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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This week I head back into the toy box. As I dig around I found a great selection of pressed steel including Tonka, Chein and Structo toys, a lot of which were not left outside in the dirt pile like mine were. They even saved the original boxes! I see a lot of fire related toys, friction cars, many of which are copies of the real thing just like mom and dad had. I move the dolls aside, Lil Abner’s band is in there making a ruckus, a frog leaps out of the way and a beetle scurries off. As I get closer to the bottom I find my pick of the week! Lot #1223, a Marx pressed steel sedan pulling a Lonesome Pine travel trailer. Its bright red color draws me in and reminds me of one of my passions which is camping with family and friends, making memories sitting by a campfire telling stories, some true and some not quite, that smell of burning wood, which will forever trigger me thinking of these wonderful times. Obviously people collect things that they can relate to and what better way to stand aback looking at shelves filled with things that make you smile. I imagine there are some great toy collections centered around travel trailers. I can imagine the collector standing back and just smiling as no words need to be said. I look at my job like that every day with a smile in my heart…although maybe not today! I am going camping!
by: Jamie Shearer
As our country prepares to celebrate another birthday this month, this week’s pick is an object steeped in American history and achievement, spotlighting a few famous Philadelphians and featuring two Philadelphia landmarks. My pick is lot 401 from our October 2015 Americana sale, an embossed copper bust of Benjamin Franklin made by Franklin Peale in 1840.
The story of the artist, Franklin Peale, is an impressive tale. He was born into good fortune as the son of famed Philadelphian painter, scientist, inventor and naturalist, Charles Wilson Peale. His father was known for founding the first “natural history” museum in an era where Americans were becoming increasingly more interested in the sciences and fostering intellectual exploration. The Philadelphia Museum, Peale said, served “to instruct the mind and sow the seeds of Virtue” in the new American republic. Remaining open to the public for nearly fifty years, the Peale family’s museum was home to hundreds of portraits, thousands of natural history specimens, archaeological objects, life-size wax figures, fossils, and curiosities.
Franklin Peale was quite literally born into the family business; his mother gave birth to him in the family quarters of the museum. Peale’s museum was once housed in the headquarters of the American Philosophical Society, an organization founded in 1743 by none other than Benjamin Franklin himself. It is said that the young Peale was given his name at four months old by members of the Society as he sat upon a chair once owned by his namesake.
As an adult, Franklin Peale cultivated an interest in mechanical engineering, becoming a founding member of the Franklin Institute and later working for the Philadelphia Mint where he earned the title of Chief Coiner. Peale developed many new technologies – some successful and some failures – to assist in the coining process. During this time, he nourished his artistic proclivities and created medallions with the help of machinery housed at the Mint. One such item produced by Peale in his offices at the Philadelphia Mint is our pick of the week, a copper bust cast in 1840 to celebrate his namesake, America’s most famous Franklin.
This piece of 19th century American material culture embodies the products of American ingenuity thanks to Franklin Peale’s coining inventions and it honors the past achievements of one of America’s greatest intellectuals, Benjamin Franklin. In the mid 19th century, less than a century after the country’s founding, Americans were proud to reflect on the progress their country had made. It is a pleasure that my job at Pook & Pook allows me to celebrate American culture every day while I learn from these objects and uncover fascinating stories of our ancestors. Happy birthday 242nd birthday, America!
By: Kaitlyn Julian