Chinese calligrapher Mi Fu (1051-1107) created this work as a discourse about the cursive style of the art during the Song dynasty. This example is in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eyes on the prize: China cracks down on art, literary awards


Chinese calligrapher Mi Fu (1051-1107) created this work as a discourse about the cursive style of the art during the Song dynasty. This example is in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

BEIJING (AFP) – First went the fancy banquets, then the lavish gift-giving. Now, China’s ruling Communist Party has set its sights on a new target in its anti-corruption drive: art and literary prizes.

China’s proliferation of cultural awards has raised alarm among the party’s much feared anti-corruption investigators, who worry that government officials are using them as a means of improving their clout, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

At a meeting Monday in Changsha – the capital of Hunan, Communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong’s home province – culture ministry officials vowed
 to “strictly prohibit the obtaining of illegitimate benefits in the name of art,” Xinhua reported.

“The ministry of culture will carry out a comprehensive rectification of literary and art awards,” Xinhua said. “A number of awards will be canceled or streamlined, with an overall reduction of more than 60 percent.”

“Literature and art awards programs during festivals will be canceled, and criticism will be strengthened,” it added, saying the ministry will “guard against and eliminate all kinds of unhealthy tendencies.

“
China’s art and cultural spheres have come under increasing scrutiny from Communist Party investigators under President Xi Jinping seeking to crack down on corruption at all levels.

In January, the party’s internal Central Commission for Discipline Inspection urged officials not to seek senior positions in provincial art and calligraphy associations, warning that cadres that do so are “stealing the meat off artists’ plates.”

“In some places, you will see dozens of vice presidents sitting atop the provincial calligraphy association,” the CCDI wrote in a notice at the time. “What kind of behind-the-scenes profit is motivating officials to use their authority to grab literary laurels?”

Officials in China have at times sought to use calligraphy as a way of hiding bribes, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Last year, Jiang Guoxing, deputy head of the press and publication bureau in Jiangsu province, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for accepting 1.85 million yuan ($300,000) in bribes, some of which were disguised as payment for his calligraphy “masterpieces,” the paper reported.

One work of four “scribbled” characters – which Jiang sold to a businessman for 50,000 yuan – was later deemed worthless by authorities, the China Daily reported.

This carved limestone squirrel by William Edmondson (American/Nashville, Tenn., 1884-1951) will be featured in Case Antiques' auction July 18. It carries a $30,000-$35,000 estimate. Case Antiques Inc. Auctions & Appraisals image

Case expands presence in Nashville with auction & appraisal office


This carved limestone squirrel by William Edmondson (American/Nashville, Tenn., 1884-1951) will be featured in Case Antiques' auction July 18. It carries a $30,000-$35,000 estimate. Case Antiques Inc. Auctions & Appraisals image

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Knoxville-based Case Antiques Inc. Auctions & Appraisals, one of the South’s leading firms for handling historic and high-end art and antiques, has opened an office at 116 Wilson Pike Circle, Suite 102, in Brentwood, Tenn., a Nashville suburb.

The office will handle consignments from Middle and West Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama, along with appraisals, and will serve as a display gallery for featured lots from upcoming auctions. It will be under the direction of Sarah Campbell Drury, the company’s vice president for fine and decorative arts, who has represented the company in Nashville since 2009.

Drury is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, specializing in fine art, antiques and residential contents. She has helped land several high profile consignments including the estates of Welling and Sally Lagrone and Margaret Wemyss Connor of Nashville, along with museum property deaccessioned by Nashville’s Cheekwood Museum of Art, Belmont Mansion, and Belle Meade Plantation.

One of the new location’s first functions will be a free auction evaluation day on Friday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The new office will also host an evening showcasing featured items from the firm’s upcoming July 18 auction, including a carved limestone sculpture by William Edmondson of Nashville and a group of paintings being sold by the Birmingham Museum of Art. That event is scheduled for June 5.

Case markets its seasonal cataloged auctions internationally through digital, print, and social media, and counts China as its second-largest source of bidders (behind the United States).

Case’s live auctions – where bidders in the saleroom compete alongside bidders online and on multiple phone lines – consistently draw more than 2,700 registered bidders from 50 countries. The company was founded in Knoxville in 2005 by its president John Case, a member of the Appraisers Association of America and current chair of the Tennessee Executive Residence Preservation Foundation.

