Outsider art gets the spotlight at Material Culture April 29

Hector Hyppolite, 'Self-Portrait with Family,' estimated at $75,000-$100,000 at Material Culture.

PHILADELPHIA — Set as a no-reserve auction, Material Culture brings more than 500 lots of Outsider art to the block Monday, April 29 with Fine Folk Outsider. The complete catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Hector Hyppolite (1894–1948) has been called the ‘Grand Maître of Haitian Art.’ Entirely self-taught, Hyppolite was discovered by American artists visiting Haiti, who immediately began purchasing his works and taking them back to the United States. The sale is led by a Hyppolite original, Self Portrait with Family, dating to around 1946. The oil on board has been widely exhibited. Material Culture’s experts believe the work is Hyppolite’s sole portrayal of his family, possibly inspired by a lost photograph. It is estimated at $75,000-$100,000.

Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) is best remembered for his paintings, making this figural sculpture in terracotta all the more interesting. Measuring 8.5 by 5.5 by 5.5in, it is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

The sale also includes six works by Edger Jean-Baptiste (1917-1992). Known for his use of light, Jean-Baptiste became a darling of the American artist class, with motion picture director Jonathan Demme even holding an exhibition for him in 1994. The oil-on-canvas Fisherman on Sailboat was formerly in the Yvonne and Glenn Stokes collection. It comes to market with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

Speaking of directors, the sale also includes two works by legendary filmmaker David Lynch (b. 1946-), best known for Eraserhead and the Twin Peaks miniseries. Man Throwing Up is an acrylic and resin on canvas that has been widely exhibited. It is estimated at $15,000-$30,000. 3 Leaves, Tree, Pink Worms is undated but described as ‘early.’ The mixed media and acrylic with a leaf collage is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

W. C. Fields’ crooked pool cue prop pockets almost $10K at Potter & Potter

W. C. Fields’ Ziegfeld Follies-used crooked pool cue prop, shown with a provenance letter from Red Skelton, which sold for $7,500 ($9,375 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter March 28.

CHICAGO – A stage-used ‘crooked’ pool cue prop owned by legendary entertainer W. C. Fields (1880-1946) came to market at Potter & Potter March 28 as part of its 625-lot Entertainment, Toys & Collectibles sale. Full results for the auction can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

The cue was a prop employed by Fields in his routine with comedian Ed Wynn during Fields’ first year with the Ziegfeld Follies in New York. Running from 1907 through 1931 with later revivals, the follies were elaborate theatrical revues featuring dancing girls who would parade around dressed as literally anything, from “birds to battleships,” according to PBS’ Ziegfeld Biography. Notably, famed 20th-century designer Erté served as a designer on the Follies.

When Wynne was getting laughs from under a pool table while Fields was shooting, Fields would “smack Ed Wynn over the head during” the bit, according to accounts from the time.

The cue was consigned with a typewritten and signed letter from entertainer Red Skelton (1913-1997), who received it as a gift from Fields prior to his passing. Skelton wrote the letter to magician Tom Mullica, who was given the cue – and clear provenance – by Skelton on February 20, 1984. Mullica kept the cue and letter until he sent it to auction in 2016.

Interestingly, Skelton ends the provenance letter with a then-timely opinion about comedian Eddie Murphy, whose career was skyrocketing. “You mention Eddy [sic] Murphy, you are right, he is filthy.” Estimated at $1,000-$2,000, two dozen bids took the cue to pool shark heaven, hammering at $7,500 ($9,375 with buyer’s premium).

Boy-king Edward VI portrait comes for sale at Andrew Jones April 28-29

English School portrait of King Edward VI, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Andrew Jones.

LOS ANGELES — A portrait of Edward VI, the Tudor monarch who reigned as a boy for just six years from 1547 to 1553, will be presented at Andrew Jones Auctions. Estimated at $30,000-$50,000, it is among the highlights of a single-owner collection from Pebble Beach, California offered on Sunday, April 28 and Monday, April 29.

As the male heir to the throne and the future of the Tudor dynasty, a number of portraits of Edward exist showing him as both the Prince of Wales and as a nine-year-old king. This image, depicting him wearing a black and gold embroidered doublet trimmed with ermine, copies a full-length portrait known in several versions that is associated with the workshop of the enigmatic court artist ‘Master John.’ Seemingly an Englishman, he came to prominence in the years after the death of former court favorite Hans Holbein in 1543. The ‘Master John’ portrait of Edward in the National Portrait Gallery was almost certainly painted immediately after Edward became king in 1547.

