An employment pass, signed by Raoul Wallenberg and issued to Mrs. Julius Heller on August 23, 1944 states that Mrs. Heller 'is in steady employment with the Repatriation Department of the Embassy, as well as with the Swedish Red Cross,' and also bears her photo and signature. Image courtesy RR Auctions.

Raoul Wallenberg-signed WWII document in RR’s April auction

An employment pass, signed by Raoul Wallenberg and issued to Mrs. Julius Heller on August 23, 1944 states that Mrs. Heller 'is in steady employment with the Repatriation Department of the Embassy, as well as with the Swedish Red Cross,' and also bears her photo and signature. Image courtesy RR Auctions.

An employment pass, signed by Raoul Wallenberg and issued to Mrs. Julius Heller on August 23, 1944 states that Mrs. Heller ‘is in steady employment with the Repatriation Department of the Embassy, as well as with the Swedish Red Cross,’ and also bears her photo and signature. Image courtesy RR Auctions.

AMHERST, N.H. – Highlighting nearly 1,500 lots in the current RR Auction closing April 15 is a rare and remarkable document signed by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat whose tireless efforts saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

“This is not just a piece of paper with Raoul Wallenberg’s signature on it; this piece of paper represents life,” said Diane Blake, Director of Research for The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States.

In mid-1944 while he worked at the Swedish Embassy, Wallenberg devised the “Schutzpass,” a special, official-looking (but essentially invalid) Swedish passport that granted the bearer immunity from deportation to death camps. As the urgent demand for the passes increased with impending deportations, Wallenberg opened an office staffed with some 400 Jewish volunteers who aided in the manufacture of the passes and were themselves issued “employment certificates” ensuring their safety.

“This employment certificate is likely one of the 400 issued by Wallenberg,” said Blake, one of the world’s experts on Wallenberg. “We have never seen this form of document, and it is very exciting because we have the largest archive of Raoul Wallenberg materials in North America.”

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Stockholm museum robbed of more than 100 antique and vintage toys

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – Mike von Matuska of Matuska Doll & Toy Auctions has confirmed a break-in occurred earlier this month at the Stockholm toy museum Leksaksmuseet, of which he is director. He is advising anyone who is offered antique or vintage toys from a Swedish source to ask questions and proceed cautiously.

Mike says restoration had just been completed at the museum and that sometime at night between March 5 and March 9, an intruder forced the alarmed doors several times to gain entry. 

Many rare toys – approximately 115 antique and vintage pieces – were taken in the heist. Mike said they were all “excellent to mint toys of German and Japanese manufacture, dating from 1900 to 1960.” The perpetrator(s) are quite likely to be knowledgeable about toy values, as they took valuable Marklins and Lehmanns, which are easily resold.

All of the stolen toys are listed online at http://scandalic.nu/auktion/stulet/Stold_pa_Leksaksmuseet/Bilder.html. There’s also a selection of images of some of the stolen pieces.

Anyone who may have information pertaining to the theft or suspicions based on offers to buy is asked to e-mail Mike von Matuska at  mike@matuska.se.

Copyright 2009 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  

Art Deco diamond, onyx, jadeite and coral brooch by Boucheron Paris, sold for $189,600. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Skinner Fine Jewelry auction glitters with nearly $1.8M in sales

Art Deco diamond, onyx, jadeite and coral brooch by Boucheron Paris, sold for $189,600. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

Art Deco diamond, onyx, jadeite and coral brooch by Boucheron Paris, sold for $189,600. Image courtesy Skinner Inc.

BOSTON – Skinner Inc. today announced the results of its March 17, 2009 Fine Jewelry sale. The auction achieved its overall high estimate, grossing $1,768,021.

A number of the top-selling lots came to Skinner from the family of William and Henry Waters, who established Baltimore’s Waters Art Museum. The star of the show was a stunning Renaissance Revival long chain (lot 530) that sold for $402,000.  It was estimated at $75,000-$125,000.

Another eye-catching lot, an archaeological Revival gold and glass bead fringe necklace, circa 1880, sold for $67,545.50.
 
Additional highlights included an Art Deco diamond, onyx, jadeite and coral brooch by Boucheron Paris (lot 514), which sold for $189,600.00, and a Renaissance Revival enamel, sapphire and diamond brooch (lot 529) that achieved $71,100.

