Late Victorian aneroid barometer by J. Casartelli, Manchester, England, valued at 200-300 pounds ($305-$458). Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries

Miscellaneana: Barometers


Late Victorian aneroid barometer by J. Casartelli, Manchester, England, valued at 200-300 pounds ($305-$458). Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries

LONDON – If you’re in the market to buy an antique barometer and want instant proof it still works, take a tip from my business manager (Mrs. P): pop a clear plastic bag in your pocket next time you visit an auction or collectors’ fair.

When you find the one you want, carefully place it inside the plastic bag, gather the top together in your hand and blow it up like you might if you were popping a crisp bag. Then, gently squeeze the sides of the bag.

Barometers work on air pressure. Squeezing the bag causes the pressure inside to rise, making the barometer’s needle move. If it doesn’t, it’s broken.

Apparently she picked up this little gem from watching Flog it!, proving beyond doubt how she spends her afternoons and, I suppose, that post lunch programs about antiques and auctions do have their uses.

I, meanwhile, resolved to learn more about barometers. They started life as scientific instruments, using mercury for measuring heights and for experiments with the air pump. However it wasn’t long before scientists realised there was a connection between the action of air pressure on mercury and weather forecasting.

The first instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure was the mercury barometer, invented in 1643 by Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli.

The first domestic “quicksilver weather glasses” for the home appeared in 1677 and by about 1720, domestic demand had easily outstripped that of the scientific community.

Barometers were first made by specialist companies that manufactured scientific instruments. Once interest in them grew, all sorts of people had a go, with varying degrees of success. Probably most successful were clockmakers, but cabinetmakers, opticians and even gilders and picture framers got in on the act.

Notable names to watch for from the first category include the important London makers Daniel Quare and Thomas Tompion, both of whose clocks make fantastic sums at auction.

Other important makers include mathematical instrument maker John Bird (1709-1776) and opticians Peter Dollond (1731-1820) and George Adams (1750-1795).

By the end of the 18th century, maritime trade was flourishing. Knowing the likely weather when putting out to sea became increasingly vital. Navigational and surveying instruments became essential to progress and towns and cities with close links ports became recognized centers for their manufacture.

Another factor that boosted production was an influx of highly qualified Italian instrument makers. They were accomplished folk who had emigrated in search of a better life, and they were adept at glassblowing and cabinetmaking.

Their expertise was such that by about 1840, a substantial community of Italian barometer makers began to thrive, virtually ousting English makers. Watch for names such as Zanetti, Fratelli, Bianchi, Bolongaro, Casartelli, Ronchetti and Solca.

A gimbal-mounted Victorian rosewood cased marine barometer and thermometer (below) by J. Somalvico & Co., 2 Hatton Garden, London, displays the skill of a cabinetmaker. It also features an ivory scale and vernier, beveled glass and plain brass cylindrical cistern cover, and is valued at 700-1,000 pounds.




Narrow stick barometers of a few inches wide and about 3 feet 6 inches in length dominated the scene from the earliest of days until about 1780, but remained in production until mid-Victorian times. Cases dating from before 1800 were usually narrower than later examples and had a turned cover over the cistern holding the mercury at the base. Rising out of this was a narrow, vertical glass tube through which the mercury was forced by air pressure. By 1810, the cover was replaced by a hinged box.

A Victorian stick barometer and thermometer (below) with ivory scale and vernier, exposed tube and bulbous cistern cover, are contained in carved “Gothic” style rosewood case, valued at £300-400. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




Reading barometric pressure was simply a case of looking where the column of mercury stopped on a chart, usually inscribed on an ivory vernier scale.

So-called wheel or banjo barometers, named after their shape, have an indicator on a dial, operated by a float rising and falling on the surface of the mercury. As the float moves, it acts on an attached thread and moves the pointer.

The cases of both these types of barometer often matched the design and decoration seen on long-case clocks of the same period. As fashion changed, so clocks changed with it and barometers followed suit.

Cases in the 1760s were usually in mahogany with satinwood inlay featuring a shell or a star. From the mid 1780s, the glass covering the dial was convex.

