 sale. Several were featured on the History Channel’s new show Real Deal, which is taped at Presley’s gallery. They include a 1957 Williams “Deluxe Baseball” pinball machine, est. $3,500-$5,500; and a fully documented circa-1891 binnacle from the Spanish flagship Infanta Maria Teresa, $15,000-$25,000. A third item that appeared on Real Deal is a circa-1900 medical device called a “nebulizer.” Presley explained that the device was used in upscale medical or dental practices and produced a mist for inhalation by patients. Estimate: $1,200-$1,800.
A special transportation attraction that would be right at home at Knott’s Berry Farm is a Butterfield stagecoach, 3/4 size, made around 1942 for use in parades, rodeos and other festive events. The vehicle has perfect wheels, is leather slung with barrel sides and even has lanterns to accommodate candles, in the manner of 19th-century stagecoaches. The auction estimate is $25,000-$30,000. For those who favor the Mod era, a pair of zippy 1960s Vespa scooters may fit the bill, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000 apiece.
Additional entries of note include a Capodimonte chess set on a wood base with bronze ormolu, est. $1,500-$2,500; a sizable collection of Roseville, Bauer and other California pottery; fine porcelains, various other fine and decorative-art objects; and 200 Hummel figurines. A 5ft. 6in. electric automaton organ grinder and monkey comes with cassettes to provide a musical accompaniment.
Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will commence at 12 noon Pacific Time. Preview Mon.-Sat. 10-5. The gallery is located at 1319 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information, call Don Presley at 714-633-2437 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the company’s website at www.donpresleyauction.com.
Sale includes 200-pc. Georg Jensen service, rare early 18th-century English silver
SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – An array of 18th-century Britannia standard silver and one of the most extensive Georg Jensen flatware services to see the auction block in many years will headline Stephenson’s New Year’s Day Antiques & Decorative Arts sale.
The suburban Philadelphia auctioneers specialize in estate antiques and art. Often, they are called upon to assess and auction the contents of grand residences on Philadelphia’s “Main Line.” That’s where the New Year’s silver trove was sourced – from the home of a prosperous family that owned a yarn goods company during the early to mid 20th century.
The Jensen sterling flatware set consists of more than 200 pieces in the coveted Acorn pattern and includes numerous serving and accessory pieces, most notably an octet of emerald-enameled salts with individual spoons. The service has remained in the same family since 1941.
“An estimate of $20,000 for a service of this quality and size would not be the least bit unreasonable, especially when factoring in the considerable cachet of the Georg Jensen name,” said Stephenson’s owner, Cindy Stephenson.
The Philadelphia estate also produced a sizable selection of antique English silver, including tea caddies by Anthony Nelme (circa 1720) and Edward Gibbons (circa 1726). Two matching Thomas Ash Britannia standard Queen Anne tea caddies date to 1711 and were purchased by a member of the Philadelphia family in 1944, from New York’s Parke-Bernet Galleries. A third Queen Anne caddy in the collection was crafted by Ash around 1708.
Other English sterling highlights from the estate include a 1780 William Cafe dish cross with pierced center for a spirit lamp, an 1821 dish cross by William Plummer and a pair of Britannia standard silver casters made by around 1720 Thomas Bamford.
“This collection of silver was obviously a family treasure. Over the years the pieces were appraised multiple times. We have documents for several appraisals conducted by Freeman’s in the 1970s,” said Stephenson.
The New Year’s Day silver offering continues with fine sterling from additional consignors. Key pieces include a J. Lewis American coin silver clamshell serving spoon, a vegetable bowl, and a Wallace Grand Baroque flatware service for 12 that is expected to realize at least $2,500.
Several prized furniture designs by Japanese-American architect and master craftsman George Nakashima came to Stephenson’s from a Philadelphia-area estate. All had been purchased new in 1954. A walnut living room suite of quintessential Nakashima style will be apportioned into three auction lots: an armless sofa, armchair with footstool, and sidechair.
A special highlight of the sale is a collection of 16 beautiful duck decoys carved and signed by D.W. “Davey” Nichol (1890-1977) of Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. Inspired by members of his family who were accomplished carvers, Nichol began creating decoys in the 1950s, purely for his personal collection. After his talent was discovered by other collectors, Nichol could barely keep up with the demand for his elegant, hand-carved and painted waterfowl. During the second half of the 20th century, Nichol’s decoys won many prizes and were displayed in prestigious exhibitions, including at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.
“We feel privileged that we were chosen to sell this collection, which came from a Montgomery County (metro Philadelphia) estate,” said Stephenson. “It very easily could have gone to an auction house that specializes in decoys.”
