This week I wanted to choose one of the amazing steam toy accessories set to cross the auction block on Saturday, December 8th, 2018. I am trying to picture in my mind the grandiose layout with several large steam power plants intertwined with belts and pulleys, smoke belching from the chimney stacks and the room engulfed in motion. Everywhere you look something is spinning, churning, twirling all under a hypnotic buzz. Just keep the fires burning and the steam would drive them to run all day and night. I think every activity is represented, the farriers, blacksmiths, coal miners, knitters and even the gamblers have a member showing off their skills. The amusement park rides were just like the real ones, the Ferris wheel taking people to new heights, the swings causing hair to flow in the breeze, the horses on the carousels spinning around and around. Look over there at the whip as the riders scream from being tossed from side to side. That one kid doesn’t look so good. I think he is going to be sick. In the distance a man is playing a banjo on the entertainment stage, his foot tapping to the rhythm of the beat which changes my focus. This week I picked lot number 416 from the Steam Toy Collection of Morton Hirschberg. The painted tin Olympic relay race made by Doll exemplifies perfection in a steam toy of the early 20th century. The movement of five runners each holding a baton, which they stretch forward to the track star in front of them. The lead runner not taking off until the guy behind nears. The center with a flag pole hoisting the Olympic flag as a banner signifies the stadium in the background. Don’t have a steam toy power plant to drive the race? No problem, just turn the hand crank on the side and watch them run like the wind. This is yet another visionary toy with great action that sure beats any PlayStation game in my book.
by: Jamie Shearer
I once again am lacking promptness on my picks of the week. As the basement at Pook and Pook Auctions was being swamped in guns, toys, and antiques I found it nearly impossible to find time to address some of my favorite things set to cross the auction block. Now that I am almost recovered from too much turkey and stuffing, I have found something I need to show everyone. I must admit that if I had a pick of the past year this would certainly be in the running for my favorite! Keep in mind that this toy will be sold Friday evening, December 7th, 2018 so there is plenty of time to have it wrapped and under my Christmas tree. I wonder if 100 years ago some young child ran down the steps to find this as his gift. The excitement and awe transcend the century since it was made. This pick is lot 188, the HMS Franklin automaton. Franklin’s lost expedition was a British voyage led by Sir John Franklin in 1845 aboard two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. The ships became ice locked in the Canadian Arctic waters and all lives were tragically lost. In 2014 the HMS Erebus wreckage was finally located and two years later the HMS Terror was found as well. Imagine being a young sailor and getting assigned to serve on a ship named the “Terror”! This toy features a clockwork mechanism with a fantastic animation of a sailor scurrying up wire rigging as a polar bear emerges from below to chase at his heels. The sailor reaches the top where he disappears into the façade of a towering iceberg. The bear hot on his heel’s dives into the cavern with reckless abandon. There is brief delay as you wonder the fate of the young man. Did he escape, did he manage to kill the bear, what happened? Just as all hope fades, he reemerges from a trap door in the ice below only to hastily make his getaway once again. Off to the side of the bow of the ship is an older sailor wielding an axe as he swings aimlessly at a second menacing polar bear. The toy still works smoothly and the bear will chase the poor middy all day long. I am amazed by the complexity and vision of the maker so very long ago. Don’t forget that I have been very good this year and I have a spot saved under my tree!
by: Jamie Shearer
As someone who knows little to nothing about firearms, but knows plenty of the history of Scotland, my favorite lot of the November 17th Firearms, Sporting and Militaria sale is the exceptional matched pair of 18th c. Scottish flintlock pistols. The distinctive set are signed by John Campbell, member of the renowned gunsmith guild of Doune, Perthshire. The pair is a classic example of the Doune pistol, featuring an entirely steel construction (Scottish wood was generally unsuitable for making firearms), having scrolled ram’s horn butts, silver inlay of Celtic inspired foliate ornamentation, flared muzzles, and button-shaped triggers without trigger guards. They carry the highest pre-sale estimate of any item in November’s sale at $20,000 – $30,000.