The French Louis XV1 carved giltwood oval barometer (below) dates to about 1780 and has carved decoration. It is valued at 4,500-5,500 pounds. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




Regency wheel barometers had cases usually veneered in rosewood, sometimes cross-banded in different colored wood and inlaid with brass or mother-of-pearl.

A Victorian oak cased wheel barometer and thermometer (below) is by Negretti & Zambra of London, and has a value of 120-160 pounds. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




The mercury barometer was largely superseded by the invention of the aneroid barometer in 1844 (aneroid means without fluid). An aneroid is a flexible metal bellows that is sealed after having some air partially removed from it. Higher atmospheric pressures squeeze the metal bellows, while lower pressures allow it to expand, as the business manager’s test proves.

The late Victorian aneroid barometer by Lowden of Dundee (below) is in an oak case carved with a rococo design. It is valued at 150-200 pounds. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




Greater accuracy, smaller size, portability and cheapness of production were the reasons for its success. Spill the mercury from a stick or wheel barometer and it is rendered useless, which is why such instruments should always be carried upright. An aneroid barometer has no such problems, underlining just how important a development the mechanism was.

A late Victorian brass cased aneroid barometer and thermometer by Newton & Co. (below), 3 Fleet Street, London, is valued at 120-160 pounds. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




One of the most charming mercury barometers was named after Admiral Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865), the head of the Meteorological Office of the Board of Trade.  Fitzroy commanded HMS Beagle on the five-year survey of the South American coast with Charles Darwin aboard as naturalist. He also wrote a number of learned papers on weather forecasting, which led to his setting up a storm warning system to ships. This became the forerunner of regular weather forecasts for the general public.

The design of the FitzRoy barometer is easily distinguishable from the earlier stick or cistern barometers and the later wheel or so-called “banjo” examples. The flat, glazed body encloses a fully visible, wide-bore mercury tube and cistern, behind which is a usually a porcelain register plate, although cheaper examples were printed on paper, inscribed with scale and markings.

An example is the oak cased Admiral FitzRoy barometer (below), circa 1880, with fleur de lys carving to the top and with original fittings. This instrument is valued at 650-850 pounds. Photo The Canterbury Auction Galleries




A rising barometer is indicated by a moveable pointer to the left of the register and the falling barometer by a corresponding pointer to the right. When set at the correct times and subsequently read off, the findings can be checked on a printed chart pasted either side of the mercury tube, giving explanations, which Fitzroy had determined, as to the kind of weather to expect from particular barometric situations.

More often than not, a thermometer and a “storm glass” were also fitted. This latter device is glass tube filled with distilled water and chemical crystals whose solubility and position is supposed to predict the weather. More amusing than accurate, it goes along the lines of: crystals at the bottom of the tube – frost; rising to the top – wind; muddy liquid – rain; clear liquid – sunshine.


Grouping of German bisque-head dolls. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

Stephenson’s plans May 8 sale of massive toy & train collection + dolls

Grouping of German bisque-head dolls. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

PHILA., Pa. – Stephenson’s Auctioneers, estate specialists based in Bucks County (suburban Philadelphia), Pa., will open its doors to welcome toy and train collectors on Friday, May 8, as it presents the John Dieterly collection, Part I. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

A vast assemblage formed over a 35-year period, the Dieterly toys filled countless shelves and cabinets in the consignor’s spacious four-story home in Montgomery County.

“It’s such a fascinating assortment of toys, bidders will want to take their time and look at everything. Mr. Dieterly bought from many sources over the years, and as a result, there are some very good trains and toys of all types in his collection,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers.

In all, 400-500 lots will be offered. The sale will begin with a separate consignment of 150+ lots of dolls, including a nice selection of German bisque-head types. There are many Armand Marseille dolls: two No. 341s, a No. 560A, 351, 390 and 370; as well as Our Ann, Floradora and Kiddiejoy. The doll list also includes a Georgene Averill Bonnie Babe, Kammer & Reinhardt No. 126, Hertel, Schwab & Co. 151; Handwerck No. 119 and 108; and J.D. Kestner No. 249 and 171. There are two Alt, Beck & Gottschalk dolls – a No. 1123 and a 698 with turned bisque shoulder head. A Heubach Koppelsdorf No. 275, Gebr. Heubach No. 8192, several Ginnys, and composition and wax dolls complete the doll category.