The Pebble Beach picture – a half-length oil on a cradled panel measuring 2ft 5in by 22in (74 by 56cm) – is cataloged as ‘English School 16th or 17th century.’ It has a detailed provenance since the 19th century, having previously been in the collection of Kimbolton Castle, the country house in Cambridgeshire, England that is most famous as the final home of Henry VIII’s first (divorced) wife Catherine of Aragon, who died there in 1536. The picture was deemed sufficiently important at the time to hang at some of the most famous exhibitions of the Victorian era. It was part of the Exhibition of Art Treasures held at Manchester Botanical Gardens in 1857, the largest temporary art exhibition in British history, with more than 16,000 works of art and 1.3 million visitors. In 1866, it was among the 1,035 pictures shown in London at the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A Museum) at the first Exhibition of National Portraits, and in 1890, it was at the Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor at the New Gallery, a Bond Street address in London that is now the flagship store for the Burberry brand.

The only surviving son of Henry VIII by his third wife, Jane Seymour, Edward VI (1537-1553) was king of England and Ireland from 1547 to 1553. The first English monarch to be raised as a Protestant, he was crowned on February 20, 1547, at the age of nine, and died on July 6, 1553, when he was 15 years old. Despite attempts to prevent the country’s return to Catholicism, his Catholic half-sister Mary I succeeded him.

The portrait is one of several Old Master paintings in the single-owner collection on offer at Andrew Jones. Estimated at $50,000-$70,000 is a Venetian painting depicting the visit of the British diplomat Charles Montagu (1662-1722), 1st Earl of Manchester, to the Venetian court in 1698.

Montagu’s mission in Venice was multifaceted: to affirm and strengthen the Anglo-Venetian alliance, to secure support against France in the unfolding scenarios of European politics, and to promote English trade interests.

This monumental canvas, measuring 4ft 3in by 6ft (1.3 by 1.8m), was painted by a Venetian artist at the time to record his first audience with the Doge and the Senate.

Previously unrecorded portrait of Benjamin Franklin heads to Freeman’s Hindman April 30

An unrecorded portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) attributed to Mason Chamberlin, estimated at $50,000-$80,000 at Freeman’s Hindman.

PHILADELPHIA — A previously unrecorded portrait of Benjamin Franklin will appear at Freeman’s Hindman with an estimate of $50,000-$80,000 this month. The new discovery, which bears striking similarities to the well-known portrait of the Founding Father by Mason Chamberlin in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was recently found in Italy.

Freeman’s Hindman date its picture to circa 1778, 16 years after the portrait in the PMA was commissioned by the Virginia landowner Colonel Philip Ludwell III. In 1762, Chamberlin (1727-87) had painted his subject from life in London, showing Franklin seated in his study surrounded by three of his experiments. Franklin was delighted with the results and distributed copies of the mezzotint (later made by the engraver Edward Fisher) to his friends for the next 10 years.

This later work, offered for sale on Tuesday, April 30 as part of an auction of American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts, shares many of the same characteristics. Although Franklin is depicted as an older gentleman, he is seated in the same chair and at the same table in the same room. In both works, Franklin wears a powdered wig with a distinctive center-front top knot and a brown suit with covered buttons.

However, while in the PMA’s portrait the sitter is portrayed as a scientist, in the later picture he is shown with spectacles and an open book as a philosopher or a statesman.

An inscription to the reverse of the canvas references an earlier attribution to the Venetian artist Pietro Longhi (1701-1785). However, the auction house believes it is also by Mason Chamberlin, painted around two years after the Declaration of Independence.

The discovery of the portrait in an Italian collection is not as incongruous as it may first sound. The portrait has a long history in Italy, where, through his diplomatic missions and Enlightenment thinking, Franklin was well known. His impact on political, social, and economic aspects of Italian life is the subject of the 1958 book Benjamin Franklin and Italy by Antonio Pace.

Clementine Hunter, an artist pure and true

Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’ features a favorite motif of the artist: zinnias. It sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK – Sometimes described as the Deep South’s version of Grandma Moses, Clementine Hunter (1886 or 1887-1988) took up painting late in life, in the 1940s, when she was a grandmother. By then, she had seen many changes, living under Jim Crow laws and with the prolonged aftermath of slavery in the South.

