A Tennessee cherry Jackson Press with carved pilasters and arched pediment turned $9,080. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

Abstract painting trumps Southern fare at Case Antiques Auction

A Tennessee cherry Jackson Press with carved pilasters and arched pediment turned $9,080. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

A Tennessee cherry Jackson Press with carved pilasters and arched pediment turned $9,080. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A vivid painting by 20th-century artist Friedel Dzubas upstaged a strong lineup of early Southern antiques to become the top-selling lot at the Fall Case Antiques Auction, conducted Sept. 26.

The 40- by 40-inch acrylic on canvas, titled Malmoe, dated from 1974 and bore the signature of Friedel Dzubas, a German-born painter who settled in New York in the 1940s and became associated with Color Field art in the 1960s. He died in 1994. An East Coast dealer won the painting at $24,175. Prices in this report include the 13.5 percent buyer’s premium.

Other fine art in the sale included a portrait of a Southern belle attributed to 19th-century Nashville painter Washington Cooper, which despite some condition problems sold for $2,837, and a small watercolor of a locomotive by noted train artist Howard Fogg, which brought $1,475. A landscape by one of Tennessee’s premier female painters, Willie Betty Newman (1863-1935), sold for $2156. An early 19th-century portrait miniature of Dr. Hugh McGavock Kent of Virginia brought $1,702, and a portrait miniature of the same period depicting a child in red dress made $1,249.

Early Southern material, a mainstay at Case auctions, was in good supply, with scarce pieces in excellent condition commanding the best prices.

A large North Carolina jug with distinctive glass rutile drip by Daniel Hartsoe (Lincoln County, N.C., 1836-1916) saw spirited bidding before hammering down at $8,172 (est. $2,000-$3,000).

“Of the relatively few marked pieces by Hartsoe which have come on the market, this was one of the best in terms of condition – almost pristine – and the price reflected that,” said company president John Case.

Other Southern pottery highlights included a Sand Mountain, Ala., double-dipped alkaline glazed jug, $3,632 (est. $2,000-$2,200), and a 6-gallon cobalt decorated churn with retailer’s mark for W.R. Elam of Columbia, Tenn., $1,475. A whiskey jug bearing the mark of a Knoxville saloon earned $1,248 (est. $400-$450), and a lot of two mid-20th century Tennessee Iron Mountain stoneware sculptures, one a Japanese-style racing vehicle, hit $1,135 (est. $400-$500).

Leading the furniture was an East Tennessee press in figured cherry with arched pediment and carved pilasters at $9,080. A Federal inlaid slant-front desk, attributed to Kentucky, tallied $7,264. A three-drawer walnut chest with turned feet and inlaid half-crescent and circles on the skirt, signed Knoxville, brought $3,859. A Tennessee two-drawer cherry stand with well-turned legs tripled its high estimate to make $1,816, and a small half-round table in old surface with square tapered legs and hidden drawer drew surprisingly heavy bidding at $1,078 (est. $100-$200). A painted Mid-Atlantic Windsor settee sold for $1,135, and a period Sheraton globe stand with 1960s globe competed to $1,475.

Other strong regional material included a small Kentucky alphabet sampler signed and dated 1811, $908, and a Tennessee long rifle stamped William Beals (working 1850-1870), $3,632. A scarce 1844 Mitchell’s map of Missouri and Arkansas reached $1,248 (est. $700-$900).

An Edward S. Curtis orotone entitled The Maid of Dreams, in original frame with label remnants, made $7,377. An Alaskan baleen basket, made and signed by Marvin Sabvan Peter (1911-1962), brought $1,078, and a carte-de-visite of the 10th U.S. Calvary encampment, Grierson’s Springs, Texas, along with a CDV of three Native Americans soared to $1,362 (est. $200-$300).

A Hawaii Calabash poi bowl, 15 1/4 inches in diameter and with numerous repairs, brought $3,859, while four smaller poi bowls, signed “Kamani,” brought $737 and $794 per pair. Case noted the consignor’s grandmother purchased the bowls from the Iolani Palace in the early 1940s. The winning bidder was acting on behalf of the Iolani Palace, which became a museum in 1978.

Other notable lots included a 1925 Steinway Model M baby grand piano, $10,442; an elaborate late-19th century carved ivory bust of Mary Queen of Scots, which opened to reveal a triptych with a scene from the assassination of Joseph Riccio, $2,610; and an elaborate Rococo-style chased coin silver water pitcher with retailer’s mark for J.E. Caldwell, which descended in a Virginia family, $2,497.

For more information, contact the main gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the Nashville branch office at (615) 812-6096, or visit the company’s website, www.caseantiques.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


An abstract acrylic on canvas by Friedel Dzubas (German/American, 1915-1994), titled ‘Malmoe' and dated 1974, sold for $24,175 (est. $8,000-$12,000).

An abstract acrylic on canvas by Friedel Dzubas (German/American, 1915-1994), titled ‘Malmoe’ and dated 1974, sold for $24,175 (est. $8,000-$12,000).


An alkaline glazed jug with glass rutile drip, stamped

An alkaline glazed jug with glass rutile drip, stamped


Edward Sheriff Curtis' orotone ‘The Maid of Dreams,' 1909 signed in negative lower right, retains the original Curtis Studio frame and original title label on back. It sold for $7,377. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

Edward Sheriff Curtis’ orotone ‘The Maid of Dreams,’ 1909 signed in negative lower right, retains the original Curtis Studio frame and original title label on back. It sold for $7,377. Image courtesy Case Antiques.


This coin silver pitcher marked 'J. E. Caldwell, Philadelphia,'sold for $2,497. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

This coin silver pitcher marked ‘J. E. Caldwell, Philadelphia,’sold for $2,497. Image courtesy Case Antiques.


Selling as one lot were three CDV images of Native Americans and a CDV of 10th U.S. Calvary encampment at Grierson Springs, Texas. The lot made $1,362. The unit was formed in Leavenworth, Kan., in 1866 as an African-American regiment. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

Selling as one lot were three CDV images of Native Americans and a CDV of 10th U.S. Calvary encampment at Grierson Springs, Texas. The lot made $1,362. The unit was formed in Leavenworth, Kan., in 1866 as an African-American regiment. Image courtesy Case Antiques.


Signed and dated 1811, this Kentucky alphabet sampler sold for $908. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

Signed and dated 1811, this Kentucky alphabet sampler sold for $908. Image courtesy Case Antiques.


This Sand Mountain, Ala., double-dipped alkaline glazed jug with combed sine wave incising, sold for $3,632. Image courtesy Case Antiques.

This Sand Mountain, Ala., double-dipped alkaline glazed jug with combed sine wave incising, sold for $3,632. Image courtesy Case Antiques.


