auction

RSL’s June 1 auction features architectural banks in rare colors with prestigious provenance

May 2nd, 2013 by

Several choice banks boast Markey, Feld, Garthhoeffner pedigrees

TIMONIUM, Md. – Collectors will be gathering in suburban Baltimore on June 1st to inspect the real estate in an upscale “neighborhood” of early mechanical and still banks with an architectural theme. High-end cast-iron banks replicating various types of buildings – some generic and some immediately identifiable as famous structures – are the featured highlight of RSL Auction’s 500-lot sale to be held at Richard Opfer’s gallery in Timonium. The event will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

Numerous rare examples will make an appearance in the auction, including at least 12 banks that were formerly in the collection of the late Donal Markey, an influential dealer and collector of antique toys, banks and folk art who passed away in March 2010. Several J&E Stevens painted Cupola banks are among those in the Markey group. All are in beautiful condition and some are finished in unusual colors. Their estimates range from $1,400 to $1,800.

“As any experienced bank collector will tell you, Don Markey was a stickler for condition and had a fantastic eye for original paint,” said Ray Haradin, partner in RSL Auction Co.

Another bank with provenance from the Markey collection is a George Brown early American tin production replicating the Bunker Hill Monument. Manufactured around 1876, it boasts pristine-plus original paint and says “Bunker Hill” under the base. It is expected to reach $3,000 to $4,000. Also boasting a Markey-collection pedigree is a near-mint Home bank by Judd Company. It is an extremely rare multicolor version painted in yellow and red. Bidding could reach $2,500-$3,500 on auction day.

JEP (French) Torpedo Rocket open car, tin, original box, est. $3,000-$4,000. RSL Auction Co. image.

Approximately 130 architectural still banks were consigned to the sale from a single-owner collection. A highly appealing group, it includes all three versions (small, medium and large) of a House with Bay Windows, a form that is one of the most sought after of all Stevens still banks.

“Most collectors don’t even have one of these particular banks, including myself,” said Haradin. “To have the opportunity to bid on one of each size in the same auction is unheard of.” The largest of the three is expected to fetch $3,000-$4,000.

Another gem is the circa-1892 cast-iron Masonic Temple bank made in Chicago. Haradin noted that it is only the second bank of its type that he has ever seen for sale, either privately or at a public venue. He has no doubt it will realize $3,000-$4,500 at auction.

An automotive shape that could bring top money is an Arcade flat-top Limo bank in a green with white motif. It is a fine example of what actual Pittsburgh taxicabs looked like in the 1920s and is emblazoned with a Grant Street address and 4-digit telephone number. This particular bank has been chosen to open RSL’s June 1st sale and could knock down $5,000-$7,000.

Still banks will be followed by a beautiful lineup of mechanical banks with excellent provenance. A classic Boy Scout Camp mechanical, ex Larry Feld collection, is one of the finest known examples of its type. It has a presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Also, one of only three known Dog on Turntable mechanical banks in red, white and blue paint, ex Markey collection, is in pristine condition and estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

J&E Stevens Panorama cast-iron bank in green and red finish, ex Rich Garthhoeffner collection, est. $20,000-$30,000. RSL Auction Co. image.

From the prestigious Bob Brady collection comes a circa-1882 brass pattern for a Stevens Two Frogs bank. “All patterns are very rare, but this is one I’ve never seen before, and to my knowledge, it’s the only one known that is complete,” said Haradin. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.

Two examples of Stevens’ desirable architectural bank known as “Panorama” will be offered. One variation is white with blue and red trim, while the other, green with red trim, has provenance from the revered Rich Garthhoeffner collection. Bright and in near-mint condition, the latter bank is entered in the sale with a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

In addition to banks, there will be an excellent selection of antique toys from which to choose. Cast-iron horse-drawn and automotive toys; and early American tin clockwork productions are in the mix. Additionally, 60 European toys will be up for bid, from manufacturers such as Lehmann, Martin, Ingap, Distler and Eberl. A sporty French JEP Torpedo Rocket open car with original box is estimated at $3,000-$4,000.

“The toys in this sale came from a number of small collections, but when brought together as one grouping, they are very impressive. I think toy buyers will be pleasantly surprised,” Haradin said.

All forms of bidding will be available for RSL’s Saturday, June 1, 2013 auction, including live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com. The sale will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time. A complimentary lunch will be provided to all attendees.

For additional information on any item in the sale, call Ray Haradin at 412-343-8733, Leon Weiss at 917-991-7352, or Steven Weiss at 212-729-0011. Email raytoys@aol.com or geminitoys@earthlink.net. Visit RSL Auction Co. online at www.rslauctions.com.

Emeralds, gold coins reign at Government Auction, April 28

April 26th, 2013 by

TEHACHAPI, Calif. – Government Auction’s auction on Sunday, April 28, will feature emerald jewelry, antique gold coins, designer handbags and Rolex watches worthy of an ancient Egyptian ruler or modern-day trendsetter. The auction will begin at 5:45 a.m. Pacific time (8:45 a.m. Eastern time) and Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

12-carat emerald and diamond ring. Government Auction image.

Cleopatra was perhaps the first “celebrity” associated with the enigmatic emerald. The Egyptian queen had a fascination bordering on obsession with the brilliant green stone and even owned an emerald mine. To those in ancient Egypt, the stone represented wealth and power, and was the symbol of fertility. Cleopatra’s hoard of gemstones has never been found, but her association with the rare gemstone endures. A highlight in the April 28 auction that the last pharaoh surely would have coveted is the 14.97-carat emerald with 10.25-carat diamond necklace.

A stunning piece composed of 14K yellow gold, the necklace has a drape motif that suits even the most elegant of evening wear. The 18-inch necklace features 20 graduating emerald and diamond bezel pendants supported by an emerald and diamond lattice with numerous prong- and bead-set round brilliant-cut diamonds. The piece is topped off with matching yellow gold links and a concealed box clasp with twin safeties.

