2/20/18 – Back to the calendar for more pick of the week inspiration. February 20th is love your pet day. I searched for my favorite pet which is a black Labrador retriever. My sometimes well behaved black lab Stella, who is two, runs out the front door every morning to happily get the newspaper! I thought my pick this week should cover all bases so I found something that fits. This oil on canvas painting by Pennsylvania artist Ben Austrian just happens to have a cat and a dog. How perfect! Not only was this sold by Pook and Pook at auction in November of 2011, but it also happens to be the highest price ever at auction for an Austrian at $82,950. The record for the artist was broken twice that day when earlier in the day a painting of chicks and a pumpkin sold for $65,180, only to be eclipsed hours later. This came from the home of Lester and Barbara Breininger of Robesonia, Pennsylvania. Lester was not only a successful redware artist but a veracious collector of all things Pennsylvania. Dated 1905 and signed in the lower right corner, this painting also retained the original frame. So whether you are a cat or dog lover, this one has it all.
by: Jamie Shearer
2/16/18 – My pick this week is inspired by National Tartar Sauce day (February 16th)! Oh, you didn’t know? Well join the club, I totally forgot this year too, so I am left luring around the Hallmark store looking for a card. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? At any rate thankfully, someone does as it gives me inspiration for subjects to search for. I came across this trophy and thought I would drop a few lines with random thoughts. This codfish weathervane was sold by us in May of 2012 as part of the Mr. and Mrs. James Grievo collection. What a great, original gold leaf surface on such an iconic item. Attributed to the legendary J. W. Fiske & Company of New York City and dating from the late 19th century, there is no wonder it was so well received at the auction. After much hard-fought action, it was reeled in at $40,290. Not a bad catch indeed. Measuring in at 38” long this hefty guy would certainly use up a lot of tartar sauce.
by: Jamie Shearer
February 5th 2018 – We’re feeling proud around the office this week, thanks to our local team the Philadelphia Eagles achieving their first ever Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots. In anticipation of the team’s victory parade scheduled for later this week, we’re recollecting some of our most patriotic and illustrious pieces sold in past sales. One in particular stands out, and of course it features our Philadelphia mascot – the eagle. This iconic piece of Americana broke the record at the time for American stoneware sold at auction, reaching a staggering $402,900 when it crossed the block back in 2012. The incised cobalt decorated eagle is displayed with his wings proudly outstretched, clutching an American flag in his talons. For a moment, in our head, we can almost imagine him flapping those wings and singing the Eagle’s fight song…
By: Kaitlyn Julian
1/22/2018 – My pick for this week lot #308. Shockingly, it is not a piece of Americana, not a piece of stoneware, and not even a great folk art treasure. Lot 308 is very far away from any of my usual likes. This one is a Patek Phillipe signing bird box. While much more of a recognizable name in watches, Patek Phillipe produced these gems in the mid 19th century. Just like their watches these are true works of art. From the enameled lid mounted in gold on top of the tortoise shell case, to the feathery little friend who serenades you when open the lid. These were made by the hands of true master craftsman. What a great opportunity to buy an example of work which was way ahead of its time by one of the most renown and respected Swiss watch makers.
by Jamie Shearer
Roland and Marilyn Kemble spent six decades selecting and acquiring pieces for their collection from the most prominent of Americana. They have now decided, in their words “amid both tears and great delight”, to present this private collection at auction. The first session of the auction will begin in the evening of January 12 and the second the following morning on January 13. Click here to read the entire article in the Antique Trader.