3 drawer chest TN.jpg<br width=‘J.B. Harlow, Knoxville, Tenn.,’ signed the back of this Tennessee chest of drawers. With its scalloped and inlaid skirt and original brasses, the chest finished at $3,859. Image courtesy Case Antiques.” title=”3 drawer chest TN.jpg
‘J.B. Harlow, Knoxville, Tenn.,’ signed the back of this Tennessee chest of drawers. With its scalloped and inlaid skirt and original brasses, the chest finished at $3,859. Image courtesy Case Antiques.” class=”caption” />

Treasure hunter may be victim of deceased prankster

ST. LOUIS (AP) – An Illinois woman who set out on a treasure hunt for buried gold coins after finding a cryptic note in an antique rocking chair may have been the victim of a prolific prankster who died more than 30 years ago.

With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken recently tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill., where a typewritten note signed by “Chauncey Wolcott” – found in an old chair she bought at auction last November – suggested she would find a chest containing more than $250 in U.S. gold coins.

The dig turned up nothing but bricks and old bottles. Henken planned to return Tuesday with the donated services of a man with ground-penetrating radar meant to detect any buried items, but the treasure note’s promise may already be debunked.

An Iowa woman who read news accounts of the hunt said she knows Wolcott’s true identity: John “Jay” Slaven, a notorious practical joker and coin collector who often used a typewriter in his pranks.

Slaven used the pen name “Chauncey Wolcott” and lived for decades at the location where the dig took place, until his 1976 death, according to Betty Atkinson Ryan of Mason City, Iowa. She e-mailed a columnist for the State Journal-Register of Springfield to set the record straight.

Atkinson Ryan told the newspaper that Slaven was her boss in the Journal-Register’s classified advertising department decades ago. She said Slaven often used a typewriter to compose some of his jokes and signed them “Chauncey Wolcott.” The newspaper said archived news articles described Slaven as an actor with a “booming voice” that he used in television appearances, about 50 radio shows and to narrate the annual Illinois State Fair film.

Ryan does not have a listed home telephone number and could not be reached by The Associated Press on Sunday.

Henken’s life got interesting in May when, while prying off the seat of a rickety rocking chair she bought at auction five months earlier, she discovered a small envelope with “Finders Keepers” typewritten on it. Inside, a key was taped to a typed note.

“This DEXTER key (number sign) 50644T will unlock a lead chest,” the note began, before spelling out a location in Springfield – 1028 N. Fifth St. – where a chest containing more than $250 in U.S. gold coins supposedly was buried 12 feet below ground.

The stash, the note claimed, included eight $20 gold pieces, six $10 gold pieces, five $5 gold pieces, three $2 1/2 dollar gold pieces and two $1 gold pieces.

The undated note, signed by a “Chauncey Wolcott,” included a request to contact the Springfield newspaper if the chest was ever found.

It wasn’t.

Henken, of Mount Sterling, Ill., said Sunday that she was disappointed there’s no closure but still was hopeful Slaven may have left something to unearth.

“My friends feel like I was cheated out of finalizing this,” said the 48-year-old Henken, a clerk at the post office in Mount Sterling. “There’s something down there. He wouldn’t play a practical joke without leaving me something.”

That property’s current owners gave Henken permission to tear up the site in search of the supposed booty if they got an equal share of any find. But they pulled the plug on any more digging now that Slaven may have pulled one over on everyone.

“It’s done, other than me fixing up their (torn-up) yard,” Henken said. “It’s been fun, though. I’d do it again tomorrow. I just hope my life isn’t so boring from now on.”

She’s not averse to a copycat caper.

“I fully expect to do something like this before I die,” she said. “But I would leave them something to find, a clue to who I was and not leave them wondering what kind of sick person would make them do this.”

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

AP-CS-10-04-09 1703EDT

 

The U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division describes this Lincoln Limousine as the one used by President Calvin Coolidge circa 1924. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Museum officials ask, ‘Did Calvin Coolidge use this Lincoln?’

The U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division describes this Lincoln Limousine as the one used by President Calvin Coolidge circa 1924. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division describes this Lincoln Limousine as the one used by President Calvin Coolidge circa 1924. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

FAIRLEE, Vt. (AP) – Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge may have apparently liked the Lincoln.

While flashier Pierce Arrows dominated the White House fleet of vehicles, Calvin Coolidge was the first president to have a Lincoln – an understatedly elegant car fitting for a modest president.

The state of Vermont is now contemplating buying a different car – a 1923 Lincoln believed to have been used by the 30th president – in hopes of displaying it at Coolidge’s boyhood home, now a museum, in Plymouth.

Officials say the car will draw more visitors to the historic site and Vermont and build up the state’s Coolidge collection.

“There isn’t a lot of Calvin Coolidge memorabilia left,” said State Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, a member of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation board. The vehicle may be one of the few tangible pieces of personal property that the state can acquire, he said.

But there’s no official documentation that the maroon-and-black passenger sedan, with its whitewall tires, nickel-plated instruments and walnut window trim and steering wheel was in fact Coolidge’s.

An appraiser is still analyzing and researching the vehicle but so far hasn’t found any paperwork linking it to Coolidge or his administration.

“There’s no tangible evidence. There’s a lot of theories but I can’t wave a piece of paper in the air and say this is it,” said Dave Brownell of East Dorset.

“At the end of the day, you got to say, ‘wouldn’t it be nice?'”

The car’s owner, Frank J. Barrett, of Fairlee, Vt., says he learned of the Coolidge link through a magazine article and a previous owner. A 1981 Cars and Parts magazine story featured a 1923 Lincoln whose then-owner said was assigned to Coolidge when he was vice president under President Warren Harding. When Harding died in office in 1923, the car may have followed Coolidge into the White House becoming part of the official fleet; it was later assigned to Coolidge’s secretary of state, Frank Kellogg, the magazine article said. Years later, a U.S. Treasury Department employee bought the car and kept it until the 1970s, Barrett said.

Barrett, who bought the car in 2004, said he called the previous owner and determined by the serial number and other physical characteristics it was the same car.

It’s not unusual that no records exist if the government owned it, officials said.

“The Secret Service, they didn’t keep itemized control over the White House automobile fleet,” said Rick Peuser, supervisory archivist for the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The Ford Motor Co. and the White House Historical Association also have no evidence.

Just because there’s no documentation, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. But sometimes myths or brushes with fame attach to antique cars, which can be hard to prove, said David Schultz, a car historian in Ohio and editor of the Lincoln Owners’ Club newsletter.

“This comes up all the time. This car was owned by Clark Gable, this car was owned by … ,” he said.

In this case, Lincoln made 1,195 of the ’23, H-129s, it’s most popular closed car that year, which sold for $4,900 new, he said.

Today, the Lincoln Owners’ Club, which covers the earlier Lincolns, has a record of just one – Barrett’s.

State officials aren’t questioning the car’s past. They’re awaiting the appraisal.

“It’s quite likely that it is (Coolidge’s car) from the research that he has done,” said John Dumville, head of the state’s historic sites.

Barrett bought the car from a Texas dealer in 2004 for $25,000 and estimates he’s put at least $50,000 into it.

Depending on the price, Illuzzi envisions acquiring it through a public-private partnership, with the Coolidge Memorial Foundation raising half the money.