Another piece Cleopatra would have been proud to add to her collection is a 12-carat emerald and diamond ring. The ring is composed of 14K white gold, with the featured large emerald set within a diamond lattice gallery supported by diamond set shoulders and completed with a 2 1/2-millimeter wide band. There are approximately 28 prong- and bead-set diamonds in the ring weighing 1.70 carats.

In keeping with our theme of powerful and sophisticated women, a Louis Stewart designer bag reported to have been owned by Chris Jenner of “Keeping with the Kardashians” is also featured in this auction. The Louis Stewart line is fast becoming the latest trend and is popular with the celebrity set due to the company’s product quality and style. Stewart is a designer who worked for Louis Vuitton before launching his own brand. This brand has not made it to the stores yet, but is receiving high visibility from celebs such as Rhianna and Nicki Minaj. The Louis Stewart handbag featured on April 28 is black patent leather with a small crystal bling lock, and the Louis Stewart logo is displayed on a front silver badge.

Also offered for auction in the coin category is a highly sought-after piece—an 1894-S $20 U.S. Liberty Head gold coin. The Double Eagle, as the coin is also known, was minted from 1850 during the height of the California gold rush until 1907. Of all the U.S. gold coins minted before 1907, the Double Eagle had the highest gold content, almost one full ounce of pure gold. Designed by James B. Longacre, the coin weighs 33.43 grams and is composed of 90 percent gold

1894-S $20 U.S. Liberty gold coin. Government Auction image.

and 10 percent copper.

Another collectible coin for auction is the 1925-D $2.5 U.S Indian Head type gold coin. The Indian Quarter Eagle, as the coin is also known, was minted in Denver. Designed by Bela Lyon Pratt the coin features an incuse, or sunken, design of an American Indian with full feather war headdress on the obverse and the American eagle on the reverse. The piece is 18mm in diameter, weighs 4.18 grams, and is comprised of .900 fine gold and .100 copper.

An exceptional Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch is an auction highlight in the elite timepiece category. This man’s watch is crafted in stainless steel with silver sunray finish dial and steel hour posts and band.

Additional auction highlights include a 5.00-carat princess-cut diamond, Chanel sunglasses, Louis Vuitton leather bag, Formula 1 Hublot Watch and much more.

For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Debbie at 661-823-1543 or email info@governmentauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

NYC art gallery to host Coney Island ‘Sideshow’ exhibit May 2-25

April 22nd, 2013 by

Featured collection focuses on carnival ‘freaks,’ folk art, arcade relics, bizarre novelties

NEW YORK – The heart-stopping whoosh of a roller coaster on its downward trajectory, the sugary smell of cotton candy and salt water taffy, the sideshow barker’s incessant chant to “step right up and see the strangest sights on earth.” All played their roles in creating indelible memories for the millions of people who visited Coney Island over the last century.

Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967) panoramic photo of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey ‘Congress of Freaks.’ Ross Art Group image.

While the golden era of New York’s most beloved amusement park has come and gone, relics of Coney Island’s colorful history and photos of its amazing cast of performers move back into the spotlight in “Sideshow,” an exhibition running May 2-25 at The Ross Art Group’s Manhattan gallery. Sideshow’s featured collection belongs to Dr. Robert M. Lerch, a New York City physician and longtime collector of the bizarre and unusual. The exhibition chronicles roughly the first 50 years of Coney Island – whose first enclosed amusement park area opened in 1895 – with additional pieces from other early 20th-century carnivals and circuses.

The “backbone” of the show, said Ross Art Group’s owner, Mickey Ross, is the collection of 28 original architectural drawings and blueprints that conceptualized Coney Island carnival rides and structures.

“The drawings were created by amusement park ride inventor and manufacturer William F. Mangels (German/American, 1867-1958) and depict such classic rides as the ‘Whip,’ Loop roller coaster, and carousel horses with a mechanical function,” Ross said. Like all other items in the exhibition, the architectural designs will be available for purchase.

One of the most remarkable inclusions in the collection is the assemblage of circus photos by itinerant photographer Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967). The grouping includes a number of Kelty’s inimitable 11 by 20in panoramic shots of performers known collectively as “the Congress of Freaks.”

“Kelty had a fascination for human oddities and spent 20 years following and photographing circus troupes. Once a year, the entire Ringling Brothers ‘Freak Show’ cast would gather for a group shot. It was a big event,” said Ross. “The pictures include every imaginable type of performer – sword swallowers, snake charmers, bearded ladies, fire eaters, and ‘giants and midgets,’ plus aerialists and clowns.” Kelty’s Congress of Freaks photos, which originally were sold to the performers themselves as mementos, are highly sought after by today’s collectors.

Other iconic photos featured in Sideshow were taken prior to the end of World War I by Arthur S. Mole & John D. Thomas. Their technique consisted of mustering thousands of people to form aerial views of iconic symbols, such as The Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam. Most of the photos’ participants were army troops who took part with the US Government’s permission.

Robert Lerch’s fascination for Coney Island memorabilia, arcade machines and quirky figural folk art dates back to his 1960s childhood in New York City, when he was introduced to the vast archive of pioneer collector, author and historian Frederick Fried.

Mole & Thomas ‘Human Statue of Liberty’ photograph formed by 18,000 officers and enlisted men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Ross Art Group image.

“I spent most of my youth living with my grandparents on West End Avenue. A kid I used to play with who lived two stories above us was Frederick Fried’s son. I spent endless time in that apartment, which was so full of stuff it was barely navigable. I remember it like it was yesterday,” Lerch recalled. “Being around so many fascinating curiosities – from carnival objects to cigar store figures – had a profound effect on me.”

In fact, the Fried collection not only inspired Lerch to set off on a 40-year quest for the offbeat, it also eventually ended up, in part, in his own personal collection. “When Mr. Fried died, his daughter inherited his collection. I later acquired a portion of his Coney Island archive, which was considered the ultimate of its type, through a person who knew his daughter,” Lerch explained.