Similar examples of Doune pistols are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Scotland. Doune pistols were favorites among Highland clansmen, many having been fired during the Jacobite Rebellion, and were similarly favored by wealthy socialites as fashion accessories. Popular folklore suggests that the first shot fired in the American Revolution – the “shot heard around the world” – was from a Doune pistol, which currently resides in the Lexington Historical Society Museum in Massachusetts. In 2004, the historic Murdoch Pistol Factory site, where pistol-making began in Perthshire in 1678 was saved by the community from demolition. George Washington owned a pair of the famous pistols and upon his death bequeathed them to General Lafayette. Other famous owners of Doune pistols include Louis XIV of France, Peter the Great of Russia, and Queen Elizabeth. This pair is in a crisp, fine condition, a testament to their status as treasured heirlooms for over two centuries.
By: Kaitlyn Julian
Bidsquare Takes 3 Top Lots at Pook!
Oct 05,2018 | 13:57 EDT By Jessica Helen Weinberg
Although, it’s always best to embrace change, as the colorful leaves of fall so elegantly remind us before gliding to the ground – there is also an undeniable comfort in noticing the things that happen to stay the same. Similar to the glee of knowing how an apple pie will soon be appearing on a kitchen counter or feeling that seasonal nudge to finish the novel that couldn’t compete with summer’s hype – there is an equal surge of anticipation when one returns to a seller in search of sensational antiques. Click here to read more.
When I sat down with the Flacks to look over the catalog before it went off to the printer, Paul remarked that his favorite fraktur artist was Andreas Kolb. I too find Kolb’s work superior and I’ve laid out my share of fraktur artists over the past decade creating catalogs for Pook & Pook. I love the whimsical quality of his flowers and creatures as well as his use of contrasting dark and light colors in his art. Two lots by Kolb are set to cross the auction block on October 13th at The Collection of Paul & Rita Flack, both watercolor and ink songbook examples by the Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Mennonite school teacher (active 1784-1810). So, my picks of the week are lots 84 and 218. The first, a rare hymnal with a tooled and pigmented leather binding yields not one, but two bookplates inside its cover. The first is a tulip blooming out of an inscribed heart. In the corner, a quirky little face emerges. The adjacent bookplate reveals clumps of berries above the text detailing the recipient’s name.
The second lot, lot 218, shows Kolb’s skill in all its glory. Two lines of musical notes are embraced by tulips blooming into eccentric faces adorned with crowns of leaves and petals. The base is flanked on either side with birds. Very different lots by the same artist, but both simply beautiful. Either would make a fabulous jumping off point for anyone entering the world of fraktur collecting.
So here we are gearing up for the Americana & International sale, which is right around the corner on September 14th and 15th. For my last pick I went out on a limb with a non-Pennsylvania piece, one that I really like. So guess where I am going to get this week’s pick from? I went all American, as in George Washington. I don’t think you could deliver a more admirable person than George Washington. One who epitomizes the land of the free and the home of the brave. I was inspired by making a recent weekend trip the Museum of the American Revolution on third street in Philadelphia. If you get an opportunity to go, this is a great way to spend a few hours and do not miss out on the presentation and short film on Washington’s Headquarters Tent, it gave me chills. The arms and powder horns were just fantastic. So that inspiration led me to lot 269, a Gorham patinated bronze of George Washington after the original by Jean-Antoine Houdon. The original sculpture is located in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. It amazes me to think that the original took approximately seven years to complete. Sometimes I struggle to stay focused for seven minutes! At 16 inches high, this imposing figure could occupy any place in your home. Great surface and great subject. Don’t miss out on this one.