The tin toys in John Dieterly’s collection represent some of the most popular brands in the history of American, German and Japanese toy production. A boy on sled is offered alongside other forms of toy transportation manufactured in Dayton, Ohio, including tin friction cars and an armored car. There are numerous amusement park and novelty toys, including boxed examples of J. Chein’s Mechanical Rocket Ride and Playland Merry Go Round; two Marx Busy Bridges, and several Unique Art favorites: a Lincoln Tunnel, Sky Rangers (boxed), Li’l Abner Dogpatch Band and Jazzbo Jim.

(Top and middle) Two variations of Marx’s Busy Bridge and (bottom) a Unique Art Lincoln Tunnel toy. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image Unique Art Li’l Abner Dogpatch Band. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image Unique Art Jazzbo Jim. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

The unmistakable colors and clever actions of Marx toys are typified in three toys in particular: a Sunnyside Service Station, Wonder Cyclist, and Joe Penner and His Duck Goo Goo. Marx competitor Ferdinand Strauss produced the Alabama Jigger and a Timber King No. 112 wind-up truck with pressed-steel bed and cargo load of timber logs.

A tin wind-up boat carousel exhibits the charm and workmanship of early German windups, as does a Distler tin-litho Monkeys on Seesaw.

Distler (German) lithographed tin wind-up Monkeys on Seesaw. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

Pressed steel collectors will find the choices much to their liking, starting with a Kelmet Big Boy fire ladder truck, two Keystone water tower trucks, a Little Giant Zeppelin, and Marx Siren Fire Chief car. The selection continues with a Schieble coupe roadster, a Model Toys Jaeger concrete mixer, and Barber Greene bucket loader. Following right along will be a Smith-Miller Silver Streak truck, Keystone express truck, and several Buddy ‘L’ trucks: a Sit N Ride, Fast Freight, and Express Line model. Also from the famed Moline, Illinois manufacturer Buddy ‘L’ comes a Model T flivver coupe.

Little Giant pressed steel zeppelin. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image Buddy ‘L’ Outdoor Railroad ride-on locomotive, caboose and track. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

In the cast iron section, there are horse-drawn carriages, tractors, and a fire pumper; and a sub-collection of toy cannons. Five Arcade vehicles include a touring car, a Model A coupe, cars No. 116 and 113; a Fordson tractor and a contractor’s dump wagon. Dieterly’s Hubley Indian police motorcycle with sidecar retains both the driver and passenger figures, and teams up nicely with another consignor’s Indian bike in red with driver figure intact. Another nice addition is the Kilgore cast-iron Travel Air Mystery Plane.

The railway station will be operating full steam at Stephenson’s, as a broad array of primarily American trains is presented, both from Dieterly’s and other advanced collections. Highlights include two Ives train sets in original boxes, a set of cast-iron trains, and many examples by Lionel, such as an Electric Train Set No. 8 (boxed) and a Rapid Transit motor and dummy. Among the later productions are trains by Lionel, Williams, K-Line and Rail King, many of them in their original boxes. There are several coveted ride-on trains in the sale, led by a Buddy ‘L’ Outdoor Railroad engine, caboose and track; an additional Outdoor Railroad engine, Marx’s Lightning Express loco, and Keystone Railroad loco and passenger car.

(Clockwise from upper left) Buddy ‘L’ Outdoor Railroad, Lionel Electric Rapid Transit trolley, a second example of the same Lionel trolley, and a yellow with red roof tin trolley. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image

Stephenson’s Friday, May 8, 2015 Toy, Doll & Train gallery auction will begin with dolls at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Note: John Dieterly’s toy collection will be introduced at 2 p.m. Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail info@stephensonsauction.com. Visit Stephenson’s Auctioneers online at www.stephensonsauction.com.

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.

Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by Elias Gottlob Haussmann (German, 1695 –1774). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

American’s bequest returns Bach portrait to Germany


Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by Elias Gottlob Haussmann (German, 1695 –1774). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK (AFP) – The best-known portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach will go on public view for the first time in centuries after its American owner bequeathed it to an archive in the composer’s native Germany.

The portrait by E.G. Haussmann, showing the bewigged composer late in life holding the score to one of his canons, is considered by some to be the most authentic depiction of the musical great and is frequently reproduced in biographies.