The Jan. 1 auction is brimming with a variety of antiques, art and jewelry from upscale estates. Selected highlights from the sale’s many different categories include a Steinway & Sons walnut Model B grand piano, a McClellan saddle, a chic pearl and diamond bracelet, and an exquisite sterling powder jar with guilloche lavender enameling and a hand-painted courting scene on its lid.
Stephenson’s Jan. 1 auction will commence at 11 a.m. at the company’s gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton, PA 18966. Inspection is on Thursday, Dec. 29 from 3-6 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 30 from 12 noon to 2 p.m.; and on auction day, Sunday, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. till the start of the sale.
On Tuesday, Dec. 27, commencing at 5 p.m., Stephenson’s will host an open house preview and lecture by Janet Drucker, America’s foremost authority on the subject of Georg Jensen silver and author of the book Georg Jensen: A Tradition of Splendid Silver. Drucker’s PowerPoint presentation will focus on Jensen flatware and the classic Acorn pattern.
“We felt that both dealers and collectors of Jensen silver would be interested in hearing Janet’s presentation, especially since there will be an extensive Jensen silver service in the Acorn pattern on view at the gallery,” said Stephenson.
All forms of bidding will be available for the Jan. 1 auction, including live in the gallery, absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com. View the fully illustrated catalog online at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
Marklin boat, Ives man on rocking horse top the parade of toys at Bertoia’s $1.55M auction, Nov. 11-12December 14th, 2011 by admin
VINELAND, N.J. – Collectors in a quest to find rare antique toys in superior condition struck gold at Bertoia’s Nov. 11-12 Toys on World Tour auction, which realized $1,550,000 (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium). The 1,502-lot sale was very well attended, with phone bidders keeping Bertoia’s staff members constantly engaged. Internet bidding played a major role in the auction’s success, as well. The daily average of purchases attributable to online buyers was 27.4%.
Cast-iron toys proved to be a category with resiliency, as evidenced by the setting of several world auction records. “I would say that at this auction cast iron was not only back, but back to the future. That’s how strong it was,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “The Donald Kaufman auction series, which grossed over twelve million dollars, seems to have reignited the fever of collecting cast iron. We even saw a few new players at the sale.”
A circa-1932 Arcade cast-iron rendition of a Mack dump truck in bright red and yellow, came with provenance from the respected Larry Sieber collection, Considered the finest known specimen of its type, the 9-inch, near-mint truck claimed the top spot in its category at $17,250.
Having passed through Bertoia’s gallery before, during the Kaufman series, a 17-inch Kenton cast-iron “Speed” truck painted green with a stake-side open body toppled its previous auction price to sell for $12,650 against an estimate of $6,000-$7,500. “There were many other pieces from both the Don Kaufman and Dick Ford collections that followed that same pattern, selling for much more than they had in recent auctions. They still had their previous Bertoia tags on them,” Rich Bertoia noted.
Another surprise was the buoyant prices achieved by German clockwork tin boats. “Normally in a single auction we don’t get as many all-original or nearly all-original boats of such outstanding quality, but it happened this time,” said Bertoia.
An exceptionally well-scaled Marklin “Avalanche” painted in light blue and with all four lifeboats, two stacks, flags and other original accessories had no trouble sailing to $41,400 against an estimate of $20,000-$22,000. Other big winners by Marklin included a “Puritan” oceanliner, $23,000; “Columbia” battleship (partially restored), $18,400; and 1930s “Freya” battleship, $17,250 against an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.
Additional European tin toys that won favor with bidders included a Hans Eberl two-seat clockwork tourer with turbaned driver, clown passengers, and Punch & Judy and other clown images lithographed on its exterior panels. Estimated at $600-$750, the vibrantly colorful open car made $10,925. An earlier production dating to around 1900, a Guntherman 12-inch vis-à-vis with hand-painted driver figure surpassed its estimate to reach $5,175.
“What was interesting about the European toys is that there were many Europeans on the phones who were extremely competitive but could not win against bidders in the room. It seemed that the estimates didn’t matter,” said Bertoia.
Over the past decade, the market for early American tin toys has confirmed that demand continues to exceed supply for rare and fine examples. A nice selection of this specialty was included in Bertoia’s sale, with the leading piece being an extremely rare Ives Man on Rocking Horse, ex Tom Anderson collection, that raced past its $6,000-$8,000 estimate to cross the finish line at $39,100.
Of the collection of biscuit tins offered, “those in great condition brought great money,” Bertoia said. A circa-1920 W. Crawford & Sons “Fire Brigade” tin – one of the featured items on Bertoia’s auction catalog cover – benefited from crossover bidding from firefighting fans and commanded $6,900 (est. $1,000-$1,200). One of only two or three known examples of a tin pram with baby and golliwog lithographed on its lid was a runaway favorite and earned $6,325 against an estimate of $700-$900.