Selected highlights from the 75-piece Sideshow exhibition include:

  • Coin-op machines, including “Witch,” a rare 1st-quarter 20th century 3-wheel slot
  • Cast-iron amusement park jester head and four clown shooting gallery targets
  • Three antique carved-wood contortionist figures on pedestals
  • Circa-1920 coin-op baseball trade stimulator, one of perhaps three known
  • Pair of 21in tall cast-iron Coke bottles, 1923, from Atlanta bottling plant’s fence
  • Game that creates figure of pig with successive rolls of dice
  • Rare French carnival knock-down figures
  • Circa-1920 electric trade stimulator of chirping, moving birds in formal wedding attire
  • 17 x 6in salesman’s sample of metal-trimmed glass coffin
  • Circus and other posters, including an original for the Belgian release of the

1932 film “Freaks”

  • Polychrome-painted convex carnival mirror
  • Carousel memorabilia and figures including carved camel
  • Unconventional vending machine that delivers a piece of pre-sealed cake
  • Anatomical aluminum model of pig with hinged opening for view of internal organs

Sideshow – Exhibition and Sale featuring the collection of Dr. Robert M. Lerch (email manmoon6@aol.com) with other select additions will be held May 2-25 at the Ross Art Group’s gallery, 532 Madison Ave., 4th Floor (entry on 54th Street), New York, NY 10022.

Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. May 2nd opening-night hours are 5-8 p.m., and as a

Animated, electric-powered store window display of birds in bridal attire. Ross Art Group image.

special added attraction, several performers from Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore will be there at the gallery to entertain, pose for pictures and help raise awareness that Coney Island is back in business following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Dr. Robert Lerch has pledged to donate the sale proceeds from one of his rare Coney Island photographs to the nonprofit Coney Island Museum.

For additional information call 212-223-1525 or email sales@rossartgroup.com. Online: www.rossartgroup.com.

About The Ross Art Group:

The Ross Art Group was founded 18 years ago by veteran textiles businessman Mickey Ross. His background in the design and creation of printed fabrics inspired Ross to collect vintage posters while traveling throughout Europe. What began as a hobby evolved over time into a thriving retail art gallery. The Ross Art Group’s current inventory of 2,500+ posters may be viewed in its entirety by visiting its full-service gallery at 532 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. (private appointments also available), or via a searchable, fully illustrated online database at www.rossartgroup.com.

Superb saber-tooth tiger skeleton, massive gold nugget lead ancient fossils, minerals and gems in I.M. Chait Important Natural History Auction, May 4

April 17th, 2013 by

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The finest known example of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton and a hefty Australian gold nugget are expected to reign over an imposing lineup of ancient fossils, meteorites and mineral specimens in I.M. Chait’s May 4 Important Natural History Auction in Beverly Hills.

Finest and most-complete extant example of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton, 67 inches long, origin White River Badlands, South Dakota. Estimate $250,000-$300,000. I.M. Chait image.

The 67-inch-long tiger skeleton (Lot 326) represents a fearsome predator that once menaced the animal kingdom of South Dakota’s White River Badlands. It heads the zoological portion of the sale with a $250,000-$300,000 estimate.

“The saber-tooth tiger’s reputation precedes him,” said Jake Chait, director of I.M. Chait’s Natural History department. “With one swipe, he could sever the arteries or windpipe of another animal, making it easy prey.”

The tiger skeleton is superbly preserved and 70-80% complete, rendering it in a class of its own. “There isn’t a more complete specimen of this type, either in a museum or private collection, anywhere in the world,” said Chait. “Not only does this skeleton present an extremely rare opportunity for scientific research, it is aesthetically second to none, with incredible 4-inch-long sabers and a beautiful patination that only comes as a result of the natural ageing process.”

An outstanding skeleton from a massive woolly rhinoceros (Lot 325) dates to the Pleistocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. It is believed that giant woolly rhinos roamed the wilds of Siberia during the last Ice Age and developed their thick coats as a defense against the brutal climate. The impressive skeleton in Chait’s sale measures 177 inches long and 72 inches high, and is, in the truest sense of the word a “museum-class” specimen, having previously been part of the Kashiwagi Museum Collection in Japan. It carries a pre-sale estimate of $90,000-$120,000.

Another exciting auction highlight is the skull of an extremely rare giant dire wolf (Lot 324) from the Rancho La Brea Formation, ex George Lee Collection. Scientifically classified as Canis dirus, the now-extinct dire wolf once inhabited Kern County, California, where tar pits similar to those at the La Brea site in Los Angeles proved a fatal attraction to indigenous beasts. “The tar pits were covered in water and would trap unsuspecting animals who mistook them for benign ponds,” said Chait. “Skeletons of mastodons, mammoths, horses and bison have been found at California’s tar pits, but a dire wolf is an especially rare and desirable find.” The skull offered in the May 4 sale represents the largest end of the spectrum, size wise, for a dire wolf. It measures 12 inches long by 7 inches wide by 5¼ inches high, and is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.

Posed as though navigating the waters near its native Morocco, the skeleton of a marine reptile known as a Mosasaur (Lot 295), Late Cretaceous Period, exhibits an elongated, streamlined body and broad, flexible tail. Considered the closest ancient relative to today’s snakes, it grew to lengths of 10 to 60 feet. The skeleton is a first-class example that measures 59 inches long by 43 inches high. Estimate: $50,000-$60,000.

Lot 296 is a toothy tableau consisting of a Mosasaurus skull with a vividly colored 13¼-inch ammonite positioned in its jaws. The gaping mouth, with its array of spiky upper and lower teeth, provides a stark reminder of why the Mosasaurus species was so widely feared 65 million years ago. The 32-inch-long skull of a reptilian creature many times the size of a modern-day great white shark was “wired for intimidation,” Chait said. The double-fossil display of skull with ammonite could make $30,000-$38,000 at auction.

Other fascinating animal fossils include the rare skull of an ancient South American penguin (Lot 281), est. $2,500-$3,500; a baby Triceratops skull (Lot 311), est. $25,000-$35,000; and the large, powerful-looking tail of a Hadrosaur (Lot 303) in whip-like pose, est. $20,000-$25,000. An extraordinary fossilized Rhamphorhynchus muensteri, or pterodactyl (Lot 312), documents one of the first vertebrates to make the transformation to flight. Wings are clearly present on the form of its hollow-boned, lightweight body captured within a limestone slab. Estimate: $70,000-$80,000.