If it turns out it the car isn’t connected to Coolidge, the state won’t lose out, said Barrett, a board member of the foundation, who plans to sell it and partly gift it to the museum based on the appraisal.

Officials say the Coolidge-era car would draw more visitors to Plymouth, a preserved village where Coolidge took the oath of office after Harding’s death and is now buried.

“It’s an added dimension,” Dumville said. “People will come to see it because there’s those car people out there that like to see cars, and this is a unique car and not the type of car you usually see romping around Vermont in road rallies.”

___

On the Net:

President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site:
http://www.historicvermont.org/coolidge/CoolidgeTour.htm

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

AP-ES-10-05-09 0001EDT

Boleslaw Szankowski (Polish, 1873-1953) painted this beguiling beauty in 1923. The oil on canvas portrait measures 30 by 25 1/2 inches. It has an $8,000-$10,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

Art, antiques span three centuries in Jenack’s Oct. 11 auction

Boleslaw Szankowski (Polish, 1873-1953) painted this beguiling beauty in 1923. The oil on canvas portrait measures 30 by 25 1/2 inches. It has an $8,000-$10,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

Boleslaw Szankowski (Polish, 1873-1953) painted this beguiling beauty in 1923. The oil on canvas portrait measures 30 by 25 1/2 inches. It has an $8,000-$10,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

CHESTER, N.Y. – William Jenack Auctioneers will open the fall season with a sale Oct. 11 beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern. The 373-lot auction will include fine art, antiques and collectables spanning the 18th through 20th centuries. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.

Paintings will be among the strongest categories in the sale with such artists as John Pike (American/New York, 1911-1979) watercolor titled Walk in the Woods, 23 by 31 inches, framed and glazed, $1,200-$1,600 estimate; Robert Douglas Hunter (American, 1928-) oil on canvas, Pottery and Copper, signed, 1964. 24 by 48 inches, $6,000-$8,000 estimate; Boleslaw Szankowski (Polish, 1873-1953) oil on canvas, portrait of Zolislade Szankowski, signed and dated 1923, 30 by 25 1/2, $8,000-$10,000 estimate; and a sweeping landscape by Edward Loyal Field (American, 1856-1914) oil on canvas, signed and dated 1912, 20 by 28 inches, $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

The sale also includes a number of Chinese and African items including an impressive Chinese limbi stone scholar’s rock with stand, 20 inches high by 38 inches long, estimated at $8,000-$12,000; a Chinese carved ivory figural snuff bottle, Ching Dynasty, 2 1/2 inches high by 4 1/4 inches long, $1,000-$1,500 estimate; Chinese copper red decorated porcelain wine ewer, Yuan/Ming Dynasties, 15 3/8 inches high, $4,000-$6,000 estimate; Chinese carved ivory monk with wood base, 7 1/4 inches high, $1,000-$1,500 estimate; Chinese Famille Rose decorated porcelain covered vase, bearing spurious Ch’ien Lung mark, late Ching Dynasty, 14 inches high, $500-$800; a large antique African Kuba Raffia textile, estimate $500-$800; a Bakongo carved ivory figure of a seated official, 11 inches high, $300-$500 estimate; and an early Baluba divination figure of a kneeling woman, 19th century, 8 1/4 inches high, $300-$500 estimate.

Also offered will be six lots of baseball related memorabilia. The standout lot from this section of the sale will be a Babe Ruth signed baseball with JSA Authentication #B80507. The ball also has a verbal family history that states that the it was signed in the presence of the consigner’s mother. The single-signed ball, an Official Tober USA College League Ball, has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.

Other baseball lots of note are a 1951-52 Brooklyn Dodgers flannel game-worn uniform of pitcher Carl Erskine, no. 59, which has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate and a 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers “rookie’s” warm-up jacket estimated at $600-$900.

Rounding out the sale will be a selection of silver, silver plate, American art pottery and glass, rugs, carpets, porcelain dinnerware, 19th and 20th century furniture and accessories. Notable among the silver lots are a pair of London sterling compotes with armorial crest, circa 1861-62, $800-$1,200 estimate, and an Amston Donatello sterling hand-chased coffee/tea service, $1,000-$1,500 estimate. A porcelain dinner service made by Minton for Tiffany & Co., has a $500-$800 estimate.

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

Click here to view William J. Jenack Auctioneers’ complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Bearing an armorial crest, this pair of London sterling compotes, dated 1861-62, stands 6 1/4 inches high. The estimate is $800-$1,200. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

Bearing an armorial crest, this pair of London sterling compotes, dated 1861-62, stands 6 1/4 inches high. The estimate is $800-$1,200. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.


This Chinese limbi stone scholar's rock with stand is 20 inches high by 38 inches in length. It has an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

This Chinese limbi stone scholar’s rock with stand is 20 inches high by 38 inches in length. It has an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.


The owner of this single-signed Babe Ruth baseball kept it in game-day condition. It has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

The owner of this single-signed Babe Ruth baseball kept it in game-day condition. It has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.


Robert Douglas Hunter (American, 1928- ) painted this still life in 1964. The 24- by 48-inch oil on canvas has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

Robert Douglas Hunter (American, 1928- ) painted this still life in 1964. The 24- by 48-inch oil on canvas has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate. Image courtesy William Jenack Auctioneers.

The manufacturer of this British-style 1930s Mickey Mouse cast-iron ashtray caddy is unknown. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

Serious Toyz’s online auction winds up Oct. 9-10

The manufacturer of this British-style 1930s Mickey Mouse cast-iron ashtray caddy is unknown. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

The manufacturer of this British-style 1930s Mickey Mouse cast-iron ashtray caddy is unknown. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Fall ’09 Online Vintage Toy & Collectible Auction is being touted as among the most impressive and diverse online auctions of its kind in years and a spectacular opportunity for collectors to bid on an expansive range of classic toys and memorabilia with no reserve prices.

Registration and bidding for the Fall ’09 Online Vintage Toy & Collectible Auction from Serious Toyz is already under way. The sale offers collectors an unparalleled selection of superior vintage toys and collectibles. The auction ends Friday, Oct. 9, at 10 p.m. Eastern for Part One (Character and Classic Toys, 504 lots), and Saturday, Oct. 10, at 10 p.m. Eastern for Part Two (Toy Vehicles, 576 lots). LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding. The online auction is also found at www.serioustoyz.com.

The Serious Toyz online auction features 1,080 lots of vintage toy collectibles from every conceivable category and appealing to every price point. With lots ranging from tin vehicles, Matchbox cars and Disney characters, to superhero lunch boxes and a 1936 celluloid Popeye the Champ, the Serious Toyz ’09 Online Vintage Auction represents a breathtaking array of collectible items from some of the industry’s most noteworthy manufacturers, consignors and collectors of toy ephemera.

