Pac-Man Plus video game, 1980s, sold for $525 (hammer) in Dirk Soulis' Nov. 5, 2005 auction. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Dirk Soulis Auctions.

Smithsonian wants help choosing video games for exhibit

Pac-Man Plus video game, 1980s, sold for $525 (hammer) in Dirk Soulis' Nov. 5, 2005 auction. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Dirk Soulis Auctions.

Pac-Man Plus video game, 1980s, sold for $525 (hammer) in Dirk Soulis’ Nov. 5, 2005 auction. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Dirk Soulis Auctions.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Smithsonian American Art Museum is asking the public to help select video games that will be included in its first exhibit to explore the art and visual effects of gaming.

The exhibit, “The Art of Video Games,” is scheduled to open in March 2012 with a focus on the evolution of games as an artistic medium over the past 40 years.

The public can vote online through April 7. Voters can choose 80 games from a pool of 240 choices in various categories. The games on the site were chosen for their graphic appeal, artistic intent and innovative game designs. Results will be posted in May.

The winning games will be displayed at the museum next year as screen shots or short video clips.

___

Online:

Smithsonian American Art Museum
http://www.artofvideogames.org/

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-02-21-11 0401EST


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Pac-Man Plus video game, 1980s, sold for $525 (hammer) in Dirk Soulis' Nov. 5, 2005 auction. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Dirk Soulis Auctions.

Pac-Man Plus video game, 1980s, sold for $525 (hammer) in Dirk Soulis’ Nov. 5, 2005 auction. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Dirk Soulis Auctions.

GOP leader says talks re: sale of Pollock painting’s are over

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A legislative leader in Iowa says talks about the sale of a Jackson Pollock painting valued at $140 million are over for this session because there is little chance of reaching consensus on the issue.

Republican House Appropriations Chairman Scott Raecker says with all the other issues lawmakers are trying to resolve this year continuing debate on the painting’s sale is not a good use of legislative time. He says the gap between both sides in the debate is too wide to reach consensus this year.

Raecker’s announcement Monday comes less than a week after a House appropriations subcommittee voted to sell the painting, which was donated to the University of Iowa in 1951 by art dealer Peggy Guggenheim.

The painting, titled Mural, serves as the centerpiece of the university’s art collection but some lawmakers were considering a proposal to sell it and use the proceeds to fund art scholarships.

University President Sally Mason has urged lawmakers to reject the proposed sale, saying scholarly works given to the university cannot be replaced and that the long-term loss to the state’s image and quality of life would be greater than the proceeds gained from the painting’s sale.

The American Association of Museum’s accreditation commission has also condemned the sale, saying the sale could threaten the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s accreditation.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-02-21-11 1642EST

This version of the Kentucky state license plate with a running horse and the words 'Unbridled Spirit' has been available since 2005. Fair use of low-resolution copyrighted image obtained from http://transportation.ky.gov/mvl/

Arts-minded in Kentucky? There’s a license plate for that

This version of the Kentucky state license plate with a running horse and the words 'Unbridled Spirit'  has been available since 2005. Fair use of low-resolution copyrighted image obtained from http://transportation.ky.gov/mvl/

This version of the Kentucky state license plate with a running horse and the words ‘Unbridled Spirit’ has been available since 2005. Fair use of low-resolution copyrighted image obtained from http://transportation.ky.gov/mvl/

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – The Kentucky Foundation for the Arts wants to make its mark on at least 900 automobiles in the state.

That is the number of applications needed for a new license plate benefiting the arts in Kentucky to begin production.

The foundation on Tuesday unveiled a specialty plate called “Experience the Arts” that was designed by Louisville artist Jeaneen Barnhart. Drivers who choose the plate can designate support for arts groups that receive funding from the Kentucky Arts Council.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet must receive at least 900 applications with a $25 contribution to get the plates into production. License plate applications can be accessed at www.artscouncil.ky.gov.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-02-23-11 0402EST

Richard Harrison: The Old Man on the Vegas strip. Photo credit: Joey L. courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

‘Old Man’ taking Pawn Stars’ sudden fame in stride

Richard Harrison: The Old Man on the Vegas strip. Photo credit: Joey L. courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

Richard Harrison: The Old Man on the Vegas strip. Photo credit: Joey L. courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Long before he became “The Old Man” of Pawn Stars fame, he was known around town as “Benny.”