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French Quarter Cottages, watercolor and India ink painting by Johnny Donnels. Courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive/New Orleans Auction Gallery 3/29/09 auction catalog.

In Memoriam: New Orleans artist Johnny Donnels, 84

French Quarter Cottages, watercolor and India ink painting by Johnny Donnels. Courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive/New Orleans Auction Gallery 3/29/09 auction catalog.

French Quarter Cottages, watercolor and India ink painting by Johnny Donnels. Courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive/New Orleans Auction Gallery 3/29/09 auction catalog.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Johnny Donnels, who won acclaim for his pictures of the people and places in New Orleans’ French Quarter, has died. He was 84.

Cheron Brylski, a close friend, said Friday that Donnels fell outside his Desire Street home last week and broke his hip. He died Thursday, March 19.

Donnels had a gallery near Jackson Square for more than 50 years. He lived in the Quarter for most of his life, and was playwright Tennessee Williams’ neighbor in the 1940s.

His work, chronicled in a 1999 book, has been exhibited at the Kennedy Center, Harvard University, the Ford Times Collection of American Art, the National Academy of Design, the New Orleans Museum of Art and Historic New Orleans Collection.

Although he was a renowned photographer, Donnels began his career as a painter.

For a time, he worked as a police sketch artist. In the 1960s, Donnels bartered a painting for a camera, and a career change followed.

AP-ES-03-21-09 0723EDT

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Egypt wants a 3,000-year-old coffin back from U.S.

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt will soon file an official request with U.S. authorities to return a 3,000-year-old wooden coffin illegally smuggled out of the country more than a century ago, the country’s top archaeologist said Sunday.

In a statement, Zahi Hawass said the nearly 5-foot-long coffin was taken from Egypt in 1884 after it was stolen from a tomb in Luxor, an ancient pharaonic capital in southern Egypt.

Hawass says the ornamented coffin belonged to Pharaoh Ames of the 21st Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt from 1081-931 B.C.

The coffin is currently in the hands of the customs authority in Miami, Florida, who confiscated it after it was shipped to the United States from Spain, added the statement.

U.S. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Egypt has launched a drive to recover its antiquities taken abroad, including some residing in famous museums.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-03-22-09 1319EDT

Engraved and gold-inlaid Colt single-action army revolver known as Sears & Roebuck Cowboy Special, sold for $747,500. Image courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers.

Gun auction featuring Joseph Murphy’s Colt collection earns $11.4M

Engraved and gold-inlaid Colt single-action army revolver known as Sears & Roebuck Cowboy Special, sold for $747,500. Image courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers.

Engraved and gold-inlaid Colt single-action army revolver known as Sears & Roebuck Cowboy Special, sold for $747,500. Image courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers.

FAIRFIELD, Maine (AP) – A two-day auction of high-end firearms and memorabilia generated sales totaling nearly $11.4 million.

About 100 bidders and spectators showed up Tuesday, March 17, for the final day of the sale at the James D. Julia Inc. auction house in Fairfield.

A highlight was the sale of 40 lots from the Colt firearms collection of Pennsylvania businessman Joseph A. Murphy.

Julia said the collection is the finest, gun for gun, ever to come to auction. Two other auctions that will include rare pieces from Murphy’s collection are scheduled for October 2009 and March 2010.
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Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-03-18-09 1410EDT

C.M. Russell art auction fundraiser tops $1.4M

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) – Unofficial tallies show the C.M. Russell Art Auction in Great Falls sold $1,466,930 worth of artwork on Friday and Saturday nights, the fifth-best weekend in the auction’s history.

Spirited bidding pushed one of Charlie Russell’s watercolors to $100,000 as the auction sold $807,700 worth of art Saturday night.

Since its inception in 1969, the auction has been a fundraiser for the C.M. Russell Museum. The Great Falls Ad Club, which sponsors the event, adds a 13 percent surcharge to the bid price (10 percent for cash and checks), then deducts its expenses from that total and donates the rest to the museum.