While the challenging economy may still have a grip on some sectors, collectors of vintage toys can take heart, said Tom Miano, owner of Serious Toyz. “Vintage toy and collectible auction prices continue to be robust, and in many cases, record setting,” Miano said. “When you combine the expanding popularity of collecting with a finite number of available items, the continual climb in prices for the good stuff does make sense. However, good stuff does not necessarily mean expensive.” Miano said that Serious Toyz prides itself “on bringing the best items we can offer, in a wide range of collecting categories, at all price ranges. This auction is no exception. Every item we offer gets equal treatment, no matter what the ultimate value. And, he added, “We understand it’s not how much you spend, but what it is. A true collector will get the same pleasure from adding a $20 item as from a $2,000 item.”

He pointed out that the Fall ’09 Auction is another breakthrough for Serious Toyz, considering the number of higher-priced items up for grabs. There is already a lot of buzz surrounding a stunning, battery-operated remote control 1956 Mark II Continental, featuring front and rear directional lights, manufactured by Linemar (Marx). The two-door sedan “is one of the rarest tin cars in the world,” Miano said. It is in near pristine condition, and has a minimum bid of $3,500.

Miano noted that the Mark II Continental, as well as a significant number of the early character items offered on the online auction, are courtesy of the collection of a couple who have been ardent toy collectors since the 1970s. “These two were way ahead of the collecting curve,” he pointed out, “and they were able to gather incredible examples of some of the rarest toys – long before the rest of us caught on.”

A majority of the Disney items and cartoons offerings were provided by the couple, in addition to several other important lots, including the 1950s Linemar (Marx) Friction Four Motor Whirling Propeller Airplane with electric wing and tail lights, which is expected to fetch far in excess of its opening bid of $350.

The Serious Toyz Fall ’09 online auction also features numerous pieces consigned by the famed Philadelphia-based brother-and-sister collecting team of Chas and Tracey Rose. “They have once again stepped up with an amazing array of Batman and other superhero collectibles,” Mr. Miano says. “They are among the top Batman collectors in the United States,” Miano added.

The Vehicles portion of the online auction features a wide range of items from the collection of Dr. Douglas Sadecky, one of the most significant collectors in the country and a respected price guide author. “Most of the Matchbox and Hot Wheels lots are his,” Miano said, “as well as a number of other important tin and pressed steel offerings.” A majority of the Beatles lots also belong to Dr. Sadecky, he said.

The auction also features more from the fantastic Greyhound Bus collection of Paul Reif, Miano said. A range of battery-operated toys is also available – all opening at $10, with no reserves. The sale will also include a large number of lots from Jim Piatti, author of Collecting Firefighting Toys.

Other standouts at the auction include a 1964 battery-operated Dux-Astroman Electric Robot with a beginning bid of $750. Miano is confident the 12-inch German-made robot will reach $1,500 or more. Another coveted item is a fully equipped 1965 James Bond attaché case. “It’s one of the Holy Grails of Bond collecting,” Miano said. With an initial bid of $495, the case and its contents should also garner significantly more.

Miano stressed that Serious Toyz online auctions have no “sudden-death” endings; each item has its own computerized clock, and items will close individually when 60 minutes pass without a bid. As such, there is no advantage to or need for participants to wait until the last minute to place their bids, especially if they’re bidding by phone. Bidding before the closing days and using ceiling bids are both advisable, he adds. Preregistration with a valid credit card is required before a bid can be placed.

For details contact Tom or Patti Miano toll-free at 866-OLD-TOYZ (866-653-8699) or via email at serioustoyz@pipeline.com. Visit their Web site at www.serioustoyz.com.

Click here to view Serious Toyz’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


The boxed 1961 Matchbox Foden Cement Truck, #26B, with gray barrel variation, is considered rare. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

The boxed 1961 Matchbox Foden Cement Truck, #26B, with gray barrel variation, is considered rare. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.


Linemar's tin battery-operated, remote-control Mark II Continental car comes with the original box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

Linemar’s tin battery-operated, remote-control Mark II Continental car comes with the original box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.


Made in Germany, this remote-control 1964 Dux-Astroman Electric Robot, is mint in the box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

Made in Germany, this remote-control 1964 Dux-Astroman Electric Robot, is mint in the box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.


The Linemar Friction Four Motor Whirling Propeller Airplane in the box dates to the 1950s and has U.S. Navy markings. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

The Linemar Friction Four Motor Whirling Propeller Airplane in the box dates to the 1950s and has U.S. Navy markings. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.


Linemar produced the Mechanical Juggling Popeye & Olive Oyl toy in the 1950s. This example is near mint in the box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

Linemar produced the Mechanical Juggling Popeye & Olive Oyl toy in the 1950s. This example is near mint in the box. Image courtesy Serious Toyz.

The ‘Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends’ exhibition at Kansas City’s Union Station includes all 10 of the artist’s Campbell’s Soup screenprints. Image courtesy Ro Galleries and Live Auctioneers Archives.

Kansas City’s Union Station welcomes Warhol

The ‘Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends’ exhibition at Kansas City’s Union Station includes all 10 of the artist’s Campbell’s Soup screenprints. Image courtesy Ro Galleries and LiveAuctioneers Archives.

The ‘Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends’ exhibition at Kansas City’s Union Station includes all 10 of the artist’s Campbell’s Soup screenprints. Image courtesy Ro Galleries and LiveAuctioneers Archives.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The psychedelic image of Marilyn Monroe’s face dominating the front of Union Station is a bold announcement that something different is afoot.

Workers have installed the station’s first out-and-out art exhibit with a major collection of 84 pieces by Andy Warhol.

It’s not profound as in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s not unnerving as in Bodies Revealed. It’s not candy as in The Chronicles of Narnia. But the new exhibit runs through Jan. 10 has a bit of all that.

Station officials hope Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends will appeal to a broad audience.

“I encounter in people all the time an expectation that Union Station should be doing new and different things and testing boundaries,” said Christopher Leitch, director of the Kansas City Museum and the station’s project manager for the exhibit.

Warhol once said that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. He died in 1987, but his art and reputation have endured. Warhol worked at the intersection of art and popular culture, and his name became synonymous with Pop Art. He worked in many media, including film. The Union Station exhibit is composed exclusively of silkscreen prints on loan from Bank of America.

It features Warhol’s “unique interpretations of American consumerism, pop culture and an obsession with visual identity,” according to Lillian Lambrechts, senior curator for Bank of America.

The works span Warhol’s career. There’s the familiar, such as the Marilyn portrait and 10 Campbell’s soup cans. But the subjects also encompass a Birmingham, Ala., race riot, endangered species and portraits of Jews of the 20th century. There is a set of wildflower prints. The portraits range from Howdy Doody to Uncle Sam to Muhammad Ali to Robert Mapplethorpe.

“These prints are exquisitely made and beautifully framed,” Leitch said. “This is an excellent presentation.”

The exhibit is self-guided with printed programs and a recorded guide that can be downloaded. There is an opportunity at the end for a hands-on exercise in color.

Other Warhol exhibits currently at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kan., and at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita are composed of photographic works and are complementary to the Union Station exhibit.

