Auctions: Philadelphia auction offers art, antiques, and a giant Persian carpet

A 97-piece handmade folk-art model of an amusement park, made around 1920, has a presale estimate of $600 to $900 at Kamelot.
A 97-piece handmade folk-art model of an amusement park, made around 1920, has a presale estimate of $600 to $900 at Kamelot.
Posted: October 13, 2012

The 4700 Wissahickon Ave. complex, once the home of the old Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co., producer of radios, will attract bidders, not broadcasters, next week with sales at two of its tenants. One will even offer a smattering of vintage radio equipment.

The first sale will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday at 4700's Suite 101, where Material Culture, the fledgling auction house specializing in ethnic objects from around the world, will offer more than 475 lots of early and contemporary art and antiques from developing nations. They include works by the self-taught Nigerian painter Prince Twins Seven-Seven and what is believed to be the largest Persian carpet ever woven.

Twins Seven-Seven (1944 to 2011) combines traditional West African colors with esoteric, perhaps mystic imagery, to judge from The Spirits of My Reincarnation Brothers and Sisters, a 65-by-58-inch batik dye, watercolor, acrylic, and oil-on-cloth painting, and one of seven of his works for sale.

It has a presale estimate of $5,000 to $7,000, according to the online auction catalog accessible at

Other self-taught artists represented in the offering include Vojislav Jakic; Kwame Akoto, also known as Almighty God; Purvis Young; and Felipe Jesus Consalvos, a Cuban American (1891-1960) who worked as a cigar roller and whose talent as an artist was not widely known until after his death.

The record-size carpet is a circa 1900 product custom-woven for the Union League Club of New York, according to the online catalog description. Measuring 31 by 47 feet, it remained in the club until its purchase in the 1950s by Frank Michaelian, a dealer so legendary his rugs were sometimes simply called Michaelians.

Material Culture came up with a few stats: Knot count of 189 knots per square inch, adding up to 40,932,000; allowing for 12 weavers working at a time, with an average workday production of 8,000 knots per weaver, the carpet spent 426 days on the loom. Adding the time to design it, spin its yarn, and dye it, among other tasks, the rug probably took two years to produce. Its presale price estimate is $60,000 to $90,000.

The sale will also showcase selected items from the Bill Liske collection of early Chinese and Tibetan textiles, carpets, and ethnographic artworks. Among them is a 14th- to 16th-century Tibetan scroll painting, called a Thangka, that depicts the deific reincarnation (sometimes in porcine form) known in Sanskrit as Vajravarahi and in Tibetan as Dorje Pakmo; it is expected to bring $3,000 to $4,000.

Previews: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. For further information, call 215-849-8030.

1910 radio at Kamelot. The vintage radio equipment, actually just two lots - one a circa 1910 De Forest radio set, the other a pair of microphones from the 1950s - are among the more than 675 lots in Kamelot's sale Oct. 20 of architectural, industrial, and Victorian items at its gallery in 4700 Wissahickon's Building M. Both are expected to bring two-figure prices.

The sale begins at 10 a.m. with two lots being sold without reserve by order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Montana from the collection of Edra D. Blixseth, former owner of the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky.

The first, a circa 1870 French carved walnut trumeau (French for space between windows) mantel top, has a presale estimate of $500 to $800, according to the online catalog accessible at The second, a circa 1900 pair of neoclassical bronze andirons, should bring $600 to $900. A dozen other items from the Blixseth collection will be offered throughout the sale.

The auction's top presale estimate, $15,000 to $25,000, is for a Victorian piece, a rare circa 1870 Herter Brothers ebonized and inlaid credenza with a pietra dura plaque of a bird.

Other top Victorian furniture lots: a circa 1890 slant-front inlaid walnut desk attributed to the Herter Brothers ($5,000 to $7,000); a circa 1870 burled walnut credenza attributed to Allen & Brother, with a stepped top and an inset copper panel of Hercules ($6,000 to $9,000); and a circa 1890 monumental carved oak partners desk with inset leather top that the catalog describes as "perfect for the captain of industry" ($3,000 to $5,000).

Decorative Victorian items include a circa 1890 cast metal lamp depicting Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Grapes" ($800 to $1,200); a late Victorian elephant foot taxidermy stool ($300 to $600); and a circa 1870 carved and painted wood carousel horse or large pull toy with cast iron wheels ($2,200 to $2,800).

The top architectural item is a circa 1900 oak store fixture/back bar with claw feet that has a presale estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. An art nouveau oak store counter or front bar should bring $2,500 to $3,000.

Another unusual item from the early 1900s is a handmade folk-art model of an amusement park made around 1920 and displayed at the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg. It contains 97 items, including a motorized carousel, a motorized metal airplane ride, a motorized wooden Ferris wheel, and numerous small figures, as well as a sign identifying it as "Seller's Park" ($600 to $900).

Other architectural and art deco items: a circa 1930 sunburst-design stained-glass window, one of several in the sale that were removed from a Buenos Aires art deco ice cream parlor ($400 to $600); a circa 1940 French foosball table with carved wooden figures ($700 to $900); and a 1939 World's Fair sculpture by James Charles House of a seated nude woman with her foot resting on a skull (no presale estimate).

The approximately 100 industrial items include metal work tables, an antique wooden workbench with original wood vise and added Wilcox iron vise ($100 to $200), and a metal and wood wine-tasting table with a wooden top supported by a 16-bottle wine rack ($600 to $900).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through next Friday. For further information, call 215-438-6990 .

Contact David Iams at .

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