Almost every sale conducted by Bertoia’s features an array of excellent-quality cast-iron doorstops. The Nov. 11-12 offering included a charming rarity: a snow-capped yellow cottage with hand painting reminiscent of Grandma Moses’ primitive New England style. The doorstop was a book example and had been entered in the sale with a $1,200-$1,600 estimate. “Apparently there were many bidders who wanted this doorstop for their collections. It sold for $5,175,” said Bertoia Auctions’ owner Jeanne Bertoia, who is, herself, a renowned expert and author on the subject of antique doorstops.
Other sale highlights included an Asahi 1962 Chrysler Imperial tin car in rich cobalt blue, $6,900; and a 30-inch-tall, signed Vichy automaton of a beautiful lady with hand mirror. Superbly modeled and painted, with a Jumeau bisque head accented by pearl “drop” earrings, the elegantly dressed automaton soared to $18,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$9,000.
The much-anticipated selection of Christmas antiques attracted bidders across the board, but most especially toward the rarely seen antiques. “Collectors are waiting for the great things to come out, and they’ll pay the price to get them,” said Rich Bertoia.
The Christmas section was led by a late-19th-century chalkware belsnickle, 22 inches tall, painted in brown and red with holly and berries on the hood of its knee-length coat. Estimated at $10,000-$12,000, it was pushed competitively to $18,400.
Bertoia’s Spring Auction will be held March 23-24, 2012 and will feature doorstops from the Chuck and Barbara Cook collection, comic character toys from the Ronnie Rosen collection, cast-iron rarities from a private collection, Lehmann and Martin windups, steam engines and many other choice pieces. For additional information call 856-692-8697, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.bertoiaauctions.com.
Swann Galleries’ auction of Important Photobooks & Photographs on Tuesday, December 13 features beautiful and poignant images and books ranging from the earliest photographs to works by artists living and working today.
Among the photobooks, Edwin Hale Lincoln’s lavishly illustrated Wild Flowers of New England Photographed from Nature, a complete set of 8 volumes with 400 platinum prints, one of perhaps 50 copies of the self-published work, 1910-14 (detail top right).
William Eggleston’s 2 1/4, a limited-edition book featuring the artist’s early color photographs, with a signed print. One of 50 copies, 1999.
A large selection of New York City photographs including Harry Callahan’s Untitled (World Trade Center), a silver print, 1974.
Stephen Shore’s Ginger Seippel, Miami, Florida, a C-print, 1977, printed 1980.
Aaron Siskind’s Viterbo Broom portfolio, containing 18 abstract photographs, all silver prints, 1967
The Milhous Museum, compiled over the past fifty years by brothers Bob and Paul Milhous, focuses on rare and important automobiles, mechanical music, and collectibles, boasting one of the world’s most notable assemblies of orchestrions, fair, dance and theater organs. RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, is delighted to offer the Milhous Collection in situ at auction on February 24-25, 2012.
The collection began in 1959 with Paul’s purchase of a player piano; meanwhile Bob honed his interest in desirable motor cars. His first purchase was a 1934 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria, which won awards at all major concours events including ‘Best of Show’ at the prestigious 1976 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Since then, they have accumulated over 30 fine automobiles – from high-horsepower Brass era cars to coachbuilt classics and Indianapolis racing cars – and over 100 mechanical musical instruments.
The latter group is highlighted by the renowned Weber Maesto orchestrion, an exceptionally large instrument replete with a Feurich piano, xylophone, drums, traps, and endless pipes (est. $900,000 – $1,200,000). The Weber Maesto is also very rare, with only seven known to exist, four of which are in museums. Perhaps one of the most decoratively appealing and whimsical of the instruments is the Ruth Style 32-B Fair Organ by A. Ruth & Söhne of Germany, with carvings of animated flute and guitar players, bell ringers, a bandleader, swans, satyrs, cherubs and angels playing herald trumpets (est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000).
Central to the collection is the Illions-style carousel built over the course of four years for the Milhous Collection and featuring 44 intricate animal figures carved by hand from historically accurate designs ($1,000,000 – $1,500,000). An extensive assortment of petroliana, neon and porcelain signs and rare and unique gasoline-powered tether cars and models adds to the collection’s variety. Furthermore, the Museum features decorative pieces from Louis Icart, Alphonse Mucha, and Tiffany & Co., and ornate hall clocks, tower clocks and street clocks from makers like Seth Thomas & Howard and Black, Starr & Frost.
RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, looks forward to offering the contents of the museum on premises this February. For more information, please visit www.rmauctions.com/milhous.