This English William IV desk cost only $984 at a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale. That's much less than a new desk of the same quality. The antique desk, made of solid mahogany in about 1830, has two shelves and 15 drawers.

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of April 28, 2014

This English William IV desk cost only $984 at a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale. That's much less than a new desk of the same quality. The antique desk, made of solid mahogany in about 1830, has two shelves and 15 drawers.

This English William IV desk cost only $984 at a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale. That’s much less than a new desk of the same quality. The antique desk, made of solid mahogany in about 1830, has two shelves and 15 drawers.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Technology has changed the furniture we live with. Tables and desks had to change to accommodate modern, large and often clumsy electronics.

At first a radio or radio-phonograph combination was kept in a cabinet that resembled a piece of early William and Mary furniture. It was a boxlike two-door cabinet with long legs. The radio and phonograph were hidden behind the doors. Television sets required a rearrangement of chairs. The first sets were small and sat on a table. The screen was so tiny it required a magnifying-glass insert so more than one person could see the picture. When screens got larger, the TV set sat on the floor in a corner and chairs were arranged so the screen was easy for all to see. Soon, televisions were sold in attractive cabinets in reproduction furniture styles. Only the daring in the 1950s were buying modern furniture and leaving the television in plain view. Today’s television is thin and often hangs on a wall.

Through the years, desks have changed, too. Early desks had myriad drawers, shelves and doors so they could be used like a filing cabinet. The famous and large Wooton desk was made with doors that could be locked. Computers made 18th- and 19th-century desks obsolete. Early personal computers had large boxlike monitors and separate keyboards that had to be at “writing” height. The “brains” (CPU) usually were kept on the floor nearby. Useful, but not attractive. As computers grew smaller, screens grew flatter. Now a laptop or tablet can be kept on any shelf or table and blend in with any furniture style.

Although prices for early desks have fallen, they still sell to those who like a period look. Exotic woods, marquetry, brass or gold trim, and carvings make an antique desk an attractive addition to a room, but not a great spot for a computer. Today average wooden desks from the past two centuries are a bargain, often selling for $300 to $1,000, much less than many new modern desks. And an antique desk is always in good taste.

Q: Back in the late 1980s, I bought an oak roll-top desk from someone who had owned it for years. On one side of the desk there’s a bronze plaque that reads “Oak Creek by Riverside.” Please tell me about the desk and if it has any value.

A: Riverside Furniture Corp., based in Fort Smith, Ark., was founded in 1946 and is still in business. So your desk, in Riverside’s Oak Creek line, is not an antique. But Oak Creek is not among the furniture lines the company still is manufacturing. Reproduction roll-top desks of solid oak, like yours, sell for $250 to $650, depending on style and condition.

Q: I inherited a silver hand mirror that belonged to my grandmother. The back of the mirror and handle are decorated with repousse (raised) flowers and leaves. It’s marked “Sterling 4000” and “R. Wallace & Sons.” What is it worth?

A: R. Wallace & Sons was in business from 1871 until 1956, when it became Wallace Silversmiths. The company made silver plate and sterling silver. It became R. Wallace & Sons Manufacturing Co. in 1871. It made silver pieces for several other companies and didn’t mark them with the Wallace name until 1897. Hand mirrors with silver backs and handles were very popular around the turn of the 20th century. Your sterling-silver mirror is worth $250 to $350.

Q: What is pearlash? I have a cookbook from the 1840s and many of the cake and cookie recipes call for pearlash.

A: Pearlash (purlash) was a lye-based chemical used in baking from about 1789 to 1840. A cook added pearlash and an acid like citrus to dough so that when it started to cook it released carbon dioxide, which made bubbles in the dough. This made the dough rise and the cakes light. It was replaced in our century by baking powder.

Q: I have an unopened 18-ounce beer bottle shaped like a baseball bat. The glass looks like it’s wood-grained and the “handle” is painted to look like it’s taped. It has the “A. Coors” signature and is labeled “Coors Light” and “The silver bullet.” What would six of these be worth?

