Bunte Auction has no time for bailout

ELGIN, Ill. – Bunte Auction needs no bail-out, because they are doing just fine. The auction of Feb. 28-March 1 demonstrated that they are doing well in spite of economic concerns.

Kevin Bunte admitted there was some apprehension as they approached their first major sale of the year, with eBay Live gone and Live Auctioneers as its replacement. Asked his impressions after the sale, he noted “Things went very well. Jade pieces went higher than we had estimated, thanks to buyers from China.” He noted the sale had several great silver pieces, including a Russian tea set and commented, “Silver always holds its own.” He felt that art glass was a bit soft, partially because several pieces were newer. Furniture continues to be slow, although now and then a special piece will bring a “special” price. Buyers are more selective in their looking and their buying.

Asked about the future of auctions, Bunte was optimistic. “A lot of our business is estates, and we draw estate business from local and long distances. That business will continue, and often heirs need to convert items into cash for tax purposes, so they do not hold back quality items waiting for the economy to improve.”

He also felt that, although the Internet bidding was a bit less this auction, it was due to the “newness and differences” in the system and that it will be a good replacement for eBay.

The majority of items in this auction were from several major estates, and a local dealer who has retired. One of the gems of the auction was a painting by Birger Sandzen, found when an estate was being prepared for auction. The family had no idea of its value. Entitled “Willow and Cottonwood Smokey Hill River,” sized approximately 20 inches by 24 inches, it sold for $36,000. This was above its high estimate of $25,000.

Another outstanding lot was a 7-piece Russian silver tea set, made in the mid to late 19th century, by Nicholls and Plincke, St. Petersburg.  It attracted a lot of attention and sold for $32,400, within its pre-auction estimate.

There were no major jade pieces, but even smaller pieces sold well above estimate, most going to China. A lot of three small pieces, estimated $100-$150, sold for $660. Another lot of four pieces, all small, sold for $360, more than double its high estimate.

grandfather clock cased tall clockWith the economy bad, many people turn to gold, and a large 14K yellow gold gypsy belt was a big conversation piece. With two buckles, 16 links, and classical female bust decorations, it had a striking appearance. It weighed more than 18 troy ounces and sold for $9,900, within estimate.

A slightly more modern piece was a limited edition Lucite sculpture entitled “Prologue,” made and signed by Frederick Hart. It was displayed on a separate item, an acrylic lighted pedestal, which made the sculpture glow. The sculpture sold for $3,900, slightly above estimate. The pedestal table could have been its companion for an additional $216.

Edgar Payne lovers were happy because two of his paintings were available. “Mount Whitney from Owens Valley,” size approximately 11 inches by 12 inches, sold for $7,800, within estimate, and “Swiss Lake,” size approximately 8 inches by 10 inches, was hammered down for $5,700, slightly lower than estimate.

There are always some surprises, and a Marc Chagall, unframed lithograph on Arches watermarked paper, signed and numbered 74/75, brought $1,800, not reaching its low estimate of $4,000. It did have slight staining, which affected its value.

Furniture results, in general, continue to be soft, but there are always exceptions. A Victorian oak side-by-side, 74 inches high, 43 inches wide, was estimated to bring $300-$500. Even with its missing hardware, it sold for $1,560.

An outstanding “furniture” piece was an 18th century English long-case clock (shown at left). It stood 94 inches high with a width of 20 inches. Made in mahogany and signed “Warranted by Wm. Cummens,” it brought $19,200, just below its low estimate of $20,000.

In spite of economy fears, the crowd, absentee bidders, and the Internet all bid enthusiastically. It does appear bidders are more selective and focused but are still willing to bid for what they want or need.

For more information contact Bunte Auction at 847-214-8423 or visit  www.bunteauction.com.