And while that was several decades ago, Richard Benjamin Harrison still has a soft spot for the community where he lived most of the first 17 years of his life.

“I had a very happy childhood,” Harrison said. “I have many fond memories of Lexington. I want to get back there soon.”

Harrison is star of Pawn Stars, one of the most popular shows on cable television. He’s patriarch of the family business, Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. The reality series about the day-to-day operation of the business airs at 10 p.m. Mondays on The History Channel.

The show follows the interpersonal relationships involving Harrison; his son, Rick; grandson, “Big Hoss;” and the ever-droopy Chumlee as they dicker with customers about items they’re trying to pawn or sell. A generous sprinkling of information about a variety of antiques and collectibles is included.

One reviewer described the show as a version of Antiques Roadshow” hijacked by American Chopper.

Pawn Stars has been one of The History Channel’s most successful series almost from its start, consistently placing among the network’s top-rated programs since debuting July 26, 2009. An episode broadcast Jan. 24 was watched by 7 million viewers, the most-watched telecast ever on The History Channel, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Harrison, who’ll turn 70 in March, comes across in a telephone interview much as he appears on the show – a little gruff, sure, but as lovable as an old teddy bear that someone brought into his shop to pawn. When he answered the phone and was asked how he was doing, Harrison replied, “Well, it’s another day.”

But he quickly warmed up, reminiscing about his years in Lexington and the unexpected twist that has turned him into a television celebrity.

Harrison said he and the show’s other stars long thought a program about their shop had the potential to be a hit. But for four years, their attempts to sell the idea were rebuffed by cable stations and networks.

“Everybody said, ‘Nobody’s going to watch a show about a pawn shop,’” Harrison said. “We knew they would. If you watch much TV, 90 percent of reality shows are a bunch of junk. We knew we could do better.”

They have, succeeding, Harrison admitted, better than either he or his sidekicks imagined.

Harrison said they’ve had people drop in at their store from destinations as distant as France, Italy and Australia, the tourists planning their trips to Las Vegas not for gambling or nightlife, but for the opportunity to meet the stars of Pawn Stars.

“We’re shown in 140 countries,” Harrison said. “It’s really taken off. We’ve got a lot of fans, now.”

He said he receives 10 or 12 phone calls a day at the shop from people just wanting to speak to him. Almost always, they don’t ask for Harrison by name, but request only to speak to “The Old Man.”

He said he doesn’t mean to be rude, but he rarely takes the calls.

“It’s always, ‘I love your show. How much is this worth? How much is that worth?’” Harrison said. “It’s tiring. I don’t have time for it.”

Harrison said taping of the show is a drawn-out process. While filming, they’ll shoot 10 hours a day, five days a week. The hope, Harrison said, is that for all that work, they’ll find enough footage for about one-and-a-quarter shows.

Harrison said he and his co-workers are under contract for 26 episodes this season, six of which they’ve already filmed.

“Then we’ll start negotiating for next season,” he said.

Harrison was born in Danville, Va., and his family moved to Lexington when he was only 1 year old. His father, also named Richard, was a handyman, performing work for a number of businesses and homeowners around town.

Harrison said the last time he visited Lexington was in 2002 when he returned his father’s body to town for burial. His father had been in declining health and had lived the last few years of his life with him in Las Vegas. Harrison’s mother, Ruth, died several years before that.

He’s heard from several former classmates since Pawn Stars became a hit, Harrison said.

Harrison left town in 1958, after his junior year at Lexington High School. He joined the Navy and served 20 years before retiring in the late ’70s. He was stationed in San Diego at the time of his discharge and became involved in buying and selling real estate there immediately after ending his military career.

Things went well for a period before interest rates soared. Harrison said he lost everything in the economic downturn.

“I should have declared bankruptcy in’81, but I didn’t,” he said. “I lost a fortune.”

