London Eye: October 2008

 Sarah Maple, Haram, 2008, oil on canvas, 80 x 112cm, Image courtesy SaLon Gallery, London

Sarah Maple, Haram, 2008, oil on canvas, 80 x 112cm, Image courtesy SaLon Gallery, London

With all eyes on the marquee in Regents Park where the sixth annual Frieze contemporary art fair opens on Oct. 16 in an atmosphere of nervous apprehension [full report to appear soon on Auction Central News], it was easy to miss one or two other newsworthy items developing elsewhere in the capital.

Over at the recently opened SaLon Gallery in West London, work by young British contemporary artist Sarah Maple has been incurring the wrath of The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), according to UK broadsheet the Daily Telegraph.

The oil painting in question, titled Haram, shows the artist, herself a young British Muslim, wearing traditional Islamic dress and cradling a pig. According to the Daily Telegraph report, Mokhtar Badri, a spokesman for MAB, objected to the work on the grounds that Muslims are “taught to keep their distance from pigs because they are unclean”. The Telegraph item said that MAB “plans to visit the SaLon Gallery to demand that it remove Maple’s painting” when the exhibition opens on Oct. 16. Understandably, SaLon Gallery increased its security provision ahead of the opening.

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New Pa. law requires online trading assistants to be licensed, bonded

HARRISBURG, Pa. (ACNI) – On Oct. 9, Governor Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania added his signature to Senate Bill 908, thus enacting a law that makes it mandatory for online trading assistants to register with the State Board of Auctioneer Examiners, pay a registration fee and post a surety bond. Known as the Auctioneer Licensing and Trading Assistant Registration Act, Senate Bill 908 is an amended, updated version of an existing law (Act 85) that has been on the books since 1983. In its new form, the legislation creates a more equitable and clearly defined playing field for the state’s licensed auctioneers, who face increased competition from entrepreneurs or “drop shops” that charge a fee to manage auctions online for outside consignors. On the other hand, the law also benefits trading assistants, who no longer have to fear the prospect of legislation requiring them to undertake formal auctioneer training.

Previously, those who sold personal property through timed Internet auctions on behalf of a third party in Pennsylvania were exempted from obtaining an auctioneer’s license, although it had been argued that “trading assistants” were operating as de facto auctioneers. Some of the state’s auctioneers, particularly those whose businesses are largely dependent on local estates, felt the situation created an unfair advantage for their unlicensed competitors. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s auctioneers overwhelmingly felt that they have a collective reputation to uphold, and that unregulated trading assistants should not in any way be regarded or perceived as “auctioneers.”

Under the new bill, which was introduced on Sept. 25 by State Senator Rob Wonderling (R-24th District, representing parts of Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties), trading assistants will be required to pay a biennial $100 fee to the State Board of Auctioneer Examiners. Additionally, each trading assistant must file a $5,000 bond to cover any judgments that might be ordered payable by a court.

In presenting his case for passage of the bill, Wonderling noted that more than 15,000 residents of Pennsylvania make their living by selling goods on sites like eBay. He said consumers who either buy or sell items through a trading assistant will be afforded greater protection now, because those assistants will be bonded and monies received will be placed in escrow while a transaction is in progress. It is important to note that the new legislation specifically excludes “any sale conducted through an online Internet bidding platform [such as LiveAuctioneers.com] from being considered an auction or sale at auction.” Additionally, the law does not apply to individuals who sell their own merchandise on eBay or similar Web sites.

Trading assistant licenses will not be granted to anyone who has been convicted of forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, extortion, criminal conspiracy or similar offenses, either in Pennsylvania or any other state.

Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), who negotiated final language of the legislation, said he had been working on some of the provisions since last year. He said his goal was to “(address) the growing problem of online auction fraud.”

Based on certain blog postings seen online, not everyone is pleased with the new law. One blogger asked, “Why should I have to be licensed? EBay actually conducts the auction, while I just write the descriptions and send the merchandise.” The blogger also questioned how the state would enforce the law, noting that many sellers don’t know they are to collect sales tax.

