Auctions: Ceramics, art, and militaria dominate Philadelphia-area auctions

A sterling owl shaker from Tiffany & Co., offered at Bunch, has attracted online interest. Estimate: $100 to $200.
A sterling owl shaker from Tiffany & Co., offered at Bunch, has attracted online interest. Estimate: $100 to $200.
Posted: June 16, 2012

While William H. Bunch will feature such well-known names in ceramics as Roseville and Rookwood in his catalog auction Tuesday of decorative and fine arts, the 353 lots will also include three pieces from an all-but-forgotten West Coast pottery maker, Brayton Laguna.

Founded in 1927 in Laguna Beach, Calif., by Durlin Brayton and his wife, Ellen Webster Grieve, the single-kiln company made handcrafted vases, lamps, and dinnerware, according to the online California Pottery Index. It thrived until after World War II when cheap imports overwhelmed it, leading to its closure in 1968.

In addition to its practical pieces, however, it was perhaps best known for its detailed and playful figurines. They suggested cartoon caricatures cast in clay, and some were, in fact, commissioned by Walt Disney Studios.

The three to be offered at the Bunch sale, beginning at noon at the gallery in Chadds Ford, are representative. Barroom Trio, depicting three mustachioed crooners; a couple in early 20th-century bathing attire; and Flirty Blond in Flowered Dress, all made in 1940, are expected to bring $150 to $250 each, according to the online catalog accessible at (eBay prices for Brayton Laguna pieces range from $8.95 for a Dutch vintage wall sconce to $570 for a burgundy red Mammy cookie jar).

Presale price estimates are modest for most of the items in the sale, which also features silver, jewelry, furniture, clocks, fine art, and East Asian arts and crafts. Only two items have five-figure presale estimates.

Boats in a Harbor, by Edgar Payne, is expected to bring $12,000 to $16,000. And a 5?-carat diamond solitaire ladies ring should bring $15,000 to $25,000.

Other artwork of note in the sale includes a 19th-century American School oil on canvas of the William Rotch family of Nantucket and New Bedford, Mass. ($4,000 to $8,000), and an en grisaille oil on canvas illustration by the American artist Clark Faye titled The Showdown, dated 1919 ($2,500 to $4,500). (The grisaille method, first used by 15th-century Flemish artists, uses various shades of gray to create images that give the illusion of sculpture.) Artwork also includes 10 works by Seymour Zayon and more than 30 by a fellow American artist, Richard Baldwin, all of them expected to bring low three-figure prices.

Among the 40 lots of silver to be offered is an Irish silver punch bowl made in 1796 by William Thompson of Dublin, with a presale estimate of $2,500 to $3,500. But online bidder interest is focusing on a far more affordable piece of silver, a Tiffany & Co. sterling owl shaker with glass eyes and a presale estimate of $100 to $200.

Also expected to sell for $2,500 to $3,500 is a two-piece cherry Pennsylvania Dutch cupboard. Contemporary furniture includes a Kittinger mahogany oval dining room table with a presale estimate of $600 to $1,200. And a three-section carved walnut French armoire should also bring $600 to $1,200.

Miscellaneous items in the sale include a flintlock Kentucky pistol identified in the catalog as made around 1820 by Cooper of New York ($2,000 to $4,000) and a classical musical archive collected by the early 20th-century classical violinist Stanislaw Dobrinski that includes inscribed photographs of such greats as Eugene Ormandy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Igor Stravinsky ($1,500 to $2,500).

The East Asian artwork includes both pottery and furniture. A carved rosewood Chinese console table should bring $600 to $1,200. A pair of Hong Kong pattern flow blue octagonal covered, footed serving dishes has a presale estimate of $200 to $400.

Perhaps the top piece is a Chinese Famille verte (porcelain in which green predominates) vase with a presale estimate of $2,000 to $4,000. A Famille noire jar (a subset of Famille verte with black the dominant color) has a presale estimate of $800 to $1,600.

The auction also offers one piece of artwork made from ivory, a common medium for Chinese art, though not listed as such in the catalog. If anything, the piece suggests a playful Brayton Laguna origin. It's a full-scale, carved, partly peeled banana. Presale estimate: $200 to $400.

Previews: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to sale time Tuesday at the gallery at One Hillman Dr., just south of the intersection of Routes 1 and 202. For further information, call 610-558-1800 or go to

Militaria at Alderfer's.   Also beginning at noon Tuesday, in Hatfield, the Alderfer Auction Co. will offer more than 300 lots of military collectibles, military and paramilitary medals and badges, insignia, many rare and uncommon pieces from Nazi Germany, and World War I items.

They include U.S., German, Japanese, and other swords, fighting knives, and bayonets; German, Japanese, and U.S. helmets and flight helmets; and German prewar paramilitary caps. Among the German items are rare pieces of German porcelain, notably a dinner plate from Reich Marshal Hermann Goering's personal set. American World War I and World War II military uniforms assembled over a 30-year period include several original painted leather flight jackets/outfits, and a Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) leather jacket with painted "Fifinella" patch and embossed "Diamond" wings.

Preview: 8 a.m. to sale time at the gallery at 501 Fairgrounds Rd. For further information, call 215-393-3023 or go to

Contact David Iams at

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