Many collectors jump at the chance to acquire distinctive parts from prehistoric animals. Several outstanding entries in the upcoming sale would fit the bill nicely, starting with the brow horn of a Triceratops horridus (Lot 306) from the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. An immense 33 inches in length on an ebonized metal display stand, it is expected to attract a top bid of $10,000-$12,000. A well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex tooth (Lot 307) is estimated at $10,000-$12,000; while a nicely delineated Raptor claw (Lot 310), 65-68 million years old, could scratch up $2,000-$2,500.

Gold nugget with natural quartz containing 3100g (99.67 ozt) of gold, origin central Victoria, Australia. Estimate $275,000-325,000. I.M. Chait image.

The precious gems section could not have a more regal centerpiece than the exquisite marine-life chess set (Lot 97) designed by gemologist and jewelry designer Sylvia Quispe, Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Truly the crème de la crème of chess sets, its 32 playing pieces replicate sea creatures crafted from rich purple Tanzanian rubies and royal blue Afghan lapis with solid 18K gold. The ruby pieces are mounted on Peruvian pink opal seashell and starfish bases, while those of lapis are raised on quartz. The playing board is, itself, a work of art, with alternating squares of quartz and black obsidian. The set is housed in a handsome mahogany box. Fit for a king – or modern-day kingmaker – this masterpiece of uncompromising quality is estimated at $150,000-$170,000.

Mineral specimens are led by a sensational gold nugget with natural quartz (Lot 23) that was discovered in the Australian state of Victoria. The intense yellow color of the metal denotes an exceptionally high carat content, and its gold content, alone, weighs in at a robust 3100g (99.67 ozt). Exceptional by any standards, it could realize an auction price of $275,000-$325,000.

A premier example of a Canadian iridescent ammonite (Lot 271) from the Bearpaw Formation, Southern Alberta, Canada is a biogenic gemstone that would top many a collector’s wish list, this 17in ammonite gleams with electrifying colors and could fetch $38,000-$45,000 at auction. Another mineral highlight is a large, complete meteorite (Lot 220) from the famous fall at Campo del Cielo, Argentina. Weighing approximately 78.4kg, it is estimated at $18,000-$22,000.

Among the more curious items on offer are an ancient mummified foot from Middle Egypt (Lot 200), est. $5,000-$7,000; and a collection of naturally colored and fossilized dung (Lot 300) from the Wilkes Formation in Washington state. Consisting of five excellent dung specimens ranging in color from gray and woody brown to burnt umber, deep purple and red, the group lot is entered with expectations of making $2,500-$3,500.

From big cats to woolly rhinos, I.M. Chait’s 326-lot May 4 auction has the prehistoric category amply covered with an expertly cataloged selection of fossilized skeletons and skulls. With the addition of pulse-quickening minerals, gems and several natural oddities for good measure, it’s shaping up to be an event that will fascinate connoisseurs and evolving collectors, alike.

I.M. Chait’s Important Natural History Auction will take place at the Chait gallery on Saturday, May 4, commencing at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. The gallery is located at 9330 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com and Artfact.com.

For additional information, call 1-800-775-5020 or 310-285-0182; or e-mail joey@chait.com. Visit the company online at www.chait.com.

Jeanne Bertoia’s private doorstop collection to be featured at 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show, April 12-14 in Philadelphia

April 4th, 2013 by

PHILADELPHIA – Visitors entering Barn Star Productions’ 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show, April 12-14 at the First Troop Armory in historic downtown Philadelphia, will be greeted by a special exhibition titled “Opening Doors: The Private Doorstop Collection of Jeanne Bertoia.”

Popeye Doorstop

Doorstop expert Jeanne Bertoia with a rare figural cast-iron Popeye doorstop made by Hubley. Image courtesy of Jeanne Bertoia.

Jeanne Bertoia is a renowned expert on the subject of cast-iron figural doorstops and authored the groundbreaking reference book titled Doorstops – Identifications & Values. Over the past 35 years, she has bought, sold and collected some of the finest known antique and vintage doorstops. Aspects of her personal collection will be displayed in the armory foyer throughout the popular three-day antique show that many consider the opener for Philadelphia Antiques Week.

Approximately 75 doorstops have been chosen for the exhibit. Most are in mint or near-mint condition. Among the many rarities are a Littco Halloween Girl, large-size animal figurals by Bradley & Hubbard (including Turkey, Heron, Rabbit, Rooster), the complete Art Deco series designed by Fish, and many other favorites personally selected by Jeanne Bertoia for inclusion in the colorful display.

 

“I have known the armory show’s promoter, Frank Gaglio, for many years. He always produces a beautiful show, so I was especially pleased when he called up and asked if I would like to display pieces from my collection this year,” said Bertoia.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 12 and 13; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 14. The venue is located at 22 S. 23rd Street between Market and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, Pa.

For additional information, log on to www.barnstar.com.

Exceptional European and American toys, banks and advertising await bidders at Bertoia’s May 3-4 ‘Toy Picks’ auction

March 28th, 2013 by

VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia Auctions’ May 3-4 ‘Toy Picks’ auction features the pick of the crop in dozens of popular collecting categories. In addition to a vast array of vehicles, European clockwork toys and comic character favorites, the sale lineup also includes dollhouses and miniatures; trains, steam engines, banks and Part I of the late Bill Bertoia’s superb collection of occupational shaving mugs, which will be auctioned during the second session.

The late Bill Bertoia (1950-2003) was a leading light and indisputable expert in the field of antique toys and cast-iron banks, but few realized he was an advanced collector of occupational shaving mugs.

Although Bill’s mug collection would have been welcomed at any major American art museum, it was never publicly exhibited. A very personal collection amassed over a 15-year period, it was displayed with pride in the antique-filled home Bill shared with his wife, Jeanne, and children Michael and Lauren.

On Saturday, May 4, Bertoia’s will auction Part I of Bill’s shaving mug collection. Approximately 50 mugs will be offered, ranging from pristine examples of more-common mugs – conservatively estimated at $100-$200 – to rare, highly desirable mugs in the $5,000 range.

