Walter Baum Artwork, Hummels To Be Sold

Posted: March 12, 1988

In a setting almost as rustic as that depicted in the artwork to be sold, oil paintings by the Bucks County artist Walter E. Baum will go on the block Thursday at the Alderfer Auction Center in Hatfield.

The pictures, plus some country furniture and a collection of Hummel figures, come from the household of Eugenia and Laura Bernecker, two sisters who grew up in Montgomery County and lived for many years in Ocean City, N.J. Other paintings in the auction include an oil by Hans Liebl and another attributed to Gari Melchers.

The art is the highlight of the sale, which will start at 9 a.m. Also featured are antique furniture and musical instruments.

The Baum art consists of 11 oil paintings and two lithographs. They illustrate the diversity of style that sometimes makes it difficult to tell imitations of Baum from genuine works of the painter, who died in 1956. His works are gaining in popularity. The two Baums in the last catalogue auction at Samuel T. Freeman & Co. were of comparable size to those being offered by Alderfer and went for $650 and $1,600.

While most of the paintings to be sold are Bucks and Lehigh County landscapes, for which Baum was best known, two are still lifes. One or two of the landscapes have a rather French impressionist look, while the others are more characteristically realistic.

The signatures vary. On some there is a simple "Baum" in the lower left- hand corner; on others, the whole name is in the lower right-hand corner.

Sanford Alderfer is confident that all 13 are genuine. The artist gave the sisters the two still lifes, he said in an interview yesterday.

The auction center is in the countryside, amid farm land and small businesses, off the Lansdale exit of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

To get to the center, at 501 Fairgrounds Rd., head toward Lansdale on Route 63, then make the first left turn, continue through three traffic lights to Funk Road, turn left and make the first right turn.

Among the furniture belonging to the two sisters, who are moving to smaller quarters, is an antique jelly cupboard that has been painted with the floral patterns called Bauernmalerei that are common to the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The sisters' collection of Hummels has been enlarged with more than 100 others to provide a total of 200, many with early marks. "There's always a lot of interest in Hummels," Alderfer said, noting that most buyers know the book price and exactly when to stop bidding. "If a doll is worth $75 (based on estimates in any of the several books listing their market value) you can try for an hour and you won't get a higher bid."

The art will be sold at noon, the Hummels at 1:30 p.m. Exhibition hours are 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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