Not long thereafter, Harrison moved to Las Vegas. He said his first stab at a business there was opening a second-hand shop. Harrison soon applied for and received his pawnbroker’s license and opened his shop in Las Vegas in 1988 with a $10,000 investment.

“And I’ve been a pawnbroker ever since,” he said.

The shop was doing well, Harrison said, even before Pawn Stars went into production.

About 15 minutes or so into the phone call, Harrison indicated it was time to go. It was getting late, he said, and a nap might be in his immediate future.

Harrison signed off with the signature line he offers so many of his customers who exit his shop after trying to sell or pawn an item.

“You have a good day, sir.”

___

Information from: The Dispatch, http://www.the-dispatch.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-02-23-11 0001EST

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Richard Harrison: The Old Man on the Vegas strip. Photo credit: Joey L. courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

Richard Harrison: The Old Man on the Vegas strip. Photo credit: Joey L. courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

The cast of ‘Pawn Stars’ left to right: Corey ‘Big Hoss’ Harrison, Austin ‘Chumlee’ Russell, Rick Harrison and the Old Man. Photo Credit: Joey L courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

The cast of ‘Pawn Stars’ left to right: Corey ‘Big Hoss’ Harrison, Austin ‘Chumlee’ Russell, Rick Harrison and the Old Man. Photo Credit: Joey L courtesy Pawn Stars Photos. (2011). ‘The History Channel website.’ Retrieved 9:18, Feb. 24, 2011, from http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/photos/pawn-stars-photos.

Rare Queen Anne carved walnut and walnut veneer high chest of drawers, attributed to Joseph Davis, Portsmouth, N.H., circa 1735-50. Estimate $50,000-$75,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Portrait of ship, model of early engine in Skinner Americana sale March 6

Rare Queen Anne carved walnut and walnut veneer high chest of drawers, attributed to Joseph Davis, Portsmouth, N.H., circa 1735-50. Estimate $50,000-$75,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Rare Queen Anne carved walnut and walnut veneer high chest of drawers, attributed to Joseph Davis, Portsmouth, N.H., circa 1735-50. Estimate $50,000-$75,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

BOSTON – Skinner Inc. will host an auction of American Furniture and Decorative Arts on Sunday, March 6, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern at in its Boston gallery, 63 Park Plaza. The sale features an exciting example of ship portraiture, a collection of firefighting material, and some exceptional Portsmouth furniture. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live bidding.

William Bradford’s 1853 oil painting The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head descended in the family of Capt. Benjamin J. Gibbs, the ship’s first and only master. This 24-by-36-inch work is in the original gilt-gesso frame and accompanied by the Speedwell’s daybook, kept by Capt. Gibbs. Previously exhibited at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the painting is a lively scene depicting the Speedwell cutting through turbulent water under full sail past smaller ships. The piece is estimated at $100,000-$150,000.

An eclectic collection from the family of Col. Rockwell Campbell Tenney includes firefighting items such as leather fire helmets, brigade buckets and the sale’s cover lot, a rare and extraordinarily detailed working “squirrel tail” pumper model. The late 19th-century working model of the hand-drawn and hand-pump engine, known as the “Red Jacket,” is made of brass, plated in nickel and painted. The model bears a placard identifying it as a facsimile of the engine owned by the Red Jacket Veteran Firemen’s Association of Cambridge, Mass., and containing a challenge from W.T. King, noted expert on steam fire engines, to “play this model against any other of its size for $100 a side.” The model is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.

Some beautiful examples of Portsmouth furniture, passed down through the prominent Portsmouth mercantile Simes family, are drawing early interest. The rare Federal flame birch and mahogany veneer reverse serpentine chest of drawers is elegantly proportioned and features ivory inlay and slightly flared tall French feet. It is estimated at $20,000-$30,000. A rare Queen Anne carved walnut veneer high chest of drawers, attributed to Joseph Davis, circa 1735-50, according to family history once belonged to John Wentworth, Colonial governor of New Hampshire from 1767-1775. According to the consignor, the Simes family bought the chest at a 1776 auction conducted by Portsmouth’s city fathers to pay the former governor’s debts, left unpaid when he fled from the Revolution with his family and settled in Nova Scotia. The estimated value is $50,000-$75,000.