Over the years, the Ad Club has donated $5,579,342 to the museum through the auction, including $1,046,175 from the popular Quick Draw event.
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Information from: Great Falls Tribune,
http://www.greatfallstribune.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-03-22-09 2358EDT

Marklin Fidelitas clown caravan, sold for $103,500 on March 19, 2009 at Bertoia's. Image courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

Bertoia’s breaks house record with $4.2M Kaufman debut

Marklin Fidelitas clown caravan, sold for $103,500 on March 19, 2009 at Bertoia's. Image courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

Marklin Fidelitas clown caravan, sold for $103,500 on March 19, 2009 at Bertoia’s. Image courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

VINELAND, N.J. – The March 19-21 no-reserve sale premiering the Donald Kaufman Antique Toy Collection rang the register at more than $4.2 million and set a new house record for its producer, Bertoia Auctions. The high-energy event, which was the opener for an ongoing series of sales to disperse the massive Kaufman collection, reminded many of the great auctions of 20 years ago. The three-day gross slightly surpassed Bertoia’s previous house record – also in the range of $4.2 million – which had been set in 1998 when the New Jersey company auctioned the Stan Sax bank collection.

Toy industry veterans at the red-carpet preview and sale concurred that the affair was the “best-attended toy auction ever.” Bidders were quick to reserve seats in the main saleroom, which overflowed into the adjacent gallery. Additional competitors worldwide kept the phone bank and Internet console buzzing with bids. Online bidders through LiveAuctioneers.com added more than $341,000 to the final tally.

The sale’s grand-prize winner was a rare circa-1909 Marklin Fidelitas clown caravan measuring 37½ inches long. A stunning hand-painted toy made by prewar Germany’s premier toy manufacturer, it had been estimated at $30,000-$40,000 but well exceeded expectations with a selling price of $103,500 (inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium). The buyer was a private collector from Europe.

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Barbara Franchi and her husband Rudy at an Antiques Roadshow taping in San Diego. Courtesy Rudy Franchi.

In Memoriam: Barbara Franchi, 73, movie ephemera expert

Barbara Franchi and her husband Rudy at an Antiques Roadshow taping in San Diego. Courtesy Rudy Franchi.

Barbara Franchi and her husband Rudy at an Antiques Roadshow taping in San Diego. Courtesy Rudy Franchi.

LOS ANGELES – Barbara Franchi, who co-existed with comfort in the worlds of collectible movie ephemera and murder mystery reviews, died on Feb. 28 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 73 years old. According to her husband, Rudy Franchi, the cause of death was cancer related.

Barbara Franchi was founder of the mystery fiction review Web site www.reviewingtheevidence.com, which, within a few short years of its launch, became a major force in the rarefied world of cozies, procedurals, hard-boiled, noir and all the other sub-genres of whodunits. Blurbed on book jackets and quoted extensively, the site was a labor of love for Barbara, who funded it through her career in movie poster sales.

Together with her husband, Barbara operated The Nostalgia Factory, a collectibles shop founded in Montreal in 1969. Its base  was moved to Newport, R.I., and in the mid-1980s to Boston.

During the early 1990s, Barbara transferred the inventory of the shop electronically to the Web site www.nostalgia.com. As an early participant in the world of Internet commerce, the site eventually became a top online vendor of original vintage movie, introducing many innovations that later became common practices in the industry.

Barbara was also co-author of Miller’s Movie Collectibles, which has become a standard text on valuable vintage-cinema paper.
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Missing Italian statue found in North Carolina couple’s home

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A 350-year-old statue of a saint and former pope, taken from an Italian church nearly two decades ago, has been found in the home of a North Carolina couple who had no idea it was stolen, authorities said.

The intricately carved bust of St. Innocent will be returned to the church in Naples, Italy, U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agents said.

The statue was one of 17 similar busts and two oil paintings taken from the church in November 1990. Authorities told The Charlotte Observer the trail went cold until two years ago, when officials in Rome let federal agents know an Italian citizen sold a similar statue to an antiques dealer from Greensboro.

The statue sold in Charlotte was bought by the same dealer at an antiques fair in France, said Neal Johnson, the Charlotte dealer who bought the statue from the same Greensboro dealer and sold it to the couple.

“I’ve never heard of this happening anywhere other than some big-time story in New York,” Johnson said. “You don’t always know the lineage of pieces you buy.”

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