Pittsburgh-area auctions run range from arts to antiques, small finds to furniture
By John Altdorfer
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Concept Art Gallery
A certain former NBA coach may have trademarked the phrase, but Concept Art Gallery slam dunks a “three-peat” with its third major sale during the past three months. With an emphasis on mid-century modern and contemporary pieces, this Dec. 8 event rolls out the red carpet for nearly 500 items of art and furniture, with all the big names — Nelson, Eames, Nakishima and more — that bidders expect at a Concept auction.
Even with some heavy hitters in the lineup, the star of this show is a nearly 7-foot tall sculpture by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Crafted from green serpentine marble and glass atop a stone base, “Ceremonial for Marcel Duchamp” came to being in the early 1960s. It was purchased by the current owner in November 1997 at Christie's in New York. As were many of Noguchi's pieces, this work was created for the outdoors. Despite nearing the half-century mark, “Ceremonial” has aged well with just a new piece of plate glass replacing the original. Still, the sculpture is expected to sell in the mid to high five-figure range.
An amazing array of George Nelson furniture comes from one of those contemporary Forest Hills homes that are discreetly hidden from the hustle and bustle of Ardmore Boulevard. The standouts are two “thin edge” pieces in the form of a rosewood cabinet and long walnut buffet. Designed to blend form and function, the thin-edge groupings provided stylish storage units in a variety of size that could be combined for home or office use.
Stretching the mid-century beyond its typical boundaries, the art category features pieces created during the Depression years right up through the 1980s. Local artists fare well in the sale, with a large collection of paintings from Works Project Administration painter and Pittsburgher George Paul Bellon. Working in everything from pencil and watercolors to ink and oils, Bellon left behind a body of work that reflected his artistic influences and love for the city. One of the bigger ticket items is a mixed-media piece by Morris Graves. The smallish painting depicts a delicate morning glory in a water goblet against a light-brown background. A small selection of Sam Rosenberg works should generate strong bidding among local collectors.
With nearly 500 lots, this sale is one of the biggest in Concept's 40-year history. Among the collections are strong offerings in glass, sculpture, posters and prints.
Bidders may preview the goods at the Concept showroom at 1031 S. Braddock Ave. from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, until 8 p.m. Thursday and until 5 p.m Friday. The sale starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. Details: 412-242-9200.
Rev up your broadband connection one more time as BHD Auctions winds up 2012 with its current online-only sale that ends Dec. 13. After the company pulls the plug on the web exclusive, bidders will have to wait for the next “reboot” Jan. 1, when the company conducts its annual live New Year's Day event at the former J.S. Dill Auctions site.
Now under way, the online sale provides a wide range of goods, with something for everyone from collectors and dealers to auction regulars and even first-timers. What bidders will find when they double click on the BHD link is a collection of newer “antiques” and vintage collectibles.
While most experts consider anything 100 years old to be an antique, BHD owner Brian Detch prefers a cutoff date of 1900. By that definition, an old butter churn certainly passes as the real deal. For the most part, items date to between the 1920s to the '60s and include a handmade pie safe, an Arts-and-Crafts bookcase and even a mid-century contemporary Danish modern dresser from the Glenn of California furniture company.
Small items comprise the biggest part of the sale with plenty of Wedgwood, Hummels and Cybis. A large selection of Royal Doulton figures and mugs is just part of the longtime collection of a local consignor who's moving south.
Pittsburgh baseball fans remember all too well the awful feeling of waking on New Year's Day 1973 to the news that Pirates star Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash while on a mission to deliver humanitarian aid to victims of a Nicaraguan earthquake. Nearly 40 years later, BHD offers a gold commemorative medallion produced in 1973 to mark “The Great Ones” years with the Buccos. It bears his image and his birth and death dates on the front, and his playing time with the Pirates, from 1955-1972, on the back.
There's also a bevy of old advertising memorabilia, including an outdoor Green Stamp sign, tray lots of vintage costume jewelry, glassware and newer “old” mechanical banks. To view the goods and place bids, connect with the BHD site at www.bhdauctions.net.
Constantine & Pletcher
Riding a hot streak that's almost better than a winning Powerball ticket, Constantine & Pletcher looks forward to extending its success after a Nov. 17 sale that saw two Tiffany daffodil table lamps sell for $39,000 each. A four-carat diamond ring also fetched a glittery $30,000 during that sale.
While the company's Dec. 15 sale may not produce any goods that break the mid five-figure range, the auction holds a strong selection across categories ranging from lighting to sterling silver, with a nice mix of toys and ornaments for the holiday season.
As usual, this is a two-part sale, with an uncataloged auction leading off at 9 a.m. and the main event starting at noon. With a couple local estates, including one from Ligonier, contributing, the auction's leading lights shine in the form of a Tiffany decorated Aladdin-style table lamp, a Tiffany bronze desk lamp with a glass shade, a Tiffany bronze three-light lily lamp, with brass shade and a Tiffany floor lamp with a Quezal pulled-feather, four-light brass-and-glass chandelier.
The art group includes work by European and American painters, including a monumental oil-on-canvas French interior scene that measures 39 inches high by 48 inches wide in a period carved-wood frame. A miniature painting on ivory is a rare find. Rounding out the section are prints, etchings and bronze sculptures.
Furniture holds its own with an American oak, carved curio cabinet, an exotic wood and brass curio, a five-piece Chippendale-style bedroom set, a 12-piece bedroom set, a Victorian armoire and an American maple drop-leaf table circa 1820.
Worth a toast or two is a pair of etched beer steins from German manufacturer Mettlach. Also in the glass and ceramics group are an amphora figural bowl, a collection of Hummels and pieces from Royal Copenhagen and Royal Bond. Silver adds a bit of luster to the sale with sets of flatware, a Tiffany vase and a German desk lamp. A selection of toys and holiday ornaments, railroad memorabilia and American pottery completes the list.
Previews are from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 14 and 8 to 9 a.m. Dec. 15. Previews and sales are at 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick.
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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