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Rare Martin Bros. stoneware birds set to take flight at Morphy's March 8 auction
Pair of R.W. Martin stoneware bird-figure tobacco jars, signed and dated. At left: 1907 bird est. $25,000-$35,000. Right: 1908 bird, est. $20,000-$30,000. Morphy Auctions image.
DENVER, PA.- Two superb Martin Bros. stoneware birds occupy the top roost in Morphy’s Fine & Decorative Arts Auction slated for March 8. Intentionally grotesque and extremely desirable, the fully figural English birds are fashioned as tobacco jars with removable heads. One is dated 1907, while the other is dated 1908. Each is signed “R.W. Martin & Bros.”

“Martin Brothers birds have an avid following among ceramics and tobacciana collectors, both here and in the United Kingdom,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “To have one of these rare birds in our sale would be exciting enough, but to have two of them to offer to bidders is a very nice bonus.”

One of the birds stands 9¼ inches tall and is estimated at $25,000-$35,000. The other, posed as though the head is cocked to the side, is 12½ inches tall and could command $20,000-$30,000. Both are in excellent condition.

Dozens of figural humidors will follow the Martin birds. Many are formed as character heads or animals. Some will be of interest to black Americana collectors, as well.

Two outstanding collections of pottery will be auctioned. One of the collections contains fine examples of Amphora, including a 14-inch Dragon vase, $12,000-$15,000; and a Paris Expo 1900 frog vase, $4,000-$6,000. A 15¼-inch monumental Paul Dachsel-designed Blue Mushroom vase has a motif of soaring white birch trees with mushrooms circling the base.

The second collection consists primarily of Roseville and includes a number of unusual forms, from a Futura Blue Balloon vase to an array of wall pockets.

Many other potteries are represented, including Rookwood, Weller, Royal Doulton, Hampshire and Teco. A special entry is a 7½-inch artist-signed Newcomb College Moon & Trees vase, which is estimated at $4,000-$5,000.

An excellent selection of fine jewelry includes many distinctive rings set with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Also, there are several Cartier timepieces, led by a ladies 10K gold watch with a diamond border surrounding the face. Estimate: $2,500-$3,500. A gentleman’s 14K white gold Vacheron & Constantin watch is expected to make $3,000-$5,000.

A mixed grouping of Americana contains several standout lots, such as an antique 10-gallon stoneware crock from Jas. Hamilton & Co., of Greensboro, Pa. A handsome vessel decorated in a blue floral pattern, it is in “virtually untouched condition,” Morphy said. Its estimate is $6,000-$10,000.

Early firefighting equipment includes buckets, leather helmets, badges, a Boston fireman’s “speaking trumpet,” a 1794 fire mark, and several lanterns. An antique New England fire engine lamp marked “Roxy” and “Six” is in excellent condition and estimated at $7,000-$10,000.

Morphy’s March 8 Fine & Decorative Arts Auction will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online through Morphy Auctions, LiveAuctioneers or Invaluable.





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