Philanthropist William Scheide, who struck it rich at a young age from oil and devoted his life to musicology and rare books, died last year at 100 and left the 1748 painting – estimated to be worth $2.5 million – to the Leipzig Bach Archive.

The archive, in the city where the composer spent much of his career, will put the painting on permanent public display for the first time since the 18th century starting with a Bach festival in June.

In a handover ceremony Wednesday, the archive’s president, English conductor John Eliot Gardiner, brought his Monteverdi Choir to serenade the portrait at Scheide’s home in Princeton, New Jersey, in the presence of his widow Judith.

The Bach portrait was owned at the onset of the Nazi era by Jenke family, who were Jewish and fled Germany.

The family portrait was kept for safekeeping with the Gardiner family in the southwestern English county of Dorset, away from German bombs.

“I literally grew up under Bach’s gaze,” Gardiner said in a statement.

Noting that Bach posed for the painting in Leipzig, Gardiner said: “It is gratifying to see the portrait’s journey coming full circle.”

Scheide bought the painting in 1952 when it was put up for auction.

In February, Princeton University announced that Scheide, an alumnus, had donated his collection of rare books and manuscripts valued at some $300 million.

The collection, which Scheide had kept at the university during his lifetime, includes the first six printed editions of the Bible and an original printing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

The $173,275 realized for 'Chairman of the Board' represents a record price for a work by George Rodrigue at auction. Neal Auction Co. images

Rodrigue ‘Blue Dog’ painting sets record at Neal Auction


The $173,275 realized for 'Chairman of the Board' represents a record price for a work by George Rodrigue at auction. Neal Auction Co. images

NEW ORLEANS – Neal Auction Co.’s Important Spring Estates Auction witnessed excellent results for fine art, furniture and decorative arts. The April 17-19 auction achieved $2.1 million. LiveAuctioneers.com provided Internet live bidding.

The sale featured a number of notable collections, including property from the estates of Eva and Jerry Gotlib, New York, N.Y., and Fort Smith, Ark. Largely composed of 19th century decorative arts, the Gotlib Collection represented an elegant and timeless balance of opulence and restraint, which appealed to collectors of all varieties worldwide.

The highlight of the auction was a monumental Blue Dog painting titled Chairman of the Board by beloved Louisiana artist George Rodrigue (1944-2013). The painting more than doubled its low estimate of $80,000, selling for $173,275 to a California collector against fierce competition from four telephone bidders and an enthusiastic bidder on the salesroom floor.

An Internet bidder utilizing LiveAuctioneers.com captured a pair of antique Louis XV-style gilt bronze mounted inlaid kingwood pedestals (below). Inspired by an 18th century Jean-François Oeben bureau at Versailles, the pedestals sold for $20,910 against staunch competition from the telephone bank and the salesroom floor.




A beautiful pair of Napoleon III gilt bronze and Wedgwood jasperware mounted white marble urns (below) from the Gotlib Collection, achieved more than four times its low estimate, selling for an impressive $32,265.




A California phone bidder prevailed on a fine pair of 19th century Chinese blue and white porcelain rouleau vases from a Wrightsville Beach, N.C., estate. Estimated at $1,000 to $1,500, the pair sold for $19,120.




Louisiana folk artist Clementine Hunter’s The Tour, Melrose Plantation (Self Portrait of Artist Painting on Right) more than quintupled its $3,000 low estimate, selling for $17,080.




A pair of Alexander John Drysdale (American/New Orleans, 1870-1934) landscapes, Evening in the Marsh and Bayou Landscape (below), sold for $48,995. The two pendant canvases embody the tonalism of Drysdale’s mature style. Through the hazy mist of atmospheric perspective, Drysdale beautifully captures the reflection of light on the ethereal waterways of Louisiana. Against a $20,000 to $30,000 estimate, the pair sold to a local collector bidding on the telephone.








For details phone Neal Auction Co. at 800-467-5329 or email clientservices@nealauction.com.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.

Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the revolving gun turret from the civil war era ironclad ship USS Monitor is lifted from the ocean floor, and placed onto the derrick barge Wotan on Aug. 5, 2002. U.S Navy photo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Va. museum gets federal grant for USS Monitor conservation



Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the revolving gun turret from the civil war era ironclad ship USS Monitor is lifted from the ocean floor, and placed onto the derrick barge Wotan on Aug. 5, 2002. U.S Navy photo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) – The Mariners Museum in Newport News will receive a federal grant of nearly $100,000.

The National Park Service and the Maritime Administration announced $2.6 million in grants Monday for maritime preservation projects nationwide.

The Mariners Museum will use the grant for work to conserve and restore the USS Monitor’s turret and other large artifacts from the Civil War ironclad.

Congress had designated the private museum as the official repository of artifacts from the Monitor.

The Monitor sank off in rough seas off North Carolina’s coast on New Year’s Eve 1862.

The museum’s wet lab was closed in January 2014 because of a federal funding shortfall. Work on the project resumed last May when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration committed $200,000 after receiving its fiscal year appropriation.

Online:

www.marinersmuseum.org

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-28-15 0708GMT

Capt. Robert A. Lewis' manuscript bombing plan for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, (6 August 1945), 16in x 22in. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Bonhams image

Enola Gay co-pilot’s flight logs, Hiroshima plans to be auctioned


Capt. Robert A. Lewis' manuscript bombing plan for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, (6 August 1945), 16in x 22in. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Bonhams image

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Of the 12 men who flew aboard the Enola Gay the day the U.S. B-29 Superfortress dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima 70 years ago this summer, none knew the four-engine bomber better than Capt. Robert Lewis.

On Wednesday, two of his wartime flight log books, Hiroshima bombing plans, mission notes and other items are up for sale during an auction of World War II material being held at Bonhams in Manhattan. The estimate for the flight logs is $150,000 to $200,000.

Lewis, a 27-year-old pilot from Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, logged a total of 36 flights aboard the Enola Gay, including the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing mission that changed the world. A meticulous record-keeper, Lewis’ handwritten entry in his personal flight log for that historic day reads: “No #1 Atomic bomb a huge success.”

The flight logs covering Lewis’ service in the Army Air Forces from 1942-46 are among an extensive archive of his documents handed down to his son, Steven Lewis. The younger Lewis said his father recorded details of every flight he took, including the three dozen he made aboard the Enola Gay.

“He wrote down everything and he kept everything,” said Steven Lewis, 57, of Hampton Township, New Jersey.

“The Enola Gay was the most significant aircraft of World War Two,” said Larry Starr, collections manager at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York. “Any records of that mission would be significant.”

As commander of the Hiroshima mission, Col. Paul Tibbets was also the pilot of the Enola Gay, relegating the lower-ranked Lewis to co-pilot. The move made Tibbets a household name after his crew completed the world’s first atomic bombing mission, which destroyed much of the Japanese city and killed tens of thousands of its citizens. But Tibbets only flew the Enola Gay a couple of times, while Lewis had piloted the aircraft 16 times during test flights leading up to the Hiroshima mission.

“People don’t realize how many times he flew aboard the Enola Gay,” Steven Lewis said.

Three days after the Hiroshima bombing, another U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days later, ending the war.

Robert Lewis died in Virginia in 1983, Tibbets in 2007 in Ohio. Enola Gay navigator Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the last surviving crew member, died in Georgia in 2014.

The other Lewis items for auction include personal photographs from the war and his hand-drawn diagram of the Hiroshima bombing run showing the bomb blast’s expected shock wave range and the evasive flight path the Enola’s Gay would take after detonation. Steven Lewis said he’s putting the WWII documents up for sale ahead of his plans to publish his father’s manuscript of wartime experiences in a book at a later date.

Hundreds of other WWII artifacts are being auctioned at Bonhams, from American flags flown at Normandy at D-Day to Japanese military maps of Iwo Jima.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-28-15 0502GMT

Attributed to John H. Belter, this laminated rosewood recamier in the Rosalie with Grapes pattern, circa 1855, sold for $12,650. Stevens Auction Co. images

Highest quality Victorian furniture shines at Stevens auction


Attributed to John H. Belter, this laminated rosewood recamier in the Rosalie with Grapes pattern, circa 1855, sold for $12,650. Stevens Auction Co. images

MERIDIAN, Miss. – A museum-quality rosewood rococo étagère with a bonnet top, made by renowned 19th century American furniture maker Thomas Brooks, sold for $63,250 to take top honors at Stevens Auction Co.’s April 18 auction. LiveAuctioneers.com provided Internet live bidding.