Bertoia Auctions co-founder and owner Jeanne Bertoia said her late husband regarded shaving mugs as “one of the greatest forms of Americana…He was fascinated by the hand-painted images of various occupations, many of which no longer existed.”

Jeanne recalled that no matter what he collected, Bill was a stickler for quality, condition and originality. “He was very particular when buying toys and banks, and he took the same approach with his mugs. He especially liked mugs with images of people engaged in their work, and hand-applied details, like gilt trim and a person’s name,” Jeanne said.

Every mug in Bill’s collection was a source of enjoyment to Bill, but he had a few special favorites, Jeanne said. “He was very proud of his mug that showed a stockbroker with ticker tape (est. $2,500-$4,000), but I think he was most excited with the mug he bought at an auction in South Jersey that has an image of a distinguished man in a derby hat, walking two very grand Boston terriers ($2,000-$3,000).”

Bill Bertoia’s occupational shaving mug collection covers a broad variety of themes: automotive, horse-drawn, nautical, storefronts, sports. Some of the more unusual mugs include: lunch wagon, $3,500-$5,000; clothing store, $800-$1,200; barrel stake truck, $1,000-$2,000; chefs at work in a busy kitchen, $1,000-$1,500; marble arch cutter, $1,000-$1,500; dump truck, $1,000-$2,000; delivery wagon builder, $800-$1,200; and horse-drawn hearse with open curtain. $800-$1,200.

German and French wind-up toys will keep the keys busy during Bertoia’s preview. An outstanding collection of Lehmanns, many of them boxed, has been consigned by a longtime Bertoia Auctions customer. “Quality and condition are evident throughout this collection,” said Bertoia’s auctioneer, Michael Bertoia. “The owner always stepped up to the plate to pay the price for the best examples.”

The Lehmann collection includes many autos, including a rare, yellow 12-inch Baldur; two motorcycles – a boxed Echo and a Halloh with litho’d box lid – a Heavy Swell, Ski Rolf and Ikarus. A boxed Masuyama and an equally desirable Man-Da-Rin with its rare and beautifully lithographed original box also occupy top slots in the collection.

Alongside the Lehmanns are several scarce French-made Martins, including a Gendarme and a Parisian gentleman in top hat with cane and cigar. “This is only the second time we’ve seen this particular toy,” said Michael Bertoia, referring to the wind-up gentleman.

Forty European penny toys are entered in the sale, with themes that cross several categories, including transportation and people. Among the colorful tin novelties to be auctioned are a double Irish mail cart, sledding boy, skier and Chinese man with parasol.

Several impressive toy boats will sail toward new harbors on auction day. Among the coveted Marklins are a restored 46-inch first-series Battleship Maine, a second smaller-size (32-inch) first-series Battleship Maine in all-original condition, and an especially attractive 20-inch first-series Battleship Sperber. Additionally, Bertoia’s fleet includes several other battleships, cruisers and boats by Carette and Fleishmann.

Early hand-painted cars include an all-original red Alfa-Romeo No. 2 racer by CIJ, a yellow 4-door Marklin Torpedo open car, and a Bing steam-driven Spyder. Around 10 other French automobiles by Citroen and JEP also join the auction selection. Other European toys include two exquisite Ferris wheels attributed to Doll et Cie.

The auction also features the Tom Palumbo pressed steel collection, comprising 40 to 50 vehicles primarily by Sturditoy. “What makes this collection so attractive is the fact that the toys are 100 percent original,” Michael Bertoia noted.

The large assortment of European and American trains and accessories includes both live steam and clockwork examples. Leading the group are a very early Volt-Amp loco and tender; a gauge 1 Marklin 1021 steam-outline loco and tender with cast-iron frame, a Carlisle & Finch suspension bridge, and many Marklin trains and cars. Of special note are Marklin’s gauge 1 Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz advertising cars, and a well-detailed chicken transport car with functional cage doors. Rounding out the railroad bounty are productions by Bing, Schonner, Carette and Knapp; as well as a train station by Marklin.

Between 80 and 100 cast-iron banks will be waiting to show off their tricks. Standouts include a circa-1889 Kyser & Rex mechanical Globe Savings Fund bank, a Lighthouse and Girl in Victorian Chair (both semi-mechanicals); and several excellent still banks – a small Boston Statehouse, Ives Palace and rare Arcade Eggman.

Bertoia’s is known for offering fine figural cast-iron doorstops, all personally vetted by Jeanne Bertoia, a renowned doorstop authority. The selection Jeanne has prepared for the May auction incorporates florals, people, animals, houses and whimsical shapes. A few Fish designs are included, e.g., a Deco Messenger and Rhumba Dancer. Also in the mix are clowns, a Rabbit Pushing a Wheelbarrow, and a Lobster.

Cast-iron automotive collectors will find many excellent racers, motorcycles, taxis and work vehicles waiting to exit Bertoia’s garage. Around 40 horse-drawn cast-iron toys have been consigned, as well. Three Dent productions – a fire engine, horse carriage and hook & ladder – exhibit near-mint condition and are believed to have been originally purchased at the Dent toy factory by legendary collector the late Covert Hegarty.

Just in time for spring cleaning and redecorating, Bertoia’s sale features 65 lots of miniature furniture, including designs from Gottschalk and Rock & Graner; plus 20 upscale dollhouses and room boxes, most by top German makers.

Approximately 150 country store and advertising items add early American charm to the auction list. There are several salesmen’s samples, around 20 glass showcases, advertising signs, apothecary jars, and tea and coffee bins.

Bertoia’s Toy Picks Auction will begin at 12 noon on Friday, May 3; and 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2013. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. To contact Bertoia Auctions call 856-692-1881; toys@bertoiaauctions.com. Online: www.BertoiaAuctions.com.

