Published: January 18, 2011
The standing-room-only crowd at Ron Rhoads Auction Center November 26′7 was seeing red, not because of the winter skies, but because of the color of the rare Lalique Hirondelles vase that had just shattered the world auction record at $132,000, surpassing the previous record of $66,000 at Christie’s in 2006.
The vase was the highlight of the two-day auction of the Stanley Baker estate; Baker was the author of the Railroadiana price guides. The vase, however, was brought in by his wife, Myrtle, known as the “Queen of Glass” for her weekly articles throughout the 1970s‱980s for Antique Trader. She had purchased the vase in the 1960s for $1,600.
The price was such that people crowded around the special case that held the vase; many stood in silence as the price escalated. Longtime dealer Lee Walden of Minnesota, an antiques collector and friend of Stanley Baker, said he was extremely happy for the family. “This was one of the most exciting auctions I have ever attended in my 40 years in the business,” he said.
A dozen phone lines were buzzing from Europe, Israel and throughout the United States. The vase’s final destination became the New York area. The successful buyer, a phone bidder, told Rhoads that he had been the back bidder in 2006, and this vase was going to be his.
Several paintings were sold, including a rare Carl Ohms work that returned to Austria for a resounding $13,800, and a Rittenberg painting, “In the Studio,” which sold to a phone bidder for $16,100. These paintings were purchased from the Minnesota Radio City Music Hall in 1958 and transported safely home on the top of a station wagon, to be treasured by the Bakers, and eventually to be sold in their estate.
Other highlights were the mahogany barrister bookcases at $6,325 and a centennial Dutch marquetry desk at $4,050. The rare Duffner and Kimberly lamp lit up the room at $7,475, a Meissen portrait plate took $1610, and a Tiffany bowl fetched $2,875.
Also crossing the block were a Tiffany iridescent vase at $3,737 and a Gazelle Replicar, bought as a Christmas gift by a man for his wife, that now took $7,707.
Saturday was a full day of train memorabilia, inspiring great interest throughout the United States as many rare items were sold; many buyers participated online.
This interest garnered the following prices: A rare Altoona Beer sign, $980; a Mason Railroad Builders litho print, $980; a Buddy L outdoor train set, $1,840; a Wells Fargo switch lock, $1,150; and an Earnest Plank steam locomotive, $3,162.
Rounding out the session were a Great Northern salesman cap at $805, an Indian tobacco cards set for $1,516, Illinois Railroad china for $1,035, a Great Northern Pullman blanket at $1,150, and a Great Northern parlor rug for $747.
The second Stanley Baker estate auction is scheduled for March 19 and will include a rare original pen and ink by C.M. Russell with authentication, as well as many early railroad paintings, posters, china, locks, lanterns, paper, hundreds of calendars and books.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For more information, call 610-385-4818.
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