The étagère, standing 9 feet 2 inches tall, was made prior to the Civil War, circa 1855. It was a rare model for Brooks, which undoubtedly drove up the price.




Another top lot was a magnificent, heavily carved mahogany Chippendale-style grandfather clock with nine tubes and Elliott works of London. Made circa 1890 and standing 8 feet 2 inches tall, the clock sold for $12,650.

Approximately 150 people braved the threat of rain to attend the auction in person. Another 275 bid online, via LiveAuctioneers.com. Around 100 people submitted phone bids, while about 50 left (or absentee) bids were recorded.

“It was a solid auction from start to finish, with the good news being that people are still buying high-end Victorian pieces, a category that’s been a little bit soft in recent years,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Co. “If the pieces in the auction were only so-so, that might not have been the case, but the furniture was top-quality and the prices realized were high, too.”

Switching to decorative accessories, a stunning matched pair of bronze and iron blackamoors, both 70 inches tall, sold as one lot for $5,175.




A matched pair of Old Paris vases (below), decorated with gold enamel paint and depicting Arabian royalty on the front, both 11 inches high, went for $1,840.




Bidding on a large Victorian silver-over-copper epergne with interchangeable bowls and candleholders, circa 1890, reached $2,990.




For details contact Stevens Auction Co. by phone at 662-369-2200 or via email at stevensauction@bellsouth.net.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.

The differences between the authentic Fragonard (left) and the 'Made in China' replica are readily apparent when hung side by side. Dulwich Picture Gallery image

Only 10 percent of gallery visitors spot faked masterpiece

The differences between the authentic Fragonard (left) and the 'Made in China' replica are readily apparent when hung side by side. Dulwich Picture Gallery image

LONDON (AFP) – The results are in from a battle that pitted London’s culture vultures against a Chinese workshop churning out replicas of the world’s most famous paintings, revealing a clear victory for the cut-price masters.

For nearly three months, visitors to London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery have pored over 270 paintings in its permanent collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough, knowing that there was one $120 (109-euro)
 fake in their midst.

Around 3,000 people voted for their pick of the replica, but only 300 correctly identified it as French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard’s 18th century portrait Young Woman.

“The white looks too bright and fresh,” said visitor Emma Hollanby, as she looked at the two paintings side-by-side, depicting an unknown woman with rouged cheeks and red lips, peering seductively at the viewer.

“But it’s easy to say when it’s next to it (the original), and I probably wouldn’t have got it,” admitted the 26-year-old, who works in a gallery.

The experiment was the brainchild of American artist Doug Fishbone, who wanted to “throw down the gauntlet” to museum-goers and make them look more closely at the great works.

Chief curator Xavier Bray said he chose the Fragonard painting as “it’s one of our great pictures, but tends to be something that doesn’t engage.

“
The replica was ordered from Meisheng Oil Painting Manufacture Co. Ltd in Xiamen, in China’s southeastern Fujian province.

The gallery emailed a jpeg of its chosen picture, paid $126 including shipping via PayPal, and received the rolled-up replica within three weeks by courier.

Bray called the response to the gallery’s spot-the-fake challenge “very gratifying” and said it had boosted visitor numbers.

“People have been actually looking at the pictures,” he told AFP. “Rather than looking at the label first and then the picture, they did the opposite.”
He added that children had been particularly engaged.
”They don’t seem to have that mindset that makes them think what an Old Master should look like, they go straight for what looks different,” he explained.

‘Magical quality’

On cue, a group of young schoolchildren gathered to play a highbrow game of spot the difference.

“That one’s not the fake one because it’s browner, it looks older,” said one, followed by a classmate, who noted that the fake was “all white and brighter.” 
As well as examining the type of canvas used, how it was prepared, the brushwork and what type of pigments and varnish were employed, the experts rely on the artist’s innate creativity to identify the fakes.

“The original is almost what a magician would paint,” said Bray. “You look at this (the fake). It’s industrial and the expression is empty.