The first lots of the auction will be 26 miniature waterfowl figures from a single collection, carved by A. Elmer Crowell (1862- 1951), a friend of the original collector. The pieces are estimated between $600 and $1,500 each. From the same collection is a dwarf clock by Joshua Wilder of Hingham, Mass., circa 1821-1824, standing 52 inches hith. The clock is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

Also being offered is a painted pine and maple chest, made by Edmund Titcomb of Newbury, Mass., circa 1700, coming to Skinner from the Historic Winslow House in Marshfield, Mass. In American Furniture, 1620 to the Present, Jonathan Fairbanks and Elizabeth Bidwell Bates called this a “key specimen of the cabinetmaker’s art in New England … recognized as one of the rare signed and documented examples of the second major style of furniture making in this country.” The chest is estimated at $100,000-$150,000. Proceeds will benefit the maintenance and conservation of the Historic Winslow House collection.

Some outstanding folk art pieces will be available at the auction; including an early 19th-century paint-decorated fireboard with a blue classical urn, gold griffins, red roses and trees. It is estimated at $20,000-$25,000. From the same collection is a pair of portraits: Elisha Wales with a New England Church Bass Viol and Lucy Bates Wales Holding a Book. Elisha Wales was born April 25, 1777 in Braintree, Mass. He married Lucy Bates, a direct descendant of John Alden, in Weymouth in 1801. The unsigned pair is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

A Portrait of George Morillo Bartol, Aged 6 years 7 months by Susanna Paine will also be up for bid. The 1827 pastel on paper has an estimated value of $5,000-$8,000. A pair of portraits, oil on canvas, signed “G.W. Fisher 1850” depict Philadelphian saddler/carriage manufacturer Samuel Bender and his wife Margaret. The two portraits are estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

There is an extensive collection of historic Staffordshire pottery, made in England for the American market, all from a single collector, to be auctioned. The transfer-decorated pieces depict scenes including the Boston State House, Quebec Harbor and the Landing of LaFayette, among others. Estimates range from $150 to $5,000 per lot.

Previews will be held Wednesday, March 2, noon-5 p.m.; Thursday, March 3, noon- 8 p.m.; Friday, March 4, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, March 5, noon-5 p.m. and Sunday, March 6, 8-10 a.m.

In conjunction with the auction Skinner will present two special Americana events at 63 Park Plaza in Boston. On Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. Brock Jobe, professor of American Decorative Arts at the Winterthur Museum, will present “New Discoveries in Portsmouth Furniture.” On Friday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. there will be an Americana Gallery Walk, preceded by a reception at 5:30. Reservations are limited, RSVP to (617) 350-5400 for both Americana events.

Illustrated catalog #2538B is available by mail for $35 ($42 for foreign requests) from the subscription department at (508) 970-3240 or at the gallery for $32. Prices realized will be available at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sale.

 

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


American School, 19th-century pair of portraits: Elisha Wales and Lucy Bates Wales. Mrs. Wales was a direct descendant of John Alden. Estimate for the pair: $15,000-$25,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

American School, 19th-century pair of portraits: Elisha Wales and Lucy Bates Wales. Mrs. Wales was a direct descendant of John Alden. Estimate for the pair: $15,000-$25,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Paint-decorated fireboard, Maine or New Hampshire, early 19th century. This fireboard last sold at Christie's Fine American Furniture, Silver, Folk Art and Decorative Arts auction, Oct. 21, 1989. Estimate $20,000-$25,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Paint-decorated fireboard, Maine or New Hampshire, early 19th century. This fireboard last sold at Christie’s Fine American Furniture, Silver, Folk Art and Decorative Arts auction, Oct. 21, 1989. Estimate $20,000-$25,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Working model of the hand-drawn and hand-pumped engine Red Jacket, New England, late 19th century. Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

Working model of the hand-drawn and hand-pumped engine Red Jacket, New England, late 19th century. Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