Bank of America has long been a patron of Union Station, contributing to the annual Memorial Day concert as well as to the creation of the lower-level exhibit space where the Warhol show will be presented.

The exhibit will coincide with the 10th anniversary, on Nov. 10, of Union Station’s reopening. President and chief executive officer George Guastello said he was excited to be offering Warhol’s works.

“One good icon deserves another,” he said in a promotional statement.

But officials have no illusion that the Warhol exhibit will solve the station’s financial difficulties.

Union Station’s operating costs far exceed the revenue it brings in, and the board of directors has told the Kansas City Council that the station will need public support to stay open.

They conservatively project attendance at about 16,000. Tickets, on sale now, are priced lower than those of the blockbuster shows of recent years.

Admission for those 13 and older is $12. For children 3-12 and for Union Station members, it is $8. Group rates also are available. Call 816-460-2020 for more information.

The exhibit will remain open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.

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

AP-CS-10-03-09 1501EDT

Tyrannosaurus rex still looking for home after Vegas auction

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex is still looking for a home after bidders failed to meet the minimum price Saturday at a Las Vegas auction. But auction house Bonhams & Butterfields is in negotiations with a number of institutions and individuals, and Tom Lindgren, the company’s natural history director, said he’s confident a sale will be completed in the next couple of weeks.

The auctioneer had hoped bids would top $6 million for the T. rex dubbed “Samson.” The highest bid at Saturday’s auction at the Venetian hotel-casino was $3.7 million.

Lindgren said the owner had sought to sell the dinosaur as soon as possible, leaving potential bidders scrambling to quickly come up with the money.

“A number of bidders are still trying to get their financing in line,” he said. “I think we’ll have a home for her pretty soon.”

Experts say the 170 fossilized bones discovered about 17 years ago in South Dakota represent more than half the skeleton of a 40-foot-long, 7.5-ton dinosaur that lived 66 million years ago.

A similar T. rex fossil sold for $8.3 million in 1997 and is now housed at the Field Museum in Chicago. That dinosaur, named “Sue,” is 42 feet long and has more than 200 bones.

Lindgren said Samson is the third most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered and has the finest skull of all T. rexes ever found.

The female dinosaur’s lower jaw was found by the son of a rancher in 1987. Northeast Kansas fossil hunter Alan Detrich was involved in making a deal with the rancher, and the fossil was excavated with the help of another Kansas fossil collector, Fred Nuss.

It was sold twice to private owners and is now owned by an American whom Lindgren wouldn’t name.

About 50 other lots fetched $1.76 million Saturday. World records included $458,000 for a duck-billed dinosaur, $440,000 for a pair of dinosaurs and $422,000 for a Kansas King Fish, Lindgren said.

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

AP-CS-10-03-09 2107EDT

 

An aerial view shows Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah, where traces of the ancient Pueblo Peoples' culture can be found. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

A town’s love of Indian artifacts backfires

An aerial view shows Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah, where traces of the ancient Pueblo Peoples' culture can be found. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

An aerial view shows Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah, where traces of the ancient Pueblo Peoples’ culture can be found. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

BLANDING, Utah (AP) – High above the spiky sandstone spine known as Comb Ridge that snakes for 120 miles through the desert, archaeologist Winston Hurst treads carefully through a cave of ruins.

The sun blazes down, illuminating the ghostly dwellings carved into the alcoves more than a thousand years ago. To a stranger the pre-Columbian pueblo ruins seem breathtakingly intact – walls and windows and rooms still standing, storage chambers for corn strewn with thousand-year-old cobs, large stone grinding slabs and brightly colored pottery sherds scattered throughout.

The archaeologist sees only destruction.

Driving to the ridge down a bumpy desert road across a plain dotted with sagebrush, cottonwood and pinon, Hurst pointed to trashed “pit houses” dating from A.D. 500-700 – distinctive mounds in the brush, where looters have dug for the ancient Indian tools, pottery, jewelry and blankets traditionally buried with the dead.

In the cave, more desecration. Centuries-old rock petroglyphs depicting animals and people and tools are daubed with modern graffiti, from “H.E.E.” (the Hyde Exploration Expedition of 1892) to “Liz Jones, age 8, 2003.”

A few yards away, another, more telling signature: the archeologist’s own name, scratched into a rock when he was a 12-year-old boy and scrambling through ruins collecting arrowheads was a way of life.

The name is barely legible, gouged out by local artifact hunters who consider Hurst a turncoat. He shakes his head sadly. “I have been where they are … they have not been where I am,” says Hurst, 62, who as a teen, once stored his prized collection of ancient bones next to his mother’s canned peaches.

Growing up, one of Hurst’s closest friends was Jim Redd, who went on to become a beloved rural doctor. But their friendship faltered over artifacts. While Redd continued digging and collecting, Hurst became a champion of preservation, passionate about the need to leave pieces of the past in place.

“He couldn’t stand my sermonizing and I felt sick every time he showed me his latest collection,” Hurst says, though Redd remained his doctor.

Their two worlds collided this summer when 150 federal agents swooped into the region, arresting 26 people at gunpoint and charging them with looting Indian graves and stealing priceless archaeological treasures from public and tribal lands.

Seventeen of those arrested, most of them handcuffed and shackled, were from Blanding, including some of the town’s most prominent citizens: Harold Lyman, 78, grandson of the pioneering Mormon family that founded the town, David Lacy, 55, high school math teacher and brother of the county sheriff.

And 60-year-old Jim Redd, along with his wife and adult daughter.

The next day, the doctor drove to a pond on his property and killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning. Another defendant, from Santa Fe, N.M., shot himself a week later.

The suicides horrified this town of about 4,000 with many bitterly blaming the government. More than a thousand people attended Redd’s funeral, even as the mayor denounced the FBI and Bureau of Land Management agents as “storm troopers” and the sheriff called for a formal investigation.

For many, the recriminations and grief masked more complicated questions – questions that have dogged the town for decades.

Here, in one of the country’s richest archaeological regions – where the ruins of ancient pueblos are tucked into towering sandstone cliffs and pottery, arrowheads and Clovis points are scattered above old trails – how should the past be protected and preserved? And in a place where “pot-hunting” has been a way of life for more than a century, who, if anyone, owns that past?

___

“Chindi” is how the Navajo describe the evil spirits they believe inhabit the bones and possessions of the dead – spirits that can poison a person or place if they are disturbed, spirits that some believe have poisoned this town.

Even Navajo patients who revered Redd spoke sorrowfully of how the chindi had ruined his life. And, though many voiced unhappiness at what they saw as the heavy-handedness of the arrests, there was little doubt the Redds – who had been charged with grave digging in the past – knew they were breaking the law. After the raids, authorities removed two moving vans full of artifacts from the Redd home. Redd’s wife, Jeanne, was sentenced to three years probation and a $2,000 fine after pleading guilty to seven counts of trafficking in stolen artifacts and theft of artifacts on government and tribal lands.

It is a felony to take any artifact, even a fragment, from public land. There are also laws requiring the repatriation of human remains and sacred ceremonial artifacts to tribes.

