Auctions: Two auctions at Freeman's offer decorative items to please the eye, warm the heart

A Tiffany wristwatch has a presale estimate up to $2,000.
A Tiffany wristwatch has a presale estimate up to $2,000.
Posted: January 26, 2013

Freeman's will offer decorative items to please the idle eye and the fluttering heart at two sales two weeks apart: English and continental furniture and decorative arts on Tuesday, with such necessities as walking canes and page turners, and then on Feb. 12, two days before Valentine's Day, more than 360 lots of jewelry and watches. Both sales promise to be comparatively affordable.

Tuesday's 550-lot sale of English, continental, and decorative items will begin at 10 a.m. at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. with a half dozen lots of Welsh and William and Mary furniture from the 18th and early 19th centuries, notably a George II walnut secretary bookcase expected to bring $5,000 to $7,000, according to the auction catalog (also accessible at

Also of note is a circa 1800 George III "metamorphic" Pembroke table and library steps, expected to bring $2,000 to $3,000. It gets its name from the way it converts from a library ladder with which to retrieve books to a desk at which to read them. Another Victorian item is a mahogany folio cabinet, circa 1855, intended for storing large documents (maps, newspaper front pages, small posters), estimated at $6,000 to $8,000.

The English furniture also includes a set of four Victorian oak dining chairs similar in form to those of the House of Lords by A.W.M. Pugin and expected to bring $3,000 to $5,000.

The walking canes, a single lot of 34 including malacca and rosewood shafts and (for the military-minded) swagger sticks, are from the collection of Mary and Maurice Hut of Ocean City. Presale estimate: $2,000 to $3,000. The six lots of page turners from a Palisades Park, N.J., estate - something between a paper knife and a straight razor - are expected to bring around $600 per lot.

A top presale estimate, $10,000 to $15,000, is for a 400-piece Royal Crown Derby Imari pattern porcelain service from the Palisades Park estate. Also from that estate are a dozen lots of majolica.

From there the sale moves on to Asian items, notably a Chinese export, gilt-decorated, rose mandarin dinner service ($5,000 to $8,000) and an eight-panel Qing Dynasty hardwood floor screen ($8,000 to $12,000).

The remaining 254 lots are continental, with an early 19th-century bronze figure of a wyvern expected to bring $1,500 to $2,500. (In the mythological bestiary, a wyvern is a winged creature with a two-legged reptilian body and barbed tail. It is on the Churchill coat of arms and appeared in the Merlin TV series.)

The top presale estimate is for a 23-inch German carved ivory beer tankard depicting, in near bawdy detail, Bacchus and Ariadne surrounded by additional mythical beings, including cherubs, sea monsters, nude nereids, and a mermaid handle. The perfect vessel for a foamy beverage, it has a presale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.

Also displaying cherubs and other allegorical figures is a Louis XVI-style side table with a spring-loaded drawer ($8,000 to $12,000). Otherwise, most of the continental items are expected to sell in the modest four-figure range.

Other highlights are nearly two dozen bronzes, notably a circa 1900 genre bust by Cesare Ceribelli of what might be an Egyptian figure ($4,000 to $6,000) and a cheerful early 20th-century four-piece Meissen porcelain troubadour band ($800 to $1,200).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Monday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Bargain bling. Presale estimates for the Feb. 12 jewelry and watch sale beginning at 10 a.m. are predominantly in the three-figure range or less, according to the catalog. Just over 50 of the sale's 368 lots are in the four-figure range, the highest being $5,250 to $7,250 for a South Sea pearl necklace and matching stud earrings.

At the low end are several lots expected to go for $50 to $150, including a pair of gold-filled bangle bracelets, a Mexican silver bracelet, and a white gold and tourmaline ring. In between are a large number of decorative items, many with well-known or locally familiar names.

The watches include Bulova, Ebel, Longines, Timex, and Waltham makes. The jewelry includes a Bailey Banks & Biddle dress set of studs and cuff links ($800 to $1,000), a J.E. Caldwell lady's platinum and diamond engagement ring ($600 to $900), a Linde Meyer sterling silver bracelet ($200 to $400), and a Craig Drake 18-karat white gold and ruby bracelet ($1,000 to $2,000).

Costume jewelry includes a number of distinctive pins in animal shapes, among them a gold poodle pin with a ruby eye and diamond collar ($200 to $400), a pair of serpent earrings ($400 to $600), cats and insects. A diamond, platinum, and yellow and rose gold bumblebee pin attributed to the German American artist Franz Zirnkilton has a presale estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

Other distinctive items: a 14-karat yellow gold and diamond Tiffany & Co. wristwatch with a retro band consisting of 28 tiny semicircular plates ($1,000 to $2,000); a yellow gold diamond and enamel umbrella pin, reminiscent of the Travelers Insurance Co. logo ($200 to $400); a circa 1904 $20 gold coin ($900 to $1,200); and a 14-karat yellow gold carved coral and diamond Buddha pin ($700 to $900).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 8, and 11. For more information on both sales, call 215-563-9275.

Contact David Iams at

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