William Bradford (American, 1823-1892), ‘The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head,’ 1853. Unsigned oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. Accompanied by the ship’s daybook kept by Capt. Benjamin J. Gibbs, dated from Sept. 1, 1857 through Feb. 5, 1861. Estimate $100,000-$150,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

William Bradford (American, 1823-1892), ‘The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head,’ 1853. Unsigned oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. Accompanied by the ship’s daybook kept by Capt. Benjamin J. Gibbs, dated from Sept. 1, 1857 through Feb. 5, 1861. Estimate $100,000-$150,000. Image courtesty of Skinner Inc.

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen took his own life Feb. 11, 2010. Image by Ed Kavishe / fashionwirepress.com courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Vogue editor Wintour’s tribute to McQueen trumps Fashion Week

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen took his own life Feb. 11, 2010. Image by Ed Kavishe / fashionwirepress.com courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen took his own life Feb. 11, 2010. Image by Ed Kavishe / fashionwirepress.com courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

LONDON (AP) – The outfits best told the story Tuesday as Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue, and top museum officials paid tribute to the late Alexander McQueen, soon to be honored with a major career retrospective at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The six McQueen designs displayed on mannequins in the breakfast room at the Ritz Hotel illustrated the qualities that set McQueen apart: The romantic vision, the yearning, the flawless tailoring and the occasional whimsy were all present, to a degree dwarfing much of the work on display at London Fashion Week, which ends Wednesday with menswear shows.

Wintour, a co-chair of the exhibit along with Stella McCartney, Colin Firth and others, said McQueen was greatly influenced by the London street scene, which shaped him in the early years of his career.

“Alexander loved London,” Wintour told The Associated Press. “I think Alexander was a creature of London – the street culture here, the music and the art were all references for his work. You know he may have traveled to Paris to get more exposure for his collection but in his heart he would always be English, Scottish.”

Wintour said McQueen’s shows were always the highlight of fashion weeks in London and Paris because of his originality.

“He had an imagination that was quite unlike anybody else’s,” she said. “What was so great about him was there was no pretense; he wore his heart on his sleeve.”

While lamenting the loss of McQueen, Wintour praised his successor, Sarah Burton, who was named by the Gucci Group to serve as creative director at the McQueen design house several months after his death in February 2010.

“She worked with him for so many years, and she’s going to put her own stamp on it, but very respectfully,” Wintour said of the woman given the delicate task of taking McQueen’s place at the head of the design studio.

Wintour said Burton had been a “brilliant” choice to replace McQueen, but her words capture the challenge Burton faces – she must follow her own creative vision, but still pay homage to McQueen, the guiding light who created the fashion house.

After a founder’s death or retirement, other major labels have turned to lesser-known in-house talent, as happened with Valentino; or brought in outside designers, as happened at Emanuel Ungaro and Halston; or even recruited family, as happened when Donatella Versace took the company’s creative helm after her brother Gianni Versace was murdered in 1997.

The transition is often rocky.

Valentino went through turbulent times after the Italian designer retired. His immediate successor, Alessandra Facchinetti, was bounced the day after she showed her second ready-to-wear collection.

A designer’s name is sometimes carried on by a company that has nothing to do with the founder. Perry Ellis International, for example, was purchased in 1999 by another fashion company that took his name although it had no connection to Ellis, who died in 1986.

In the case of McQueen, the posthumous honors being lavished on the designer – like the landmark Metropolitan Museum exhibit – may make Burton’s task of differentiating her work more difficult.

The 100-piece McQueen show at the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will run from May 4 until July 31. It will include many of his signature items, including the bumster trouser and the kimono jacket, along with designs from the McQueen and Givenchy corporate archives and his private collection.

Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton said McQueen merits the attention because he was above all else an artist and a master craftsman, not someone simply concerned about trends.

“He expanded fashion beyond the pragmatics,” Bolton said. “Fashion wasn’t just about wearability, it wasn’t just about practicality, it was more about using it as a way to explore ideas and concepts. There was always an anger and a romance in his work.”