But laws can’t change attitudes or traditions, or make much of a dent in the thriving black market where prehistoric Indian artifacts can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. And in the vast cliffs and mesas of the Four Corners region, where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico intersect, where a handful of rangers from the National Parks Service and the Bureau of Land Management oversee millions of acres, enforcement is practically impossible.

Archeologists like Hurst say it’s up to them to try and educate people, to change “hearts and minds.” But there are many who believe the arrests have only hardened the very hearts and minds that need to change.

“I’m not against them enforcing the laws, but why do they have to kill us at the same time,” says Austin Lyman, a case worker at the senior center, who has vehement opinions about the raids, and his own unique way of expressing them:

“Like Jackals from hell they came,

With bullet proof vests and guns,

They came to arrest old men.”

Lyman, a burly, ruddy-faced man of 62, penned Paradise Has Been Raided Again on June 10, the day of the raids. He reads it aloud, eyes burning, voice cracking with emotion.

Behind him, taped to a cabinet next to posters of Elvis, is a smiling picture of Redd, Lyman’s personal physician and one of his best friends. Three of Lyman’s brothers, Harold, Dale and Raymond, all in their 70s, were arrested, and Lyman is still bitter about a similar raid that targeted his father in 1986.

Lyman’s grandfather, Walter, founded the town in the early 1900s and the family name is one of the most respected in these parts. Harold, who volunteers at the local visitors center, was recently inducted into Utah’s Tourism Hall of Fame.

Growing up, Lyman says, collecting arrowheads was like collecting seashells and ancient pots were so numerous they were used for target practice. His brothers weren’t “hardened criminals or grave robbers,” Lyman says, “just harmless old men who like arrowheads.”

Prosecutors paint a far different picture, describing a tight-knit ring that plundered pristine archaeological sites, desecrated Indian graves and stole ancient artifacts, selling them to dealers and collectors connected to the network.

Authorities refuse to comment directly on the investigation, code-named Cerberus Action after the multi-headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the underworld. But court documents describe a 2 1/2-year sting in which undercover informant Ted Gardiner, wearing wires and taking photographs, ingratiated himself into the network, spending more than $335,000 on Anasazi pottery, ceremonial masks, a buffalo headdress, jewelry and sandals associated with ancient burials.

With the FBI watching every move, Gardiner – identified only as “the source” in documents, though his identity is known in town – infiltrated a secretive world of diggers and dealers who looted by moonlight or in camouflage, flew in small planes searching for ruins, and thought nothing of kicking out skeletons and skulls.

Gardiner, a well-connected Utah dealer who was paid $224,000 for his undercover work, visited the homes of suspects with wads of cash as well as wires. He paid David Lacy more than $11,000 for a digging stick, a turkey feather blanket, sandals dug from burial sites and a menstrual loincloth, among other items.

Lacy’s brother is San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy, a sturdy, fast-talking man of 60 who is so incensed about how the raids were handled – and about being kept in the dark – he has asked Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett for a formal investigation.

“This was the biggest grandstanding stunt I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Lacy, whose father was sheriff before him, and who personally knows most of those arrested.

Driving through town in his sheriff’s van, Lacy points to all that Blanding has done to preserve its archaeological heritage – the Edge of the Cedars Museum, filled with Indian artifacts and an excavated pre-Columbian ruin; the Four Corners Cultural Center, and its reproductions of a Navajo hogan, Ute tepee, and a pioneer log cabin; even the new hospital, which hosts a Native American healing center.

Lacy pulls up at his house, a modest Cape on a neat suburban road, and strides over to a small rise beneath an apricot and apple grove in his backyard.

“There are ruins buried here,” he says, gesturing at the ground. “There are ruins everywhere in Blanding. Anyone who owns a few acres owns a mound or a ruin.”

For now, Lacy has no interest in digging what is likely an ancient pit-house, though legally he is entitled to do so. Unlike many countries where antiquities belong to the state regardless of where they are found, in the United States artifacts belong to the owner if they are discovered on private land.

Lacy’s wife is a Shumway, a relative of the notorious Earl Shumway, who in the 1980s and 1990s bragged about ransacking thousands of sites, including graves – “Around here, it’s not a crime. It’s a way of life,” he famously says. Shumway was eventually convicted and sentenced to more than six years in jail, though only after he had informed on other pot-hunters, rounded up in a raid in 1986.

The combined effect of the two raids, says Lacy, is a community living in fear that innocent people will be locked up for owning a pot that has been in their family for generations.

“Blanding will never get over it,” the sheriff says. “And it’s not going to stop people collecting.”

___

Curator Marci Hadenfeldt strolls through the cool, softly lit floors of the Edge of the Cedars museum, past cases of exquisitely decorated pots, baskets, tools and jewelry – one of the largest collections of Anasazi artifacts in the Southwest.

Most displays have an official note identifying the artifact, describing where it was excavated, and the era it dates to. Hadenfeldt stops at the largest collection – shelves of ceramic pots, hundreds of them, dazzling in their colors, shapes and geometric designs. The note next to the case states “Provenience Unknown.”

Hadenfeldt sighs. Though the collection, much of it dug up illegally by Earl Shumway, is stunning, it is worthless in an archaeological sense.

“When things are looted you lose the context and the story of the piece in addition to the archaeological record,” Hadenfeldt says. “The items are lovely and we can conjecture about where they might have come from, but we can’t be sure.”

There are signs throughout the museum explaining the laws, exhorting visitors to be good cultural stewards by leaving artifacts in place, even small pieces they might stumble upon hiking. “This is not just a good thing to do,” the signs say, “it is the law.”

But it is impossible to police. Every so often the museum will receive a box of pottery pieces, along with a note of apology, in the mail – sherds collected by hikers who later have regrets. The gesture is useless, Hadenfeldt says. The damage was done when they were removed in the first place.

There are dozens more artifact collections around town – in private homes, in trading posts, and in a most unlikely looking log cabin on the outskirts of town.

Huck’s Museum and Trading Post is an astonishing place, its modest exterior hiding a vast trove of history and archaeology – rooms filled with arrowheads, thousands of them, metates, pots, atlatls, gourds, sandals, bone rings, beads, feathers, axes and jewelry.

“Huck” is Hugh Acton, stooped, whiskered and gravelly voiced, who jokes that at 81 he’s an artifact himself. He charges $5 for a tour, and then spends over an hour shuffling from one room to the next talking passionately about the pieces and how he acquired them.

Acton, who has been collecting all his life, says he does so out of a genuine love for the past, and a desire to share it with everyone. His artifacts came from legitimate collections and dealers, he says, and are not for sale. It is legal to own artifacts that have been in circulation for decades, before laws protecting them were passed.

Acton grows serious talking about the raids, which he says have made collectors and dealers so jittery that people are nervous about doing business as usual.

“It should cure people of digging,” Acton says, “but it won’t.”