“
Painter Jane Preece, a regular visitor, said she would have recognized the fake because “I’ve always loved that painting.”

“It’s dark but shines through, it has a luminous quality about it,” explained the 75-year-old.

“Whereas the fake just looks wrong, it hasn’t got that magical quality.

“
The ultimate aim of the experiment, Bray said, was to give a “kick of life” to the old collection.

“In this country we take for granted a lot of the great art that we are surrounded by,” he said. “It was part of my intention to make people realize how lucky they really are.”

Scarce Ithaca Sign Works (Ithaca, N.Y.) tin sign with Locomobile Touring Car image, 48 inches by 73 inches. Price realized: $10,080. Showtime Auction Services images

Rare ammunition poster bags $12,540 at Showtime auction


Scarce Ithaca Sign Works (Ithaca, N.Y.) tin sign with Locomobile Touring Car image, 48 inches by 73 inches. Price realized: $10,080. Showtime Auction Services images

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A rare Peters Ammunition poster with a bold, imposing graphic of a bear on a mountain cliff clawed its way to $12,540, while a 1912 Peters Cartridge Co. die-cut paper display sign depicting hunters brought $18,240 at a three-day auction held April 10-12 by Showtime Auction Services.

They were the top two lots in a sale of more than 2,100 items in many collecting categories. Headlining the event were the single-owner lifetime collections of Hal and Terri Boggess (firearms and gunpowder collectibles, mostly posters and calendars) and Mart and Kitty James (drug store and apothecary collectibles).

The poster with bear graphic had an image area of 14 inches by 20 inches and was framed, under glass. It boasted the original thin, metal bands, top and bottom.




While standing-room-only crowds of over 200 people attended the auction on Friday and Saturday, Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services said that more than half of all winning bids were placed online. LiveAuctioneers.com was one of the companies facilitating Internet live bidding.

All prices quoted include a sliding scale buyer’s premium.

An early coin-operated cigar vendor (below), which accepting one cent, in good working condition, 8 inches by 21 inches, sold for $8,550.




The beautiful 1934 Mobilgas porcelain neon sign with a rare star gasoline logo, in excellent working condition and measuring 54 inches by 53 inches, went for $4,800.




A Pure Drugs mortar and pestle glass trade symbol, 11 1/2 inches high by 10 1/4 inches in diameter, made $4,560.




For more information call Michael Eckles at 951-453-2415 or email him at mike@showtimeauctions.com.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.

French Art Deco bronze and red alabaster chandelier, circa 1920, 30in x 16in. Estimate: $1,200-$1,800. Bruhns Auction Gallery images

Antique lighting, architectural elements share spotlight at Bruhns, May 3

French Art Deco bronze and red alabaster chandelier, circa 1920, 30in x 16in. Estimate: $1,200-$1,800. Bruhns Auction Gallery images

DENVER – On Sunday, May 3, Bruhns Auction Gallery will conduct an antique lighting and architectural auction at 50 W. Arizona Ave. beginning at 11 a.m. Mountain Time. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide absentee and Internet live bidding.

The sale will offer antique lighting, architectural, store fixtures, chandeliers, shades, crystal chandeliers, antique gas and electric fixtures, vintage ceiling lights, antique wall sconces and parts. A fine example is the six-arm brass chandelier (below), circa 1900, which has a $500-$750 estimate.

Over 150 French bronze, wrought iron, crystal and brass light fixtures and elegant French bronze figural sconces will be included. An outstanding item in this category is a French Art Nouveau frieze (below) depicting kneeling nude women, gilt on tin, circa 1920. Measuring 10 inches high by 36 inches wide, the piece is estimated at $475-$700.

The biggest pieces in the sale are a 1920s American soda fountain back bar and an unusual French Art Nouveau oak back bar (below) with stained glass arched sides. The latter item is 16 feet 3 inches long and has a $4,500-$7,500 estimate.

Fifteen pieces of original artwork will be offered including a large Mexico Valley landscape attributed to José M. Velasco (below), an oil on canvas painting from 1894. It is estimated at $30,000-$100,000.

For details contact Bruhns Auction Gallery by email at bruhnsauction@gmail.com or phone 303-744-6505.

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.