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-02-22-11 1143EST

Bob Levy, 1944-2011. Image courtesy of Morphy Auctions.

In Memoriam: Bob Levy – Coin-op & slot machine expert, 66

Bob Levy, 1944-2011. Image courtesy of Morphy Auctions.

Bob Levy, 1944-2011. Image courtesy of Morphy Auctions.

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. – Robert “Bob” Levy, an internationally respected dealer and authority on antique coin-operated and gambling machines, died on Feb. 21, 2011. He was 66 years old.

Bob operated his long-established business, The Unique One, from a showroom in Pennsauken, N.J., as well as through a website he launched in 1997 called antiqueslotmachines.com.

Bob Levy was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 16, 1944. He graduated from Atlantic City High School in New Jersey, then went on to earn bachelor of arts degrees in both Business Management and Economics from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Following a career in sales in the wholesale tea and coffee trade, and subsequent to founding his business called “Coffee One,” Bob became enamored of antiques and started selling through co-ops and group shops in Smithville, Rancocas and Medford, N.J.

In 1989, an unexpected opportunity presented itself and changed the course of Levy’s career in antiques. “I had traveled to Arizona to look at an old Lincoln automobile I was thinking about buying, and happened to notice a slot machine in a pawn shop window. It was a 1964 Art Deco-style Harrah’s Club machine,” Bob Levy told Auction Central News editor Catherine Saunders-Watson in a 2009 interview. “I had never seen an antique slot machine before, but loved the look of it, so I bought it and shipped it home.

Shortly thereafter, Bob learned of an auction of pinballs, jukeboxes and slot machines that was to take place at a firehouse in Skippack, Pa. “I went and bought three slot machines and put them in my booth at the group shop,” he said in his interview. “That started me on the path to buying and collecting slot machines, and to become focused on just that one specialty.”

Known within the trade as “the slot machine guy,” Bob sold to customers throughout the United States as well as France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. He set up his slot machines at eight to 10 major antique shows per year and crossed the country many times in pursuit of rare examples.

In 2009, shortly after his 65th birthday, Bob began a professional association with Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa., heading up a new department for coin-operated gambling machines and related devices. In his new role, which he relished, Bob sought out and managed consignments and handled the cataloging and sale of antique coin-operated machines auctioned through Morphy’s.

“It would be the exception rather than the rule to encounter a serious collector of gambling machines who had not either met or transacted business with Bob Levy,” said Dan Morphy, CEO of Morphy Auctions. “I knew Bob for over 20 years, and he was not only one of the most knowledgeable dealers in his specialty but also one of the nicest and most ethical individuals I ever met. He was a tremendous asset to our team, and we are shocked and saddened to learn of his death. He will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Bob Levy was the father of Lisa (Steve) Brodack and Sheri (Tony Freitas) Levy, PhD. He also had five grandchildren: Jonathan, Mallory, Max, Sara, and Sofia.

Beginning at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, relatives and friends of Bob Levy are invited to the Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Road, Cherry Hill, N.J., where funeral services will begin promptly at 9 a.m. Interment will follow at Riverside Cemetery Lodi, N.J. Shiva will be observed at the home of Lisa and Steve Brodack, and the family respectfully requests contributions in Bob’s memory be made to Congregation Beth El, 8000 Main Street, Voorhees, NJ 08043.

–Auction Central News Staff

#   #   #

Thomas Jefferson, pictured in Rembrandt Peale’s 1800 portrait, owned a renowned library. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thomas Jefferson’s books discovered at Washington University library

Thomas Jefferson, pictured in Rembrandt Peale’s 1800 portrait, owned a renowned library. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thomas Jefferson, pictured in Rembrandt Peale’s 1800 portrait, owned a renowned library. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

ST. LOUIS – Dozens of Thomas Jefferson’s books, some including handwritten notes from the nation’s third president, have been found in the rare books collection at Washington University in St. Louis.

Now, historians are poring through the 69 newly discovered books and five others the school already knew about, and librarians are searching the collection for more volumes that may have belonged to the founding father.