14th-century Yuan Dynasty jar tops $1.3M at I.M. Chait March 17 Asia Week sale

March 21st, 2013 by

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Records were shattered on March 17th at I.M. Chait’s Beverly Hills gallery as the family-owned company known for its expertise in Asian art auctioned the most expensive antique and achieved the highest gross in its 44-year history. The sale of Chinese ceramics and Asian works of art exceeded $3.4 million and was led by a highly important 14th-century Yuan Dynasty porcelain jar that sold for a breathtaking $1,342,000 (inclusive of 22% buyer’s premium). A prominent American collector placed the winning bid over the phone.

14th-century Yuan Dynasty blue and white ovoid porcelain jar

Magnificent and highly important 14th-century Yuan Dynasty blue and white ovoid porcelain jar with narrative scene from the Yuan zaju drama ‘The Savior Yuchi Gong.’ Sold for $1,324,000. I.M. Chait image.

I.M. Chait’s director of operations, Josh Chait, described a tense battle that pitted the ultimate winner against an Internet and absentee bidder, as approximately 100 guests in the gallery looked on.

“It was the same feeling as watching a high-stakes gambling event. There’s no way of knowing who will come out on top. Also, whenever there’s a phone or Internet bidder involved, you can never be sure what their limit is,” Chait said.

Beyond the million-dollar threshold, bids on the precious Chinese artifact increased in $10,000 increments. When bidding ceased at $1.1 million, presiding auctioneer and company founder Isadore M. Chait called out, “Going once – going twice – sold!” and brought down the hammer to thunderous applause.

 

“There was tremendous excitement,” Josh Chait said, describing the scene that followed. “Some 20 people swarmed around the glass display case to take pictures and video the jar for Chinese Facebook and Twitter – and for posterity. Shortly afterward, the Southern California affiliate for NBC called us. It didn’t take long for the story to get out.”

In spectacular condition, the 14-inch blue and white ovoid jar is a revered historical icon from China’s Yuan Dynasty period. Its decorative motif narrates a scene from the Yuan zaju drama “The Savior Yuchi Gong” and describes how General Yuchi Gong saved the Tang Emperor Taizong from assassination. Isadore Chait had correctly predicted the vessel would reach or exceed one million dollars at auction.

 

Several bronze, jade and furniture lots brought stellar prices, as well. Lot 224, a 7 7/8in spinach jade brushpot with a continuous landscape scene of sages in a courtyard, came to auction with provenance from the Cleveland Museum of Art Collection. Estimated at $35,000-$45,000, it rose to $122,000.

Lot 186, a highly important early 15th-century Ming Dynasty gilt bronze Bodhisattva of Manjushri with six-character Yongle mark under its base finished well within estimate at $274,500. A Sino-Tibetan gilt bronze shrine with jeweled borders and eight elaborately chased repousse Buddhist emblems, entered as Lot 101, was bid to $36,600 against an estimate of $6,500-$8,000. The 295-lot auction’s closer, a pair of Chinese huanghuali wood armchairs, settled at $43,750, more than six times the high estimate.

According to I.M. Chait’s records, most of the bidders taking part in the March 17 auction were either American or Chinese. Some had stopped over in Los Angeles specifically to attend the auction en route to Asia Week New York.

“Holding our annual Asia Week auction at the Beverly Hills gallery was something new for us,” said Isadore Chait. “For the past seven years we had held our sale in Manhattan, and it had developed a strong following with Asia Week’s visitors. Unfortunately, this year we weren’t able to secure a suitable auction space in Manhattan, so we decided to conduct our Asia Week sale right here at our West Coast gallery. Some thought it was a bold move.”

 

Chait admits that he initially had concerns about the change of venue and feared that not being right in the thick of Asia Week New York might have a negative impact on his company’s March 17 sale.

“In fact, it turned out to be just the opposite. It ended up being the highest-grossing sale in our entire 44-year history,” Chait said. “It’s very encouraging to see that collectors will flock to a sale – no matter where it is held – and spend their hard-earned money if world-class and one of a kind items are offered.”

To contact I.M. Chait Gallery & Auctioneers, call 1-800-775-5020 or 310-285-0182; or e-mail joey@chait.com. Visit the company online at www.chait.com.

Collectors called the shots Feb. 28 at Legend-Morphy’s $1.73M PCGS Las Vegas sale

March 6th, 2013 by

Heavy Internet bidding contributed to consistent above-estimate prices

LAS VEGAS – Coin connoisseurs from throughout the country gathered at the elegant Venetian/Palazzo hotel for Legend-Morphy Rare Coin’s Feb. 28 Regency Auction, which tallied an outstanding $1.73 million (all prices quoted inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium). Legend-Morphy brought its A-game, offering a carefully handpicked selection of coins in a boutique-style, 334-lot sale held in association with the PCGS Members Only Coin Show.

Collectors liked what they saw and bid aggressively, both before and during the event.

H10C 1796/5 PCGS MS64+ CAC, provenance from the Eliasberg collection, $92,000. Legend-Morphy image.

“The pre-auction online bidding activity greatly exceeded our expectations,” said Legend-Morphy’s president, Julie Abrams. “That, combined with heavy attendance at the preview, gave us every reason to believe the auction would be a success.”

Boasting exceptional eye appeal, an H10C 1796/5 PCGS MS64+ CAC exhibited fully struck details, pristine surfaces, light semi-proof-like mirrors and strong luster. With provenance from the Eliasberg collection – the only known complete collection of half dimes – the rare coin was offered without reserve and estimated at $65,000+. Bidders showed no hesitation in pushing the final price to $92,000, making it the top lot of the sale.

Landing in the runner-up position was a $20 1909-D PCGS secure MS66 CAC, ex Dr. Steven Duckor collection. A totally original coin, exceptionally clean and satiny on both sides, it sold for $80,500.

Another crowd favorite was a 1798 $1 Small Eagle 15 Stars B-2, BB-81 PCGS secure AU55+. “This particular coin came from the personal collection of a major bust dollar dealer and is extremely rare in ‘choice AU’ or higher,” said Legend-Morphy partner Laura Sperber. It made a strong showing at the Feb. 28 auction, garnering $51,750.

“Penny wise” collectors were all over an exceptionally high-quality 1C 1909 VDB PCGS secure PR64 BN CAC. Considered the ultimate example of a matte proof Lincoln, it streaked past its estimate of $15,000+ to settle at $27,600.

