Up for bid: Rare-hued teddy bears and art pottery

Posted: May 12, 2001

"For every bear that ever there was, will gather there for certain becuz" . . . well, not at the Teddy Bears' picnic, as the venerable children's song puts it - but at the Kimberton Fairgrounds, where Ron Rhoads will feature more than 150 teddies at an auction beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The bears are mostly Steiff, a well-known name in the stuffed-toy animal business. Some that will be offered tomorrow may sell for $400 to $500, including a Red Alfonzo and a Teddy Rose, both by Steiff. "It's their coloring that makes them rare," Eileen Rhoads said yesterday, referring to the hues that give the two bears their names.

The bears were consigned by a single West Chester collector who also offered more than 70 lots of art pottery, perhaps the most important category in the sale. One of the top pieces is a gypsy-moth vase made at Newcomb College in New Orleans around 1915. Rhoads associate Tim Sedmak expects the vase to sell for $2,500 - a bargain, in his opinion. "If it were larger it would sell for $10,000," he said yesterday.

Newcomb College was founded by a potter who formerly worked in Ohio, still a center for art pottery, including Rosewood and Rookwood. Both those studios will be represented in tomorrow's sale, too.

But other pottery locales also will be represented. Two Marblehead vases, made in Massachusetts, should sell for $500 each. There is an early figural piece made in 1915 by Van Briggle, a pottery still in operation in Colorado, according to Sedmak. And there are several pieces of Fulper, a central New Jersey studio that in the 1940s became the Stengl company. One of the Fulper pieces is a "frog skin mug," so called because of its glaze. It should sell for $400 to $500.

Rhoads also will be selling furniture antiques and paintings. Among the 100 lots of furniture are a massive tiger oak sideboard, fully carved, with three crescent-shaped mirrors that should sell for $3,000 to $5,000 and a 60-inch-tall fire screen with tapestry under glass that should sell for $2,000 to $3,000.

Artwork includes French prints, English boxing engravings, two nudes by the St. Louis painter Paul Harney, and a semi-abstract painting titled "Mary Magdalene" by the contemporary Russian artist Mikhail Brussilovski. Sedmak did not venture a pre-sale estimate on the painting. He noted, however, that in 1990, at Phillips gallery in New York, a Brussilovski fetched $15,000.

Inspection is 1 to 3 p.m. today at the fairgrounds on Route 113, about 5 miles south of Phoenixville. For information, call 610-385-4818.

More arts and crafts. Two sales next Saturday within a few miles of each other will offer art pottery and other arts and crafts items.

At 11 a.m. at the New Hope Eagle Fire Company, the Charles A. Whitaker Auction Co. will offer Rookwood, Hampshire and other pottery at an estate sale also featuring silver along with country and antique furniture.

Inspection is 9:30 a.m. to sale time at the site, on Route 202 at Sugan Road. For further information, call 215-844-8788.

And samples of Newcomb College pottery will be a highlight of a Craftsman Auctions sale beginning at noon next Saturday in Lambertville, N.J., at the gallery of David Rago, now part of the Craftsman group. Another highlight of that sale is a Jarvie hammered-brass coffee set with boar's-tusk handles. It is expected to sell for $25,000, according to pre-sale publicity.

Inspection is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to sale time next Saturday at the gallery, 333 N. Main St. For further information, call 609-397-9374.

David Iams' e-mail address is daiams@aol.com.

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