Antiques & Collectibles

Of Celtics, ceramics, or caricatures

By Virginia Bohlin
Globe Correspondent / July 24, 2011

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All of the 100 lots of personal memorabilia of Boston Celtics coach Arnold “Red’’ Auerbach offered at SCP’s online auction this month sold for a total of $298,875. This was the second SCP auction of Auerbach memorabilia; the first was in April, the third will be in September at a date to be determined.

The top seller this month was Auerbach’s 1976 world championship ring, which brought $37,668 against a minimum opening bid of $10,000. The 99 other lots all had minimum bids of $50 to $300.

The second highest price was the $3,944 paid for Auerbach’s engraved “World Champion Boston Celtics 1980-81’’ Longines watch. That was followed by the $3,523 paid for the watch that Marvin Kratter, then the Celtics owner, gave to Auerbach in 1966 in recognition of his 1,000th career win.

The National Basketball Association’s “Greatest Coach in History’’ Hamilton presentational wristwatch, which had a minimum bid of $250, went for $2,052, while Auerbach’s 1967 “Cigar Smoker of the Year’’ humidor brought $2,022.

The nameplate on Auerbach’s desk at his Boston Garden office went for $916, his piece of the Garden’s parquet floor for $832, and the “1981 World Champions’’ desk clock given to him by Mayor Kevin White for $425.

A set of seven 1966-67 world championship water glasses fetched $317, a 1969 and a 1976 championship mug $245, and a 1959-60 world champions glass candy dish $166.

Competition for two lots resulted in 22 bids driving the price of a lot of four Celtics team-signed basketballs to $1,220 from its $100 minimum bid, and in 25 bids driving the price of a Basketball Hall of Fame and star-signed ball to $948 from its $50 minimum bid.

Furniture by two of the leading designers of the 20th century - a circa 1906 art glass shade said to have been originally on a lamp in the Brooklyn, N.Y., home of the founder of the Underwood Typewriter Co., and pottery by the English ceramics designer Clarice Cliff - topped the 757 lots in Skinner’s 20th-Century Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction last month.

Eight circa 1958 chairs with cow-horn-shaped backrests by the Danish designer Hans Wegner (1914-2007) brought the auction’s top price of $44,438, while a 1960 dining table with a free-form top made by George Nakashima (1905-90) brought the third highest price of $29,625.

The second highest price was the $34,365 paid for the Oriental poppy-decorated shade attributed to art glass maker J.A. Whaley. According to the consignor, her mother had acquired the shade from the home of John Thomas Underwood (1857-1937), whose family attended the same church as her mother.

After Underwood’s death his widow and daughter gave the brownstone mansion to the Brooklyn Parks Department. It was demolished and the property is now a public park.

Topping the 41 lots of pottery by Cliff (1899-1972) was a lot of 10 items that included a jug, pitcher, jar, vase, two plates, two inkwells, a sugar bowl, and a mustard pot, which sold for $26,070 against an $800-$1,200 estimate.

Cliff, who was one of eight children, left school at 13 to work in the Staffordshire potteries, and eventually became the most prolific and possibly the most important Art Deco ceramic designer of the 20th century. Her brightly colored, highly stylized patterned pottery is eagerly sought today by collectors. Examples of her work are in the “New Ceramics Galleries’’ which opened in 2009 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The auction’s fifth top seller was a circa 1904 table lamp, its base made by the Grueby Pottery and its glass shade by Bigelow & Kennard, both of Boston. It sold for $21,330.

An artist’s easel, drafting table, and captain’s chair used by the late caricaturist Al Hirschfeld in the studio of his New York townhouse were among 140 lots of his property auctioned last month by Doyle in New York.

Albert Hirschfeld, known as “Al’’ in the art and theatre world, was born in St. Louis in 1903, but he lived most of his life in New York, becoming one of the most important figures in contemporary caricature. Examples of his work are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and his name is emblazoned on the old Martin Beck Theatre, which was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre following his death in 2003 at 99.

The easel sold for $3,125 against a $200-$300 estimate, the drafting table for $1,188 against an $800-$1,200 estimate, and the chair in which Broadway and Hollywood celebrities sat while having their portraits done sold for $224 against a $250-$450 estimate.

Prices paid for the 19 caricatures auctioned ranged from $8,320 for a circa 1979 ink on board of Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Diana Ross, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, and David Crosby to $469 for an etching of Jack Benny with a violin.

Personal items included a Tiffany dress set comprising a pair of 14-karat twisted knot gold cufflinks with three matching shirt studs that sold for $1,664. This also was the price of a Zippo 14-karat gold cigarette lighter. Hirschfeld’s mother-of-pearl and gilt-metal opera glass fetched $544 and his Monte Blanc Lorenzo de Medici sterling silver fountain pen $4,063.

The auction’s top seller was a 1953 pastel on gray-green paper by the African-American expatriate artist Beauford Delaney (1901-79), who was born in Knoxville, Tenn., studied at the Boston Normal School (renamed in 1924 the Teachers College of the City of Boston), and in 1953 moved permanently to Paris. The painting brought $37,500 against a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at

Correction: Because of incorrect information provided the Globe, the July 10 Antiques & Collectibles column erred in describing an auction item as Roger Staubach’s Super Bowl XII ring. It was a copy and was removed from the sale.