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19th-century French hand-crank horse tricycle, est. $500-$700

‘Quirky’ toys enliven antiques lineup at Gray’s, April 13

19th-century French hand-crank horse tricycle, est. $500-$700
19th-century French hand-crank horse tricycle, est. $500-$700

CLEVELAND – Gray’s Auctioneers will hold a Fine Art, Furniture and Decorations Auction on Wednesday, April 13, starting at 10 am Eastern time. It contains delicate examples of transferware, a quirky collection of 18th- and 19th-century toys, and an array of Lalique crystal from a collector in Cleveland. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Of particular note is The Last Shot, a painting by British-American artist Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905). Forming part of the artist’s Western Series, The Last Shot perfectly represents Tait’s obsession with the western expansion happening on the continent in the 1850s. Mirroring the American public’s fevered fascination for blood-curdling encounters with flora, fauna and the native population, the series was enthusiastically received, cementing Tait’s reputation as a master of oil on canvas. The Last Shot is one of only 22 pieces in his Western Series and is estimated at $80,000-$120,000.

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, ‘The Last Shot,’ est. $80,000-$120,000
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, ‘The Last Shot,’ est. $80,000-$120,000

Another strong representative from the selection of paintings on offer is The Rug Merchant by Giulio Rosati (Italian, 1858-1917), a captivating tableau of mid-19th-century Orientalist art. It has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years. Rosati rebelled against family tradition to pursue his passion for painting, eventually becoming one of the most prolific Orientalist painters of the century. The Rug Merchant portrays the artist’s perception of an everyday scene in the exotic East. It has an estimated sale value of $20,000-$40,000.

Giulio Rosati, ‘The Rug Merchant,’ est. $20,000-$40,000
Giulio Rosati, ‘The Rug Merchant,’ est. $20,000-$40,000

Ceramics and glassware comprise a large number of lots in the April 13 auction. Transferware became the ceramic version of the postcard in the 19th century, depicting exotic scenes of worlds far, far away. Lots 181, 150 and 96 are delightful examples of the form, boasting vivid shades of English green, blue and pink. All three lots mentioned have the same estimate: $80-$120.

Six English blue and white transferware plates by various makers, est. $80-$120
Six English blue and white transferware plates by various makers, est. $80-$120

The antique toys included in the sale lineup are certain to charm. Toy-makers in the 19th and early 20th centuries were the masters of their crafts, and the April 13 auction features some of the most innovative, entertaining and weird examples the experts at Gray’s have come across.

Lincoln Tunnel tin lithograph wind-up toy, est. $80-$120
Lincoln Tunnel tin lithograph wind-up toy, est. $80-$120

Standouts include Lot 6, a French hand-crank bucking horse tricycle, estimated at $500-$700; lot 123, which features a camel, an elephant and a lion that are not cuddly – they are mechanical and still banks, together estimated at $80-$120; and lot 116, an early 20th-century simulation of the then-newly opened marvel of engineering, the Lincoln Tunnel, complete with mechanized cars coming and going to the unseen metropolis of New York. Its estimate is $80-$120.

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