Even if no other Jefferson-owned books are found, the school’s collection of 74 books is the third largest in the nation after the Library of Congress and the University of Virginia.

“It is so out of the blue and pretty amazing,” said Washington University’s rare books curator Erin Davis of the discovery that was announced on President’s Day.

The books were among about 3,000 that were donated to the school in 1880 after the death of Jefferson’s granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, and her husband, Joseph Coolidge.

There was no indication at the time that any of them had belonged to Jefferson. But it turns out that 2 1/2 years after Jefferson’s 1826 death, his library of 1,600 books was sold to settle debts. Ellen Coolidge’s grandfather helped oversee her schooling when she lived at his mountaintop estate at Monticello from ages 13 to 28.

She was eager to acquire some of her grandfather’s books, and her husband wrote her brother-in-law, Nicholas Trist, and told him what they wanted him to buy them at the auction. They were particularly interested in books that contained Jefferson’s notes or other marks.

“My dear N. – I beg you to interest yourself in my behalf in relation to the books; remember that his library will not be sold again, and that all the memorials of T.J. for myself and children, and friends, must be secured now! – this is the last chance!” the letter reads.

Two researchers began searching for what became of the couple’s library last year. One of the researchers, Ann Lucas Birle, was editing a book featuring Ellen Coolidge’s travel diary; the other researcher, Endrina Tay, is creating a database of Jefferson’s library. They knew many of the books the Coolidge’s collection might hold because the letter given to Trist survives to this day as does an auction catalog that Trist marked with the books he was able to purchase for his sister- and brother-in-law.

“These books that she wanted were books she knew and grew up with,” Tay said.

The researchers’ big break came in October, when they learned the Coolidges’ daughter and son-in-law had a relationship with one of the founders of Washington University and donated the books to the school. At the time, the school was less than 30 years old, and the gift nearly doubled its library.

“I think it’s quite significant they ended up in St. Louis,” Tay said. “Jefferson was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.”

The school began pulling the books the researchers suggested and discovered the volumes contained Jefferson’s distinctive ownership mark.

In the hand-pressed books that were common in Jefferson’s day, printers would place the letters of the alphabet – called signatures – at the bottom of some pages so that when the books were bound, the pages would be placed in the correct order. One way Jefferson marked his books was to place a small “T” in front of one of the “I” signature, which was significant because “I” is “J” in the Latin alphabet. He also would place his initial “I” next to the “T” signature.

“It was a little bit of detective work,” said Anne Posega, head of special collections at Washington University Libraries.

But she said it was well worth it.

“It gives you continuity to history, that these things are still around and teaching people about Jefferson,” she said.

Jefferson scholars traveled to St. Louis last week and spent three days confirming the books had belonged to the former president. Never in their wildest dreams did the researchers think they would find the books in one place.

“I think the assumption was either they were with the family or dispersed,” Tay said. “We are happy they were kept as a collection.”

One of the most significant finds is an architectural book that Jefferson consulted when he designed the University of Virginia. Jefferson didn’t write in his books as much as some of his contemporaries, but his handwriting is clearly visible in the book. In another book, they found a small scrap of paper with Greek notes in Jefferson’s hand.

A few of the volumes have been placed on display, and the school is welcoming Jefferson scholars to review the newly discovered books. But the search is far from over.

The couple bought 15 other books from the auction that haven’t been found in Washington University’s holdings yet. The school also plans to search all the books from the Coolidge’s library that were given to the school – not just those with ties to the auction – in case Jefferson gave books to his granddaughter and her husband before his death.

“We think we are going to find more treasures,” Tay said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-02-21-11 1920EST

Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Water Lilies, 1914-17 Oil on canvas 65 3/8 x 56 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1973.3

Wadsworth Atheneum opens Monet water lilies exhibit

Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Water Lilies, 1914-17 Oil on canvas 65 3/8 x 56 in.  Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1973.3

Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Water Lilies, 1914-17 Oil on canvas 65 3/8 x 56 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection, 1973.3

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has opened the doors on a special exhibition of French impressionist painter Claude Monet’s works.