Offered without reserve and pre-auction guidance of $20,000-$22,500, a much-sought-after 1796 25C PCGS F12, was described as “picture perfect” and “superb gem fine 12.” A problem-free coin in original pewter with hints of golden brown, its details and depiction of Miss Liberty were “just what they are supposed to be – nicely struck,” said Sperber. The 18th-century numismatic treasure concluded its bidding run at $29,900.

A magnificent multicolored Peace Dollar was entered in the sale with a $6,000-$7,000 estimate and Sperber’s catalog notation that it was “easily the finest colored 1923S and possibly one of the finest colored Peace Dollars that exist.” The coin handily surpassed expectations to sell for $11,500.

There was great excitement over a 1C-$1 1901 proof set PCGS PR64-66 from the Buckeye Commander Collection. Every coin in the set was high end, with matched original colors and spectacular clarity and reflectivity. Offered without reserve, it was bid to $21,850 against an estimate of $17,500-$20,000.

“There was intense interest in this auction, and absentee bidding was strong,” said Legend-Morphy partner Dan Morphy. “That reflects very favorably on the trust coin buyers have placed in our operation. They know how selective we are and that we bring only the finest-quality coins to the auction marketplace.”

$1 1901 proof set PCGS PR64-66, ex Buckeye Commander Collection, fully matched set, $21,850. Legend-Morphy image.

Sperber, Morphy and Abrams all commented on the valuable feedback they received from customers at their second Las Vegas Regency event.

“The comment I heard most often was how much they appreciate our boutique approach and the carefully chosen high-end offerings in our auctions,” said Abrams. “Customers also appreciate that we produce a beautiful hardbound catalog and that we’re so attentive and available to answer their questions at the preview.”

The Legend-Morphy team has already begun work on the next Regency Auction, which will be held April 11th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

“Although the April 11th sale is already full, we are accepting quality consignments for our July auction,” Sperber noted.

For information about consigning to Legend-Morphy’s July auction, call Julie Abrams at 717-335-3435 or e-mail info@legendmorphy.com. Visit the company online at www.legendmorphy.com.

I.M. Chait to auction million-dollar, 14th C. Yuan Dynasty porcelain jar Mar. 17 in Beverly Hills

February 28th, 2013 by

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The excitement of Asia Week New York, with its multitude of lectures, exhibitions and other special events, has attracted knowledgeable buyers from the Far East to Manhattan for the past seven years. Now dedicated Asian art aficionados who spend as long as 16 hours on an airplane to reach the US East Coast have a very tempting reason to add a Los Angeles layover to their itineraries. The I.M. Chait Gallery in Beverly Hills will be hosting a March 17 auction of Important Chinese Ceramics and Asian Works of Art to welcome those travelers to US shores.

“Many outbound flights from Asia to New York make a stop in California along the way. Since we were unable to participate in Asia Week this year due to the unavailability of a suitable auction space in New York, we decided to conduct our annual Asia Week sale right here in our Beverly Hills gallery,” said Chait founder Isadore M. Chait.

Chait explained that Asia Week’s agenda has expanded to the point that exhibition space is now difficult to secure – in his words, “a good thing, in one way, as it is a clear indication that the economy is improving and the Asian art market is robust.”

The I.M. Chait family and staff have left no stone unturned in preparing for the March 17 live auction, which also will be available to bidders via phone, Internet and absentee methods. The 295-lot sale is led by a premier Park Avenue (New York) collection of carved jades, early Chinese bronzes, ivories and fine ceramics. Also highlighting the event are Ming Dynasty porcelains (including 15th- and 16th-century examples) and carved jades from a second prestigious East Coast collection; and a collection of rare contemporary carved netsuke and Ojime pieces.

A European collection was the source of the auction’s centerpiece – a magnificent 14th-century Yuan Dynasty blue and white ovoid porcelain jar (Lot 144) decorated with a continuous equestrian warrior scene. A most exceptional and historically significant piece, its motif narrates a scene from the Yuan zaju drama “The Savior Yuchi Gong” and describes how General Yuchi Gong saved the Tang Emperor Taizong from assassination. Isadore Chait believes the vessel could reach or exceed one million dollars at auction.

Divine in more ways than one, a highly important early 15th-century Ming Dynasty gilt bronze Bodhisattva of Manjushri (Lot 186) wears an elaborately detailed crown, necklaces and earrings. A six-character Yongle mark is inscribed under the figure’s base. Estimate: $200,000-$300,000.

From China’s 18th-century Qianlong Period, a celadon with gray-black jade mountain (Lot 212) is masterfully carved with the scene of two figures in a boat amid rockery and clouds. A third figure of a man is carved in relief to render the effect that he is crossing a bridge. This artwork is expected to make $45,000-$55,000.

Another fine antique carved from celadon jade is the 18th-century Chinese marriage bowl on ornate hardwood stand (Lot 214). Of low, wide form with openwork bats and flowers on its handles, the bowl is decorated in relief with gourds and foliage that create the rebus “fulu shuangquan,” translated: “May both fortune and wealth prevail.” It is entered in the sale with a $40,000-$50,000 estimate.

A third celadon jade artwork of particularly fine quality is the Chinese carved tablescreen (Lot 287) with an image of flowering bushes and rocks on its front and a lacquered landscape scene on verso. The carving is handsomely presented in a carved hardwood frame of archaistic motif with dyed green bone and ivory openwork borders. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.

Large and well modeled, an early Tang Dynasty model of a striding Bactrian camel (Lot 175), with mouth agape and separate bearded rider on saddle, stands 28 1/8 inches tall. It is accompanied by an Oxford TL Test Certificate and has a presale estimate of $25,000-$35,000. Extremely rare and dating to the Song Dynasty, a pair of pottery figures of seated generals (Lot 172), each wearing ornate armor and hats with removable finials, also comes with a TL Test Certificate (C-Link Research & Development Ltd). Estimate for the pair: $18,000-$24,000.

