Baubles, buttons, and blades up for auction

Victorian mourning bracelet at Freeman's has a presale estimate of $1,200 to $2,200.
Victorian mourning bracelet at Freeman's has a presale estimate of $1,200 to $2,200.
Posted: July 07, 2012

Three mid-July sales will offer auction-goers the chance to bid on — to paraphrase the Kismet song title — baubles, buttons, and blades.

The blades will be found at the Horst Auction Center's sale on July 14 in Ephrata of antique and vintage tools. They are parts of axes, chisels, knives, gouges, saws, and planes, both metal and wooden ones.

Planes, notably massive wooden block planes, have long been popular collectibles because of their decorative qualities. But there is also a demand for the smaller ones used to carve moldings such as rabbet joints, ceiling crowns and ogee trim.

Among the more than 400 lots that will be offered beginning at 9 a.m. at the center at the intersection of Route 322 and Durlach Road are more than 80 lots of planes, featuring such well-known tool brand names as Stanley and Millers Falls, that should sell for moderate three-figure prices.

Most are metal, but there are a few wooden ones, including a single lot of two "transitional" planes, one a block plane, the other used for making rabbet joints. The two should bring around $300, according to Tom Horst of the family-owned auction company.

Also of note are a Stanley veneer scraper, used to peel veneer from a thicker piece of wood, and a single-owner lot of 14 hollow and round molding planes made by Benson and Crannell of Albany, N.Y.

Other cutting tools include saws, notably nine lots of different styles made by the Disston Saw Works of Philadelphia, and more than 30 axes, including a handwrought A wing ax with a 13-inch edge made in traditional 18th-century form with a partially legible builder's name that may be P. Hillard. Horst expects it to bring $300 to $500.

Generally speaking, Horst said this week, tools made locally or in Pennsylvania bring good prices. Horst conducts about four sales a year specializing in early American iron and Lancaster County items.

One of the most unusual lots in the July 14 sale is a Arare pair of Conestoga wagon oxhorn oil/grease containers, one of several lots pertaining to the wagons made in Pennsylvania for settlers headed west. Horst expects the horn containers, rarer than the tar buckets that used to hang on the wagons for easy access, to bring $300 to $500.

One of the top prices in the sale, $500 to $700, is expected for a cast iron bookbinder's press with a 10½-by 15-inch press plate on an iron frame that stands 48 inches high. Another unusual item is a triple turning caliper, one of the many measuring devices in the sale.

Most calipers are two-legged devices used to measure the diameter of a piece of wood being turned on a lathe. The extra leg was probably modified by a blacksmith, Horst said.

On the subject of blacksmiths, an entire smithy will be included in the uncataloged part of the sale beginning at 10 a.m. in the garage area, including portable and stationary forges, grindstones, anvils and related items, all to be sold piece by piece.

Preview: 1 to 7 p.m. next Friday at the gallery. For further information call 717-738-3080 or go to

Putt's Buttons. Jewelry at Freeman's." /> The baubles will be offered by Freeman's beginning at 10 a.m. July 19, at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St., although the term is a bit dismissive for a sale of jewelry and watches that includes a pair of diamond earrings expected to bring $3,000 to $5,000 and an 18-karat yellow gold David Webb dolphin bracelet with a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

Most of the 379 lots of primarily costume jewelry are considerably more affordable, however, to judge from the auction catalog already sent out and also accessible online at (The sale follows Freeman's two-day sale on July 17 and 18 of furniture and decorative arts, the catalog for which, as of this writing, was still pending.)

The sale opens with 39 lots of men's and women's watches with presale estimates for the men's ranging from $100 to $200 for a silver pocket watch to $800 to $1,200 for a 14-karat white gold Longines wristwatch from the 1950s. Presale estimates for the women's range from $40 to $60 for a single lot of three 20th-century wristwatches to $2,000 to $4,000 for an 18-karat gold Corum with a tiger's eye face.

Among the more picturesque lots are a 14-karat yellow gold and diamond "pagoda" brooch ($800 to $1,200), a pair of yellow gold, mother of pearl and turquoise seashell earrings ($200 to $400), and a Victorian mourning bracelet ($1,200 to $2,200).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 17 and 18. For further information call 215-563-9275.

Contact David Iams at

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