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Upcoming sales promise to heat up bidding

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Camera ready: It’s no optical illusion. This more than a century-old Pony Premo No. 2 camera remains in nearly new condition. BHD Auctions
Fill ’er up: Get gassed up and ready to go with this vintage fuel dispenser. BHD Auctions
Bon voyage: Make sure your ship comes in on time with this rare Chelsea clock. Estimate: $900-$1,200 Constantine & Pletcher
Shine a Light: This signed Handel lamp should brighten the life of its new owner. Estimate: $900-$1,200 Constantine & Pletcher


The recent big chill seems to have plunged the local auction scene into a deep freeze. But a few hardy houses promised to heat up matters with some red-hot events, including the first of several auctions that will liquidate the contents of an iconic Pittsburgh antique store.

Constantine & Pletcher

Prior to her retirement, Lillian Goldsmith devoted her life to collecting. And after hauling 14 truck- loads of merchandise from River House Antiques, Dan Pletcher says he and his crew have barely made it past the front door of the Shadyside antiques emporium that Goldsmith recently closed. Over the next few months, Constantine & Pletcher will sell the entire contents of River House at the company's Cheswick showroom, with the first sale set for Feb. 9.

Aside from a few additions from other consignors, this auction will include all things River House, from antique carved-and-painted Chinese provincial furniture to early-American furniture dating to the 1840s. Given the recent trend of international buyers driving up the hammer prices on Asian items, Pletcher admits that he wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese goods generate strong bidding. Among the pieces up for bid are blanket chests, clothes presses, screens, commodes, grain cabinets and other nice finds.

Although River House technically occupied 226 S. Highland Ave., the shop spread across two adjoining storefronts. In much the same way, its contents sprawled over many eras, styles and tastes. In the furniture group, for example, bidders will find Georgian pieces, authentic old New England chests, some Colonial-style goods, Chippendale-style low tables, a half-dozen Windsor chairs circa 1830 and French tables.

Moving along to the fine-art category, a whimsical bronze clown is good for a few smiles. Collectors will flock to portraits painted by 18t h-century American artists, Spanish-American War prints, wood blocks, several limited-edition John Stobart prints and a collection of prints from Maxwell Parrish, Wallace Nutting and Frederick Remington.

Goldsmith may have called a permanent timeout for River House, but a smattering of clocks from the place will keep on ticking. The timekeepers up for grabs in this auction include a French marquetry-inlaid clock with a glass dome, a rare Chelsea ship's bell clock and a French porcelain figural clock.

In silver selections, the best bets are flatware from Royal Danish, a Tiffany sterling-silver bowl, a Georg Jensen silver-and-stone pin set, several silver vermeil spoons. Pottery and ceramics are heavy on pieces from Royal Dux, Staffordshire and Lladro, with several bisque dolls.

Overall, the bill of goods covers a range that includes concrete lions, designer luggage, canes, African bronze head, urns and much, much more.

The sale previews are from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 8 and 8 to 9 a.m. Feb. 9. An uncataloged sale begins at 9 a.m., followed by the noon catalog auction, at the C&P showroom, 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190.

BHD Auctions

Venturing into cyberspace once again, BHD Auctions launches an Internet-only sale that runs from Feb. 1 through 14. With a Valentine's Day closing date, the auction will aim its Cupid's arrow at the hearts of photography buffs with a Pony Premo No. 2 camera. Produced by the Rochester Optical Co. around 1903, this tiny camera with its leather bellows folds to a compact package that measures about 5 inches square and a couple inches deep. In nearly pristine shape, according to BHD owner Brian Detch, the camera has remained in one family's possession since its purchase for less than $15 more than a century ago. Set up to accommodate 4-inch by 5-inch glass-plate negatives, some models can be retrofitted to accept film. A few years after introducing this model, the manufacturer became part of the Kodak photo empire. For collectors of antique cameras, the Pony Premo is nearly picture perfect.

A vintage petrol pump might leave some bidders pushing the pedal to the metal down memory lane with its 10.8 cents a gallon bargain rate. Although missing the glass globe that rested in the empty halo atop the Deco-esque fuel dispenser, this relic will rev up memories of road trips from yesteryear.

Always welcome at local auctions, Mission Oak furniture makes its presence felt in the shape of a barebones grandfather clock, a bookcase with a glass door, a hall table and several other pieces. For a homier Midwestern touch, a Hoosier-style kitchen cabinet rekindles warm recollections of simpler times.

On a more playful note, a collection of vintage toy cap guns will hit the bull's-eye with grown-up kids of a certain age. Amazingly realistic-looking, a few of these playful pistols might just hit the $100 to $150 target mark.

Military memorabilia falls in rank as the sale marches out more World War II German army gear, authentic combat-tested G.I. Joe first-aid kits and even an Army issue phonograph painted green and encased in a protective cover.

There's plenty more up for grabs from Western Pennsylvania-made stoneware crocks and jugs to old-time hand tools and a 19 th-century German Bible.

Details: 724-816-0683 or

John Altdorfer is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

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