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Chinese 'cocoon jar' among auction items

| Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

Hobgoblins, ghouls and ghosts might spook a few bidders sales at BHD Auctions and J.S. Dill, where a Halloween theme is all treat with no tricks. With the year of the rabbit upon us, an ancient artifact from China's far Eastern past is among the highlights at Constantine & Pletcher. Asian influences can be seen at Three Rivers Auction Co. in a pair of nicely decorated room screens. And East Liberty's Royal York Auctions holds an old-fashioned "tag" sale of art.

Constantine & Pletcher

Billed as a break the "Cabin Fever" sale, Constantine & Pletcher's Feb. 26 auction features a fine lineup of furniture, silver and artwork and collections of all kinds. However, one of the more interesting and rare items on the block is a Chinese "cocoon" jar, dating back to somewhere between 1000 and 3000 B.C. According to Jeff Constantine, the jar, decorated with a cocoon design, was made during the Chinese Neolithic period. While the vessel's age adds to its value, its provincial origins may keep the hammer prices in the low thousands of dollars, compared to imperial items that usually command much higher bids. Still, Constantine says, the vase would be right at home on an Eames side table, despite its age.

From the Far East to the Middle East, a Graham chronograph sports a lineage that starts in the Arab emirate of Qatar. Gifted to a local neurosurgeon by a thankful patient from the tiny state, the timepiece certainly expresses gratitude for a job well done. Along with the watch, other items from the doctor's collection of patient gifts will be up for grabs.

Beloved for his crooning, Frank Sinatra created a sizeable body of artwork in his leisure time. Turns out "Old Blue Eyes" displayed a sentimental side with the canvas and easel as his rendition of a sad clown shows in a signed oil painting.

Always a sure cure for the wintertime blues, the Tiffany name carries a healing power that many buyers seek year-round. With the cold-weather season entering its home stretch, a slender Tiffany bud vase carries the promise of fresh blooms and the coming of spring. Of course, such powers come with a price that ranges in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.

Previews for the sale are from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 25 and 8 to 9 a.m. Feb. 26, with the non-catalog portion starting at 9 a.m. and the cataloged bidding at noon. Previews and sales are at the Constantine & Pletcher showroom, 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick.

Details: 724-275-7190.

Three Rivers Auction Co.

Spring may be a little more than a month away, but it's still cold outside. Which is why a pack of vintage furs at Three Rivers Auction Co. can help take the chill out of the next few weeks. The skins on the block during the Feb. 22 event feature pieces from Pittsburgh's own Carl Hermann Furs and fine wraps from furriers in Philadelphia and Wheeling, Ill., of all places.

A pair of large, semi-antique black-lacquer Chinese room screens aren't quite long enough to replace the Great Wall. Still, the longer of the pair -- with eight panels -- measures 8 feet high and 12 feet long and can stretch across a good portion of most rooms. Nicely decorated on both sides, the front of the screen depicts a watchful goddess gazing over a village and seascape. The smaller, four-section screen stands at nearly 8 feet tall as it spans a width just a few inches under 7 feet, adorned with an Oriental palace on its front.

The sale also includes a large selection of Occidental furniture ranging in styles from Queen Anne to Chippendale. While a variety of woods are in the mix, the predominant material is mahogany, well represented by a Federal-style bedroom set, an Edwardian inlaid armoire and a Berkey and Gaye Georgian-style buffet.

Three Rivers opens its doors at noon for a preview that continues until the auction at 6 p.m. -- all at the company's showroom on 382 W. Chestnut Street, Washington.

Details: 724-222-8020.

BHD Auctions

For most of us, postcards bring back memories of childhood vacations to popular tourists spots. But during the late 19th century and early decades of the 20th, postcards were sort of the Twitter of the era's snail-mail social-media network. Among the more than 10,000 postcards at BHD Auctions' Feb. 24 sale are 200-plus Halloween-theme cards. Although certainly festive in design, the messages written on the back, for the most part, provide snippets of information of the sender's daily life instead of a trick-or-treat related wish.

The postcard collections will be sold in groups of two to eight per lot up to box lots of hundreds. The Halloween cards go on the block in lots up to eight to 10. However, there will be no box lots.

In addition, the sale includes a small collection of Fenton glass, a group of World War I European military helmets and a variety of furniture.

Doors open at 4 p.m. for a preview with the sale starting at 5 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 308 W. New Castle St., Zelienople.

Details: 724-816-0683.

J.S. Dill Auctions

The second round of Halloween-inspired treats, nearly identical to an earlier sale from the estate of Jack Dill, go on sale at a Thursday auction. This go-around includes nearly identical stacks of spooky games, costumes, spiders, skulls, ghosts, bats, jack-o-lanterns, prints and more stuff to scare the living daylights out of just about anyone. A preview starts at 4 p.m. with the sale at 5 p.m. at the J.S. Dill showroom, 2341 Evans City Road, Zelienople.

Details: 724-816-0683.

Royal York Auction Gallery

Bidders can sit on their hands for the Royal York's upcoming "tag" sale, Thursday and Friday. With a surplus of art nearly covering every square inch of the showroom, the company will welcome buyers to a rare pair of weekday sales to choose from pre-priced oil and watercolor paintings, prints, posters, etchings and engravings. As a sidelight, the sale also features a large group of lighting.

The sales are from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Royal York Showroom, 5925 Baum Blvd., East Liberty.

Details: 412-661-1171.

Recent sales

Bidders at the Royal York's Jan. 29 sale electrified the event when a high bid of $22,000 was offered for a Tiffany student lamp. In addition, a Grueby art-pottery vase sold for $5,500.

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