A: Baseball bat bottles were a big hit when they were introduced by Coors in 1996. The limited-edition bottles of Coors and Coors Light were first sold on March 1 at a Colorado Rockies exhibition game held at the team’s spring-training facility at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz. The bottles sold out quickly in the Tucson area because would-be collectors thought distribution would be limited to their area. But Coors introduced a “Signature Series” of baseball bat-shaped bottles in 1997. Each bottle featured an autograph of Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson or Willie Mays, major league players who had hit more than 500 home runs. The sale of these limited-edition bottles helped support the Coors Light USA Softball World Series, but the bottles were prohibited in some states. State laws also govern the sale of beer, and you can’t sell full bottles without a license. Empty baseball bat bottles sell for a dollar or two.

Tip: The old cord on a vintage phone adds value. Green cords are best. Other old styles are twisted cords, brown cords, and patterned cords called rattlesnakes.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to 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 email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount 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.

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.

  • Silver-plated gravy ladle, Daffodil pattern, Rogers, 1950, 6 1/4 inches, $40.
  • Hummel figurine, “Puppy Love,” boy playing violin, puppy, stylized bee mark, 1960s, 5 inches, $45.
  • Oscar de la Renta suit, brown tweed, double-breasted, women’s size 14, $85.
  • Pressed glass castor set, Daisy & Button pattern, cruet, mustard, shaker, clear, amber, circa 1890, 8 inches, $125.
  • Milk glass mug, man, flower, enamel design, Stiegel type, circa 1850, 6 inches, $180.
  • Carved wood figure, night watchman, Black Forest, Germany, 1900s, 21 inches, $280.
  • Windsor chaise lounge, mixed woods, continuous arms, turned legs, 19th century, 36 x 54 inches, $295.
  • Toy train box car, A.T. & S.F., pressed steel, orange, Smith Miller, 33 inches, pair, $425.
  • Scrimshaw cane, whale-bone clenched-fist handle, 31 1/2 inches, $770.
  • Shirley Temple movie poster, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, 20th Century Fox, 1938, 27 x 41 inches, $810.

Keep up with changes in the collectibles world. Send for a free sample issue of our 12-page, color-illustrated newsletter, “Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles,” filled with prices, news, information and photos, plus major articles and opinions about the world of collecting. An important tool for anyone who buys or sells antiques and collectibles. To subscribe at a bargain $27 for 12 issues, write Kovels, P.O. Box 8534, Big Sandy, TX 75755; call 800-829-9158; or subscribe online at KovelsOnlineStore.com.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


This English William IV desk cost only $984 at a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale. That's much less than a new desk of the same quality. The antique desk, made of solid mahogany in about 1830, has two shelves and 15 drawers.

This English William IV desk cost only $984 at a New Orleans Auction Galleries sale. That’s much less than a new desk of the same quality. The antique desk, made of solid mahogany in about 1830, has two shelves and 15 drawers.

Portrait of Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Civil War general subject of Maine State Museum program

Portrait of Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – The Maine State Museum in Augusta is hosting a program about Civil War general and Leeds, Maine, native Oliver Otis Howard.

Author Gordon Weil will speak at the event. He wrote The Good Man: The Civil War’s ‘Christian General’ and His Fight for Racial Equality about Howard in 2013.

Howard led the Freedmen’s Bureau after the war. He directed the bureau’s task of integrating freed slaves in society in the South. He also founded Howard University in Washington and served as its president from 1869 to 1874.

The free event is scheduled for April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-27-14 1213GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Portrait of Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cover of the new 'Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide.' Krause Publications image.

Krause releases new edition of pottery, porcelain price guide

Cover of the new 'Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide.' Krause Publications image.

Cover of the new ‘Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide.’ Krause Publications image.

IOLA, Wis. – Whether your favorite piece comes from a mid-century modern ceramic line, lovely Victorian porcelain or the many variations of fine art pottery, you’ll find them all beautifully displayed in the new edition of Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics, 7th edition from Krause Publications.

