The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Saturday, October 31, 2020

Bidders answer the call for Bruneau & Co.'s January 4th auction
One lot consisting of two 19th century square transmitter telephone boxes, including one box marked “Blake Transmitter 320644 Edison Carbon Telephone” on the front ($7,500).

CRANSTON, RI.- Antique historical telephones and other collectibles from the early days of phone communication, all from the Pennsylvania chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America Museum, fetched nice high prices at a New Year’s Estate Fine Art, Antiques & Collectibles Auction held January 4th by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers, online and in the Cranston showroom.

“It just goes to show that when an item is top quality, collectors will come out of the woodwork,” said Kevin Bruneau, the president of Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers. “These rare items from the Telephone Pioneers of America are some of the coolest things I’ve seen sell. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors. Antique phones have become quite popular as a collectible.”

Just some of the top-selling lots from the category included the following:

• A group of four early horn transmitter telephone reproductions, marked “Historical Replica Reproduced by Bell Telephone Laboratories”, made in the 20th century from wood and metal, the largest of which measured 7 ½ inches by 10 ½ inches ($15,000).

• A 19th century mahogany telephone switchboard box, made in the United States by an unidentified company but an interesting piece nonetheless, overall 12 ¾ inches by 11 ¼ inches, made from wood and metal and with no apparent signs of damage ($13,750).

• A pair of 19th century diminutive Bell wall mount telephones, both black painted wood cased phones with glass transmitters by Maxim New York, marked “American Bell Company” around the transmitter and the sides of both marked “July 11, 1893” ($8,750).

• A group of six 19th century butter stamp telephone receivers, including five solid colored receivers of simple design and one black receiver with carved decorative flower patterns around the ear piece, with one piece marked “Property of Bell Telephone Co.” ($7,500).

• One lot consisting of two 19th century square transmitter telephone boxes, including one box marked “Blake Transmitter 320644 Edison Carbon Telephone” on the front and the other, unidentified transmitter having a decorative mount and receiver holder ($7,500).

The auction got off to a roaring start with the very first lot, a 1985 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit car with just 35,000 miles on the odometer. The full-size, British-made sedan was a full-size luxury Rolls that had been perfectly maintained. The car boasted an ivory colored interior with the finest burl wood inlays, with all service records, title and registration. It sped off the lot for $13,750.

“Talk about a non-stop, action-packed auction,” remarked Travis Landry, a Bruneau & Co. specialist and auctioneer. “Between the Rolls Royce, the telephones and fine art, bidder cards were flying from every corner of the room. There were over 200 absentee bids, 45-plus phone bidders, and over 5,000 registered bidders online. It was a great sale to kick off the New Year.”

The sale featured a fine selection of listed artist paintings, etchings and prints; a collection of Austrian and Bohemian art glass and figural lamps from a Long Island, New York collection; a great single-owner collection of Japanese robes; a nice selection of Asian arts; and five rare 18th and 19th century Rhode Island and Massachusetts almanacs.

Also offered were sterling silver chalices and estate sterling lots, jewelry and sculptures. Online bidding was provided by,, and, plus the mobile app “Bruneau & Co.” on iTunes or GooglePlay. Following are additional highlights from the sale. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.

The fine art category was led by a watercolor painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain (India/England, 1913-2011), dubbed “the Picasso of India”. The Cubist figural work depicted two blue horses galloping beneath a monochromatic sky with a purple sun. The framed 2002 painting was signed “Hussain” lower right and measured 19 ½ inches by 16 ½ inches (sight). It sold for $13,750.

An abstract bronze grey spirit sculpture by Joel Perlman (N.Y., b. 1943), geometric form with a pierced design, 42 inches tall by 25 inches wide, went to a determined bidder for $7,500. Joel Perlman is well known for his abstract shape sculptures. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York.

Bruneau & Co. will conclude winter and usher in spring with a full slate of auctions, starting with a DiscoverIt Comic & Toy Auction on Friday, February 7th. That will be followed by major two-session auction on Saturday, February 15th – a single-owner Steam Engine & Pre-War Toy Auction at 10 am Eastern, followed by an Estate Fine Art & Antiques Auction at 12:30 pm. Then, a Comic & Toy Auction is scheduled for Saturday, April 4th, starting at 11 am Eastern.

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