Hunter was born and raised on the Hidden Hill Plantation near Natchitoches, Louisiana, and was the granddaughter of Creole people who had been enslaved. Hidden Hill is said to be the inspiration for the famed anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and it was later renamed Little Eva Plantation after a character in the book. At age 15, Hunter’s father was hired as a laborer at Melrose Plantation down the road. She followed him there to pick cotton, and saw that plantation devolve from a functional farming operation to surviving only by welcoming artists in residence.

One of Clementine Hunter’s earliest paintings was ‘Early Funeral’, which she painted on a window shade. The work achieved $70,000 in September 2021 and holds the world record for the artist at auction. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
One of Clementine Hunter’s earliest paintings was ‘Early Funeral’, which she painted on a window shade. The work achieved $70,000 in September 2021 and holds the world record for the artist at auction. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Like many self-taught Southern folk artists, Hunter made her art with found materials. According to the National Museum for Women in the Arts, she rendered her first painting, depicting a baptism in the river, on a window shade with paints discarded by one of the Melrose Plantation artists. “She used whatever surfaces she could find, drawing and painting on canvas, wood, gourds, paper, snuff boxes, wine bottles, iron pots, cutting boards, and plastic milk jugs,” the museum’s website states.

‘Doctor Comes A’ Callin’’, a circa-1940s work by Clementine Hunter, went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
‘Doctor Comes A’ Callin’’, a circa-1940s work by Clementine Hunter, went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Describing her as a memory painter, Steve Slotin, co-owner and operator of Slotin Folk Art Auction in Buford, Georgia, said Hunter portrayed the plantation and its rural setting and culture, which was fast disappearing. “She saw a whole different lifestyle than most people would ever have the opportunity to see – cotton picking, harvesting of pecans, the [river] baptisms, and the simple life of living in this rural existence,” Slotin said. “She documented it all and did it in a very pure and simple way that still resonates.” One such documentary work by Hunter is Doctor Comes A’ Callin’, recording an era when doctors would routinely make house calls to see patients. The circa-1940 oil on cardstock went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020 at Slotin.

Hunter’s gift emerged when the Melrose Plantation curator-artist Francois Mignon gave her some art materials, and she returned the next morning with a finished painting. “He recognized it as her having a lot of talent and encouraged her to continue,” Slotin said. Her work improved after she received a steady stream of better materials, freeing her from scavenging nearly empty paint tubes from the artists’ trash. “That’s really how she got started,” he said.

Detail shot of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail shot of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Her fame truly spread when Look magazine ran a feature story on her in 1953 and the Delgado Museum (now known as the New Orleans Museum of Art) mounted a solo exhibit of her work in 1955, the first time a Louisiana museum did so for an African American artist. Segregation laws barred Hunter from seeing it during the museum’s public hours, however.

Neal Auction Company in New Orleans has witnessed a lot of interest in paintings by the Louisiana artist from collectors both near and far. “The market for Clementine Hunter’s work has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years, with new collectors continually joining the fray. Her works are consigned to us primarily from the South, but are increasingly going to collections both private and public nationwide,” said Marney N. Robinson, the firm’s director of fine art.

Detail of Clementine Hunter’s signature on ‘Early Funeral’, which achieved $70,000 in September 2021. It represents the world auction record for the artist. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail of Clementine Hunter’s signature on ‘Early Funeral’, which achieved $70,000 in September 2021. It represents the world auction record for the artist. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

The top price on the LiveAuctioners platform for Clementine Hunter is Early Funeral, the aforementioned oil painting on a window shade laid on Masonite, which attained $70,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021 at Neal Auction Company. “This work is a particularly early example from Hunter,” Robinson said. “It came from the estate of Iris Brittain Rayford, who amassed one of the most important collections of early Hunters seen to date.”

‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, an oil on board by Clementine Hunter, made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, an oil on board by Clementine Hunter, made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Clementine Hunter’s oeuvre draws its appeal from its subject matter and its honesty. “Entirely self-taught, she disregarded formal perspective and scale to create vibrant scenes that were both autobiographical and universal in many ways,” Robinson said. Hunter realized a vivid tableau of plantation activities in Woman Carrying Gourds, an oil on board that made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Neal Auction Company in September 2021 and also came from the Iris Brittain Rayford collection.