For more information, call Case’s Brentwood office at 615-812-6096, the Knoxville gallery at 865-558-3033, see the website at www.caseantiques.com or email info@caseantiques.com.

This T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $1.32 million. Robert Edward Auctions image

Rare Honus Wagner T206 baseball card hits $1.32M at auction


This T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $1.32 million. Robert Edward Auctions image

WATCHUNG, N.J. (AP) – A Honus Wagner T206 baseball card has been auctioned for $1.32 million in online bidding.

Robert Edward Auctions said Monday that 42 bids were placed by Saturday’s deadline for the card, which was rated as a three condition on a scale from one to 10, with 10 the best. The winning bid was for $1.2 million, plus a 20 percent commission.

The names of the buyer and seller were not announced. The company says the same card had sold for $791,000 at auction in 2008.

New Jersey-based Robert Edward Auctions says the record price for a Wagner T206 American Tobacco Co. card – traditionally the most valuable baseball card in the hobby – is $2.8 million. That one was rated as an eight condition.

The card is from 1909 to 1911. Forty-two bids from around the world came in for the baseball card featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer. Approximately 60 different examples of the T206 Honus Wagner card are believed to be in existence.

Robert Edward Auctions’ spring auction, which was held from April 2 through April 25, featured a variety of other items ranging from sports cards to Americana, including a 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie card, which sold for $204,000; a collection of “Three Stooges” movie posters and lobby cards, which totaled $251,580; a 1970 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves baseball jersey, which sold for $66,000; an Augusta National green jacket, which sold for $16,800; and an original Grammy Award for the song Tequila, which sold for $30,000. The spring auction’s total sales figures exceeded $7 million.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Alexander Calder, ‘Nuages,’ 1976, gouache and ink on paper (framed), signed, dated and titled; 29in x 43in. Estimate: $70,000-$90,000. Rago Arts and Auction Center images

Rago to sell more than 500 works at fine art auction May 7

Alexander Calder, ‘Nuages,’ 1976, gouache and ink on paper (framed), signed, dated and titled; 29in x 43in. Estimate: $70,000-$90,000. Rago Arts and Auction Center images

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – On Thursday, May 7, Rago will hold an auction of 19th/20th century American and European art and postwar/contemporary art. The sale features fresh to market material, with many significant deaccessions from important private collections.

LiveAuctioneers.com will provide absentee and Internet live bidding.

The 19th/20th century American and European Art session starting at 10 a.m. Eastern features a fine collection of works from an important private American collection. Included are works by Reginald Marsh, Carl Sprinchorn, Guy Carleton Wiggins, Don Freeman, Louis Saphier, Philip Evergood, Oscar Bluemner, Miklos Suba, Walt Kuhn, Jack Levine, Manierre Dawson, Preston Dickinson, William Zorach, Marguerite Zorach, Rockwell Kent and Max Weber.

Preston Dickinson is represented by The Drive (below), a 1914 oil on board, 6 3/4 by 13 7/8 inches, which has a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.

Featured in the postwar and contemporary art session, which begins at 1 p.m., is a 1987 toned silver print titled Blue Lisa by brothers Doug and Mike Starn (Americans, b. 1961). Measuring 97 1/2 by 68 1/4 inches, the work (below) is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

For details contact Rago by phone at 609-397-9374 or email raac@ragoarts.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.

This stunning white gold and diamond double-clip brooch is expected to bring $25,000 to $35,000 at the John Moran Auctioneers sale May 5. John Moran Auctioneers images.

Signed pieces abound in John Moran jewelry auction May 5


This stunning white gold and diamond double-clip brooch is expected to bring $25,000 to $35,000 at the John Moran Auctioneers sale May 5. John Moran Auctioneers images.

ALTADENA, Calif. – John Moran Auctioneers will conduct their May 5 Fine Jewelry and Luxe Auction consisting of approximately 300 lots of fresh-to-the-market jewelry and luxury items from private collections and estates. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide absentee and Internet live bidding.

The auction will be held at Moran’s headquarters in Altadena, Calif., with a prompt start time of 6 p.m. Pacific.

The first stirrings of spring herald the upcoming wedding season, and those seeking rings for their betrothed will find a number of fine options at Moran’s auction. A platinum ring (below) set with a round-cut diamond and tapering baguette shoulders has been assigned a presale estimate of $7,000 to $9,000.