Completely revamped to reflect the current market and featuring more than 1,500 color images of everything from the boldly creative works of George Ohr to the cherished practicality of Red Wing stoneware, this striking reference covers the fine to the functional in all its glory – and value.

“All markets are always in a state of flux,” writes decorative ceramics and porcelain expert David Rago in the introduction to the book. “What remains constant is the desire of American collectors, surfing the ebb and flow of value but continuing to collect, preserve and educate.”

Rago knows of what he speaks. He has witnessed firsthand this vibrant market while overseeing Rago Arts and Auction Center, the largest and leading auction house in New Jersey, and as an expert appraiser on the long-running PBS series Antiques Roadshow. A collection of favorites and best-selling pieces from Rago are featured in the book, including a breathtaking Frederick Hurten Rhead signed four-part tile panel that sold for $637,500 at auction.

Created specifically to serve the needs of a wide variety of collectors, dealers and those who simply enjoy the art form, Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain features collecting tips, maker marks, a shapes guide, vital historical information, lovely color images, descriptions and real-market values to thousands of pieces. All told, the book offers a decidedly helpful yet sublime guide to a gloriously diverse and celebrated world.

For more information visit www.krausebooks.com/antique-trader-pottery-porcelain-ceramics-price-guide-group.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Cover of the new 'Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide.' Krause Publications image.

Cover of the new ‘Antique Trader Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide.’ Krause Publications image.

Pablo Picasso's 1937 masterpiece 'Guernica.' Image courtesy Wikipaintings.org.

Picasso’s Guernica used as backdrop to dance performance

Pablo Picasso's 1937 masterpiece 'Guernica.' Image courtesy Wikipaintings.org.

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece ‘Guernica.’ Image courtesy Wikipaintings.org.

MADRID (AFP) – Pablo Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece Guernica, one of the world’s most iconic paintings, on Sunday served as a backdrop to a dance performance for the first time in its 77-year history.

About 80 people sat on the floor or stood as Josue Ullate, a bare chested dancer in black tights, jumped and leapt in front of the large black-and-white canvas at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum.

The 20-year-old performed Quiebro, a piece lasting about five minutes and inspired by a song written by late flamenco singer Enrique Morente that mixes modern ballet with traditional Spanish dance, two times as part of International Dance Day celebrations.

It took organizers over a year of talks to get permission of Ullate to perform in front of the painting, which used images of distorted figures – human and animal – to represent the horrors of war.

The Reina Sofia Museum initially turned down the request but it eventually relented after Picasso’s family gave their support to the project, daily newspaper El Pais reported.

“I think it is an amazing idea, very good. They should do it all the time. This was special, it is Guernica. Marvelous,” said Miguel Angel Colilla, a 44-year-old painter, after one of the performances.

Ullate performed the piece – created by his father Victor Ullate, a renowned Spanish ballet dancer and choreographer – on a specially created sprung dance floor installed in the gallery where the painting hangs.

Tickets to the one-time event which was held after the museum closed to the public were distributed for free on a first come first served basis over the Internet.

“It was stupendous. Aesthetically the setting is perfect,” said Bartolome Garrido, a 44-year-old lawyer who attended with his wife and their two young children.

The Reina Sofia museum, a vast former hospital, displays Guernica – which measures 11 feet by 25 feet – in a purpose-built gallery on its own.

Picasso created Guernica as a commission for Spain’s Republican government to represent the country at the 1937 World Fair in Paris, as Spain writhed in a bloody civil war started by future dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

The painting was transferred to Madrid in 1981 from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where it had been deposited on a long-term loan by Picasso until democracy was restored in Spain.

For fear of attack, it was initially housed behind bullet-proof glass and under armed guard at the Prado Museum in Madrid before it was eventually transferred to the nearby Reina Sofia Museum when it opened in 1992.

The painting took its name from Guernica, the ancestral capital of northern Spain’s Basque country, which was bombed on April 26, 1937, a spring market day, by German and Italian air forces supporting Franco in a civil war that set the stage for World War II.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Pablo Picasso's 1937 masterpiece 'Guernica.' Image courtesy Wikipaintings.org.

