Classic toys, notable art highlight upcoming sales
The start of the summer season continues to heat up, even if the local weather doesn't, with two on-site sales and one online auction.
Royal York Auction Galleries
Despite a coincidental similarity in names, the two major consignors during the June 14 sale at the Royal York do not share any relationship. Most of the goods on the block come from the estates of Elizabeth Beckwith Dickey and Richard “Dicky” Pfiel.
A resident of the Park Mansion Apartments, often referred to as “the Dakotas of Pittsburgh,” Elizabeth Dickey collected art by notables such as A.F. King and A. Bryan Wall, mantle clocks and other finer household accessories.
She collected handmade linen samplers created by children as long ago as the first decade of the 1800s and as recently as the 1940s. Most are charmingly childlike, with simple renditions of the young artists' homes, the birth dates of family members or letters of the alphabet. Others show more advanced artistry with nicely detailed wildlife scenes or elegantly embroidered floral arrangements. Of the 40 samplers in the collection, 20 will be up for bid during the sale, with more to come later.
Dicky Pfiel most likely spent a good deal of time and money on the pursuit of toys. The kids' stuff in this sale includes vintage metal cars and trucks, dolls, stagecoaches, planes and World War I soldiers. Among the 250 lots of toys, bidders will find trains from Marx and Lionel, a windup airplane carousel, cap pistols and games.
Previews are from 5 to 8 p.m. June 12 and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 13. The June 14 sale starts at 9 a.m. Previews and the sale are at 5925 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. Details: 412-661-1171
Even though the calendar says the change of seasons is still a few weeks away, Brian Detch is ready to call BHD's current online auction “a good summer sale.” Continuing through June 5, the internet-only event brings to the block old-fashioned Americana, such as a barrel-style cylinder butter churn, a New England stoneware crock, antique Stanley hand tools, handmade Navajo rugs, metal washtubs and a stagecoach trunk, just for starters.
The sale marches out military memorabilia, too, such as a rising sun Japanese flag from World War II and souvenirs from the Korean conflict, including silk kimonos and other outfits GIs brought home for their sweethearts.
The jewelry category features several 10- and 18-karat gold rings and necklaces. A smattering of furniture covers a range of periods and styles, with a quarter-sawn oak Empire bedroom set as the highlight. For gentleman, a collection of pocket watches might prove ideal for a Father's Day gift. Many lots of model trains and other toys should interest the young and young at heart.
Details: 724-816-0683 or www.bhdauctions.net
Dargate Auction Galleries
Several last-minute additions may turn out to be the highlights of Dargate's three-day sale running from June 6 to 8 at its McKees Rocks showroom. Many of the pieces carry estimates from the low- to high-five figure range.
Paintings dominate the big-ticket items. With the potential to inch toward the $100,000 mark, an oil-on-canvas landscape of the Colorado River is attributed to British-born Thomas Moran, who received commissions in the 1870s from the U.S. government to paint scenes of the American West. Purchased from a Pittsburgh antique shop, the painting underwent extensive repairs, during which restorers discovered the artist's monogram.
Two other paintings of note hail from the collection of the Kuhn Loeb company, once one of the most important investment banks of the late 19 th and early 20th centuries. The first, attributed to Bartholome Esteban Murillo (1616-82), is an oil-on-canvas portrait of two young boys pitching coins in the street as an old woman selling flowers looks on. Though the painting carries the artist's name in block letters, the “signature” may have been added later as artists of Murillo's time frequently did not sign their work. Bought by Kuhn Loeb in the 1930s, the painting shows brush marks and other artistic indicators that suggest that it is a Murillo.
Also from the Kuhn Loeb collection is another oil-on-canvas, by James Fairman, titled “A Panoramic View of Jerusalem.” Most likely painted in the later 1800s and signed by Fairman, a native Scot who traveled extensively to paint famous landscapes, the work measures 41 inches by 54 inches and shows appropriate wear for its age.
As many historians note, the 150th anniversary of the nation's War Between the States, a trove of Union and Confederate items should attract those with a passion for the collecting related to that conflict. A selection of prints includes scenes of nearly every major battle fought during the war, and a collection of books covers the war from both the Union and Confederate sides. Of more recent vintage, bronze battle figures, forged by different mints, bring a more lifelike aspect to the artifacts.
Another set of 25 bronzes includes a piece by Jerry McKellar called “Urban Buffalo.” Standing 19 inches tall, 32 inches long and 13 inches deep, the figure wears its glossy patina well.
In the furniture department, bidders can choose pieces from noted manufacturers such as Kittinger, Hendredon and Baker, with a few contemporary Danish modern items. A large selection of mostly Asian rugs and recently painted art works offers many decorating choices.
Previews are from noon to 8 p.m. June 4 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5. Sales start at 10 a.m. June 6 and 7 and noon June 8. Previews and sales at the Dargate showroom on 326 Munson Ave., McKees Rocks. Details: 412-771-8700
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.