At the Thin Bear Indian Arts trading post on the other side of town, Bob Hosler, 75, says the same thing. “It’s not moral to dig in graves, but you can find this damn stuff everywhere,” says Hosler, who claims to have once aimed a shotgun at pot-hunters digging on his land.

Hosler’s small, dark store is crammed with traditional Indian jewelry, arrowheads, baskets and pots. Some are ancient artifacts that he found on his property, he says. Others he has owned for years.

Like other traders, Hosler believes illegal digging will persist because it’s ingrained in the local culture and because the market is so lucrative. High-end galleries in Santa Fe can sell Navajo blankets and kachina dolls for hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are dozens of sites selling Indian artifacts on the Internet. As recently as May, Sothebys auctioned a classic Navajo blanket for $53,000.

The raids, which he calls “government entrapment of old men,” have only cemented attitudes about pot-hunting and about federal interference in local affairs, Hosler says.

As he vents, a couple of women walk in carrying trays of handmade beaded jewelry. They are members of the Benally family, from the Najavo reservation south of Blanding and they have been trading with Hosler for years. They have nothing but kind words for the dealer, who greets them in Navajo and asks after their families.

But they have very different views about the raids.

“It’s wrong,” says Melinda Cottman, 38. “We were taught not to touch artifacts, not to dig, to leave the dead alone. To do otherwise is to bring sickness and bad luck. To bring the chindi.”

___

“We all own the past,” argues Ramona Morris, spokeswoman for the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association, which represents collectors and dealers around the country. “It is our collective heritage.”

Morris, a collector from Virginia, says the raids sent a chill through association members, many of whom have been dealing in artifacts for decades. Though they can claim legitimate title and scrupulously follow the laws, she says, they are worried about having to suddenly prove they are legal. And they fear the entire industry has been branded as unscrupulous, and criminal.

She describes collectors as “caretakers … trying to preserve and show the value of other people’s cultures.”

But many Navajo, who believe that for over a century their ancestors’ graves have been looted for private gain, have a very different view.

In his gallery in Bluff, 25 miles south of Blanding, Curtis Yanito delicately polishes a traditional, handcrafted cedar flute as he ponders the past and the people who want to own it.

Soft-spoken and deliberate, the 42-year-old Navajo artist has no sympathy for pot-hunters or collectors or even archeologists. He is impatient with those who argue that digging used to be legal; slavery was once legal, too, he says.

Yanito’s gallery is filled with beautifully crafted contemporary pieces – traditional blankets and bowls, sand paintings and jewelry, most of it handmade by Yanito’s extended family. There are no prehistoric pots or arrowheads. Yanito wouldn’t dream of entering a ruin.

“The cliff dwellings are ALL grave sites and everyone knows that,” he says. “The dead should be left alone.”

Yanito, son of a medicine man, grew up in a traditional hogan on the nearby reservation where he still lives. He knows the history of the region as well as anyone, how “pot-hunting” began in the late 1800s when a Colorado rancher discovered the Anasazi ruins in Mesa Verde.

He knows the “white-man laws” designed to protect native artifacts and burials – from the 1906 Antiquities Act which introduced penalties for people taking or destroying artifacts without permission, to the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which called for the return of ancestral remains, burial objects and other “cultural items.”

And he knows the objections of collectors and dealers – that NAGPRA is too vague, that its penalties are too great (first-time violators face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine), that any tribe can claim an object is sacred and demand it back.

Such arguments strike Yanito as hollow. He believes that all ancient artifacts, ruins and burials – including those on private lands – should be left undisturbed. He points to the example of a well-known Santa Fe dealer, Forrest Fenn, who owns and is privately excavating an entire pueblo settlement on his land. (Fenn’s home was raided as part of the investigation, though he has not been charged.)

“Why should he be entitled to these things,” Yanito asks. “Who gives him that right? Why should someone think it is OK to dig up and sell an ancient menstrual cloth, he continues,” his voice filled with disgust. “That is pure evil.”

Yanito picks up the flute and starts playing, a slow, haunting, Navajo tune about living in harmony with nature, about living in harmony with each other. There is no harmony when there is looting, Yanito says, after he finishes. There is no harmony in Blanding these days.

Outside, the sun sets over the sagebrush plains of the reservation that stretches out along the San Juan River, and over the jagged sandstone cliffs that soar into the sky.

Those cliffs own the past, Yanito says, glancing up at them as he locks up his store. And that is where the past belongs.

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

AP-ES-10-04-09 0003EDT

Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado was one of many sites where Anasazi relics were found. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Long-standing attitudes about ‘pot-hunting’ persist

Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado was one of many sites where Anasazi relics were found. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado was one of many sites where Anasazi relics were found. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The “pot-hunting” culture of the Southwest dates back to the 1800s, when a Colorado ranching family began exploring and excavating the ruined cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, an ancient civilization that flourished centuries ago.

Richard Wetherill and his brothers discovered entire homes filled with decorated pottery, jewelry, tools, sandals and finely woven baskets dating from about 600 to 1300. Thousands of grave sites, where the dead were wrapped in blankets and buried with their most valuable possessions, also were discovered.

The findings, and the archaeological treasures the Wetherills brought back from their expeditions, drew national and international attention – and launched a lucrative trade in Indian artifact collecting that has persisted, legally and illegally, to this day.

Attitudes were different a century ago, when archeologists trained people to dig and the University of Utah paid locals $2 for an ancient pot. But the wholesale ransacking of ancient puebloan ruins and graves – whole skeletons, called mummies, were repeatedly dug up – alarmed conservationists.

In 1906, the Antiquities Act was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, establishing the first legal protections for cultural and natural resources in the United States. The law also designated Mesa Verde in Colorado, the largest and most spectacular site, as a national park.

But enforcement was practically impossible, and illegal digging continued throughout the vast desert cliffs and mesas of the Four Corners region. Other laws were passed over the years, including the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, which greatly increased the penalties for looting on federal and tribal lands.

Defendants in recent raids across the Southwest were charged with violations of this law, and of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which calls for human remains, cultural and sacred objects to be repatriated to tribes.

The 1990 act, passed after Native Americans testified in Congressional hearings that the spirits of their ancestors would not rest until they were reburied, required museums and universities around the country to inventory all items considered sacred or cultural and to return hundreds of thousands of skeletons.

While the tribes say these laws are essentially a civil rights issue, righting the wrongs of a century of desecration, dealers argue that NAGPRA is vague and unfair. In Santa Fe, some dealers had artifacts seized which they insist had been openly traded or exhibited in collections for decades.

Enforcement is further complicated by the fact that it is legal to excavate artifacts on private property, except burial sites. It is also legal to purchase items from others who have obtained them lawfully or by inheritance.

For all who complain about the laws, there are many who think the problem isn’t the rules, but long-standing attitudes about collecting.

“The information is out there about what is allowed and what is not,” said Alan Downer, of the Navajo Nation’s historic preservation department, which works with museums to properly return artifacts. “There are ways to acquire these things legally. But people do not have the right to go onto federal or Indian land and take something that does not belong to them.”

