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Famous LA emporium Early California Antiques to co-host June 18 auction of vintage West Coast art
Elmer Plummer (Californian, 1910-1987), ‘Golf Scene,’ 1936, oil-on-canvas, 35 x 25 inches (framed), est. $6,000-$8,250. All images courtesy of Last Chance By LiveAuctioneers and Early California Antiques.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- From its 18th-century Spanish missions to its wild and woolly 1849 Gold Rush and mega-billion-dollar motion picture industry, California has more than lived up to its nickname “the Golden State.” A virtual chronology of its rich and art-filled history will take the spotlight on Saturday, June 18, at a 400-lot auction hosted by Last Chance By LiveAuctioneers in association with Early California Antiques (ECA).

The live auction will be held at ECA’s store at 4361 Melrose Ave., in Los Angeles, with absentee and Internet live bidding available exclusively through Formerly a theater, the 4,500-square-foot Old Hollywood-style venue has ample onsite parking available for guests who wish to attend in person. Located only a stone’s throw from Paramount Studios, the 1927 tiled Art Deco building is a wonderland of rare and classic-period Monterey, Spanish Revival, California and Mexican Colonial furniture, decorative objects, architectural appointments and art.

All items in the auction have been hand-selected from the establishment’s inventory by ECA’s owner Eric Berg, a recognized authority on pre-World War II California antiques and collectibles. Berg’s judicious eye has had plenty of practice from working with customers who never settle for second-best. His clientele includes film stars, interior decorators and movie-set designers; museums, and upscale retailers who frequent his emporium in pursuit of the authentic and unusual.

The auction selection embodies the first golden age of California style, a time when the palatial homes of Montecito, Pasadena, Old Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Palo Alto expressed their Mexican-influenced West Coast character with the colors and forms made popular by regional craftsmen.

The furniture section is divided into two categories, the first containing Renaissance, Spanish Colonial and Spanish Revival productions. Highlights include Lot 316, a monumental 17th-century Spanish Colonial trunk with outstanding ironwork, est. $7,600-$10,450; and Lot 315, a 16th-century Portuguese step-back cabinet. Described by Berg as “one of the finest pieces that ever came into our hands,” the cabinet carved in handsome bas-relief manner is entered with a $5,200-$7,150 estimate.

The second furniture classification – Monterey and 20th-Century – is led by Lot 235, a circa-1929 classic Monterey desk with attractively patinated red finish. Estimate: $5,200-$7,150. Other standouts include Lot 222, a Monterey paint-decorated transitional maple highboy with crackle front, $1,760-$2,420; Lot 249, a Monterey classic foot locker decorated with a primitive floral motif, $1,920-$2,640; and Lot 237, a rare Monterey red keyhole chair with original finish, $1,200-$1,650.

Plein-air paintings by artists of the California school have never fallen out of favor with collectors. A number of quality examples of such artworks will be offered, including Lot 347, a 1936 Elmer Plummer (1910-1987) oil-on-canvas depicting a golf game in progress. This atmospheric mountain-landscape painting may have been inspired by one of the courses in LA’s Griffith Park. Measuring 35 by 25 inches (framed), it could easily settle in the $6,000-$8,250 range. Lot 342, Ferdinand Kaufmann’s (1864-1942) tranquil 1939 painting of Lake Sherwood in Ventura County, is estimated at $6,800-$9,350, while Lot 341, DeWitt Parshall’s (1864-1956) oil-on-canvas representation of the iconic Point Lobos area (Carmel-by-the-Sea), could achieve $4,720-$6,490.

Of the early posters and prints set to cross the auction block, two with a connection to the entertainment world are expected to stir bidding activity from all corners. Lot 245 is an original 1880s poster promoting the contemporaneous stage production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Extremely scarce, it is estimated at $7,600-$10,450. Another great rarity is a linen-backed movie poster of Will Rogers as the star of the 1934 comedy Judge Priest. “This poster is quite possibly the only survivor of its type. We know of no others in existence,” Berg said. It comes to auction with an estimate of $6,400-$8,800.

An abundance of ethnographic art, retablos and santos will be offered, including Lot 65, a remarkable life-size carved and painted effigy of an angel or saint. Made in the 1860s, it has movable arms and hands, and realistic glass eyes that cast a haunting gaze. Standing 65 inches tall, it is estimated at $7,200-$9,900.

California has a long history of producing functional ceramics (e.g., flooring, roof tiles, etc.) that dates back to the westward migration of the 1840s, however the state’s art pottery movement emerged and flourished from the 1930s through 1960s. During that period in Los Angeles alone, there were more than 300 potteries producing tableware, tiles and other art pieces. Some exceptional examples have been cataloged for the June 18 auction. For example, Lot 331, a Catalina Island Pottery 12-tile plaque framed by scrolled ironwork, is a top prize, estimated at $5,200-$7,150. Lot 312, a 33-inch-tall Gladding McBean jade green oil jar follows closely behind with an estimate of $3,600-$4,950.

As any interior designer will attest, the fastest way to make a statement in any room’s decor is to add a striking light fixture. Aspiring decorators can take their pick from an impressive auction selection that includes lamps, lanterns, torchieres and other lighting elements. Lot 133, a pair of stunning hand-wrought Spanish-style mica chandeliers is estimated at $9,600-$13,200. Another stellar duo, Lot 54, consists of a pair of Oscar Bach-style bronze wall sconces with frosted amber glass. Estimate: $1,520-$2,090

“A bidder looking for furnishings and decorative art to add casual West Coast sophistication to their home could do so from wall to wall with the pieces we’ve chosen for this auction,” Berg observed. The sale lineup also includes Mexican silver and jewelry; and a broad selection of objets d’art to suit every taste.

The June 18, 2016 auction will start at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET.

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