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Major collection of antique telephones will keep collectors "engaged" at Morphy Auctions
Guy Carleton Wiggins (American, 1883-1962), signed New York City snowscape, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 in., est. $10,000-$16,000. Morphy Auctions image.
DENVER, PA.- A large percentage of the world’s population has never even seen a dial-face telephone, but that certainly wasn’t the case with the late Bill Daniels. The massive collection of antique and vintage phones that filled his home comprised a chronological archive of Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention and contained models ranging from primitive turn of the 20th century curiosities to ultra-cool mid-century designs.

A premier assemblage, the Daniels collection has been consigned to Morphy Auctions, where it will be apportioned into three subsequent General Antiques auctions, the first of which will take place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15, 2011. The phones will open the second session.

“Many of Bill Daniels’ phones were displayed at museums or shows, but he was always a buyer, hardly ever a seller,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “Bill worked for AT&T’s long distance division until his retirement at age 52, so telephones were always a big part of his life.”

Daniels’ widow, Dorothy, said her husband started picking up old phones at flea markets, tag sales and church sales, later expanding his hunt to collector shows dedicated exclusively to telephones. “As his collection grew, he started thinking about the idea of a museum, so in addition to phones, he started buying phone booths, telegraphs, intercoms and other phone-related items,” Mrs. Daniels said.

One of Bill Daniels’ favorite pieces was his Watts & Co. coffin phone, which gets its name because of its distinctive shape. It is offered in the Oct. 14-15 auction with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Other highlights include a Western Electric magneto wall cabinet set, est. $7,000-$10,000; and an American toll 50-cent pay station telephone, est. $5,000-$10,000. Most of the phones in the collection are American, although there are also some examples from England and Japan.

The Friday session will open with more than 70 occupational shaving mugs, a category that has become closely associated with Morphy’s. A mug emblazoned with a merry-go-round is expected to bring $1,200-$1,500. Two mugs with a transportation theme carry a presale estimate of $1,000-$1,500 each. One has a depiction of a mail delivery truck, while the other is illustrated with a racecar.

Approximately 180 lots of antique apothecary items from a Pennsylvania pharmacist and pharmacology professor’s 35-year collection are included in the Friday lineup. The collection includes many “shop” bottles that 19th century pharmacists would have displayed on shelves. Most of them are glass and have labels identifying the medicinal contents by their Latin names. The containers vary in terms of decoration, with some having gold or black labels with fancy trim. Some are colorful, have diagonal labels or other distinctive designs.

The apothecary collection also includes a number of hardware items, such as an early pill roller that made pills from paste, an unusual emulsifying machine, and several counter-mounted cast-iron presses for inserting corks into bottles. “Some are quite artistic for their era and have figural designs on them, such as an alligator, sleeping dog or coiled snake,” the consignor said.

Also seen in the collection are nicely decorated 12-inch Parke-Davis “green” tins for herb and leaf storage, Victorian porcelain and ceramic display jars; mortar and pestle sets, and a sub-collection of glass apothecary candy jars. Visually appealing glass “show globes” were made to hold colored water and to be displayed on countertops, in shop windows or suspended from chains inside a pharmacy. “Legend has it that the color of the water was a signal of the general health of the community – green meant the community was healthy and red meant there was disease,” the consignor said.

A selection of 120+ pieces of pottery includes productions by Roseville, Fulper and Rookwood, as well as some very nice mochaware. The top lot in the category is a Rookwood vase made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and attributed to A.R. Valentien. It stands 24 inches tall and is exquisitely decorated with owls, seashells and a large serpent on the sterling silver overlay. It could make $30,000-$50,000 on auction day. Other pottery highlights include a Roseville green Bonita jardinière with pedestal, est. $2,000-$4,000; and a 4½-inch mochaware pitcher with tree décor, applied handle and artist’s mark, est. $1,000-$5,000.

Twenty pieces of early blown glass will be auctioned. A pair of signed 10½-inch Steuben iridescent candlesticks is estimated at $1,500-$2,500; and a signed 1910 La Verre Francais art glass vase standing 11½ inches tall is expected to reach $1,500-$2,500.

More than 50 artworks have been cataloged, including a nice selection of oil paintings. A signed 15 x 20 inch Guy Carleton Wiggins New York City snowscape carries a $10,000-$16,000 estimate. For those who favor contemporary marine art, there is a Christian Riese Lassen seascape, 25 x 29 inches, estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

Asian ivory includes an intricately carved 39-inch-long tusk, $2,000-$4,000; and a 13-inch-tall plaque carved with a populated village scene, $1,000-$2,000. A fine selection of netsukes is also set to cross the auction block.

A collection of sterling silver Native American jewelry will be sold, with the top piece being a squash blossom necklace with 15 stones, estimated at $800-$1,200. Among the fine jewelry lots, the highest estimate of $5,000-$7,000 accompanies a 14K white gold filigree diamond and sapphire ring. It features a 1.1-carat VS1 center diamond in E color.

Morphy’s is located in Lancaster County, which was home to many of Pennsylvania’s earliest German settlers. It’s always exciting, Dan Morphy said, when important 18th-century documents pertaining to those early settlers emerge from area estates and collections. The Oct. 14-15 sale contains two such items. The first is a leatherbound 1767 merchant’s daybook from Lititz, Pa. The book shows merchandise purchased over a 70-year period, through 1837. “What makes it interesting is that the book is written in three or four different hands, presumably generations of the same family, and the entries are shown in shillings and pence till 1789, at which point it switches to American monetary terms,” said Morphy. Described as being in exceptional condition for its age, the daybook is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.

The other article of early Pennsylvania German origin in Morphy’s sale is a German-language copy of the Declaration of Independence that was owned by the late Glenn Redcay, a well-known local antiques dealer and businessman. Morphy believes the document may have been created 20 or 30 years after America declared its independence in 1776 and that its purpose was to inform members of the German community who were not proficient in English. “Over the years Glenn had it appraised several times, and the appraisal values ranged anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000. We’ve entered it in the sale with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate,” Morphy said.

The 1,200-lot auction is rounded out with a grouping of more than 70 figural celluloid tape measures, including the only known Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set (with 6 Dwarfs), est. $2,000-$3,000; and a few Oriental rugs. A tightly woven 9 x 12½ ft. Kirman originally purchased for $50,000 is conservatively estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

All forms of bidding will be available for the Oct. 14-15 auction, including live at the gallery, by phone or absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live.

Morphy Auctions | antique telephones |




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September 21, 2011

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