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Morphy Auctions successfully launches Fine & Decorative Arts department with $2.3 million Winter sale

(EMAILWIRE.COM, January 15, 2007 ) DENVER, Pa. – Morphy Auctions’ Dec. 7-9 Winter sale, highlighted by 60 artworks, including important Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, rang up $2.3 million in sales. An Edward Redfield oil-on-canvas snowscape of a horse-drawn sleigh on a country road led the prices realized at $207,000. “It was our first offering of fine art since opening our Fine & Decorative Arts department, and we were more than pleased with the results,” said Morphy’s chief operating officer Dan Morphy.The Redfield, a quintessential Bucks County depiction by the man considered by many to be the dean of New Hope school artists, was sold over the phone to a buyer who was “a completely new customer,” Morphy said. “And the underbidder was a person in New Hope on whose doorstep we had dropped a catalog.” Morphy also noted that there had been a heavy participation via the Internet, with 35 percent of the art selling online. “Our usual online average is 25 percent,” he said.A Guy Wiggins 12 inch by 16 inch oil-on-board painting of a New York City scene titled Snow Storm on the Avenue was taken by a phone bidder for $60,000 against a $35,000-$45,000 estimate. Another Wiggins canvas, a colorful waterscape titled Late Afternoon Key West, sold above estimate at $37,400. “The art brought us a lot of new customers and consignors,” said Morphy. “We were offered two Guy Wiggins artworks after the sale. The consignor liked the way we had displayed the artwork, handled presale questions, and spent time with previewers, even black-lighting paintings upon request.”Although of an entirely different genre, a 31 inch by 24 inch oil on canvas of a train barreling across snow-flanked tracks, titled When Winter Comes, proved just as appealing to bidders as the Impressionist works entered in the sale. The painting had been created by artist Walter L. Greene (1870-1956) upon commission of the New York Central Railroad, which used the art in a 1925 calendar. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, the nostalgic steam-train depiction sold to a bidder in the gallery for $60,000.Newcomb, a magical name in the pottery marketplace, ruled the small but select decorative arts section of the sale, with an 11˝-inch carved matte vase featuring a bougainvillea motif earning $9,200. Crafted by Joseph Meyers and painted by Sadie Irvine, the coveted vessel had been estimated at $2,000-$3,000.Condition was of utmost importance to buyers seeking early Coca-Cola material, who bid aggressively on a 1935 two-sided porcelain triangle sign with original hanging bracket. The brightly colored sign featuring a 5-cent bottle of Coke and the words Drink Coca-Cola Ice Cold drew a record auction price of $14,950. Another winner in the category was a 1941 cardboard Coca-Cola poster lithographed in Canada and featuring an aviatrix with her goggles pushed back on her helmet, holding a bottle of Coke. It realized $7,475 (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).The Joe Rodriguez collection of vertical pocket tins (many of them ex Dennis & George collection) spurred heavy interest among tobacciana collectors, with successful buyers split between the room and the Internet. “The condition was there, and we made sure bidders knew that,” said Morphy. “In the catalog, we included sharp photos of the fronts and backs of the better tins to give people the confidence to bid via the Internet.” The grouping was topped by a brightly colored Scissors Cut Plug Tobacco tin, which smoked past its $3,000-$4,000 estimate to settle at $7,500. A Hunt Club Tobacco tin picturing a top-hatted, red-jacketed rider on a jumping horse also performed well, earning $5,500 against a $3,000-$4,000 estimate.Automotive vehicles are always big sellers at Morphy’s. In this particular auction, a powder-blue two-tone 1930s Keystone Coast-to-Coast sit-n-ride touring bus with electric headlights – one of few known examples – streaked past its $7,000-$10,000 estimate to finally apply the brakes at $18,400. And from the Buddy ‘L’ corner, a 1930s Junior pressed-steel baggage truck, 24 inches long with opening doors and headlights, rolled away to a new owner for $12,000. If there was a sleeper category in the sale, it was the early 20th century toy and salesmen’s sample stoves. “Some of those stoves brought record prices,” said Morphy, “with several doubling their high estimates. Even seasoned collectors were surprised. We were especially pleased at the number of new collectors who came onto the scene to bid on these stoves.” The most eagerly pursued lot was a J&E Stevens nickel-plated cast-iron range with two shelves, an accessory tea kettle and the brand name Rival written across its door. Estimated at $700-$1,000, it stormed its way to $5,750. Morphy Auctions next sale, co-hosted with Hake’s Americana, will take place Feb. 15-17 at the Marriott Burbank in Burbank, Calif. This is the first time Morphy’s will have conducted a West Coast auction. The company’s Spring 2007 sale is scheduled for May 9-12 at the newly expanded Morphy Auctions gallery in Denver (Adamstown), Pa. For information on either event, call 717-335-3435, e-mail or log on to

Catherine Watson


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