An example of symmetrical perfection in Chinese porcelain, a 21¼-inch-tall gu-form dragon vase (Lot 147) dates to the 16th-century Ming Dynasty. With a blue-on-white pattern that incorporates peonies, foliage and writhing dragons, the stately vessel bears the Wanli mark and carries an estimate of $35,000-$40,000.

The realistic artistry on many of the netsukes in the auction simply must be seen to be believed. For example, a carved wood sashi netsuke (Lot 29) depicting a tall armored warrior deity about to plunge a long sword into an oni at his feet is as intricately detailed as any full-size work by a master sculptor. Each strand of hair on the oni’s head is clearly visible, as is the musculature of his legs. This particular netsuke is signed and boxed, and comes with provenance from the Florida estate of Michael Earlman. It is estimated at $2,500-$3,000.

An impressive 7 7/8 inches tall, a spinach jade brushpot (Lot 224) is expertly carved with a continuous landscape scene of sages in a courtyard, with pavilions tucked amid rockery and pine trees. Formerly in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art and deaccessioned around 1950, the brushpot should realize $35,000-$45,000 at auction.

Isadore Chait, who spent the past year carefully hand selecting each piece for his company’s March 17 auction, said he is confident the event will be a great success. “Asian art buyers have become one united community. Although it is always a pleasure to see and be seen in New York during Asia Week, we know that the location of our auction room is of far less importance, now, thanks to new technologies and the choice of bidding methods that have been made available to Asian art buyers,” he said.

I.M. Chait’s Asia Week Important Chinese Ceramics & Asian Works of Art Auction will take place at the Chait gallery on Sunday, March 17, commencing at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. The gallery is located at 9330 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com and Artfact.com.

For additional information on any lot in the sale or to obtain a fully illustrated color catalog ($35 + shipping), call 1-800-775-5020 or 310-285-0182; or e-mail joey@chait.com. Visit the company online at www.chait.com.

Bidders take their pick from Pennsylvania Treasury’s ‘unclaimed’ vault in Morphy’s million-dollar Feb. 8-9 auction

February 22nd, 2013 by

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy Auctions’ Feb. 8-9 collaboration with the Pennsylvania Treasury’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property resulted in an exciting weekend of transactions that tallied over one million dollars (inclusive of basic 20% buyer’s premium). Of that total, 26% was attributable to prices realized by 200 lots of fine jewelry, watches, coins and other valuables from the Treasury’s vaults in Harrisburg, Pa. The greater portion of the 1,146-lot sale included consignments of paintings, mechanical music, a collection of vintage violins and a broad selection of decorative art, including Part II of a highly refined Amphora pottery collection.

“There was a lot of interest from the media in the run-up to this sale, especially because of the Treasury Department items,” said Dan Morphy. “It was the first time in 10 years that the Treasury had sanctioned a live auction of unclaimed goods from safe deposit boxes. The quality was there, all the way.”

There were 2,179 registered bidders for the sale, and more than 100 people attended the event in person, including representatives from the Pennsylvania Treasury. The phone bank was active throughout the auction, and Internet bidders made their presence known in a big way, with online purchases representing 62% of the gross over the two-day period.

Of the Treasury consignment, the earliest representation of Pennsylvania’s history was a Spence-authenticated,

1787 land deed signed by Benjamin Franklin

Spence-authenticated 1787 land deed signed by Benjamin Franklin, $13,200. Morphy Auctions image.

handwritten 1787 property deed signed by Benjamin Franklin. Estimated at $7,000-$10,000, it was bid to $13,200.

Bidders dipped into the Treasury’s jewelry box with glee, taking away many exquisite gold, diamond and platinum pieces just in time for Valentine’s Day. A heart-shape diamond-encrusted pendant set in 14K gold featured a 1.25ct pear-shape center diamond surrounded by smaller rough-cut pave diamonds. Its sparkle and heft encouraged bidders to ignore the $7,000-$10,000 estimate, and ultimately it checked out at $18,600.

A stunning platinum engagement ring with a 4.25ct European-cut diamond and two flanking baguettes, each weighing .30 carats, came very close to achieving its high estimate at $19,800. The ring would have made quite a spectacular statement if paired with another retro-chic design that finished high amongst prices realized: a platinum, diamond and ruby bracelet with an Art Deco feel. It featured an eye-filling medley of round, Asscher- and emerald-cut gems, and drew a winning bid of $15,600.

14K gold heart-shape pendant

14K gold heart-shape pendant set with 1.25ct pear-shape center diamond, smaller rough-cut pave diamonds, $18,600. Morphy Auctions image.

Timepiece highlights included an impressive 18K diamond-face Rolex Presidential watch, $10,800; and a sporty Swiss-made Breitling Chronograph with cobalt blue and gold face, $5,700.

Patrick Orbe made his debut as Morphy’s fine art consultant with the selection of paintings he curated for the Feb. 8-9 sale. The auction’s top fine-art lot was a Ferdinand Richardt (Danish, 1819-1895) oil on canvas titled “View of Niagara Falls.” The signed 33 x 43in painting presented in a custom-made gold leaf frame realized $37,200.

Bidders competed aggressively over rare pieces of Amphora from the Les Cohen collection, especially the monumental 18½in “Daughter of the Rhine” vase with applied jewels and enameled flowers. Well exceeding estimate hopes, it rose to $18,000. Another crowd-pleaser was the 22½in Amphora Saurian & Crab vase. Estimated at $7,000-$9,000, it was chased to $13,800.

Other decorative-art categories also held up very well. Desirable Loetz glass was led by a circa-1903 pink luster vase with a blue pattern reminiscent of peacock feathers, $4,800. The top Rookwood lot was an initialed and dated 1927 monumental vellum vase in a hibiscus motif, created by Elizabeth Lincoln. The vessel garnered $6,000.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way bidders responded to the fine jewelry and other articles from the Pennsylvania Treasury,” said Dan Morphy. “Even though all of their items were offered without reserve, nearly every piece met or exceeded expectations, with sales totaling $260,000. We’re very much looking forward to presenting the next Treasury selection, which we anticipate will be sometime in the fall.”

To contact Morphy Auctions, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail serena@morphyauctions.com. Visit Morphy’s online at www.morphyauctions.com