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece ‘Guernica.’ Image courtesy Wikipaintings.org.

The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Image by Americasroof at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

NYC eatery sued over plan to move Picasso painting

The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Image by Americasroof at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Image by Americasroof at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

NEW YORK (AP) – New York’s storied Four Seasons restaurant has for decades harbored one of the city’s more unusual artworks: the largest Pablo Picasso painting in the United States. But a plan to move it has touched off a spat as sharply drawn as the bullfight crowd the canvas depicts.

Pitting a prominent preservation group against an art-loving real estate magnate, the dispute has unleashed an outcry from culture commentators and a lawsuit featuring dueling squads of art experts.

The building’s owner says Picasso’s Le Tricorne, a 19-by-20-foot painted stage curtain, has to be moved from the restaurant to make way for repairs to the wall behind it.

But the Landmarks Conservancy, a nonprofit that owns the curtain, is suing to stop the move. The group says the wall damage isn’t dire and taking down the brittle curtain could destroy it – and, with it, an integral aspect of the Four Seasons’ landmarked interior.

“We’re just trying to do our duty and trying to keep a lovely interior landmark intact,” says Peg Breen, president of the conservancy.

The landlord, RFR Holding Corp., a company co-founded by state Council on the Arts Chairman Aby Rosen, says a structural necessity is being spun into an art crusade.

“This case is not about Picasso,” RFR lawyer Andrew Kratenstein said in court papers. Rather, he wrote, it is about whether an art owner can insist that a private landlord hang a work indefinitely, the building’s needs be damned. “The answer to that question is plainly no.”

Picasso painted the curtain in 1919 as a set piece for Le Tricorne, or “three-cornered hat,” a ballet created by the Paris-based Ballet Russes troupe.

The curtain isn’t considered a masterwork. Breen said it was appraised in 2008 at $1.6 million, far short of the record-setting $106.5 million sale of a 1932 Picasso painting at a 2010 auction.

Still, “it was always considered one of the major pieces of Picasso’s theatrical decor,” says Picasso biographer Sir John Richardson. “And it is sort of a gorgeous image.”

The scene depicts spectators in elegant Spanish dress socializing and watching a boy sell pomegranates as horses drag a dead bull from the ring in the background.

Le Tricorne has been at the Four Seasons since its 1959 opening in the noted Seagram Building. The restaurant, which isn’t affiliated with the Four Seasons hotel a few blocks away, is the epitome of New York power lunching, having served President Bill Clinton, Princess Diana, Madonna and other A-listers.

The curtain hangs in what’s become known as “Picasso Alley,” a corridor that joins the restaurant’s majestically modern, Phillip Johnson-designed main dining rooms.

Some argue that the painting, donated to the Landmarks Conservancy in 2005, is a vital piece of the city’s cultural landscape and the restaurant’s lauded decor.

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger decried the curtain’s potential move in Vanity Fair, saying the canvas helps make the Four Seasons “a complete work of art.”

Noted architect Robert A.M. Stern and Lewis B. Cullman, an honorary trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, both sent Rosen letters asking him to reconsider removing the curtain. Arts critic Terry Teachout blasted the potential loss of “Picasso’s most readily accessible painting” in The Wall Street Journal.

The landlords also have their defenders. In tony Town & Country, arts editor Kevin Conley cast the debate as a misplaced outpouring over a “second-rate Picasso.”

The debate has opened an uncomfortable divide in the city’s preservation circles. The Landmarks Conservancy honored Rosen in 2002 for restoring another important 1950s office building, Lever House, yet now publicly claims the major art collector dismissed the Picasso curtain as a “schmatte,” a Yiddish word for “rag.”

“They’ve elevated this into something that it shouldn’t be. … Everybody says I hate Picasso,” Rosen lamented to The New York Times last month. “But I live with five of them in my home.”

Rosen, whose spokesman didn’t return calls from The Associated Press, told The Times he aims to remove and restore the painting, then decide where it will go.