Failure to be registered as a trading assistant carries a potential fine of up to $500, a prison term of up to three months, or both. A second offense on conviction carries a fine of up to $2,000 to $5,000, imprisonment of not less than one to two years, or both. The civil penalty includes a fine of up to $1,000.

Two auctioneers, Doug Ebersole, manager of Conestoga Auctions in Manheim, Pa., and Tom Horst of Horst Auctioneers in Ephrata, Pa., said they favored the new law. “Why shouldn’t they get a license and bonding like we do?” Ebersole asked. A request for comment from eBay had not yet been received as this article was being finalized.

The new law has received endorsement from the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Assn (PAA), which had encouraged its members to contact their individual state senators. Oversight will be carried out by the State Board of Auctioneer Examiners in the Department of State. The PAA will remove one appointed member from the board in order to add a new member who will represent trading assistants.

Copyright 2008 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Publisher updates info on dmg’s anticipated sale of AntiqueWeek

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (ACNI) – As previously reported on Auction Central News, dmg world media is moving away from antiques publishing with its sale of London-based Antiques Trade Gazette and the expected sale of four publications produced in Knightstown, Ind., three of them antiques related.

Richard Lewis, publisher of the U.S.-based titles – AntiqueWeek, AntiqueWest, Auction Exchange, and Farm World – confirmed to Auction Central News on Oct. 9, 2008 that the publications are currently under offer.

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Rare 1844 proof $10 coin going on display Nov. 1 at New Orleans Mint

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Talk about an investment in gold. This one is insured for $2.5 million, although it contains only a half-ounce of the precious metal.

It’s an extremely rare 1844 proof $10 gold coin struck at the U.S. Mint in New Orleans as a presentation piece for President James Polk. Collectors believe it is one-of-a-kind.

Now the property of an anonymous Florida collector, the coin, known as an Eagle, has been brought back to New Orleans to be put on display at the Old U.S. Mint when the museum reopens on Nov. 1 after a brief closure to install exhibits.

New Orleans coin dealer Paul Hollis made arrangements to have the coin displayed in the city of its origin.

“You will never get another one,” Hollis said.

Like many rare coins, the exact history of how this Eagle was passed around is cloudy. Struck on specially prepared, highly polished dies, presentation proofs were given during the 1800s to various VIPs such as dignitaries and heads of state. Well-connected collectors also managed to get a few.
Most were prepared at the Philadelphia mint, while few came out of branch mints such as New Orleans, which operated from 1838 to 1909. The distinctive “O” mint mark on the reverse under a heraldic eagle motif identifies the coin as of New Orleans origin.

During its operation, the New Orleans mint produced a wide range of silver and gold coins, including the king of circulating U.S. gold coins, the $20 Double Eagle.

The New Orleans mint was one of three in the South. The others were in Charlotte, N.C., and Dahlonega, Ga. Of the three, only the New Orleans mint reopened after the Civil War.

Hollis said the New Orleans-produced 1844 Eagle surfaced at a sale in the early 1900s and records indicate it may have traded for as little as $11. It was later owned by U.S. Treasury Secretary William Woodin, who served under President Franklin Roosevelt and played a key role in the United States seizing gold and gold coins in 1933 as the country abandoned the international gold standard.

It also was Woodin who cut an exception to the seizure for rare gold coins.
Hollis puts a ballpark value on the Eagle at $2 million to $2.7 million. The owner has insured it for $2.5 million.

“It certainly is a seven-figure item,” said Scott Schechter of Sarasota, Fla.-based Numismatic Guaranty Corp., who certified the coin’s authenticity.

Hollis said he carried the coin in his hands on a flight from Florida to New Orleans, where security officers accompanied both to the Eagle’s new home at the mint.

The mint was closed for about two years after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and reopened in October 2007 after a $5 million renovation. In addition to exhibits dedicated to the building’s time as a mint, the museum also includes archived maps and documents dating back to Louisiana’s days as a French and Spanish possession.