Signed pieces by quality makers are available at Moran’s May 5 sale. A number of charming spring-appropriate selections hail from Van Cleef & Arpels, including an 18K gold bird brooch set with two cabochon sapphire eyes and offset with a cultured pearl egg (estimate: $1,500 to $2,000).




San Francisco-based maker Marsh & Co. is also well represented in the May catalog. Featuring the company’s signature black patinated steel accented with more traditional diamond and cultured pearl elements, a mid-20th century pearl and steel bracelet is offered for $2,000 to $3,000.




Antique and Art Deco jewelry always brings strong prices at Moran’s fine jewelry auctions, and the expectation is that this sale will be no different. A stunning geometric diamond, emerald and platinum brooch (below) is offered for $1,000 to $1,500.




For more information contact John Moran Auctioneers via email: info@johnmoran.com or telephone: 626-793-1833.


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.

This is a rare Venetian gondola chair made in the 19th century. It's carved and painted with gilt on a red background. The chair seat rests on a swivel

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of April. 27, 2015


This is a rare Venetian gondola chair made in the 19th century. It's carved and painted with gilt on a red background. The chair seat rests on a swivel

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – A gondola chair, according to furniture dictionaries, is a late 18th- to early 19th-century chair with a concave back and side rails that curve down to the seat. It has four legs and is upholstered on the seat and on both the front and back of the chair back and the arms. It is a chair type that still is being made.

But there is another more glamorous “gondola chair” that is less-publicized. The antique Venetian gondola chair is carved and painted or upholstered in leather. It has a high back that curves down to the seat. The sides of the back continue forward to form arms that are attached to the seat by another curved support. It has four splayed legs that start at the seat and slant away from the chair. This type of chair was made in the 1800s and got its name from its shape. The chair looks a little like the front of an Italian gondola. It may even have been a seat for a gondola passenger. The Venetian gondola chair is rare and even the leather-covered ones are expensive.

A carved and painted example sells for thousands of dollars. Neal Auction in New Orleans sold one in 2014 for $1,917.

Q: When I married in 1972, my mother gave me my grandmother’s dishes. There are 10 plates and one large serving plate. The large plate has a hand-painted rabbit on it. Two of the dinner plates are painted with rabbits, two with deer, two with gazelles, and two with cows. The backs of the plates are marked “LS & S, Limoges, France.” Are they worth anything?

A: This mark was used by Lazarus Straus & Sons, an importer and manufacturer in the United States. Lazarus Straus was born in Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1852, and began working as a pushcart peddler in Georgia. He opened a dry goods store there two years later. In 1869, he founded L. Straus & Sons in New York City. The company sold its china and glassware in Macy’s department store basement beginning in 1873. Members of the Strauss family became part owners of Macy’s in 1884 and sole owners in 1896. You have most of a set of game plates made in Limoges, France, and imported by L. Straus & Sons. These usually came with 12 plates plus a larger serving platter and were popular during the 1880s. Sets of game plates sell for about $375.

Q: I have a Dobro guitar that I got in 1956 when I was 10 years old. I think it’s a Rex Ampliphonic guitar or Dobro. I don’t know much about this guitar but some Dobro players have told me it’s definitely an antique.

A: Ampliphonic guitars, also known as self-amplifying or resonator guitars, were developed about 1927 by John Dopyera. He and his brothers founded Dobro Manufacturing Co. in 1928. In 1929, he was granted a patent for his design for a guitar with a thin metal body and three aluminum diaphrams (resonators) to amplify the sound. Dobro guitars sold under several brand names in the 1930s. The Gibson Guitar Corp. has had sole rights to the Dobra name since 1993. Good quality old guitars sell for high prices. Find an expert at a shop that sells guitars or an auction house to find out what your guitar is worth.

Q: I have a Western-style working saddle made in the late 1890s or early 1900s by the Nebraska Saddlery Co. of Fremont, Neb. The company is no longer in existence. The design on the leather was done by hand and the stirrups have the original copper encasement around the bottom. The cinch, tie straps, stirrup hobbles and sheepskin under the saddle are new. I’d like to sell it to someone who appreciates such a beautiful piece of work and can just throw this on a horse and go to work. Where can I find someone who can give me an honest appraisal?

