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Martin Wong: Human Instamatic soars at Grogan auction
Guglielmo Marconi's personal Experimental Magnetic Detector Wireless Telegraph, was one of the highlights of the Elli Buk Collection.

DEDHAM, MASS.- Grogan and Company Fine Art Auctioneers recently conducted a four day auction of the Elli Buk Collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Scientific Instruments and Technological Achievements ever assembled. For eight days, collectors and historians flocked to Dedham for a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the famed collection of SoHo antique connoisseur, Elli Buk. It took Buk forty years to amass his impressive collection of over 2000 objects spanning two centuries and over 30 collecting categories. "This was the first time anyone, including Elli's closest friends and family, had ever seen the collection in its entirety," stated auctioneer, Michael Grogan. "The collector response to the exhibition and auction was a combination of awe and enthusiasm."

In addition to scientific items, the collection included a number of paintings from a variety of SoHo artists, highlighted by a series of four sign language paintings by Martin Wong, who dubbed himself "the Human Instamatic". The set, titled Silence, Voices, Money, and Danger, sparked competitive bidding between several phone bidders before hammering down for $51,0000 against a $12,000-15,000 estimate. Other SoHo artists represented included David Hare, Ernest Rosenberg, and Mike Leaf. One of the more unusual items was 'Dean', scrap metal, folk art tin man created in the 1950's by George Dean, a tinsmith from Terre Haute, Indiana. The eight foot tall Tin Man sold to a New Hampshire dealer for $4,500.

The highlight of the sale was a rare Mangels Cast Iron Shooting Gallery, comprised of over 150 targets, including rabbits, birds, lions, elephants, bears, ships, and submarines. After spirited bidding the Gallery sold to a phone bidder for $60,000. William F. Mangels, a German immigrant, ran a small machine shop in Coney Island in the late 19th century, where he specialized in making cast iron targets for shooting galleries and earned the title "Wizard of Eight Street". Intact shooting galleries such as this are rare due to so many being sold for scrap metal over the years.

An important assemblage of Architectural drawings, blueprints, and plans for the R.M.S. Queen Mary, sold for $20,910; while the Brass and Wood Toilet, with Blue and White Porcelain Basin, salvaged from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Yacht, 'The Victoria and Albert II', went for $20, 910. The collection included a large number of items relating to the history of photography and cinema, including magic lantern projectors, box cameras, and movie cameras. The highlight was a rare set of Eadweard Muybridge zoetrope strips, titled "Attitudes of Animals in Motion". Copy written in 1882, the set brought $14,760 against a $5,000-15,000 estimate.

The auction grossed over 1.9 million dollars and attracted bidders from over fifteen countries.

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May 11, 2013

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