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

AP-ES-10-04-09 0004EDT

This is more than a lamp. Hiding under the fringed lampshade is a disc phonograph. This vintage table lamp sold for $1,200 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Oct. 5, 2009

This is more than a lamp. Hiding under the fringed lampshade is a disc phonograph. This vintage table lamp sold for $1,200 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa.

This is more than a lamp. Hiding under the fringed lampshade is a disc phonograph. This vintage table lamp sold for $1,200 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa.

Decorators used to try to hide a phonograph or radio because it did not match the rest of the room’s decor. They still worry about how to hide a stereo or television, but attractive speakers and flat screens have made technology less intrusive. The early 1900s room had to hold a record player with a large horn. Soon horns were made more decorative with painted designs. A few years later, when phonographs could be made with internal sound amplifiers, a record player was often combined with a radio inside a large piece of wooden furniture. There was even space to store records. But one unique solution created about 1925 is the phonograph lamp. The Capital Elect Co. made a table lamp with a fringed fabric shade that covered the working parts of a disc record player. The brass lamp was made to sit on a table so at night it could be lit and turned on to play recorded music. The disc phonograph hidden in a table lamp went out of style quickly and today only a few are ever offered for sale. A restored phonograph lamp, a true conversation piece, sold for $1,200 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa., in August.

Q: I inherited some green Depression glass dishes from my uncle, who bought them in the 1920s. I have the original sales receipt. Where can I find information? I would like to know the value in case I decide to sell them. The dishes are marked on the bottom with the letter “C” within a triangle.

A: Your dishes were made by Cambridge Glass Co. of Cambridge, Ohio. The company was founded in 1901. It closed in 1954, reopened briefly, then closed again in 1958. The mark you describe was used after 1920. It’s impossible to suggest a value for your dishes without knowing the pattern. Cambridge glass dishes can sell for anywhere from under $10 to well over $100.

Q: I have a huge piece of wooden furniture we bought in San Mateo, Calif., in the early 1980s. When we got it home, we had to reconstruct the kitchen to make it fit. It’s made up of a long base of cabinets topped by three revolving glass doors and an upper cabinet of regular glass doors. The facing plate on one section says “O.M. Whitman & Co., Boston, Mass., Patented,” and then lists several dates ranging from June 12, 1883, to Feb. 7, 1899. What do all the dates mean, and what can you tell me about O.M. Whitman?

A: The dates are patent dates that relate to various refrigeration patents obtained by Orrin M. Whitman, the founder of O.M. Whitman & Co. Whitman made refrigerators for grocery stores. The glass-fronted rolling drawers on your furniture were once refrigerated for store displays of butter and cheese.

Q: I need help identifying a canvas banner that says “Jamestown Exposition 1607-1907.” It pictures two Indians watching a ship sailing toward them.

A: Your textile is a souvenir from the Jamestown Exposition, which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the American colonies. The exhibition was held at Sewell’s Point, Va., about 30 miles from the actual site of the settlement. The town of Jamestown was out of existence by the mid-1700s. The exhibition ran from April 26 to Dec. 1, 1907. Your textile is a “crossover collectible” of interest to collectors of historic textiles and memorabilia as well as to those who collect souvenirs from national expositions and World’s Fairs. After the Jamestown Exposition, the land and buildings used there were purchased by the federal government. It’s now part of the Sewell’s Point Naval Complex.

Q: I have a pump organ that belonged to my grandmother in the 1940s or earlier. The family story is that she used it in her one-room schoolhouse in Jackson County, Ohio. It still works. It’s labeled “Crown Organ.” On the back it says, “Geo. Bent, Chicago, U.S.A.” I would appreciate any information you can provide.

A: Crown organs and pianos were made by the George P. Bent Piano Co. The company was founded in about 1870 in Louisville, Ky. In 1881 it advertised itself as a jobber of organs and sewing machines. In 1889 the company moved to Chicago and was awarded several medals at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Sears Roebuck & Co. sold some Crown organs. Bent was bought by Winter Piano Co. in 1927. Plain pump organs sell for about $50 to $100 and up.

Q: I have a figurine of a man in a plumed hat with a red beard, 7 1/2 inches tall. The mark on the bottom looks like a backward “C” connected to a regular letter “C.” Who made it?

A: The mark was used by Cordey China Co., founded by Boleslaw Cybis in Trenton, N.J., in 1942. Cordey made figurines, vases, lamps and other decorative items that were sold in gift shops. It was bought by the Lightron Corp. in 1969 and made lamps under the name Schiller Cordey Co.

Tip: Clocks that are wound from the back should be wound counterclockwise because that’s really clockwise if you’re facing the front of the clock. Never wind an old clock counterclockwise.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

Need more information about collectibles? Find it at Kovels.com, our Web site for collectors. Check prices there, too. More than 700,000 are listed, and viewing them is free. You can also sign up to read our weekly “Kovels Komments.” It includes the latest news, tips and questions and is delivered by e-mail, free, if you register. Kovels.com offers extra collector’s information and lists of publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques and much more. You can also subscribe to Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles, our monthly newsletter filled with prices, facts and color photos. Kovels.com adds to the information in our newspaper column and helps you find useful sources needed by collectors.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Tip tray, “Compliments of Greening Big Nurseries,” image of woman holding white flower, dated 1906, 4 1/2 inches, $55.
  • The Beatles Ringo Starr Soaky, playing drums, soft plastic body, hard plastic head, Nems Enterprises, circa 1965, 9 3/4 inches, $75.
  • Cast-iron lawn sprinkler, walking tractor, green with brass wheels, revolving sprinkler, Pat. No. 2152425, 9 x 21 x 37 inches, $120.
  • Fur muff, one side is doll, the other is kitten head, reversible painted features, cloth face, mohair wig, green glass eyes, circa 1930, 9 1/2 x 8 inches, $130.
  • Beswick porcelain figurine, Old English Sheep Dog, white and black with pink tongue sticking out, sitting upright, 11 x 8 3/4 inches, $245.
  • Steiff studio-size gazelle, tan mohair, brown antlers, glass eyes, ear button and tag, 1960, 45 x 51 inches, $350.
  • Flapper cigarette dispenser, carved wood, push lever to dispense cigarette through flapper’s mouth, 1920s, 6 1/2 inches, $525.
  • Bakelite pin, red spread-winged eagle on shield, black rim, gold shield with three stars, 2 1/2 inches, $1,110.
  • Webb glass and sterling serving spoons, Burmese glass handles with red berries and blue butterflies, 11 1/2 inches, pair, $5,290.
  • Hans Wegner valet chair, handlebar hanger crest rail, bulbous back splat, dish seat with rear handles, hinged front rail lifts to reveal well, Denmark, 1953, $5,520.

Just published: the new full-color Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2010, 42nd edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. This large-size paperback has more than 2,500 color photographs and 47,000 up-to-date prices for more than 700 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, and a report on the record prices of the year, plus helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available at your bookstore; online at Kovels.com; by phone at 800-571-1555; or send $27.95 plus $4.95 postage to Price Book, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2009 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.