1/8/2018 – For me, growing up in a family that loved antiques I was quick to find myself attached to the idea of collecting. As a young boy, the obvious choice was baseball cards. Fortunately for me, this was just prior to the card companies over producing cards. The mid to late 1970’s was a great time in baseball history. As I scoured boxes and shelves at all of the local auctions, my collection grew. I would go to several different baseball card shops always looking for that card I needed to complete a year. I stopped buying baseball cards long ago and, in fact, all of my cards are now gone to others. But, as we unpacked and cataloged the items from the Kemble collection, I found lot #281, the Detroit Tigers baseball quilt, and I was transported back in time to my youth. As I looked through the embroidered signatures, I found many familiar names. There was Hank Greenburg, a Hall of Fame first baseman who was a two-time most valuable player and was considered one of the greatest sluggers of all time. There is Mickey Cochrane, one of the best catchers of all time and another Hall of Fame member. The superstitious Schoolboy Rowe’s name appears toward the center. Goose Goslin is yet another of the Hall of Fame members on this team. A prominent member of the “G-men” and great hitter. Gee Walker, the “Madman from Mississippi”, who was actually picked off while arguing with the St. Louis Cardinals bench in the World Series. Billy Rogell was a lead-off hitter who played in the World Series with a broken ankle and still managed to get eight hits. Tommy Bridges appears towards the center diamond. He was one of the premier pitchers of his era, with twenty-three complete games in 1934 alone. Charlie Gehringer, yet another Hall of Fame member, is considered one of the best second basemen of all time, he missed his Hall of Fame induction as he was getting married for the first time five days later. So do a search on the 1934 Tigers and you can see all sorts of interesting facts about this team, including the controversial call in the World Series. And to bid on this unique quilt, click here.
– Jamie Shearer
My pick this week comes from day two of the Roland and Marilyn Kemble collection. This was a hard choice for me to make, as I had quite a few things that I felt were very deserving of the spotlight. I narrowed it down to the baseball quilt, the Woodlands Indian burl bowl, and the Lancaster County splay leg tavern table. I ended up choosing none of these and went with a non-American piece I felt was an exceptional example of an item we see a lot of. Lot #253 is a Continental painted bride’s box. I probably see a hundred of these boxes throughout the course of a year, but this one, for me, really stuck out with its very graphic and vibrantly painted surface. The outer edge with bold floral bands and the center of the lid with an image of a bride and groom. The background almost conjures up a feeling for Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. The condition, surface, and use of earth tone pigments just pulled it all together. A great piece of folk art that mixes with any area of collecting as well as any time frame. I can visualize this standing a top of great Pennsylvania dower chest just as easily as on a stark white shelf with art deco lines.
Many of you have received our catalog featuring the collection of Roland and Marilyn Kemble (and if you didn’t, you can order it here), which went out just ahead of Santa’s sleigh. For some of you the post office will drop this treat off just before the credit card bills come rolling in. As I flip through, I cannot help but to be drawn to one of the many outstanding weathervanes that the Kemble’s have put back over their many years in the antique business. I find myself looking at many iconic weathervane forms. The leaping stag I find to have particular pleasing lines, the running horse reminds me of glory days long gone and how do you get more of an American image than that of the eagle. I decided that one weathervane had everything hammered into one – lot #90, the lobster! What great lines showing well executed details and an excellent gilt surface. This one has it all! And we all know how size matters. This lobster measures 51 ½” long from the tip of the claw to the end of the segmented tail. Even the hungriest of us all would struggle just to finish one claw down at any of the memorable lobster shacks on the rocky Maine coast. So, sign up to bid and see if you can add this crustacean to your collection. Ask at the front desk if maybe they have bidder paddles in the shape of a fork, as well as one large bib.
I have no upcoming auctions to choose from this week so how about a Christmas flashback! This little gem came to us from the collection of Richard and Joan Smith, legendary Lancaster County, Pennsylvania collectors – dealers who had a fantastic eye for early Pennsylvania Germanic arts. Undoubtedly, I will talk about other items that came from this fantastic collection in future posts as the material was impeccable. In going with the Christmas feel I chose lot #391, a German belsnickle Santa. This figure is wearing a white and gold mica flaked robe with yellow flocked trim and is wearing a crown. Standing a little over 9” tall, this Santa certainly delivered. The crown was most unusual and helped push the bidding to over $4,500.
Ok so my third pick of the week comes from day two of our online only sale. I like lot #1995 the five pieces of Native American pottery. This is an area which I do not have a lot of knowledge in, but is certainly one that I have a great interest. This group provides an instant small collection. While very similar in style, color and design, they are still very different. This would make a great start as an entry level collection that would fit in with many other collecting genres. The estimate seems so very reasonable and I would anticipate that it would exceed the high number without a problem.