A: A vintage saddle like yours might sell well at an auction that specializes in Western items. You should be able to get an idea of value from a store that sells new quality leather saddles. Most major cities have stores that sell equestrian equipment. Auction houses that sell Western style items can be found by an online search. Most are located in the western U.S., but have online sales and interested bidders.

Q: I’m interested in selling a Pachinko game machine, a four-reel nickel slot machine made by Wisconsin Novelty, and a Michigan Model 7 candy store cash register. I’ve searched online but haven’t been able to find any information or an estimated value for them. What’s the best was to sell them?

A: All of your items can be sold at an auction or antiques shop. You can check prices on our website, Kovels.com, or on auction websites. Look at a site like LiveAuctioneers.com to see which auction houses have sold similar items and contact them to see if they are interested in what you have. Some won’t take items below a certain value. Lower priced items can be sold to a dealer or antiques shop.

Tip: A glass flower frog, a holder for the flower stems in an arrangement, can be useful. Look for the round glass holders with many holes. Each hole can hold a marble so a group of about 5 to 15 stems can be displayed in different sizes of flower frogs.

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.

  • Thermometer, Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco, New Larger Size, blue, silver, red, tin, circa 1950, 38 3/4 x 8 inches, $90.
  • Sofa, Empire style, figured veneer frame, upholstery, bulbous legs, brass casters, 33 1/2 x 90 inches, $345.
  • Pen, Montblanc, Boheme Bleu, fountain, retractable nib, black resin body, blue gemstone, 4 1/4 inches, $380.
  • Red Ribbon Beer tray, Old Dutch Lager, Hawaiian woman, Mathie Brewing Co., tin, 13 inches, $390.
  • Baccarat glass champagne coupe, Narcissus pattern, acid etched stamp, France, 20th century, 5 1/2 inches, seven pieces, $525.
  • Silver plate tray, Edwardian, pierced gallery, handles, footed, engraved, Daniel & Arter, 38 x 17 inches, pair, $615.
  • Terra-cotta figurine, bathing woman, rocky base, birds, nest overhead, France, 28 3/4 inches, $625.
  • Stoneware pitcher, cobalt blue flower, feathered swag, incised neck rings, strap handle, circa 1870, 2 gallons, 13 inches, $805.
  • Toy, Adam the Porter, pushing hand car, tin lithograph, hand painted, clockwork, Lehmann, 8 inches, $1,005.
  • Aluminum dish, cover, whale shape, red eyes, stand with swimming whales, A. Court, 1979, 12 inches, $1,465.

“Kovels’ A Diary: How to Settle a Collector’s Estate.” Our new week-by-week record of the settlement of an estate, from your first days gathering legal papers to the last days when you’re dividing antiques among heirs and selling everything else – even the house. How to identify pottery, jewelry and other popular collectibles. Tips on where and how to sell furniture, jewelry, dishes, figurines, record albums, bikes and even clothes. We include lots of pictures and prices and explain the advantages of a house sale, auction, selling to a dealer, or donating to a charity. Learn about how to handle the special problems of security and theft. Plus a free current supplement with useful websites, auctions lists and other current information. Available only from Kovels for $19.95, plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at Kovels.com; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2015 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

David Webb platinum, sapphire and diamond earrings featuring a pair of natural sapphires of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) origin, 5.71 and 5.44 carats. Estimate: $75,000-$100,000. Dallas Auction Gallery images

Dallas Auction Gallery to sell dazzling jewelry, watches April 29


David Webb platinum, sapphire and diamond earrings featuring a pair of natural sapphires of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) origin, 5.71 and 5.44 carats. Estimate: $75,000-$100,000. Dallas Auction Gallery images

DALLAS – Dallas Auction Gallery will be offering 348 lots of fine jewelry, timepieces, silver and couture on Wednesday, April 29. The sale includes incredible pieces by Cartier, David Webb, Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Mauboussin, Van Cleef & Arpels, Henry Dunay and more.

LiveAuctioneers.com will provide absentee and Internet live bidding.

The sale also includes GIA certified diamonds and pearls. The timepiece section of the sale will include 38 timepieces by Rolex, Chanel, Patek Philippe, Jacob & Co, Harry Winston, Audemars Piguet and Tag Heuer.