The Hartford-based Atheneum is displaying 10 paintings loaned by public and private collectors that focus on Monet’s obsession with painting water lilies. The exhibit runs through June 12.

Monet produced more than 300 paintings inspired by his water gardens from age 74 until his death at 86.

The Atheneum’s exhibit also includes photographs of Monet and his gardens in Giverny, France, along with pictures of the gardens as they look today.

The Atheneum, which opened in 1844, is the country’s oldest public art museum. Its holdings include pieces by several renowned artists, including a 1907 Monet water lilies piece bequeathed by novelist and children’s literature writer Anne Parrish Titzel.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-02-21-11 1248EST

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Japanese Footbridge, Giverny, 1895 Oil on canvas 31 x 38 ½ in.  Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of F. Otto Haas, and partial gift of the reserved life interest of Carole Haas Gravagno, 1993, 1993-151-2

Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Water Lilies with Reflections of Tall Grass, 1914-17 Oil on canvas 51 1/8 x 78 ¾ in.  Private Collection

Claude Monet French, 1840-1926 Water Lilies with Reflections of Tall Grass, 1914-17 Oil on canvas 51 1/8 x 78 ¾ in. Private Collection

Claude Monet French 1840-1926 The Japanese Bridge, 1923-25 Oil on canvas 35 x 45 ¾ in.  The Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 61.36.15

Claude Monet French 1840-1926 The Japanese Bridge, 1923-25 Oil on canvas 35 x 45 ¾ in. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 61.36.15

Nickolas Muray American, b. Humgary 18 9 2 – 19 6 5 Monet at Giverny, June 1926 Photograph printed from the original negative at George Eastman House 10 x 8 in. Private Collection

Nickolas Muray American, b. Humgary 18 9 2 – 19 6 5 Monet at Giverny, June 1926 Photograph printed from the original negative at George Eastman House 10 x 8 in. Private Collection

The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City became the home of the University of Iowa when the state capital was moved to Des Moines in 1857. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Iowa leader says sale of university’s Pollock painting on hold

The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City became the home of the University of Iowa when the state capital was moved to Des Moines in 1857. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City became the home of the University of Iowa when the state capital was moved to Des Moines in 1857. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Debate over the sale of a Jackson Pollock painting valued at $140 million is over this legislative session because there is little chance of reaching consensus on the issue, a House Republican leader said Monday.

Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, said with all the other issues lawmakers need to focus on this year “it appears the sides are so far apart that it is not a good use of legislative time.

“There is too wide a gulf to build consensus on this this year,” the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee told The Associated Press.

Raecker said lawmakers will be busy focusing on budget issues and that “there is not the time and energy and possibly the will to bring these participants to a common ground.”

The announcement comes less than a week after a House appropriations subcommittee voted to sell the painting, which was donated to the University of Iowa by art dealer Peggy Guggenheim in 1951. She died in 1979.

The 8-by-20-foot painting titled Mural is the centerpiece of the university’s art collection, but some lawmakers were considering a proposal to sell it and use the proceeds to fund art scholarships.

A spokesman for the university referred questions Monday to the Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s universities.

Earlier this month, board President David Miles issued a statement that said the proposed sale of the painting is a “profoundly bad idea.”

On Monday, Miles said he appreciated Raecker’s effort to “put a spotlight on increased financial aid for our students … but I’m pleased this action will not go forward.

“I hope this decision not to proceed brings closure to the discussion because we have a terrific asset here that I believe will become ever more valuable, not just financially, but in the education of our students as well,” Miles said.

The regents examined the possible sale of the painting in 2008 and rejected the idea.

Over the weekend, the American Association of Museum’s accreditation commission sent a letter to lawmakers condemning the sale. Commission chairwoman Bonnie Styles wrote that the sale could jeopardize the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s accreditation. Without accreditation, the museum could fall out of favor with donors and the public, Styles wrote.

Pollock, an American painter and major figure in the expressionist movement, died in 1956 at the age of 44.

Rep. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids, said selling the painting would be “cultural vandalism.”

“To sell it is like the biggest poke in the eye to the (Expressionist) movement,” Taylor said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-02-21-11 1751EST