Constantine takes his leave of Cheswick auction house

| Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A longtime fixture on the local auction scene makes a quiet exit, while area companies make a lot of noise with sales during the next few weeks.

Constantine & Pletcher

After nearly four decades in the antiques and auction trade, Jeff Constantine bids farewell to the business. Though Constantine's presence certainly will be missed by employees and customers, owner Dan Pletcher promises that it's business as usual at the Cheswick auction house. Along with the usual schedule of sales every other week, the Constantine & Pletcher name will “remain absolutely the same,” says Pletcher. He does hint at some future changes as far as the types of sales the company may have and expanding the selection of merchandise.

For now, however, Constantine & Pletcher will move forward without missing a beat.

The upcoming April 27 auction brings another well-balanced group of tables and chairs among the merchandise heading to the block. Top picks are a turn-of-the-century Georgian-style mahogany dining-room set, a Queen Anne-style mahogany highboy, a miniature Chippendale-style highboy with a noticeable Philadelphia accent, a Venetian-style mirrored screen and console table, a blue-leather Chesterfield sofa, several pieces of Federal-style furniture — made during the 20th-century. Reaching back into the 19th century, a country-French armoire displays its continental heritage, as does a Regency-style inlaid sideboard that dates to the mid 1820s.

In the home-entertainment category, retro is the rage as a shipment of Bakelite TVs and radios provide a nice buzz. A Bakelite bar is the perfect accessory for sipping an Old Fashioned. An Art Deco chrome-and-glass smoke stand, topped off with a lighted airplane, should get tobacco lovers fired up, especially when combined with a Bakelite combination radio and humidor.

Rolling Rock lives on in the form of several advertising signs, and an old Coca-Cola cooler is, indeed, the real thing. An old Hershey's sign should be a sweet deal. And an early brake-shoe oak cabinet could be a show stopper.

Oils, watercolors and prints, along with early American and English maps, should attract the eyes of art collectors. For those who collect precious metals in the shape of rings, bracelets and home accessories, a large selection of gold and silver jewelry should be a hot commodity, especially when a pair of Tiffany blown-glass candlesticks hit the block.

Starting off the day is an uncataloged sale at 9 a.m. April 27, with the main sale at noon. Previews are from noon to 5 p.m. April 26 and 8 to 9 a.m. April 27. The previews and sales are at the Constantine & Pletcher showroom at 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190

Three Rivers Auction Co.

Bidders may detect a British accent during Three Rivers' April 23 sale, when the estate of a former U.S. Steel attorney and Anglophile Lloyd Cook comes to market in Washington, Pa. While representing the company in England, Cook married a Brit bride and eventually brought her across the pond to settle in Highland Park, where they lived for 50 years.

Before they settled in the States, the Cooks collected antique English furniture, art and books to furnish their home. For bibliophiles, there are leather-bound first editions of Dickens' “Pickwick Papers” (1837) and “Nicholas Nickleby” (1839) . Owner Tripp Kline says prices for such volumes can vary wildly from the low hundreds to five-figure hammer prices.

Another sale high note is an 1839 score for Mozart's “Magic Flute.”

On the art side, the Cooks showed a preference for Joseph William Topham Vinall, an English painter who was active during the Cooks' time in the British Isles. The five pieces display a range from more traditional oil-on-canvas landscapes to an introspective self-portrait.

Blowing smoke seems to be a theme this week. Pulling double duty, an English silver cigar cutter made in 1901 provides a light to for those who want to enjoy a puff or two. An English silver cigar box manufactured in 1915 provides a perfect companion.

An English oak Georgian breakfront is, well, a break from tradition, which calls for pieces to be made from more formal wood such as mahogany or walnut. Also from the Isles are an English lady's writing desk in the French style, an 1860s English linen press, an Edwardian inlaid piano bench, an English-oak Tudor-style pewter cupboard and an English marble-top washstand.

The preview runs from noon to 6 p.m. April 23, followed by the sale, at the Three Rivers showroom, 382 W. Chestnut St., Washington. Details: 724-222-8020

BHD Auctions

BHD owner Brian Detch strolled just two blocks from his home for a recent sales call that led to the company's online sale running April 26 to May 9. That short jaunt yielded what Detch describes as one his largest sales of recent vintage toys, furniture, audio equipment, dolls, board games and Pittsburgh Pirates sports memorabilia.

According to Detch's definition, vintage is just about anything from the 1950s through the '70s. By those terms, this sale rates as vintage-plus. Most of the toys and games hail from that era, and many seem to be never opened or rarely used. Most also come with their original boxes. An early videogame system called Odyssey often sells on e-Bay for a couple hundred dollars or more. Games of Concentration, Twister and Easy Money will keep the kids amused, while the Happy Hooker game from Xavier Hollander may appeal to adults.

Music fans of all eras can get their groove on with a two-piece Philco console hi-fi record player. The stacks of wax hit parade features early 78s from Decca, Victor and the Edison record companies. For the early rock 'n' roll crowd, a stash of 45s includes discs from the likes of Bobby Freeman. Finally, fans of '70s tunes can play some golden oldies on everyone's least-favorite recording medium, the 8-track tape.

One of the older items travels way back in the time machine. A table lamp with a slag-glass shade and base should electrify lighting collectors. While lamps with slag-glass are common, finding one with a shade and base is a less-frequent happening. Detch also expects a Champion Spark Plug clock to put the pedal to the metal thanks to its Art Deco-ish stylings.

Details: 724-816-0683 or

John Altdorfer is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

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