Lot 191 is a pair of retro Cartier diamond, ruby and sapphire earrings, the gemstones forming an en tremblant floral bouquet, mounted in 18K white gold. Stamped, “Cartier 2347” with French hallmarks, the earrings (below) have a $18,000-$24,000 estimate.




A matching retro Cartier diamond, ruby and sapphire ring mounted in 18K white gold. Lot 203 is stamped “Cartier” with French hallmarks and includes a red Cartier box. It has a $13,000-$18,000 estimate.




Highlighting the women’s watches is lot 179, a Chopard La Strada 18K gold and diamond watch (below) having a mother-of-pearl (estimate: $35,000-$55,000).




Men’s timepieces include a Patek Philippe platinum annual calendar wristwatch (below) having 35 jewels, with three subsidiary dials for month, day and 24 hours, date aperture in a platinum case (estimate: $20,000-$30,000).




For more information about how to participate in this sale or offer items for future auctions, contact Dallas Auction Gallery at 214-653-3900.


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.

Mickey Mantle's 1950-issued H&B Louisville Slugger bat sold for $242,209. SCP Auctions image

Mickey Mantle bat, jersey power SCP Auctions to $4.1M total


Mickey Mantle's 1950-issued H&B Louisville Slugger bat sold for $242,209. SCP Auctions image

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. – Mickey Mantle’s first Hillerich & Bradsby professional model bat from an order placed in 1950, possibly his first bat ever used as a Yankee, sold for $242,209 to top the bidding in SCP Auctions’ 2015 Spring Premier which concluded early Sunday.

A game-worn and autographed Mantle 1952 New York Yankees home jersey (below) was next in line, selling for $227,856. In total, the auction of more than 1,300 sports memorabilia items brought in $4.1 million.




“Coveted sports artifacts used and worn by Mickey Mantle continue to thrive in the sports memorabilia market,” said Dan Imler, SCP Auctions vice president. “The impressive winning bids on these particular items are testament to Mantle’s undying allure.”

Other top lots included a complete 1957 Topps baseball card set ($207,142), John Wooden’s circa 1970’s UCLA coach’s worn jacket ($103,579), and a pair of 1984 Michael Jordan game-worn and signed Nike Air Shoes from his rookie season ($71,550).

Part 3 of The Delbert Mickel Estate Collection of Important Baseball Jerseys brought in $363,977, led by the sale of a game-worn Stan Musial 1963 St. Louis Cardinals complete uniform for $73,408 from his last season in the majors. The Tony Gwynn Estate Collection fetched $214,090, a portion of which will go toward the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation, while the personal collection of NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson took in a total of $163,570, led by the sale of his 2009 NFL Hall of Fame ring which went for $25,076.

Other highlights from the auction included:

• 1973 Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves game-worn home jersey and ’74 pants – $50,061

• 1909-11 T206 baseball near set (517/523) – $44,427

• Steve Carlton’s 1987 Minnesota Twins World Series 10K gold ring – $44,427

• 1926 New York Yankees American League champion team-signed baseball – $41,435

• 1958 Robin Roberts Philadelphia Phillies game-worn and signed road jersey – $40,388

• 1970 Al Kaline Detroit Tigers game-worn home jersey – $34,190

All prices include a buyer’s premium.

SCP Auctions Inc. has been a leader in brokering and auctions of important sports memorabilia and cards since 1979. The Southern California based firm conducts three online auctions every year, highlighted by their Premier Auctions in the spring and fall. SCP Auctions has handled some of the most significant individual items and prominent collections in their field, such as the record-setting sale of the earliest known jersey worn by New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth ($4.4 million), the famed T206 Honus Wagner baseball card ($2.8 million) and Babe Ruth’s bat used to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium in 1923 ($1.3 million).

Interested bidders can call 949-831-3700 or visit SCP Auctions online at www.SCPAuctions.com for more information on how to participate.