The controversy has drawn a stream of art students, history buffs and other sightseers to look at the canvas.

Breen, for one, isn’t surprised.

“Most people would be very happy to have the largest Picasso in America hanging in their building,” she said.

___

Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-26-14 1651GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Image by Americasroof at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. Image by Americasroof at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein signatures from their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964, an 8 x 10 glossy of the Fab Four in a foldover photo album. Price Realized: $125,000. Heritage Auctions image.

Signed Beatles items get mixed reviews at Heritage Auctions

The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein signatures from their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964, an 8 x 10 glossy of the Fab Four in a foldover photo album. Price Realized: $125,000. Heritage Auctions image.

The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein signatures from their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964, an 8 x 10 glossy of the Fab Four in a foldover photo album. Price Realized: $125,000. Heritage Auctions image.

NEW YORK (AP) – A large piece of stage backdrop signed by the Beatles during their first live U.S. concert 50 years ago has failed to sell at a New York City auction.

Heritage Auctions spokesman Noah Fleisher said Saturday that the company will now try to privately broker the $800,000 plastic wall section the Fab Four autographed on Feb. 9, 1964.

Other memorabilia items from the Beatles’ historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show were bought by a high-end collector who asked not to be named.

Those included a signed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band original fan club poster for $59,375 and a Beatles Meet the Beatles! signed stereo LP for $56,250.

Autographs from the Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein from the 1964 performance sold for $125,000.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-27-14 0104GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein signatures from their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964, an 8 x 10 glossy of the Fab Four in a foldover photo album. Price Realized: $125,000. Heritage Auctions image.

The Beatles, Ed Sullivan and Brian Epstein signatures from their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964, an 8 x 10 glossy of the Fab Four in a foldover photo album. Price Realized: $125,000. Heritage Auctions image.

Beatles signed ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’ original fan club poster (UK, 1967) in a framed display. Price realized $59,375. Heritage Auctions image.

Beatles signed ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ original fan club poster (UK, 1967) in a framed display. Price realized $59,375. Heritage Auctions image.

Andy Warhol, signed magazine page, circa 1980s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

Computer club discovers Warhol digital art on floppy disks

Andy Warhol, signed magazine page, circa 1980s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

Andy Warhol, signed magazine page, circa 1980s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

NEW YORK (AFP) – A dozen previously unknown works of digital art created by much-loved pop artist Andy Warhol have been discovered by a computer club at an American university in his hometown Pittsburgh.

The art was found by members of the Carnegie Mellon University computer club on floppy disks dating back to 1985 stored in the archives of the Andy Warhol Museum, the school announced.

The images include a self-portrait and some of Warhol’s best-known subjects, including Campbell’s soup cans, Botticelli’s Venus and Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.

They show Warhol’s early exploration of software imaging tools and show new ways in which the hugely influential artist was years ahead of his time, Carnegie Mellon announced.

The files were stored in an unknown format, which the computer club’s forensics experts had to unpick to unveil the 28 never-before-seen digital images, the university said.

At least 11 of the images have his signature and were judged to be Warhol’s style by experts from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the university said.

Another is damaged or partially corrupted but also appears to bear his signature, said Golan Levin, associate professor of art at Carnegie Mellon.

Two more images look like in his style but do not have his signature and there are others whose authorship are not clear, Levin told AFP.

Among the 28 images are some duplicates, he added.

The disks were unearthed after New York-based artist Cory Arcangel learned about Warhol’s experiments with floppy disks from YouTube.

Acting on a hunch, he approached the Andy Warhol Museum in 2011 and then Carnegie Mellon, where the university said the student computer club has expertise in restoring vintage computers.

“What’s amazing is that by looking at these images, we can see how quickly Warhol seemed to intuit the essence of what it meant to express oneself, in what then was a brand-new medium: the digital,” said Arcangel.

Warhol was one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century and his work continues to sell for record prices.

Last November, his Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) painting broke the pop artist’s auction record, fetching more than $105 million under the hammer, Sotheby’s said.

