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Unique Philadelphia scenes could be worth $400

Pen and ink drawings depicting various scenes featuring key scenic spots in Philadelphia may have a mysterious origin, reports Anthony Cavo in his latest Ask the Experts column, but their appeal is without question.

QMy wife and I discovered seven ink drawings at an estate sale in Sacramento. They appear to be mid-century, Philadelphia scenes and almost seem as if they may have been drawn for advertising print media such as a newspaper or magazine. Maybe they are part of a set or series? The dimensions are written on the back and are 10-3/4 by 10-3/4 inches. We took the paper off the back


Philly1 ink and pencil sketch

of one and didn’t see any information. Some of the drawings are initialed “F.B.” I have not been able to find out much info on them and have only found one other drawing online (at least using my limited search parameters). I was hoping that you could help me determine the artist/illustrator, purpose and value of such drawings. Thanks.

B.S. Sacramento, Calif.

A It is difficult to believe that pen and ink sketches of this quality were executed by an amateur artist; yet, I have been unable to identify the artist of your pen and ink drawings. The location of each of the drawings is easily recognized but the artist, “F.B.,” remains a mystery. I have researched illustrators, caricaturists and artists but have thus far not identified the person who drew your wonderful pen and inks. I thought “F.B.” might have been an illustrator for a Philadelphia periodical but have come up with nothing to indicate this is the case. In addition to your seven pieces, I have seen one more offered for sale online at $495.

Philly2 pen and ink sketch

Philly2 pen and ink sketch

However, I have not encountered any other works by this artist — or even similar to this artist’s work. I was, however, able to identify the subject of your drawings and discern signatures on them as well as follows: The graveyard at Old Christ Church, the American Academy of Music, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia City Hall, the 15th Street Station, the Statue of Commodore Barry in front of Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Aquarium, which has been closed since 1962. The Philadelphia Aquarium is signed “F” in the tank just left of the alligator’s snout; Independence Hall is signed at the lower right just laterally to the woman’s shoe and above to the right of the pigeon; the Philadelphia Zoo signed “F.B.” at lower left beneath the rear foot of the bench; and the Graveyard at Old Christ Church signed “F.B.” lower right alongside the curb behind the car.

Your drawings are surely unique, and as pen and inks by an unidentified artist, I would appraise their value in the $350 to $400 range each and certainly higher if the artist is identified and offered for sale in the Philadelphia area. Hopefully, one of our readers will be able to offer more on this one.

Philly ink and pencil sketch

Philly ink and pencil sketch