Yet another successful online auction is over. The 1500 lots containing over 10,000 items are starting to leave the building and not soon enough! The next wave is coming and all the Pook and Pook employees are scrambling to get things set-up. This morning on the way in I had to wake the rooster up. I found out that I wasn’t the first one here in the building either as Beth Pook said she woke the same rooster up just 10 minutes earlier. He must have hit the snooze button! So, the September 14th and 15th catalog sale is in the mail and if you didn’t get yours check again tomorrow. With over 650 lots there has to be something that you want to take home. As many of you know I struggle with selecting one item. I love Pennsylvania Germanic items and this sale does not disappoint. Names like Schtockschnitzler Simmons, Ben Austrian, Chrsitian Mertel, and Wilhelm Schimmel can be found throughout the 200 alluring pages. I will admit to betraying my Pennsylvania side and going to something from the New England states. Lot 246 for me has caught my eye from day one when Kaitlyn and I visited the collection of Dr. Carl Mogil of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Everything was displayed in the perfect spot with each item complimenting the next. As we entered the foyer the tiger maple clock made me pause but as I turned to the right this rug hanging just inside the living room set the tone for the entire collection. The shirred rug with two central potted flowers bordered by a serpentine edge really caught my eye. Graphic, simple and very folksy. The earth tones in the background bringing out the vibrant red and blue flowers even more. Measuring 32” x 62” it would be a great accent to any room, I can picture it in a room with a stone fireplace built in 1802 just as easily as above a sofa in a contemporary white wall dwelling. Whatever you do after you buy it, please don’t put it back on the floor.
The toys are done. Another successful sale with happy buyers and happy sellers, so onward with the next auction. I always say that here at Pook and Pook Auction it’s like the tide of antiques. It all rolls in – we find it new homes and it all rolls out. Oh wait, here comes the next wave! Our August 29th and 30th sale is filled to the brim! Over 1500 lots to be sold through Bidsquare.com means that there is indeed something for everyone. Like always, I have a sea of items to choose from and, like always, it’s a tough task to narrow down to one thing. I picked lot #3871 the faux bois garden bench. I love this bench and for some reason I really like saying faux bois. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, it comes from the French and translates to “fake wood”. This bench was made by a Texas artisan who has mastered this technique. Carlos Cortez has set up shop in San Antonio Texas and has many public art projects throughout the world which includes the Riverwalk extension river grotto, Arnold Palmer golf course at La Cantera, and the San Antonio Children’s Museum, just to name a few. In fact, he was featured in an article for Martha Stewart Living magazine where she discusses the process and how she had several tables and benches commissioned for her Maine home. This natural looking bench is a terrific find and would certainly be a conversation piece for your garden. It even comes with a built-in theft deterrent – it’s 75” long and it’s extremely heavy! So, if you buy it, bring a truck and some friends to help load it!
Once again, I am sitting here on the floor in the balcony surrounded by toys. There are trucks, buses, cabs, dolls, board games, models, and a plethora of play things all around me. There is tin, cast iron, spelter, wood, cardboard, and even plastic. I’m searching for my inspiration for this week’s pick. An owl turns its head intently watching to see if I have any coins to donate. A Spirit of St. Louis airplane banks hard to the left to avoid the zeppelin as it swoops in for a better look. A tribe of Native American Indians sends smoke signals to the other side of the room to let others know of my activity. Three tin racers zoom past, not even braking to navigate around Noah’s animals lined up two by two. A passenger train pulls up next to the station, the weary travelers leaning out the window trying to get a better view. A fire truck pulls up the lights flashing, the siren blaring as a fireman scurries up the ladder. All wanting to know who or what is going to be the lucky chosen one. This week I went for a cast iron car. Not just any car, but a cast iron Hubley Studebaker coupe. A sleek streamlined version which epitomizes the 1930’s. Its nickel-plated grill with protruding headlights ready to streak around winding back country roads. While Hubley sent millions of toys to children all over the world, this is one that you do not see come across the auction block very often. So, check out lot 1496 in the August 15th toy auction at Pook and Pook Auction in Downingtown and see if you can find something to add to your collection.
by: Jamie Shearer
A Beginners Guide: Collecting Antique Toys with Specialist Noel Barrett
Aug 07,2018 | 09:39 EDT By Jessica Helen Weinberg with Noel Barrett
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