The enigmatic artist and son of Polish immigrants was born Andrej Varhola in Pittsburgh. He got a degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon, then Carnegie Institute of Technology, in 1949.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Andy Warhol, signed magazine page, circa 1980s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

Andy Warhol, signed magazine page, circa 1980s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

Sterling silver tea/coffee service presented to baseball legend Christy Mathewson on May 12, 1917 at the NY Polo Grounds during a game pitting the Cincinnati Redlegs against the New York Giants. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Extraordinary: Tracing a baseball legend’s 97-yr. family heirloom

Sterling silver tea/coffee service presented to baseball legend Christy Mathewson on May 12, 1917 at the NY Polo Grounds during a game pitting the Cincinnati Redlegs against the New York Giants. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Sterling silver tea/coffee service presented to baseball legend Christy Mathewson on May 12, 1917 at the NY Polo Grounds during a game pitting the Cincinnati Redlegs against the New York Giants. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

AUSTIN, Texas (ACNI) – In 1936, the National Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed its first class of inductees – each member an immortal in his own right: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, and the pitching ace who played 17 seasons with the New York Giants: Christy Mathewson. Memorabilia associated with any of the “First Five” is in great demand, but Mathewson items are especially rare. It has been estimated that fewer than 100 signed photos and even fewer single-signed baseballs attributable to Mathewson are known to exist, in part because he only lived to age 45. As for mementos personally owned by the legendary right-hander, they can be found on the same shelf as hens’ teeth. Hence the excitement over a discovery with direct descent through the Mathewson family that is headed to auction on May 3rd in Austin, Texas.

Austin Auction Gallery will be offering to the highest bidder a sterling silver tea and coffee service whose tray is inscribed: “Presented To Christy Matthewson By His New York Friends, May 12th, 1917.” (Note: In what was a common error at the time, the engraver misspelled Mathewson’s surname in the inscription.)

After his 17-year tenure with the New York Giants, Mathewson — nicknamed ‘Big Six’ — was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he was a player, then manager. On May 12, 1917, the date engraved on the silver tray, Mathewson’s Reds played his former teammates at the Polo Grounds in New York City. On that occasion, a group of Mathewson’s friends and fans presented him with the silver service as a token of their esteem.

The day after the presentation, in the May 13, 1917 edition of The New York Sun newspaper, sports reporter Frederick G. Lieb wrote about “Chris Mathewson Day” at the ballpark: “Many admirers of Big Six had chipped in and bought [Mathewson] a box of silver to decorate his sideboard. Dudley Field Malone, Collector of the Port and partriot, was the orator. Dudley said many things about Matty. He termed him the world’s greatest athlete, a man loved and revered by thousands of New Yorkers, a man who had set an ideal to the youth of America, which makes him so anxious to pummel Germans in the interest of democracy. Such was the drift of Mr. Malone’s utterances, and Matty blushed…”

The reporter’s comments referred to a previous announcement stating that Mathewson planned to enlist in the wartime military, which he did the following year. He served in France as a captain in the newly formed Chemical Service, alongside Ty Cobb. In a chemical training exercise that went wrong, Mathewson was accidentally gassed. His lungs severely compromised, the hero athlete returned home, where he subsequently caught tuberculosis. His health steadily declined, and in 1925, Mathewson died at his lakefront residence in upstate New York.

The superb Reed and Barton silver service presented to Mathewson on May 13, 1917 remained in the Mathewson/Frary family for nearly 97 years. It was recently discovered within a collection of silver in the estate of the former Lola Marguerite “Peggy” Mathewson (1920-2014), widow of Christy Mathewson Jr. Mrs. Mathewson later married renowned American painter and art educator Michael Frary (1918-2005). After Mrs. Frary passed away in January, Austin Auction Gallery was called in to assess the estate’s contents.

“In particular, there was a tremendous amount of fine art to evaluate, since Michael Frary was an astute collector throughout his lifetime,” said Ross Featherston, president and principal auctioneer at Austin Auction Gallery. “But when we saw the silver service, we realized we had something of great historical importance to the sports world.”

