Sales pick up the pace as spring speeds on
The spring auction drought breaks a bit with four sales in the upcoming weeks. Along with the usual suspects such as Constantine & Pletcher, BHD Auctions and Three Rivers Auction Co., a Brownsville company will conduct a unique sale at a historic Downtown Pittsburgh location.
Constantine & Pletcher
Some folks might call Dan Pletcher a daredevil for staging sales every other week. What drives Pletcher to maintain that pace is his love of the sale. Along with pushing C&P's hectic schedule, Pletcher races to an area auto auction each week and takes a spin at few auction competitions throughout the year. Truth is, if Pletcher had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he probably would've yelled “sold” by the time he left the delivery room.
So, when the doors of C&P's Cheswick showroom open for an April 27 sale, Pletcher will preside over a pair of auctions brimming with solid antiques and collectibles. The day starts with an uncataloged event that brings to the block more than 200 lots of merchandise, such as furniture, pottery and toys.
The highlight of the cataloged auction promises to be a large collection of ivories. Numbering more than 80 pieces — all legal — the selections include items from Asia, Europe and Eskimo homelands. With many carved figurals in the mix, choices include a snake charmer, fisherman, seated woman, salt and pepper shakers and puzzle ball, with most pieces dating to the 19th century.
The crystal collection brings a sizable assortment of Waterford to the block. Among the more than 50 pieces are whiskey tumblers, ice buckets, candlesticks, decanters, table bowls, cylinder vases, compote and deskware — all from a single collector.
On the art side, paintings include works from Israel, America, France and Britain. Also suitable for framing are etchings and engravings. In the furniture group, the best bets may be an 1820s cherry Sheraton blanket chest, an art deco dinette set and a Venetian floor lamp. In ceramics, the lineup includes Noritake, Hummel, Royal Doulton and other big names. A mohair teddy bear, German bisque dolls, pressed steel trucks and other playthings provide the fun in the toy department. Asian artifacts bring forth wondrous works from Japan, India and China.
Finally, bidders may want to take a spin with Lady Luck on an antique roulette wheel in the “items of interest” section, where an autographed photo of Elvis Presley may leave some folks feeling all shook up.
Sale previews are from noon to 5 p.m. April 25 and 8 to 9 a.m. April 27. The uncataloged sale starts at 9 a.m. April 27 followed by the cataloged auction at noon. Previews and sales are at 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190
Fred Peters Auctions
In the end, a gas leak brought down the house at PaPa J's Centro restaurant, Downtown. It was a haven for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, a rollicking brothel and seedy boarding house — before transforming into the site of two restaurants for nearly the past 35 years. PaPa J's became history when it closed its doors this past November.
Now, more than a few pieces of the building's more notorious past are up for grabs when Fred Peters Auctioneers sells of the contents of PaPa J's — but not the structure — on May 3.
Maybe the most infamous fixture in the place is a nicely carved headboard that sits behind the bar. Reputedly, the headboard belonged to Madame Dolly Cavanaugh, who operated a house of ill repute there until 1937.
Said to be the third-oldest building Downtown, the woodwork and furnishings show their age with well-worn grace. Along with the headboard, other architectural keepsakes include a 30-foot-long curved bar with a carved-walnut mirrored back bar, oak pillar fireplaces, an oak claw-foot sideboard, several leaded stained-glass windows and door transoms, a carved Regulator key-wound wall clock and a cast-iron claw-foot bathtub.
The sale includes restaurant-ready appliances, utensils and furnishings.
To preview the sale, visit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 2. The May 3 sale starts at 9:30 a.m. at 212 Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown. Details: 724-785-8954
Three Rivers Auction Co.
By popular demand, Tripp Kline opens the doors of his Washington, Pa., showroom for a live auction May 4. The in-house event breaks a long string of Internet-only sales conducted by Three Rivers during the past few months. The impetus is a sizable estate of vintage collectibles from a longtime dealer.
For the most part, the goods date through the 20th century, with a few Victorian pieces among the sales roster. Out of storage for the first time in many years, the collection brings to light glassware from the 1950s and '60s, Steelers memorabilia, trolley artifacts, pocketknives, Barbie dolls, china, pottery and Griswold cookware.
Among the more interesting categories, primitives should post strong results with items such as old-fashioned rug beaters, rolling pins and apple-butter paddles. For a more modern appeal, a 1960s stand-up bar with stools and a matching china cabinet sets the tone for a retro highball or two at home.
Doors open at 11 a.m. for a short preview before the noon sale at 382 West Chestnut St., Washington, Washington County. Details: 724-222-8020
Brian Detch jumps back onto the Web for another Internet-based auction at BHD from April 25 to May 1. The highlight of the sale, Detch says, is an arts and crafts style lamp with a spelter base sporting a copper-and-silver overlay. Though the shade beams brightly through a reverse-painted floral design, Detch feels it may not be the original. Still, it remains a handsome piece.
Nazism raises its presence in the form of a book of black-and-white photos depicting a “light-hearted” Adolf Hitler on his journeys throughout the Reich. The photos show Hitler meeting with “adoring” German citizens and enjoying the antics of small children. Nearly 70 years after his death, the images of a “benevolent” Hitler still exert overwhelming emotion.
Moving on, a 1915 Pennsylvania licensed driver's pin sports a registration number. Granted by the state to all qualified drivers, the pins generally were accompanied by a paper license.
A tiny Pittsburgh Pirates pin recalls a day when baseball truly was the nation's pastime. Attached to a tiny gold baseball, a small pennant bears the Pirates name in blue lettering on a red backdrop, the team's “traditional” color from the early 1900s to the late 1940s.
Rounding out the sale are antique rifles, primitive items, ancient arrowheads, black “Americana” items and lighting.
Details: 724-816-683 or www.bhdauctions.net
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.