Detail of Clementine Hunter’s ‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, which made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail of Clementine Hunter’s ‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, which made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

“Collectors value genuineness, a strong quality in Hunter’s and many other self-taught artists’ works. I see collectors gravitating toward this rawness and also looking to strengthen their collections with works by women artists and those previously overlooked in the traditional canon,” Robinson said. “Hunter not only became a successful female Black artist, but her work also largely featured strong women undertaking the tasks of traditional country life.”

Slotin has watched the market for Hunter’s work soar to unprecedented heights. “It’s a little mind-blowing for us, because in the ‘80s we were trying to present her work to the public, and we were getting $1,000 to $2,000 for a painting,” he said. “Now you see them at $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000, and the market has tightened up a bit as more collectors get in and there are fewer works available.”

An untitled circa-1980s oil on board by Clementine Hunter showing Melrose Plantation, her home starting when she was a teenager, realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.
An untitled circa-1980s oil on board by Clementine Hunter showing Melrose Plantation, her home starting when she was a teenager, realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

He has also seen Hunter’s work attract the attention of art forgers. Bogus Hunters were prevalent enough in the late 2000s to prompt an FBI investigation. Robinson said her auction house defended itself against this grim fact by developing a relationship with Tom Whitehead, a longtime friend of the artist, to authenticate all Hunter paintings it offers. Among the works authenticated by Whitehead is an untitled Hunter painting of Melrose Plantation, her home as of her teenage years, which realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024 at Swann Auction Galleries.

This 1950 oil on canvas board painting by Clementine Hunter, ‘Baptismal Procession’, earned $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2023. Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers.
This 1950 oil on canvas board painting by Clementine Hunter, ‘Baptismal Procession’, earned $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2023. Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers.

Hunter’s religious-themed works rank among her most sought-after subjects. Baptismal Procession, an oil on canvas board dating to 1950, sold for $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Auctions at Showplace in May 2023. The epitome of folk art, this energetic painting depicts people holding parasols outside a church while others gather in the river to be baptized. As is typical for Hunter, she paints her figures in bright colors.

Another detail of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
Another detail of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Another of Hunter’s favorite things were zinnias, a flower that loves warm weather and blooms across the South. Uncle Tom & Eliza in Flower Garden, an oil on canvas panel seemingly teeming with zinnias, sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021 at Slotin.

Clementine Hunter was both an artist and an archivist, documenting a bygone era with clarity and color. Driven to capture visions of the life she knew, she shared her art with countless others who saw its power and its grace. Though it might look unstudied and even crude, the fundamental purity and the truth of her work shines forth and moves viewers, regardless of where and when they were born.

‘Gone With The Wind’ shooting script could exceed $25K at Piece of the Past April 28

'Gone with the Wind' original shooting script bound by producer David O. Selznick, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Piece of the Past.

TEMPE, AZ — An original shooting script for Gone with the Wind is among the many stars of stage and screen that come under the hammer without reserve on Sunday, April 28. The script, one of the few that escaped destruction during the rewrites, is estimated at $15,000-$25,000 in the Piece of the Past auction now open on LiveAuctioneers.

Bringing Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic to the big screen proved a famously herculean task, replete with countless changes and revisions. Gone with the Wind is a Holy Grail of film-script collecting because most of them were gathered up by producer David O. Selznick and burned. Only a handful of the January 24, 1939 shooting scripts are known to have survived, with this example (numbered 00111) having been professionally bound and given as a gift by Selznick himself. The inscription in ink reads For Yvette Curran, The Champion fan of GWTW David O. Selznick Twenty-five years later! It was last sold by Profiles in History in the 1990s.

Also offered in this no-reserve sale is an umbrella signed by Singing in the Rain star Gene Kelly (1912-1996) in the year before he died. The catalog entry records that Kelly was signing 100 photos for charity when Piece of the Past specialist Kevin Martin said, “I bet people ask you to sign their umbrellas all the time.” When Kelly said he could not recall ever signing one, he boldly signed his own umbrella and gave it to Martin as a souvenir. In his personal collection for more than 25 years, it will be offered with an estimate of $1,750-$3,500.

Expected to lead the line at the ‘1 of a Kind’ auction is a Babe Ruth-signed league ball that features ‘the best darkest signature to come to market in some time’, together with faded ink notes detailing how it was acquired. Offered with full credentials, it is estimated at $50,000-$100,000.

Pair of 18th-century side tables from Scottish country house exceed $289K at Lyon & Turnbull

Circa-1770 pair of Italian giltwood tables with brecce pernice marble tops, which hammered for £220,000 ($278,675) and sold for £288,200 ($289,060) with buyer’s premium at Lyon & Turnbull on March 27.