As it turned out, the silver service was a rare survivor of a tragedy that took the life of Christy Mathewson’s son.

“Christy Mathewson Jr died on Aug. 17, 1950, when a hot water heater exploded in his home in San Antonio, Texas. The fire destroyed nearly everything in the home, but miraculously the silver service was spared,” said Featherston.

The service remained in Peggy Mathewson Frary’s possession until her death earlier this year.

“Apparently there had been discreet attempts over the years to purchase the set, but Mrs. Frary did not want to part with it,” said Featherston.

The set weighs in at 188.24 troy ounces and is modestly estimated at $12,000-$18,000, based on its silver content. But in terms of historical significance and its inextricable connection to one of baseball’s original legends, it may well be priceless.

To contact Austin Auction Gallery, call 512-258-5479 or email info@austinauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog for the May 3, 2014 auction and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Christy Mathewson Box Score:

In addition to being a charter inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Christy Mathewson was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. His win-loss record was 373-188 with an ERA of 2.13 and 2,507 career strikeouts.

# # #

Copyright 2014 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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


Sterling silver tea/coffee service presented to baseball legend Christy Mathewson on May 12, 1917 at the NY Polo Grounds during a game pitting the Cincinnati Redlegs against the New York Giants. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Sterling silver tea/coffee service presented to baseball legend Christy Mathewson on May 12, 1917 at the NY Polo Grounds during a game pitting the Cincinnati Redlegs against the New York Giants. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Due to an engraver's error, the inscription on the tray says 'Matthewson' instead of the correct 'Mathewson.' Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Due to an engraver’s error, the inscription on the tray says ‘Matthewson’ instead of the correct ‘Mathewson.’ Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Austin Auction Gallery

Lot 487: 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Estimate: £5,000–£8,000. Baldwin’s image.

Baldwin’s to sell part 2 of British colonial coins May 6

Lot 487: 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Estimate: £5,000–£8,000. Baldwin’s image.

Lot 487: 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Estimate: £5,000–£8,000. Baldwin’s image.

LONDON – The first day, May 6, of Baldwin’s three-day May auction calendar will contain the second part of one of the most impressive British colonial coin collections to have ever been offered for sale by public auction. Part One of the Arielle Collection sold through Baldwin’s Coinex auctions in September 2013, when all 818 lots sold for an exceptional total of £505,092.

LiveAuctioneers.com will facilitate Internet live bidding.

Compiled by a collector who sought out only the finest specimens, the second and final part of the collection will consist of 980 lots. The impeccable collection includes many pattern and proof coins from British Guiana, British Honduras, British West Indies, Hong Kong, Straits Settlements, Ceylon, Cyprus, Fiji, the Ionian Island and New Zealand.

One of the most expensive coins in the sale is a 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Issued shortly before coinage of the Straits Settlements was demonetized on Dec. 31, 1952, this coin is estimated to sell for £5,000–£8,000 [Lot 487].

Many of the coins in the Arielle collection have a connection to the numismatic legend, Major F. Pridmore, and are fascinating pieces of numismatic history. Of note is an 1815 George III (1760-1820) silver pattern-Rix dollar. Bearing a strong similarity to the 1821 coinage of George IV, Pridmore has made the argument that this is a proof and not a pattern. Generally, we have called coins made, but not issued for circulation, patterns, but Pridmore argues that 10,000 were supposed to have been issued, but as it never happened, what is the proper description for this coin? All known pieces were struck as proofs and this pushes the argument back to describing them as patterns, as they did not enter circulation. This well debated coin is estimated at £3,000–£4,000 [Lot 283].

