Kline prepares for final sale at Three Rivers Auction
A longtime favorite bids farewell this week as other mainstays on the auction scene press on.
Three Rivers Auction Co.
Fair warning, auctiongoers. Tripp Kline will bring down the hammer one last time at his Washington, Pa., auction house during his final public sale on June 17. After nearly 25 years of calling out bids, Kline will step away from the podium — at least as far as an ongoing business concern.
“Just about everyone who calls asks if I'm feeling OK,” Kline says. “And then they want to know if I'm leaving town. My health is fine and I'm not going anywhere. This is just the right time for me to move on.”
Though he still enjoys the spontaneity and unpredictability of live auctions, recent trends toward online sales left Kline feeling less than satisfied.
“We've had several online sales that were very successful,” he says. “But when the buyers came in to pick up their merchandise, they weren't people I had built up relationships with over the years. The personal connection was missing.”
Building relationships was a hallmark of Kline's career as an auctioneer. Over the years, the most gratifying part of his job was helping people deal with difficult times.
“So many times, people came to us when a loved one had died or when an elderly relatives needed to move out of the homes they had lived in all their lives,” he says. “We were able to help them navigate through a difficult transition.”
The highlight of his career came during a call to the Ben Avon home of a relative of Col. Levi Byrd Duff, who fought in many of the most important and bloodiest battles of the Civil War. While exploring the house's attic, Kline discovered three wooden boxes filled with bundles of letters containing correspondence between Duff and his wife-to-be, Harriet Nixon. Realizing the significance of the letters, Kline worked with Duff's ancestors to donate them to Allegheny College, Duff's alma mater, for scholarly research.
While Kline is walking away from the business of auctions, he will continue to preside over charity sales for nonprofit organizations and will stay active in the local Rotary Club, Whiskey Rebellion Festival and other community causes. And don't be surprised if he shows up in another business pursuit. After stints as a professional soccer coach, medical-supplies salesman and auctioneer, Kline admits that he's percolating a few ideas.
“I'm only 57,” he says with a smile. “I still have another career left in me.”
Before he bids a final goodbye, Kline will clear out a few items remaining from recent online sales and auction off gallery fixtures and other items in his showroom. That sale starts at 6 p.m. June 17, following the 4 p.m. preview, at Three Rivers showroom, 382 W. Chestnut St., Washington, Pa. Details: 724-222-8020
Constantine & Pletcher
After a successful inaugural sale at the Harmar House, Constantine & Pletcher returns for another auction at the company's new site June 22.
This time around, a small, but significant, selection of Tiffany lamps should brighten the faces of collectors of these classic lighting fixtures. The five lamps on the block come from three consignors and carry estimates from the low four-figure range to the mid six-figures.
Conservatively priced with a $60,000 to $80,000 estimate, the standout is a lamp with a geranium-style leaded-glass shade. Owner Dan Pletcher says the shade's vibrant red and oranges hues would draw buyers to this piece. Not far behind in the estimate department, another lamp with a “nasturtium” floral pattern promises hammer prices in the $50,000 neighborhood. For more modest budgets, a couple “entry level” Tiffanys should come in under $10,000 each.
Summer's here and the time is right for racing in the streets in a classic 1968 Chevy Camaro SS convertible and 1955 Chevy Bel Air post car. Painstakingly restored with “new” old stock from closed auto stores and surplus parts, the Camaro sports a fire-engine-red body with white stripes and roof. Best of all, the car comes with its original “Big Block” 396 engine. For the hot-rod crowd, the Bel Air conjures visions of “American Graffiti” with its burnt-orange finish and polished chrome.
Several collections round out the sale, including a selection of Roseville vases, local stoneware and 25 pieces of Tiffany art glass.
Doors open at 10 a.m. June 22 at the Harmar House, 1321 Freeport Road, Cheswick. The sale starts at noon. Details: 724-275-7190
Smith Auction Services
Jerry Smith returns for an end-of-the-month twin bill of coin and antique sales. The coin sale June 28 features 300 lots of older paper currency — including a rare 1882 national note — and American coins such as several Morgan silver dollars. On June 29, Smith is back at it, selling a collection of antique firearms from Winchester, Remington and Smith & Weston, Civil War and World War I military gear, glass and ceramics by Roseville, Steuben, Doulton and others and more than 50 pieces of jewelry.
Both sales are at the Gilpin Township Firehall, 113 Fire Hall Road, Leechburg, Pa. Doors open at 10 a.m. June 28 for the 11 a.m. sale. The preview for June 29 starts at 11 a.m., followed by the noon sale. Details: 724-845-7162
Mark Ferry Auctioneers
An old-fashion, on-site estate June 28 in New Stanton is Mark Ferry's next stop for an auction brimming with glassware, collectibles and antiques. A nice selection of newer furniture from Ethan Allen and other manufacturers blends well with older pieces. Also, a 2006 Cadillac DTS Luxury II four-door sedan with 14,290 miles is ready to roll for a new owner. The sale also includes older firearms, sterling silver flatware, power tools and toys. The sale starts at 9 a.m. June 28 at 221 Wentsler Ave., New Stanton. Details: 724-423-5580
The installment of BHD's ongoing series of online sales lights up cyberspace through June 19. The lineup features furniture from the Victorian and Depression eras, art pottery from Roseville, hand-woven Navajo rugs, old advertising items, tools, Halloween and Christmas decorations, glassware and more among the nearly 300 lots. Details: 724-816-0683 or www.bhdauctions.net
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.