Fine art from the Far East will be featured at two important catalog sales, one today through Sunday in Lambertville, the other Monday in Philadelphia.

Artworks will be offered at the Sunday session of Rago Arts & Auction Center's three-day "Great Estates" sale of Asian, ethnographic, fine and decorative arts; furnishings; America ephemera and toys; silver jewelry; and perfume presentations. The 220-plus lots that will end the session include Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian objects, including paintings, screens, porcelains, jade, ivory, and bronzes, several expected to bring five-figure prices.

Most notable among those is a Chinese bronze ceremonial drinking vessel called a


, possibly dating to the late Shang dynasty (1500-1050 B.C.), that has a presale estimate of $50,000 to $60,000. On the other hand, a Southeast Asian bronze hanging lamp is expected to sell for $500 to $700.

The session, which begins at noon, also will offer European objects ranging from a 361/2-inch-high bronze by Fernand Antonin Mercie of an angel with a fallen warrior, titled

Gloria Victis

(estimate: $18,000 to $24,000), to a life-size Italian ceramic figurine of a poodle ($500 to $700).

Today's opening session, beginning at 3 p.m., will be devoted to paintings, furniture, Americana and ephemera. Its 290 lots include a Pennsylvania tall case clock ($7,000 to $9,000), a 71-by-100-inch American Indian Rio Grande blanket ($5,000 to $8,000), a tramp-art cabinet dating to about 1930 ($5,000 to $7,000), and a 241/2-inch-high resin figure of Esquire magazine's mustachioed mascot, "Esky" ($5,000 to $7,000).

Tomorrow's session, which also begins at noon, will open with 200 lots of jewelry and watches, followed by 40 lots of perfume bottles, notably a 1927 Lalique Sirene perfume bottle with a presale estimate of $55,000 to $65,000. More jewelry will follow, most lots in the high-three- to low-four-figure range.

Previews are from noon to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to sale time tomorrow and Sunday at the Rago gallery, 333 N. Main St., Lambertville. For more information, call 609-397-9374 or go to



Monday's sale at Freeman's is divided into two sessions; the first begins at 10 a.m. at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. and is devoted to a single collection belonging to William Lipton.

According to the 285-page auction catalog, Lipton first became interested in Far Eastern art in the 1970s, subsequently making frequent trips there with the Hong Kong dealer and adviser Charlotte Horstman and ultimately opening his own gallery in 1989.

Most of the 689 lots are from the 17th-century Qing dynasty on, with an emphasis on less conventional, non-manufactured media. Early in the session, for instance, will be a dozen lots of items made from the 1600s to the 1800s out of gourds, with presale estimates ranging from $300 to $3,000.

Furniture in the sale tends to be made of wood, often burled, cane or bamboo. Statuary is frequently ivory, although there are a couple of bronzes, notably a 15th- to 16th-century Thai Buddha ($10,000 to $15,000).

The second session, beginning at 6 p.m., concentrates on three-dimensional decorative arts, with some curiously contemporary styles, even though most items are from the 17th to the 19th century. A Qing rootwood side table with a presale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000 hints at George Nakashima's partiality for natural wood shapes, for instance.

Preview is from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Information: 215-563-9275 or



St. Nick in Hatfield.

The trip from the Far North made yearly on the "Night Before Christmas" was documented in the Clement C. Moore poem that first appeared in an Upstate New York newspaper on Dec. 23 1823. A limited-edition book form of the poem, also titled "A Visit From St. Nicholas," was published in 1848 by Moore's friend Henry Onderdonk. Illustrated by the engraver Theodore C. Boyd, it provided an image of the merry old elf that has survived to this day.

A rare first edition of this book will be featured by Alderfer Auction Co. tomorrow at a session beginning at 9 a.m. at the gallery, 501 Fairgrounds Rd., Hatfield. The book has a presale estimate of $3,000 to $4,000.

Preview is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 7 a.m. to sale time tomorrow. Information: 215-393-3000 or