Bidders answer the call to Bruneau’s eclectic Jan. 4 auction

Group of four early horn transmitter telephone reproductions, marked ‘Historical Replica Reproduced by Bell Telephone Laboratories,’ made in the 20th century. Price realized: $15,000. Bruneau & Co. image

CRANSTON, R.I. – Antique telephones and other collectibles from the early days of telecommunication, all from the Pennsylvania chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America Museum, fetched nice high prices at a New Year’s Estate Fine Art, Antiques & Collectibles Auction held Jan. 4 by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

“It just goes to show that when an item is top quality, collectors will come out of the woodwork,” said Kevin Bruneau, the president of Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers. “These rare items from the Telephone Pioneers of America are some of the coolest things I’ve seen sell. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors. Antique phones have become quite popular as a collectible.”

Just some of the top-selling lots from the category included the following:

– A group of four early horn transmitter telephone reproductions (above), marked “Historical Replica Reproduced by Bell Telephone Laboratories,” made in the 20th century from wood and metal, the largest of which measured 7½ inches by 10½ inches ($15,000).

– A 19th-century mahogany telephone switchboard box (below), made in the United States by an unidentified company but an interesting piece nonetheless, overall 12¾ inches by 11¼ inches, made from wood and metal and with no apparent signs of damage ($13,750).

Nineteenth-century mahogany telephone switchboard box, made in the United States by an unidentified company, overall 12¾ x 11¼in. Price realized: $13,750. Bruneau & Co. image

– A pair of 19th-century diminutive Bell wall mount telephones, both black painted wood-cased phones with glass transmitters by Maxim New York, marked “American Bell Company” around the transmitter and the sides of both marked “July 11, 1893” ($8,750).

– A group of six 19th century butter stamp telephone receivers, including five solid-colored receivers of simple design and one black receiver with carved decorative flower patterns around the earpiece, with one piece marked “Property of Bell Telephone Co.” ($7,500).

– One lot consisting of two 19th century square transmitter telephone boxes, including one box marked “Blake Transmitter 320644 Edison Carbon Telephone” on the front and the other, unidentified transmitter having a decorative mount and receiver holder ($7,500).

One lot consisting of two 19th century square transmitter telephone boxes, including one box marked ‘Blake Transmitter 320644 Edison Carbon Telephone’ on the front. Price realized: $7,500. Bruneau & Co. image

The auction got off to a roaring start with the very first lot, a 1985 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit car with just 35,000 miles on the odometer. The full-size, British-made sedan was a full-size luxury Rolls that had been perfectly maintained. The car boasted an ivory-colored interior with the finest burl wood inlays, with all service records, title and registration. It sped off the lot for $13,750.

1985 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit car with 35,000 original miles on the odometer, perfectly maintained, with an ivory colored interior with the finest burl wood inlays. Price realized: $13,750. Bruneau & Co. image

“Talk about a nonstop, action-packed auction,” remarked Travis Landry, a Bruneau & Co. specialist and auctioneer. “Between the Rolls Royce, the telephones and fine art, bidder cards were flying from every corner of the room. There were over 200 absentee bids, 45-plus phone bidders, and over 5,000 registered bidders online. It was a great sale to kick off the New Year.”

The sale featured a fine selection of listed artist paintings, etchings and prints; a collection of Austrian and Bohemian art glass and figural lamps from a Long Island, New York collection; a great single-owner collection of Japanese robes; a nice selection of Asian arts; and five rare 18th and 19th century Rhode Island and Massachusetts almanacs.

Also offered were sterling silver chalices and estate sterling lots, jewelry and sculptures.

The fine art category was led by a watercolor painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain (India/England, 1913-2011), who is dubbed the “Picasso of India.” The Cubist figural work depicted two blue horses galloping beneath a monochromatic sky with a purple sun. The framed 2002 painting was signed “Hussain” lower right and measured 19½ inches by 16 ½ inches (sight). It sold for $13,750.

Watercolor painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain (India/England, 1913-2011), the ‘Picasso of India.’ Price realized: $13,750. Bruneau & Co. image

An abstract bronze gray spirit sculpture by Joel Perlman (New York, b. 1943), geometric form with a pierced design, 42 inches tall by 25 inches wide, went to a determined bidder for $7,500. Joel Perlman is well known for his abstract shape sculptures. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York.

Abstract bronze gray spirit sculpture by Joel Perlman (New York, b. 1943), geometric form with a pierced design, 42in tall x 25in wide. Price realized: $7,500. Bruneau & Co. image

For details contact Bruneau & Co. at info@bruneauandco.com or 401-533-9980.