 

Zig-Zag mechanical bank, manufacturer unknown, patent applied for in 1889, provenance: Seamen’s Bank (New York), Al Davidson and Stan Sax collections, $210,000. Bertoia Auctions image

Bertoia’s Mar. 27-28 sale of Max Berry’s toys boosts series total to $6M


Zig-Zag mechanical bank, manufacturer unknown, patent applied for in 1889, provenance: Seamen’s Bank (New York), Al Davidson and Stan Sax collections, $210,000. Bertoia Auctions image

VINELAND, N.J. – Washington attorney Max Berry left Bertoia’s gallery on March 28th with a smile on his face – not because Part II of his collection had just been auctioned for $2.92 million, but because of the enthusiastic way in which the toy community had come together over a two-day period to celebrate his lifetime of achievement in the hobby.

“Max was happy to see who the next caretakers of his toys would be,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “He was very focused throughout the entire auction and did a lot of positive nodding.”

Added to the $3.1 million realized by Part I of Berry’s collection last Nov. 14-15, the March 27-28 auction pushed the series grand total to $6.02 million. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers; all prices quoted in this report are inclusive of buyer’s premium.

The top-selling lot was a J. & E. Stevens Darky Kicking Watermelon mechanical bank designed by Charles A. Bailey and patented in 1888. One of three known examples, its long and illustrious trail of provenance includes pioneer collectors Wally Tudor, F.H. Griffith, Leon Perelman and Stan Sax. It sold at the upper end of its estimate range for $270,000.



‘Darky Kicking Watermelon’ mechanical bank, J. & E. Stevens Co., designed by Charles A. Bailey, patented 1888, one of four known examples, provenance: Wally Tudor, F. H. Griffith, Leon Perelman and Stan Sax collections; $270,000. Bertoia Auctions image

“Banks of that level don’t come around very often, and when they do, it’s never a problem to sell them. It’s no different than selling the world’s best paintings. Collectors stand in line for the opportunity to bid,” said Bertoia. The buyer, who participated over the phone, prefers to remain anonymous. The only clue Bertoia would share was that the person is “not known in the bank-collecting world but has been buying privately over the past few years.”

A different phone bidder paid $228,000 (estimate $150,000-$200,000) for a Jerome B. Secor Freedman’s mechanical bank, described in Bertoia’s catalog as “one of the best-known, historically important banks ever made.”



Freedman’s Bank, mechanical, manufactured by Jerome B. Secor, Bridgeport, Conn., circa 1880, one of fewer than 10 known examples, inspired by the emancipation of slaves, provenance: Emerine, Mosler, and Stan Sax collections; est. $228,000. Bertoia Auctions image

In 1939, an antiquities dealer purchased the Freeman’s bank from a source in Mexico for $8, then resold it to Fostoria, Ohio banker and collector Andrew Emerine. The African-American-themed bank later passed to another legendary collector, Mosler Safe Company president and CEO Edwin H. Mosler Jr. After Mosler, the bank’s next owner was the aforementioned Stanley P. Sax, whose collection was auctioned by Bertoia’s in 1998. Max Berry, who purchased it at the Sax auction, always regarded the bank as one of the greatest treasures in his collection.

A well-known New York collector bidding from the floor paid $210,000 (estimate $125,000-$175,000) to own a Santa-themed Zig-Zag bank – a possibly unique survivor made of cast iron, tin and cloth.

“The Zig-Zag generated more interest and bids than any other item in the sale,” said Bertoia. “You could have heard a pin drop during the auctioning of all of the top three banks. People were very respectful of the amounts of money being spent for them.”

Yet another collector from New York prevailed on a Charles A. Bailey lead bank known as Chinaman in Rowboat, one of fewer than 10 such banks known to exist. Against an estimate of $80,000-$90,000, it sailed out the door for $96,000.



Charles A. Bailey Chinaman in Rowboat mechanical bank made of lead, $96,000. Bertoia Auctions image

A red-version Mikado bank surpassed expectations at $90,000; while a lever-activated cast-iron Sewing Machine Girl (see below), ex Donal Markey collection, doubled its high estimate at $24,000.



Cast-iron Woman at Sewing Machine, attributed to Sandt, rear lever activates head and hand when turned, provenance: Donal Markey Collection, $24,000. Bertoia Auctions image

A diminutive circa-1900 painted cast-iron mechanical bank of unknown origin was emblazoned “Schley Bottling Up Cervera.” This identification referred to Captain Winfield Scott Schley, who helped “bottle up” or destroy the Spanish fleet, which was commanded by Admiral Pascual Cervera in Santiago Bay. It sold for $26,400.

