Auctions: Furniture, decorative arts highlight Philadelphia-area auction

A Wharton Esherick walnut double pedestal desk with letter holder is expected to bring $60,000 to $80,000 at Rago Arts & Auction Center.
A Wharton Esherick walnut double pedestal desk with letter holder is expected to bring $60,000 to $80,000 at Rago Arts & Auction Center.
Posted: October 20, 2012

Rago Arts & Auction Center's three-day sale next weekend in Lambertville of 20th- and 21st-century furnishings and decorative arts will feature a previously announced consignment of items from the Colorado ranch of Christopher Forbes, son of the late Malcolm Forbes. It is one of three auctions this weekend and next offering items of unusual interest.

The Forbes collection will be offered Oct. 27 at the second session of the 1,650-lot sale, which David Rago calls "the greatest collection of property we've offered in the last four years." Other collections to be offered, Rago said in a release, include Michael and Marilyn Gould's arts and crafts furniture, ceramics, and silver; a large portion of Ken Forster's "encyclopedic selection" of mostly American art pottery and gems in all categories, plus "fine arrays of Nakashima, Paul Evans, Phil Powell, and many more great 20th- to 21st-century makers."

The 132 Forbes items will open the Oct. 27 session, to begin at 11 a.m. at the gallery, 333 N. Main St. They feature more than 50 lots of Roycroft furnishings and metalware, starting with Lot 1, an extraordinary Roycroft hall chair made between 1904 and 1906 by Dard Hunter and carved with a coat of arms and the phrase "Sit Down & Rest Thy Weary Bones." It has a presale price estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, according to the online auction catalog, accessible at

Forbes, director of Forbes Media L.L.C., has been buying furniture, lighting, and accessories made by the Roycroft community for three decades, Rago said earlier this year. After taking charge in the 1970s of a pair of rundown 1915 houses on the family ranch in Colorado, he filled them with arts and crafts furniture that he felt was undervalued.

Also from the Forbes collection are a Liberty Hall bench and cabinet made around 1900 in England with the carved motto "Well Befall Hearth and Hall," bought at Sotheby's in London in 1985 ($8,000 to $12,000); taxidermy, Navajo blankets, and pottery designed for Roycroft by Dard Hunter; and a leaded glass window, also made by Hunter ($20,000 to $30,000).

Other top items in the Oct. 27 session include an early 1900s Tiffany Studios glazed earthenware milkweed vase ($12,500 to $17,000); a circa 1910 hammered copper Dirk van Erp table lamp ($10,000 to $15,000); and a large, four-part tile panel with peacock made in 1910 by Frederick Hurten Rhead for a Weller Pottery colleague ($35,000 to $45,000).

More top items are featured in the sale's third session, beginning at 11 a.m. Oct. 28, with 21 lots of George Nakashima furniture, notably a Minguren II coffee table of walnut and French olive ash burl (named after the group that produced his shows in Japan; $30,000 to $50,000). Twenty more Nakashima pieces will be offered later in the session.

Other big-ticket top lots include a Phil Powell wall-hanging cabinet ($13,000 to $16,000); a Paul Evans deep relief wall cabinet made in 1962 of bronze, slate, and welded and polychromed steel ($20,000 to $30,000); a Dale Chihuly five-piece sapphire Persian glass set with red lip wrap, signed and dated Seattle, 1993 ($7,500 to $11,000), one of the session's four Chihulys; a Harry Bertoia tall "sonambient" sculpture, made in the 1970s ($35,000 to $45,000), one of a dozen Bertoias; and a Wharton Esherick walnut double pedestal desk with letter holder signed and dated 1951 ($60,000 to $80,000), one of three Eshericks in the session.

The first session, beginning at noon next Friday, will offer about 350 lots of pottery and glass, starting with 50 lots of Roseville, followed by Rookwood, Clewell, Fulper, Stangle, and Weller, including two Dickensware pieces. Glassware includes pieces by Tiffany, Steuben, Durand, Galle, and Lalique. Most have three-figure presale estimates.

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, noon to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 9 a.m. to sale time on sale days. For further information, call 609-397-9374.

Dolls, toys at Stephenson's. Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, preceding its regular afternoon sale, Stephenson's will offer 359 lots of dolls, including Madame Alexanders and Steiff figures; toys, including cast iron trucks, banks, and aircraft; and trains, including Lionel and Maerklin, at the gallery at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton. The sale is also being carried online at

A few highlights: Two rare Dinky Toys Nimrod aircraft in original boxes ($200 to $400); a nine-piece Maerklin train set with G800 steam locomotive and tender, rolling stock, and an extra electric locomotive ($300 to $500); and a cast iron girl in Victorian chair mechanical bank attributed to the J&E Stevens Co. ($4,000 to $8,000).

Preview: 8 a.m. to sale time Friday. For further information, call 215-322-6182.

Estate auction at Slosberg's. Barry S. Slosberg Inc.'s first Quality Auction of the new season, beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday and continuing at 2 p.m. Monday at the gallery at 2501 E. Ontario St., will feature property from the estate of Winifred Dodge Cheston of Philadelphia, including several paintings.

One is Portrait of a Fashion Model - 1954, by the continental society painter Reynaldo Luza, which depicts Cheston, herself a model in New York and Europe in the 1930s and '40s. It has a presale estimate of $300 to $500, according to Slosberg associate Rob Goldstein.

Other paintings from her estate:  Africaine by Geoffrey Holder ($4,000 to 6,000); Ready for Breakfast, by George Wright ($2,500 to $4,000); and a large-format, prepublication work-up for Alfred Bendiner's noted Tear It Down image of City Hall, which eventually graced the cover of his 1964 book, Bendiner's Philadelphia ($400 to $600).

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to sale time Sunday, and noon to sale time Monday. For further information, call 215-425-7030.

Contact David Iams at

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