EDINBURGH, UK – A pair of 18th-century Italian giltwood side tables from a Scottish country house hammered for £220,000 ($278,675) and sold for £288,200 ($289,060) with buyer’s premium at Lyon & Turnbull on March 27. They were consigned from Penicuik House in Midlothian, where they had likely been since the 18th century. Full results for the auction can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

The pair of giltwood side tables, with their somewhat menacing dolphins or sea serpents carved to the frieze, do not appear in the Penicuik papers or invoices, but they were recorded among the pieces saved from a fire at the house in 1899. It is believed that the impressively thick 4ft 11in by 2ft 9in (1.57m by 82cm) brecce pernice marble slabs may have been part of the shipment of marble slabs sent to Penicuik from Rome in the late 1760s. The transaction was arranged by John Baxter the Younger, the son of Penicuik’s chief architect, John Baxter.

Following interest from all across the US, Europe, and the UK, and following a long bidding battle between the internet and the phones, the tables sold to an international buyer some distance above the £40,000-£60,000 ($50,665-$75,995) estimate.

Penicuik Estate, situated to the southwest of Edinburgh at the foot of the Pentlands in Scotland, has been owned by descendants of the merchant John Clerk (1611-1674) since the middle of the 17th century. Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet of Penicuik (1709-1783) built a neo-Palladium house there in the 1760s, appointing John Baxter as the architect and James Blaikie as his master carpenter.

In June 1899 a fire gutted the building, although most of the original furniture and works of art were saved. After the 18th-century house was demolished, the adjacent Georgian stable block was converted into the family home. As the property is now being used for leisure and hospitality, the Clerk family offered 69 lots of furniture and works of art at the Lyon & Turnbull sale titled Home & Heritage: Property from Three Historic Houses.

PEZ dispensers bring sugary action to Bruneau & Co. April 27

PEZ No-Feet Truck Dispenser Group, estimated at $100-$200 at Bruneau.

CRANSTON, RI — Fourteen highly curated lots of vintage PEZ dispensers will be offered Saturday, April 27 at Bruneau & Co.‘s Comics, Sports, TCG and Toy Auction. The 393-lot catalog is now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Created in 1927 in Austria by Eduard Haas III, PEZ candy has almost taken the back seat to the worldwide mania to its colorful and ingenious line of dispensers. Everything from Disney characters to Looney Tunes stars have adorned the ‘headed’ dispenser variant, stoking demand from collectors everywhere.

One of the most interesting lots in the sale is a grouping of six PEZ ray gun shooter dispensers. Created between 1956 and 1982, the dispensers ‘shoot’ the candy into the hand or mouth of the recipient. The stylized ray gun designs emulate Buck Rogers blasters of the 1930s and the Colt 1908 Vest Pockets that chamber .25 ACP. The lot has already reached its high estimate of $400 and will certainly go higher.

In 1970 PEZ rolled out Mr. Ugly and his Friends, a line of ‘alternative’ characters for which the company would not have to pay any license fees. Today they are highly desirable among collectors of what are known as ‘footed’ dispensers. The sale includes a group of 13 color variations of Mr. Ugly, with an estimate of $200-$400 and a current bid of $350, ensuring the high estimate will be eclipsed.

Owing to the 1960s popularity of Matchbox toys, PEZ marketed vehicular no-feet truck dispensers very similar in appearance to the die-cast toys. This group of trucks totals 28 different color variations, and is estimated at $100-$200.

Two 1955 PEZ full-body robot dispensers date to 1955. They are marked MADE IN AUSTRIA, stand 3.75in in height, and carry an estimate of $200-$400.

Louis Vuitton custom luggage for a rubber duck travels to Sworders April 30

Bespoke Louis Vuitton traveling trunk for a rubber duck called Canard Willy, estimated at £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935) at Sworders.

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET, UK – An extraordinary single-owner collection of more than 30 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage – including a bespoke trunk made for a large rubber duck – comes to auction this month. The array of luxury travel accessories, all covered in the iconic LV monogram canvas, form part of SwordersDesign sale on Tuesday, April 30. The catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The duck trunk, measuring 13.3 by 9.4 by 10.6in (34 by 24 by 27cm), is the only one in existence – the design and manufacture a collaboration between its owner, a British gentleman who chooses to remain anonymous, and the senior design team at Louis Vuitton in Paris. It was made to house ‘Canard Willy’, a favorite 10in (26cm) yellow rubber duck, to ensure it traveled in the style to which it had become accustomed. Wearing his sou’wester hat, Willy was a frequent flyer on the Concorde between London and New York and has visited an estimated 35 countries.