The museum’s jazz collection, including sheet music, photographs, records, manuscripts and instruments from some of the city’s earliest jazz musicians, is being overhauled and is expected to return to the mint in 2010.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

AP-WS-10-12-08 1118EDT  

Pa. state police seize old prison logbook sold at 1999 auction

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – An antiques dealer says state police illegally seized a rare prison logbook that he had purchased legally, but authorities insist the volume was stolen.

Edward Marshall bought the Eastern State Penitentiary Prison Entry Record Book in 1999 from Freeman’s auction house in Philadelphia for $920. The book lists the 744 convicts incarcerated in the historic prison – now a museum – from 1839 to 1850.

On Sept. 17, Marshall listed the book on eBay with a $5,000 starting bid. Eastern State placed a bid of $10,101.

“We were going to give it to the state archives,” said Sara Jane Elk, Eastern State’s executive director. She said a member of her staff contacted the archives in Harrisburg and was told the book “was missing from their set of volumes and it was an official state document.”

The museum ended up being outbid by $100 by state police troopers who later acknowledged “they were never going to pay a cent,” Marshall said. On Sept. 24, troopers arrived at Marshall’s shop in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood and seized the book, claiming it had been stolen.

“There was no legal justification for the forced surrender of the valuable book that he owned,” his attorney, David Rudovsky, told The Philadelphia Inquirer for an Oct. 7 story. “As far as we know, there is no proof that this was stolen. We think it’s an illegal seizure.”

State archivist David Haury disagreed, saying “once a state record, always a state record.”

The archives own the prison’s other record books, Haury and state police attorney Thomas Jakubiak said. Because Marshall’s record book is the only one missing, they said, it belongs in their collection.

Eastern State Penitentiary closed in 1970 and was effectively abandoned until the mid-1980s. It is now a popular tourist attraction.

David Bloom, Freeman’s vice president of rare books and manuscripts, said the book came from a reputable source, which he did not identify. He said that the auction house would notify the FBI if they suspected that an item had been stolen.

“It’s not unusual for these documents from institutions to be thrown out, recovered by trash pickers, then find their way back in the historical chain,” Bloom said. “In my 25 years of business, this is the first time we’ve sold something that I’ve heard of being labeled as stolen.”

Marshall, 63, who has worked in antiquities for four decades and as an adviser to auction houses, said he is emotionally and financially hurt.

If the book is returned, which he believes it should be, “I would like to have the underbidder pay the amount she bid, $10,101,” he said.
___

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-10-07-08 1422EDT  

 

Steve Geppi

Steve Geppi, CEO of Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions, elected college board trustee

Steve Geppi

Steve Geppi

YORK, Pa. – Stephen A. Geppi, president and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors and Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions – parent company of Morphy Auctions and Hakes Americana – has been elected to the York College of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees. Geppi will serve a three-year term on the board.

Born in the “Little Italy” section of Baltimore, Geppi left school as a young boy to support his mother. At nine, his first job was bundling comics and magazines for a local used magazine dealer; he opted to receive part of his compensation in comics. He opened Geppi’s Comic World in 1974 and soon expanded his business to four stores.  By 1982, with his distributor failing, he decided to move into distribution.

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Circa-1880 Thullier (France) A.T. bébé with pale pressed-bisque socket head incised A.7T., light blue paperweight eyes, finely painted brows and lashes with mauve eye shadow, closed mouth, pierced ears and long-tailed blonde mohair wig with cork pate. Straight-wrist French composition and wood body, antique pink wool dress, ivory satin and lace blouse, antique velvet hat and matching shoes. 18 inches tall. Estimate: $45,000-$55,000.

Long-held private collections of two sisters star in Morphy’s Oct. 10-11 sale

Circa-1880 Thullier (France) A.T. bébé with pale pressed-bisque socket head incised A.7T., light blue paperweight eyes, finely painted brows and lashes with mauve eye shadow, closed mouth, pierced ears and long-tailed blonde mohair wig with cork pate. Straight-wrist French composition and wood body, antique pink wool dress, ivory satin and lace blouse, antique velvet hat and matching shoes. 18 inches tall. Estimate: $45,000-$55,000.

