Sales offer range of hot items to break cold streak
With spring set to debut in less than two weeks, the local auction scene blossoms with sales of fine art, precious antiques and fun collectibles. From Regent Square to Ligonier, the choices promise a quick thaw after a long, cold sales streak over the past few months.
Owner Brian Detch pumps up the volume at BHD Auctions with more than 400 lots of goods during an upcoming Web-only sale running March 14 to 20.
At the top of the auction hit parade is a Seeburg 100 Wall-o-Matic jukebox. Stationed at thousands of diner tabletops during the '50s and '60s, these chrome-and-glass units allowed hungry restaurant patrons to choose their favorites tunes to listen to as they waited for their food. Fans of HBO's “The Sopranos” will remember the Wall-o-Matic's pivotal role in the TV series controversial and ambiguous final scene.
This cavalcade of collectibles feels like an online, top-shelf flea market with 1970s comic books from DC and Disney, 1960s kids metal lunch boxes, country kitchen utensils, a parcel of flat and humpback-top storage trunks, vintage advertising signs, art glass and ceramics, antique furniture, 1950s movie magazines and seven cases of baseballs cards from the 1970s through more recent editions.
Details: 724-816-0744 or www.bhdauctions.net
Concept Art Gallery
Heavy on Pittsburgh-accented art, the March 22 sale at Concept Art Gallery brings more than 420 modern and contemporary art and design items to the block for in-house and online bidders.
Highlights abound, with one of the first coming early in the sale with a signed Thomas Hart Benton lithograph that captures field hands threshing wheat. A few lots later, a metal-on-enamel rendering of Medusa displays one of the many talents of Pittsburgh's own Virgil Cantini, who died in 2009.
Pinning labels on Sue Fuller takes a bit of time. Born in Pittsburgh, Fuller earned fame as a painter, printmaker, draftsman, sculptor and author. After graduating from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University), she studied with modernist painters Hans Hoffman and Josef Albers and printmaker Stanley William Hayster. She later traveled to England to train as a glass blower and to Japan to learn calligraphy. Her 1947 gouache-on-watercolor at Concept shows just a few of her many talents and influences.
Other prominent Pittsburgh notables represented in the show are Philip Pearlstein, Aaronel Gruber, Thad Mosley, Andy Warhol and Sam Rosenberg, with more works released by his estate from the family's private collection.
Along with enough art to open a museum, the sale offers a selection of world-class pottery, glass and silver and a large collection of mid-century contemporary furniture and lighting.
Details: 412-242-9200 or conceptgallery.com
Constantine & Pletcher
Roaring like a lion, Constantine & Pletcher enters March with the second of three sales on tap for the month.
With goods from a prominent Mt. Lebanon estate and an unnamed “major academic institution,” according to owner Dan Pletcher, the March 16 sale hits a high note with a mahogany Chickering baby-grand piano in the furniture group, which also features French, English, American, mid-century contemporary Danish pieces and many pieces of Williamsburg-style Kittinger colonial items.
Still, the standout here just might be a Phillip and Kelvin LaVerne bronze coffee table with depictions of the muses etched on its top. The father-and-son team from Brooklyn created one-of-a-kind pieces that were, at once, functional furniture and artistic masterpieces, and which fetch auction prices that often span the five- and six-figure ranges.
There's sparkle plenty in the jewelry category. Though a men's Rolex 18-karat gold “Presidential” day-and-date wristwatch won't require an executive order to purchase, it certainly commands attention for the diamond chips that surround the dial and adorn the face. On the ladies side, a Cartier stainless-and-gold watch may stop hearts but always keeps on ticking.
Though European painters and sculptors dominate the art collection — with a sprinkling of Americans — Pletcher expects a varied set of Asian creations to pull strong bidding from Japan and China. Up for grabs are Chinese blue porcelain, Japanese woodprints, ginger jars and snuffboxes, bronze sculptures and cloisonne.
Rounding the sale in the “items of interest” category are a size 55 tennis-shoe store display made completely of plaster, 15 steel banks, 19th-century naval swords and early advertising items.
Bidding starts at 9 a.m. during a 500-lot uncataloged sale followed by the cataloged event at noon. Previews are from noon to 5 p.m. March 14 and 8 to 9 a.m. March 16. Previews and sale are at 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190
Mark Ferry Auctioneers
In Ligonier, Mark Ferry serves up a doubleheader sale on March 14 and 15 as he auctions off antiques, furniture and glassware from a well-known Greensburg estate once owned by two sisters who were longtime employees of the Joseph Horne department store.
While one sister worked as a buyer and designer, the other was a vice president. During their careers, they traveled extensively throughout Europe, buying fine dinnerware, handbags and basically anything that appealed to their tastes.
On the first day, the sale consists mainly of household goods, much of which is quality merchandise. However, the real treasures go on the block during day two, when dozens of sets of European dinnerware, stemware, designer handbags and much more grab the headlines.
The March 14 sale begins at 4 p.m. and the March 15 event starts at 9 a.m. Both sales are at The Barn at Ligonier Valley, 1 Springer Road, Ligonier. Details: 724-423-5580
Three Rivers Auction Co.
Venturing once more into cyberspace, Three Rivers Auction Co. launches an Internet-only sale of “eclectic and unusual” items through March 18. The sale includes “outsider” art sculptures, folk art, African and South American native arts, studio art pottery, Egyptian tapestry, dolls, Lenox crystal, furniture, Oriental rugs, Victrolas and tray lots of various merchandise.
Maybe more curious than unusual are the “outsider” art objects. In most cases, outsider art seems to be made of found objects or whatever is at hand. For instance, a whimsical reindeer seems to be roughly composed of several pieces of old furniture, tools, a cutlery holder and other components not easily identified. Meanwhile, the extensive selection of pottery and glass exhibits a high degree of artistry and quality materials.
Folk art from Africa and Latin American includes carved religious figures, weavings, dolls, furniture and lithographs. The small group of furniture features various pieces in a melange of styles that runs from Queen Anne to 1950s kitchen sets.
Details: 724-222-8020 or www.3riversauction.com
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.