The trunk, Canard Willy, and a miniature rubber duck with its own Louis Vuitton carrying case was given to the owner by the French firm following its production. All will be traveling to a new home with bids invited between £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935).

In the world of haute couture, few patterns or motifs can rival the instant recognition of the Louis Vuitton monogramed canvas. The design originated in 1896 under George Vuitton. He hoped a copyrighted design that paid tribute to his late father would put a stop to counterfeiting of the firm’s state-of-the-art luggage. The canvas soon became a frequent sight on the glamorous ocean liners on which the social elite traveled the world.

The collection of modern LV luggage and paraphernalia offered at Sworders dates primarily from the 1980s and has been professionally cared for by Louis Vuitton in Paris when not in use. In addition to classic Alzer and Super President cases in a multitude of sizes, estimated at prices from £700-£1,800 ($890-$2,285) each, are a series of bespoke items.

A traveling bar is particularly smart: the vendor used it frequently on transatlantic flights when craving a gin and tonic. The case opens to reveal a full complement of silver components custom made by Christofle of Paris. Four beakers, an ice bucket, ice cube tongs, a decanter, and a garnish pot all carry the unique stamping ‘Christofle Pour Louis Vuitton’. Like many of the pieces in the sale, it comes with its luggage tag and dust bag. Sworders expects this exclusive one-off will command £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935).

Also made-to-order is a canvas valise à chaussures ‘Géminé’ shoe trunk, with compartments for 12 pairs of shoes, estimated at £7,000-£10,000 ($8,900-$12,695), and a trunk for wristwatches, estimated at £12,000-£15,000 ($15,235-$19,040). Inside the latter are three mechanized watch displays, two pull-out trays with cushions and compartments, and a hidden compartment containing a leather pouch for watch tools.

Horror comic that scandalized a senator could scare up $9K at PBA April 25

EC Comics, Crime Suspenstories No. 22, estimated at $6,000-$9,000 at PBA.

BERKELEY, CA — PBA Galleries will present an EC, MAD, Pre-Code Horror and R. Crumb sale on Thursday, April 25 featuring scandalous horror comics of the 1950s, early MAD comics featuring the work of legendary illustrator Harvey Kurtzman, and a selection of Robert Crumb and countercultural Underground comix. The 429-lot catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Leading the sale is the infamous EC Comics CrimeSuspenStories April-May 1954 issue that landed publisher William Gaines (1922-1992) a date with the Senate Subcommittee On Juvenile Delinquency, which was investigating whether and how comic books might be warping the minds of America’s young people. With cover art by Johnny Craig (1926-2001), the issue caused a sensation with the depiction of an axe murderer holding the severed head of his female victim. Gaines was always overweight, and was dieting at the time of the hearing by taking dexedrine, then a popular diet drug better recognized now as an amphetamine. Flying high initially, Gaines later said he “crashed and burned” as the hearing dragged on, becoming unable to offer coherent answers to senators on the subcommittee. His most famous interchange where he was still amped on speed was with Senator Estes Kefauver (1903-1963) of Tennessee:

SENATOR KEFAUVER: “Here is your May issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman’s head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that’s in good taste?”

GAINES: “Yes, sir, I do – for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the blood could be seen dripping from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.”

The example of the comic book on offer at PBA is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.

Just two years earlier, Gaines launched what would become his star franchise, MAD Magazine. Dated October-November 1952, MAD Magazine #1 is coveted by all comics collectors. Its cover was penned by Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993), who had been upset that fellow EC illustrator Al Feldstein was making more than he was. To allay the situation, Gaines suggested a solution: EC would launch a new title for Kurtzman to edit, boosting his pay by 50%. As the lot notes attest, ‘The result was sheer MADness.’ The book is estimated at $2,500-$3,500.

The sale also includes a Charles Plymell first printing of ZAP COMIX No. 1. Released in November 1967, this was the publication that exploded the Baby Boomer “counterculture comix” revolution. With an initial printing of 5,000, this is “the Action Comics #1 of the underground,” according to Jay Kennedy’s Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide. Original-run copies have a 25¢ cover price and bear the words ‘Printed by Charles Plymell’ on the back cover. It is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.