Local auction houses continue to woo holiday shoppers with sales emphasizing decorative objects generally expected to bring three- and low four-figure prices - except for two. Here are a few examples in chronological order and starting with the two exceptions.
At noon Friday in Lambertville, Rago Arts and Auction Center will get in the Hanukkah spirit with a 367-lot sale featuring Judaica, silver, currency, and coins, with the silver expected to bring the top prices. Among the dozen or so opening lots is a set of eight Russian silver pieces presented to the builder of a spur of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the once-important Russian town of Catherinburg (Ekaterinburg); it has a presale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000, according to Rago's online catalog at www.ragoarts.com. An eight-piece Tiffany & Co. coffee service should bring $12,000 to $15,000. The Judaica ranges from a circa 1944 Torah ark curtain ($300 to $500) to a circa 1862, possibly Polish, gilt and silver Torah crown ($2,000 to $3,000).
Rago will also have a "Great Estates" sale, beginning at noon Saturday and a jewelry sale at noon Sunday at the gallery at 333 Main St. Doors open at 9 a.m. on all three sales days. For further information, call 609-397-9374.
Jewelry and a Mercedes at Briggs. At 4 p.m. Friday at its gallery at 1347 Naamans Creek Rd., Garnet Valley, Briggs Auction will offer antique and decorative art from estates in Jenkintown and on Rittenhouse Square, including more than 200 lots of jewelry. It will have affordable objects, too, although two paintings, a New Jersey shore scene by Edmund Darch Lewis and a genre wine-tasting scene by Franz Kerber, should bring $1,000 to $1,500, according to Briggs president John Turner.
Also on the high side: a federal tall case clock from Lancaster County ($3,000 to $4,000) and a barely used 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-350 ($30,000 to $40,000). The sale also features contemporary and reproduction furniture.
Preview: 9 a.m. to sale time. For further information, call 610-485-0412 .
Objects from exotic lands. Jumping into the holiday shopping crowd is Material Culture, the new auction house in the 4700 block of Wissahickon Avenue that specializes in objects from exotic lands. The sale opens with 50 lots of artwork featuring self-taught and African artists and higher prices.
Lot One, for instance, is an untitled small stone head by the 85-year-old Polish American Ted Ludwiczak, whose work is in New York's American Folk Art Museum and the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. It should bring $600 to $900. Among works by the idiosyncratically named Prince Twins Seven-Seven (Nigerian, 1944-2011) is his 1989 Rainbow Wealth Goddess, ink, pastel, and oil on canvas. It has a presale estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.
The sale continues with about 35 lots of animation art cels, drawings, production artwork, and limited edition prints and images, including Disney, Looney Tunes, and Pixar characters. Among them are a Walt Disney hand-painted cel of Jessica Rabbit ($1,000 to $1,500) and a limited edition cel of Sleeping Beauty's Dance in the Clouds ($2,000 to $3,000).
The sale also offers more than 200 lots of 20th-century art glass from a Main Line estate, notably a large millefiori urn ($1,200 to $1,800). It concludes with a single-owner collection of more than 100 lots of vintage Navajo jewelry, which is where you will find the two- and three-figure bargains: a sterling Royston stone belt ($300 to $500) and a circa 1940 squash blossom necklace ($250 to $300).
Preview: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. For further information, call 215-849-8030 .
Pook and Pook bargains. Perhaps nowhere will the affordable label be better displayed than at Pook and Pook's decorative arts sale beginning at 9 a.m. next Friday.
While five- and even six-figure prices are not unheard of at the Downingtown gallery, only 16 of the 1,012 lots to be offered next week are expected to sell for more than $1,000, according to the auction catalog also accessible at www.pookandpook.com. The other 996 are a happy hodgepodge of music boxes, automata, Santa Claus figures, toys, paintings, furniture, stoneware and other Pennsylvania crafts, all with three-figure price estimates, often around $300 to $500.
To name a few: a Susquehanna River goose decoy ($150 to $250); a composition Santa Claus riding an elephant with a nodding head ($400 to $600); a late 19th-century Belsnickle Santa Claus in a white mica-flaked coat ($200 to $400); an early 20th-century Handel leaded-glass bedside lamp with slag glass shade ($400 to $600); an Eldred Wheeler Queen Anne-style secretary and a large scrimshaw decorated and inscribed walrus tusk (each $500 to $1,000).
Five of the lots expected to bring $300 to $500 are: a 19th-century automaton of a cat serving as organ-grinder; an early 20th-century German tin lithograph touring car; The Spell, a spooky scene of a wizard at work by Mary R. Collins; a carved and painted ox-drawn Conestoga wagon; and a circa 1900 American cabinet maker's workbench with two wooden vises.
Among lots expected to go for more are a late 19th-century Swiss cylinder music box ($3,000 to $5,000), a pair of Japanese carved ivory figures of a man and woman ($1,500 to $2,500), and a two-part porcelain urn that is one of 100 items being sold off by the Reading Public Museum ($2,000 to $4,000).
Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to sale time next Friday at the gallery at 463 E. Lancaster Ave. For further information, call 610-269-4040.