Stephenson's, whose traditional New Year's Day auction has long gone uncontested in the Philadelphia suburbs, will be getting some challenges next week: one from Alderfer Auction Co. on Thursday in Hatfield, the other from Briggs Auction Inc. Jan. 2 in Garnet Valley.

Alderfer's sale, set to begin at 9 a.m. at 501 Fairgrounds Rd., will open with more than 400 die-cast toys, including Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint models. At 11 a.m., a large selection of musical instruments will be offered, including a Couesnon & Co. trumpet and two Olds Ambassador models, drum sets, and a large number of stringed instruments.

In the last category are acoustic and electric guitars and two dozen violins, most in need of restoration. The sale also features antiques and collectibles, including advertising tins and tools.

Previews are noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. to sale time Thursday. For more information, call 215-393-3023 or go to



Native American goods

. Briggs' sale, set to begin at 5 p.m. next Friday at the gallery at 1347 Naamans Creek Rd., will feature a number of items with Native American connections, notably a photograph of a landscape with buffalos by Edward Sheriff Curtis. The photo, which is from a Swarthmore estate, is one of thousands Curtis took using a technique called Orotone as he chronicled the history of Native Americans before it was lost.

"Most were sold to museums," Briggs president John Turner says, adding that some images had brought prices between $8,000 and $10,000.

Also to be offered among the more than 700 lots is a carved eagle by the Native American artist J.L. Clarke, a member of the Blackfoot tribe who died in 1970. Some of his work was done for the White House, Turner says.

He says he expects the eagle to bring between $2,500 and $5,000, adding, "We've gotten calls about it from Missouri and Montana."

Paintings include works by Margaret Longstreth Baugh, who also specialized in Native American subjects, and a large landscape by Edmund D. Lewis expected to sell for $8,000 to $10,000. A seascape by A. Thornley is expected to bring $6,000 to $8,000.

Other offerings include antique and quality reproduction furniture, sterling, porcelains and, from a Chichester estate, two vintage automobiles: a 1964 Ford Thunderbird and a 1923 Ford Model T "Bucket" street rod. Each should sell for between $10,000 and $15,000, Turner says.

Previews are 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to sale time next Friday. Turner says Briggs typically closed shop for a couple of weeks at this time of year, but it decided to have a better-than-average regular Friday sale to lure people coming off the holiday. "We're hoping they will be hungry," he says.

For more information, call 610-485-0412 or go to



John Lear paintings.

Stephenson's New Year's Day sale, a fixture of the holiday for more than 15 years, will begin at 10 a.m. at the gallery at 1005 Industrial Blvd. Among the 500 lots to be sold are a single-owner collection of paintings by the Philadelphia artist John Lear.

Lear, who died in September, began painting social-realist scenes in the 1930s, then got into surrealism during the 1940s, according to a profile by a team from the Woodmere Art Museum.

His more recent paintings of idealized male figures, reminiscent of the classical Greek form, display youthful bodies amid a landscape littered with architectural fragments and broken shards. Typical of these is

Ringman, Midnight

, one of the 29 Lears in the sale. Cindy Stephenson says she expects them to sell for between $500 and $3,000 to $4,000 each.

Another painting in the sale is from an earlier era: an 8-foot-long oil-on-canvas religious scene from the school of Tintoretto; it comes from an Upper Bucks consigner and is expected to sell for $8,000 to $12,000.

The auction also will feature a collection of statues of Napoleon, 100 lots of jewelry, antique and primitive furniture, collectibles, and two good dinnerware services - one a service for 12 of Royal Crown Derby "Old Imari" with a presale estimate of $5,000, the other a set of Coalport expected to sell for $1,000.

Among the collectibles are Jay Strongwater jeweled dresser frames and figural and jeweled Estee Lauder "solid perfumes," the kind, Stephenson explains, that are sold in such stores as Neiman Marcus.

"You dip your finger into them and rub it onto your skin - like a piece of soap," she says. They are expected to sell for about $100 per lot.

Previews are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to sale time Thursday. For more information, call 215-322-6182 or go to