Upcoming Western Pa. auctions include paintings, pottery, coins
Back for the second of a trio of blockbuster fall sales, Concept Gallery prepares for a Nov. 1 auction. Meanwhile, Constantine & Pletcher offers bidders two sales Oct. 23 and 26. Smith's Antique and Auction Services, near Leechburg, hopes to put a little jingle in buyers' pockets — as well as its consignors — with an Oct. 26 coin sale.
Concept Art Gallery
The days of Big Steel are long gone in Western Pennsylvania. But the era of mills lighting up the night skies with fire and smoke lives on in the work of Aaron Gorson, who specialized in painting nocturnal landscapes of the region's industrial past. One of Gorson's finest, “Steelmaking at Night on the Mon,” is among the highlights at Concept Art Gallery's fine art and antiques auction Nov. 1.
Painted in 1910, the oil-on-canvas is housed in a hand-carved, gilded Arts-and-Crafts-period frame. The painting was once owned by Arthur Riley, a noted collector of works by Western Pennsylvania artists.
Another painting with a regional background and a completely different point of view is an A.F. King daytime rural lakeside landscape. Best known for his nearly lifelike still lifes, King also journeyed into the local countryside to paint. Concept owner Sam Berkovitz calls this work the greatest A.F. King landscape he's seen, citing the intricate detail in the tiny work. Sold by Pittsburgh's famed Gillespie Gallery in the early 20th century, the 5 1⁄2-inch-by-9-inch work, titled “Lake Landscape With Sailboat,” rests in a gilded Victorian frame decorated with extensive scrolling.
Other paintings in the sale with local ties are Daniel Ridgeway Knight's oil-on-canvas “The Washerwoman Along the Seine” and several pieces by Mary McKibbin. An ex-pat from Chambersburg, Franklin County, Knight worked mainly in France, and “The Washerwoman” was originally sold by the Gillespie Gallery. McKibbin, whose oil-on-board scenes depict Pittsburgh neighborhoods, taught at Schenley High School, where Andy Warhol was one of her students.
In the antiques section of the sale, bidders can compete for an elegant Tiffany Arabian-style desk lamp or a Pairpoint “Puffy” boudoir lamp. The sale includes a sizeable amount of high-end jewelry, such as a 3.3-carat pear-cut brilliant diamond ring set in platinum. Also in the mix are Eskimo art, a “crazy quilt” crafted by public-school students in Idaho, early maps of Pittsburgh, silver flatware and serving pieces, accessories, mint coin sets and art glass.
Previews are at Concept Art Gallery from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, until 8 p.m. Thursdays or online The sale will start at 10 a.m. Nov 1. Previews and the sale will be at 1031 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Details: 412-242-9200 or www.conceptgallery.com
Constantine & Pletcher
Dan Pletcher and company take to the highway for an uncataloged sale Oct. 23 at the New Stanton Fire Hall. The road trip, says Pletcher, will bring a bevy of items with a rustic and rural appeal to a more compatible market than might be found at Constantine & Pletcher's Cheswick location.
The large selection of country primitives and other folksy pieces includes flow blue earthenware, Depression glass, vintage toys and other “down-home” goods.
On Oct. 26, Pletcher returns to Cheswick and the Harmar House for a cataloged auction with a hefty portion of period furniture from several eras. Highlights include a carved Baroque armchair, 19th-century cylinder roll top desk, a true American E-pire chest, a Jacobean side chair, an Edwardian love seat, an Art Deco bench, a Limbert writing table and an Italian provincial chair.
Pottery should prove to be another hot category in the sale, with selections from Rockingham, Roseville, Royal Doulton and other highly sought-after makers. Among the many pieces, a rare pottery vase from Frederick Walrath may fetch one of the higher final bids. Considered one of the finest pottery-makers of the early 20th century, Walrath studied under Charles Binns, a true master of the craft. During Walrath's short lifetime, he worked as a potter and taught in New York City, New Orleans and Rochester, N.Y. He died in 1920 at the age of 50, leaving behind a body of work that often reaches sale prices of $10,000 or more for individual items.
In the jewelry department, the enticements feature many ladies 10-karat and14-karat gold pieces, silver and pearls, plus a bronze-and-silver Tiffany cigarette box, circa 1930. Moving to glass and ceramics, the top choices include work from Murano, Lenox, Waterford and Staffordshire, with a modest array of Victorian vases.
A Pletcher favorite, the “items ofinterest” group holds more than a few oddities and curiosities from days past. For fans of early American cookware, a toaster from our nation's post-Colonial era is a great way to start the day. Made around 1790, this ingenious device held pieces of bread that could be rotated in front of a roaring fire. And a stereo viewer with more than 300 cards will provide many visual delights.
With the World Series, football season and the NHL all commanding attention, a collection of more than 150 lots of sports memorabilia, including three Roberto Clemente rookie baseball cards and Penguins paraphernalia, should be a real winner.
The Oct. 23 sale is at the New Stanton Fire Hall, 108 S. Main St., New Stanton. The preview starts at 5 p.m. for the 6 p.m. sale.
Doors open at 10 a.m. for the Oct. 26 preview, with a noon start for the auction at 1321 Freeport Road, Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190
Smith's Antique and Auction Services
Jerry Smith pares back his usual month-ending, back-to-back auction schedule for a solo sale Oct. 26, featuring a small fortune in old coins. With more than 350 lots up for grabs, there's plenty of “spare” change for everyone. Expect the big money to be paid for an 1893 Queen Isabella silver quarter, 1900 silver Lafayette dollar, 1878 Cameo silver dollar and many other rare Morgan silver dollars. While the Isabella quarter was never intended to be circulated, it was sold at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with a price tag of $1. According to some reports, more than half the original 24,000 coins, which sold poorly, found their way back to the mint to be melted down for reuse. The sales takes place at the Gilpin Township Fire Hall on Route 66 Firehall Road near Leechburg. Doors open at 9 a.m. for a preview before the 11 a.m. sale. Details: 724-845-7162
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.