From a fine selection of tin clockwork banks in Berry’s collection, a beautiful Ding Dong Bell bank by Weedens, with superior original paint, rang up a winning bid of $64,800.



Ding Dong Bell hand-painted clockwork tin bell toy, made by Weedens, $64,800. Bertoia Auctions image

A circa-1913 lever-activated Empire Cinema tin bank finished in brilliant primary colors and depicting a movie theater filled with people doubled its low estimate to close at $24,000.



Circa-1913 Empire Cinema lithographed tin bank, $24,000. Bertoia Auctions image

Exceedingly rare, a 33½ inch long, polychrome painted Pratt & Letchworth horse-drawn cast-iron Flying Artillery toy, ex Bill Bertoia collection, swept past its $30,000-$40,000 estimate to settle at $57,600. Another toy highlight, the tallest of three versions of Carpenter’s Burning Building, sold over the phone for $26,400.

Bell toys were led by an Althof Bergmann open gig pulled by a pair of goats and driven by a cloth-dressed boy. It doubled its high estimate at $24,000. A Mary and Her Little Lamb sold over the phone to a Midwestern buyer for $14,400. “The new owner called and thanked us after receiving the toy. He has an extensive collection of bell toys and said he had never seen one in such fine condition,” Bertoia said.



Mary and Her Little Lamb bell toy, Gong Bell Mfg. Co., considered the finest known example, provenance: Covert Hegarty collection, $14,400. Bertoia Auctions image

Many were surprised by the consistently high bids placed on Berry’s penny toys. “We’ve never before seen that level of attention or such active bidding for penny toys,” Bertoia said. “Anyone with a significant collection of penny toys should be river dancing over the prices that were paid.” A Man on Bike penny toy reached an amazing $3,900, while a whimsical Man Chasing Woman realized $2,700.



Man on Bike penny toy, $3,900. Bertoia Auctions image



Man Chasing Woman penny toy, $2,700. Bertoia Auctions image

Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions, said the sale and preview combined to form “a perfect weekend for the entire Berry family, the Bertoia family and all who attended.” She described the preview as “active and enthusiastic. You want to hear a lot of chatter at a preview because that means people are excited.”

“It has been such an enjoyable experience for us, we wish there were three more parts to the sale,” she continued. “But when you have banks and toys of such a high level of rarity and quality, even a two-part sale is remarkable. I can’t think of any museum that has toys like the ones we auctioned.”

Bertoia’s will conduct a 1,400-lot toy and train auction on May 8-9, 2015 featuring Part I of the late Bill Moody’s Metalcraft advertising truck collection, a private collection of Hispano-Suiza toys and pedal cars, and nearly 250 lots of trains from the late Michael Cann’s collection. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

To contact Bertoia Auctions about consigning to a future sale, call 856-692-1881 or email toys@bertoiaauctions.com. Visit Bertoia’s online at www.BertoiaAuctions.com.

View the online catalog for Bertoia’s March 27-28 auction, complete with prices realized, at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

 

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

A 1940s postcard from Chanute Field in Rantoul, Ill. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Illinois air museum plans to close over finances



A 1940s postcard from Chanute Field in Rantoul, Ill. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

RANTOUL, Ill. (AP) – An eastern Illinois museum that catalogs the history of a long-closed Air Force base and houses dozens of planes plans to close at the end of the year.

Leaders of the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul say they can’t afford to stay open, The News-Gazette in Champaign reported.

The museum on the former Chanute Air Force base 15 miles north of Champaign opened in 1994, soon after the base’s closure. It receives financial support from the Village of Rantoul, but village officials say the town can no longer afford the bills.

“This was not an easy decision for anybody,” said Nancy Kobel, the museum board’s president.

Village administrator Jeff Fiegenschuh said the airport’s annual utility costs of $350,000 contributed to even more sizable yearly losses. The museum had a monthly operating budget of $10,000, half of which covered rent payments to Rantoul.

“The airport was losing money,” he said. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to our tenants and the airport and the residents.”

The departure of a sporting goods manufacturer and another tenant that leased an airport hangar hastened the closing.

Curator Mark Hanson said the museum’s 30 military planes are on loan from the federal government. He expects the military will try to find new homes for the planes.

The museum’s collection also includes archival photos and documents, books and magazines, military uniforms, aircraft instruments and tools.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-25-15 1659GMT