Circa-1880 Thullier (France) A.T. bébé with pale pressed-bisque socket head incised A.7T., light blue paperweight eyes, finely painted brows and lashes with mauve eye shadow, closed mouth, pierced ears and long-tailed blonde mohair wig with cork pate. Straight-wrist French composition and wood body, antique pink wool dress, ivory satin and lace blouse, antique velvet hat and matching shoes. 18 inches tall. Estimate: $45,000-$55,000.

DENVER, Pa. – As the follow-up to a heavily attended May 17-18 debut that grossed $1.5 million, Morphy Doll Auctions has prepared an equally diverse selection of dolls, dollhouses, miniatures and teddy bears as the foundation of its Fall Fine Doll event. The 950-lot auction will take place on Oct. 10 and 11, and features dolls of excellent pedigree from select private collections, including those of noted sister collectors Eleanor Lakin and Patricia Lemkuhl.

Friday’s session includes a treasure trove of 18th, 19th and 20th-century dolls of all types, including German and French bisque dolls; exceptional Lenci dolls, German character dolls including a Kammer & Reinhardt model 112X, more than 50 coveted porcelain half dolls, mignonettes, French fashion dolls, and an impressive grouping of antique French automata.

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Here it is, in black and white: A-Rod’s inner workings.

X-ray reveals Steiff teddy is rare rod bear

 Here it is, in black and white: A-Rod’s inner workings.

Here it is, in black and white: A-Rod’s inner workings.

VINELAND, N.J. – Veterinarians are accustomed to seeing animals of all shapes and sizes in the course of their daily work, but few – like Dr. Hal Blumenthal of Millville, N.J. – can say they’ve had a teddy bear for a patient.

It all started when Bertoia Auctions, antique toy specialists in Vineland, N.J., received a circa-1903 Steiff bear as a consignment to their Nov. 7-9 sale. Bertoia’s experts immediately identified it as a rare production from the early 20th century, but they knew that if they could confirm it was, as suspected, a Steiff “rod” bear, it would greatly increase its value and desirability to collectors.

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Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova's 1958 rendition of the famous sculpture The Kiss could sell for $24,500-$31,900. Image courtesy Auctionhaus Dr. Fischer.

Auktionshaus Dr. Fischer to sell fine European and studio glass on Oct. 18

Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova's 1958 rendition of the famous sculpture The Kiss could sell for $24,500-$31,900. Image courtesy Auctionhaus Dr. Fischer.

Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova’s 1958 rendition of the famous sculpture The Kiss could sell for $24,500-$31,900. Image courtesy Auctionhaus Dr. Fischer.

HEILBRONN, Germany – Auktionshaus Dr. Fischer will present more than 1,100 lots of fine European and studio glass at the auctioneer’s fall sale that has been dubbed El Dorado. The Oct. 18 auction will start at 1 a.m. Pacific (4 a.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. European Time).

The title piece is an El Dorado vase by Italy’s Dino Martens, which is estimated to sell for $11,625. Another beauty of the post-1950s category is a Merletto vase by Archimede Seguso, which is expected to top $13,600. Other famous Murano glassmakers represented will be Venini, Barovier Toso, Barbini and Cenedese.

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DMG World Media sells Antiques Trade Gazette; AntiqueWeek soon to follow

LONDON (ACNI) – In a move that has taken many of its employees by surprise, the London publishing conglomerate dmg world media has sold its antiques trade newspaper in England and will soon consummate the sale of its U.S. antiques titles. Among the publications affected are the London-based Antiques Trade Gazette (ATG), and the U.S. publications AntiqueWeek, AntiqueWest and Auction Exchange.

On Oct. 6, all staff members at the Knightstown, Ind., production offices of dmg’s U.S. newspapers were asked to assemble for a meeting called by publisher Richard Lewis. At that meeting, Lewis advised employees that dmg’s three antiques-related titles produced in the Knightstown plant, as well as a fourth title published on site – the agricultural special interest weekly Farm World – were under contract to be sold. Lewis said the sale would be finalized in 30 to 45 days and that he would be staying on as publisher, although it is unclear whether it would be in a temporary or permanent capacity. At this point in time, all staff are expected to be retained.

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