With an extremely good provenance an 1866 Victoria (1837-1901), unique bronze pattern 1/26-shilling from Jersey, is sure to cause a stir among collectors. The unique undated specimen has come from the collections of Pridmore, R. J. Ford and A.L.T. McCammon and was keenly fought over at the Pridmore sale in 1981. Very used to being unchallenged in his quest to purchase the most expensive proofs and patterns, Richard Ford was aggrieved to have been bid up to £2,600 for this coin. He was, however, the successful purchaser, but in a strange twist of fate the under bidder, Anthony McCammon secured the coin for his collection some nine years later at exactly the same price. This special coin is estimated at £2,000–£3,000 [Lot 100].

From more exotic locations, an ex Edward Roehrs collection 1807 George III (1760-1820) restrike bronzed copper proof penny from the Bahamas, is a coin that has intrigued the cataloger of this collection. Unlike all the 1806 coins, which are struck on a coin die axis, this coin is struck on a medal die axis. It raises the question of when this coin was in fact created. There are differences on all three of the Bahamas pennies in the collection, and nothing is conclusive, but a mystery yet to be solved. One of only three known to exist, it is estimated at £3,000–£4,000 [Lot 723].

A stunning 1875H Victoria (1837-1901), silver specimen 20-cents from Hong Kong is one of nine pieces found in the Heaton Mint, Birmingham, Archives, in various states of striking quality. The finest pieces of this date are the only 19th century Heaton coins that could be considered proofs as they were of the same quality as any proof from the Royal Mint. This exceptional coin is estimated to sell for £1,500–£2,000 [Lot 652].

Baldwin’s three-day auction (May 6-8) schedule will include European coins from the collection of numismatist Ake Linden and the Hemisphere Collection of gold sovereigns.

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


Lot 487: 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Estimate: £5,000–£8,000. Baldwin’s image.

Lot 487: 1905B uncirculated Straits Settlements Edward VII (1901-1910) silver proof 50-cents from the Diana Collection. Estimate: £5,000–£8,000. Baldwin’s image.

Lot 283: 1815 George III (1760-1820) silver pattern-Rix dollar. Estimate: £3,000 – £4,000. Baldwin’s image.

Lot 283: 1815 George III (1760-1820) silver pattern-Rix dollar. Estimate: £3,000 – £4,000. Baldwin’s image.

Lot 723: 1807 George III (1760-1820) restrike bronzed copper proof penny from the Bahamas, Estimate: £3,000–£4,000. Baldwin’s image

 

Lot 723: 1807 George III (1760-1820) restrike bronzed copper proof penny from the Bahamas, Estimate: £3,000–£4,000. Baldwin’s image

Fellows Auctioneers sold this Edwardian diamond tiara for £12,000 ($20,164) last week. Fellows Auctioneers image.

Sale of Edwardian diamond tiara raises £12,000 for charity

Fellows Auctioneers sold this Edwardian diamond tiara for £12,000 ($20,164) last week. Fellows Auctioneers image.

Fellows Auctioneers sold this Edwardian diamond tiara for £12,000 ($20,164) last week. Fellows Auctioneers image.

LONDON – The proceeds from sale of an Edwardian diamond tiara auctioned off on April 17 have been donated to Cancer Research UK’s Leukemia division by a London-based vendor, according to Fellows Auctioneers.

The charming tiara is of quintessential garland style and contains an estimated 10.00 carats of old cut diamonds. It exceeded its estimate of £5,000-£7,000, achieving a £12,000 final hammer price.

Tiaras were at the height of fashion during the high Edwardian period, the wearing of which was governed by strict Edwardian etiquette. Sadly, many items with a more limited use have been dismantled or broken up, therefore this tiara is a rare survivor. It is understood that it has not seen the light of day for several decades, and was last worn at a family wedding.

“This tiara was always going to fare well at an auction, it is a beautiful example of its era and a rare one at that,” said Stephen Whittaker, managing director of Fellows Auctioneers. “Of course we are always exceptionally pleased that its high hammer price has gone to such great cause.”


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Fellows Auctioneers sold this Edwardian diamond tiara for £12,000 ($20,164) last week. Fellows Auctioneers image.

Fellows Auctioneers sold this Edwardian diamond tiara for £12,000 ($20,164) last week. Fellows Auctioneers image.