Auctions: Beer cans are the toast of a sale

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This pre-Prohibition P. Schoenhofen lithograph on wood is estimated to bring $10,000 to $15,000 at Morphy's Friday.

This weekend will see three sales with several things in common: large volume, early starting times, occasional five-figure prices - and in the case of two of the three, a remarkable duplication of unusual lots.

The largest of the three, and the one with the earliest starting time, is Morphy Auction's two-day sale of a single-owner collection of beer cans and brewing-related items. The two sessions begin at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday at the gallery outside Reading.

The 1,700 lots - including 500 antique and vintage beer cans, glasses, 400 taps and knobs, and a selection of signs, artwork, and promotional items - were collected over the last 40 years by Adolph Grenke. Grenke, a former industrial executive in the Chicago area, became aware of beer cans as a collectible in 1972, thanks to a presentation by a Meister Brau salesman, and began collecting himself a few years later after finding a roadside cluster of cans while on a family vacation in Texas.

Today the collection includes such rarities as an Apache Export can from Arizona with American Indian imagery, one of Grenke's favorites that is expected to bring $25,000 to $35,000, according to an auction news release, and a unique Meister Brau: an olive drab can, the only one known to remain of those that were sent by the Chicago brewery to U.S. soldiers overseas. It has a presale price estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. (Presale price estimates are accessible at Morphy's website www.morphyauctions.com.)

The 720 lots in Friday's session feature glasses, mugs and steins; artwork and promotional items, many from the Chicago area; and, above all, beer cans. The one that has the entire sale's highest presale estimate: a Gibbons Bock beer cone-top expected to bring $30,000 to $50,000.

Other lots in the session have five-figure presale estimates: a Jolly Scot Ale quart cone-top beer can ($12,000 to $20,000); a pre-Prohibition Lion Beer reverse glass corner sign ($12,000 to $15,000); and three lithographs, an 1888 Atlas Chicago Bock beer litho, The Convert, depicting a drinker who is half man, half goat ($12,000 to $18,000); a pre-Prohibition P. Schoenhofen lithograph on wood, Jumping on to Something Good, of a frog hopping toward a beer ($10,000 to $15,000); and a Philip Best Brewing company Bock Beer Maid ($15,000 to $25,000).

The Apache Export and the Meister Brau cans are in the Saturday session. Other cans in the session with five-figure presale estimates: two different Krueger Bock cans ($15,000 to $20,000 and $18,000 to $23,000), a National Bohemian ($20,000 to $45,000); a Peter Doelger Bock "instruction" beer can ($15,000 to $28,000); and a Rheingold Pale Double Bock Beer flattop beer can ($14,000 to $24,000).

Also expected to bring a five-figure price is a corner sign from Buffalo's Iroquois Brewery, according to Dan Morphy, who conservatively estimated it at $20,000 to $40,000.

Morphy's is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the gallery at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver. For further information call 717-335-3435.

Furniture, artwork. Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday in town, Kamelot Auctions will offer more than 640 lots of antique furniture from a variety of countries, including American and European Victorian pieces; Asian arts; midcentury modern furniture, including a quantity of Jansen pieces and a circa 1930 Jacques Le Chevallier aluminum desk lamp and accompanying book about Le Chevallier designs that has the auction's top presale estimate, $8,000 to $12,000. (The auction catalog is accessible at www.kamelotauctions.com.)

The first 150 lots of antique furniture are mostly French with a few from Italy, Germany, England, and, of all places, Syria. Among the Italianate pieces: a large Sienna marble top gueridon with bronze trim ($1,000 to $2,000); a 6-by-3-foot serpentine marble top over a Rococo-style gilt wood carved base ($1,500 to $2,500); an 18th-century set of eight Italian neoclassical painted dining chairs ($2,500 to $3,500); and an 18th-century Italian gilt wood carved console table listed with matched veneered marble top nearly five feet wide ($5,000 to $7,000).

Among Victorian pieces is a carved Aesthetic Movement cabinet signed Gabriel Viardot, and distinguished by carvings with a stylized pagoda design ($2,000 to $3,000). German pieces include three lots of early 19th-century Biedermeier, notably a circa 1840 four-drawer inlaid commode ($700 to $900).

Among the six Syrian lots is a carved and inlaid settee with a crested back ($500 to $800). English pieces include a pair of canvas and leather travel trunks decorated with the British Union Jack flag ($200 to $400).

Paintings include a circa 1932 "townscape" of Duesseldorf ($200 to $400), a still life with game by the 19th-century Pennsylvania painter John F. Francis ($5,000 to $7,000), and a portrait of a saint in the style of the 17th-century Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera ($7,000 to $10,000). Among bronzes is a standing statue of Diana signed Houdon ($1,000 to $1,500).

East Asian art that stands out includes a Chinese mixed media painting focused on the calligraphic symbol for long life and the mythical figure of Shou Xing, god of longevity ($500 to $1,000), a monumental carved polychrome statue of Buddha, and an antique Chinese hardwood étagère (each $2,500 to $5,000). One other unusual item: a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk with signed brass hardware ($1,000 to $1,500).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to sale time Saturday at the gallery at 4700 Wissahickon Ave. For further information call 215-438-6990.

High end in Hightstown. Also at 10 a.m. across the Delaware in Highstown, Philadelphia Estate Liquidators Inc., which actually is based in Cherry Hill, will offer 773 lots of high-end antique, modern, and Asian arts at the gallery at 278 Monmouth St. The sale also is being carried at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Among top items: a monumental 19th-century display cabinet ($7,500 to $15,000); a George Washington signed letter dated 1775 ($4,000 to $8,000); a bronze Tiffany & Co. clock ($7,500 to $15,000); and a Maria Pergay design Pouf Vague bench similar to one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ($10,000 to $20,000).

Guess what else is on sale: an antique hardwood Chinese étagère ($2,500 to $5,000); a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk ($2,000 to $4,000); and a pair of hassocks decorated with the Union Jack ($250 to $500).

Preview: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. For further information, call 856-429-6885.

 


Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.